American Idol Season 14 San Francisco auditions

3 02 2015

Day 1

1385015_10154925704030601_1985407597453397698_nAmerican Idol Season 14 finished up their auditions in the city by the bay. Mustafa inspired the next contestant to audition. Yep. Her cat. Why does this remind me of an episode of Glee (Brittany’s ‘Fondue for Two’ web series)? She’s ready to be a rock star. I’m betting she isn’t. She takes on Florence and The Machine’s “Shake It Out.” Fifteen-year-old Katherine Skinner surprised me. She has a fabulous voice. She does need a fashion makeover, however. Jennifer thinks she’s talented but also crazy (not in a good way). She thinks she is made for the stage but whether that is American Idol or not she is not sure. Harry likes the crazy because it kept him off balance. Keith thinks she is bold and fearless. Three yeses. I think she needs to reign in the crazy because she is going to get on my nerves quickly.

Erika David, a 25-year-old hotel representative wants a ticket to Hollywood and takes on Alicia Keys. Jennifer thought she was sassy. Chandler Leighton, a 20-year-old student from Los Angeles also wants to go sings “New York State of Mind”. Jennifer got goosebumps. Ryan Pinkston, age 27, from San Francisco sings a cappella. Harry thought it was pinpoint perfect. Chandler gets three yeses from the judges and is my favorite out of this group. Erika gets a no from Keith but Harry and Jennifer say yes (with Jennifer adding that she has a lot of work to do before getting to Hollywood).

Seventeen-year-old Andrew Bloom from Yorba Linda, California sings “Too Close” by Alex Clare. He sounded good. There were a few sharps and flats but pretty good for his age. Keith thinks he has a good spirit and it comes through in the way he sings. There were some things that he could work on. Jennifer days he has what feels right which is something that is required of a performer. Harry likes his spirit and thinks hens pretty good, too, but cautions him to watch the blues licks. Three yeses.

Vocal teacher Kellyeann Rodgers, age 24, from Memphis, TN sings an old Carpenters has a lovely voice. Three yeses.

Forty family members in one house??? Holy cow! Sixteen-year-old Reno Anoa’l sings Rod Stewart’s “I Don’t Wanna Talk About It.” First goosebumps for San Francisco. While he was singing, Jennifer says “pretty voice.” Keith thought it was beautiful. Jennifer days what she likes is that when he is singing she believes him until he did the runs and then she didn’t. Harry thinks he has a great voice but he had an issue with it in that it needed to show some variety. After Keith gave him a mild scolding that he needs to stop praying and listen to the feedback, he gets a ticket to Hollywood.

The next contestant bows to Jennifer Lopez, the queen of Puerto Rico. He says Harry is the king. What does that make poor Keith? He wants to do a soap opera scene with Jennifer, and instructs Keith and Henry (BIG OOPS!) to their places. The Improv 101 that ends with Jennifer slapping him which was highly entertaining. And “Henry” hits Keith Urbano. Let’s hear Samuel Prince sing “As Long As You Love Me”. His voice is nice like my husband’s voice is nice but he should probably keep the acting gig. “Henry” says his vocals are not strong enough. Jennifer appreciated the fun but she agrees. Keith said it was like a person acting like they were singing. He didn’t feel like it was true to him. Three no’s.

Matthew Sequoia, a 15-year-old from Merced, CA did not do so well and he looked terrified. Luke Randall, age 23, from Enterprise, Utah tried to sing “Radioactive“—rather screamed–for his audition. These two did not make it through. Sade Shine, a 28-year-old singer from Branson, MO, sang “Dancing In the Street”. I really enjoyed it. Harry liked the feeling in the room, but he is not sure it is an American-Idol-winning voice. Harry says no. Keith says yes. Jennifer says no. Zach Dire has a cool voice but he does not make it through either.

Rayvon Owen and I have something in common—Spam in our childhood because we did not have a lot of money. But Rayvon you got it with cheese and me? Fruit cocktail. Makes me want to barf just thinking about that now. He sings “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry. He is a23-year-old singer/vocal coach from Richmond, VA. It was sweet. Second set of goosebumps. Jennifer got goosies as well. Keith loves his voice. Three yeses.

Ezekiel and Jeremiah Cárdenas are twins from Long Beach, CA. They have never auditioned before and it shows. The guitar should have been left at home. It was off pitch the entire song. Jennifer lets them down easy by telling them they need more practice. No ticket for them.

Maddy Hudson does not look 16 years of age. She hails from Pleasanton, CA. Third goosebumps of the night. Jennifer had goosebumps all over her legs. Jennifer said she was fantastic. Maddy is one of her favorites. Keith loved her inside and out; he heard and felt every bit of it. Harry said she has all of the ingredients to be a superstar. She yells at Harry that he is so nice. She has heart and a ticket to Hollywood.

Day 2

Harry entertains us at the piano before Adanna Duru performs “You and I” by Lady Gaga. She is impressive for a 17-year-old. First goosebumps of the night for me but I did feel like she was shouting towards the end of that. Jennifer calls her the full package. Harry cautions her to know what the lyrics are about. Keith thought it was great. Three yeses.

Is that Carly Smithson with Michael Orland doing the pre-auditions? Christopher Michael, age 26, from Los Angeles impressed them enough to get an audience with the judges. It was not what I was expecting (not in a good way). Keith loved the passion but that was it. The singing wasn’t there for him. Harry said the point was to move people and Christopher fired him up but the music wasn’t there. A contemplative Christopher thinks maybe it was too hard rock.

Sporting a Willy Wonka umbrella tattoo, Hunter Larsen, a hostess slash nanny slash florist is 20 years of age and is from Malibu, CA. She belts out “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra. I got goosebumps. Jennifer likes her gritty voice which sets her apart from others. It’s memorable along with her look. Keith loved it. Harry also. She gets a ticket to Hollywood.

Tara Honda sings Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.” She is a 22-year-old server/cook from Murrieta, GA. It was nice but I am not sure if it stands out from all the other people. Harry said she sounds great and he would buy her remake of that song. Jennifer thinks she has a soul of an artist. Keith likes it too.

Daniel Seavey, age 15, from Portland, OR can play a lot of instruments. I wasn’t sure I liked his voice when he started singing “Hallelujah”. It did start to grow on me as it progressed. They talked about his voice breaking. Jennifer thinks he had a beautiful voice in there. The performance wasn’t complete and she could tell he was very nervous. Harry says he is handsome and talented but because of his age he doesn’t have the maturity yet. Will he have it? Eventually but not right now. So Harry votes no. Keith wants to see how he stacks up with others in Hollywood week so he says yes. Jennifer is on the fence but she says yes.

Rocky Peter, age 27, had a wild story. He was born in the USA but his father brought them to Africa and then abandoned them. There was no money and they begged for food. He ate food from the trash and drank water from potholes. Music was the one thing there for him. He sings an original song called “Wrong Places“. The falsetto in the song felt odd to me. Was he the best voice we’ve heard? No. But he deserves a break even if he just goes to Hollywood. Harry thought his choices within the song were very clever. Jennifer loved the song. She could hear the pain. He has something special. Keith’s only concern is what Rocky does may be incompatible with Idol. For his beautiful voice, really original, beautiful heart Keith says yes. Jennifer is a yes. Harry asks him if his opinion matters and Rocky sincerely wants to hear what he has to say. Harry says yes.

Sophia (unknown last name):  Jennifer says yes, Harry says no, and Keith says no.

Jaq Mackenzie is a student in a performing arts school. She brings in a guitar and wants to do an original song but then puts her guitar down. I will never understand people who do this especially if it is an original song. It isn’t very good. Maybe she should have used the guitar to get the notes right. Jennifer thinks she has the makings of a really great artist one day. It is already forming but she is worried how her style would fit with Idol. Harry thinks she is talented but he isn’t sure if Hollywood would help or hurt her. Keith likes her distinct singing style. She gets three yeses—cautiously but yeses.

Tyanna Jones was homeless for about 2 years when she was about 5 years of age. I love the black hair with blue highlights. She has a Janelle Monae vibe to her look. She sings “Little Mix’s Wings”. This 16-year-old is better than Jaq Mackenzie. Jennifer thinks she is very talented. Keith asks her if she is working on anything at this time and she said her pitch because when she gets nervous she messes up. This impresses Keith. Harry said she has a lot of talent and is a special young lady. Three resounding yeses.

Next up: Hollywood Hell Week





American Idol Season 13 Rush Week Boys’ Night

21 02 2014

LogoThe judges had a difficult time deciding on the 10 contestants that would be given the opportunity to perform for America’s votes this evening. They finally finished in the dressing room before the show started.

First Pick

Caleb Johnson (from Asheville–did I mention my sister lives there? Yes I have!) He sings, “Stay With Me” by Faces. The thing he needs to work on is closing his eyes while he is singing. Chris Daughtry says that he does not want Caleb’s intense face to distract them and to smile.” Caleb sings again, this time smiling. Chris adds, “Okay, halfway.” Adam Lambert hears that he wants to be “subtle over-the-topness” and laughs. I think Caleb looks great, sounds fabulous and he definitely improved with his eye-closing issues. He had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. He was in command! Keith said it was “killer dude.” He has soul, a cool thing in his voice that a person is just born with. There are some things you can’t learn. It was the perfect song and a great way to start the show. Jennifer said it was amazing, a real rockstarish, the real deal. “It’s your time.” Harry said it will be tough for the guys following him. It was a strong way to start the show and congratulations.

Second Pick

CJ Harris. He defines himself as country soul. His guitar and voice were self-taught. Chris Daughtry said he was having a hard time following the guitar pattern, that it distracted from his amazing vocals and to ditch it. It would free him up to sell the song. He sang, “Shelter” by Ray LaMontagne. CJ ditches Chris’ suggestion to ditch the guitar. I’m not a guitar expert so I can’t comment on his guitar skills. I thought he slayed the song. He did a fantastic job and I like his new look, too. Jennifer said he makes her smile. She said he makes her feel so many things which is a beautiful thing. Harry said he was a great talent. He advised him to watch his intonation. Harry thought he had a tendency to sing really sharp. He felt like he was singing to him and that he was going to shelter him. Keith said it was a great mix of Dobie Gray and Jonny Lang blended in to this package that was so original.

Third Pick

Emmanuel Zidor. He tells Randy Jackson that he has been “humming since the womb and singing since 5.” He wants to sing “Best of My Love” by The Emotions. The rehearsal clips looked rough. I was entertained by his performance and I love his positivity but he has a lot of work to do. I would put him in the middle of my pack. I am also glad he did not try for the falsetto that bombed in rehearsals. Harry said it was so much fun. It reminded him of the performers in New Orleans–happy, infectious energy. He recommended the same advice he gave to everyone else: “Stay in your lane.” Keith said, “I agree with Harry.” Harry said, “That’s my girl right there.” And things got awkward. I wonder if they are trying to capture the Adam Levine/Blake Shelton bromance vibe? Keith advised him to watch his adrenaline level because he was singing above the note; rein it in. Jennifer said, “I Zi-dore you. You belong on a stage.” She said it was not the best song for him. Then she asks him to sing a little bit of “I’m Going Down” and he does. That’s cheating a bit, Jennifer.

Fourth Pick

Sam Woolf. He was just accepted to Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA). He sings, “Babylon” by David Gray. Michael Orland, the vocal coach, says that he is doing a lot of eye closing and looking down which can look like insecurity. I think he is nervous but he listened to the advice and I like when the contestants do that. I could hear his voice on the radio right now. I would even consider buying his record. He did a tremendous job. My favorite so far of the night. He has really won me over during the last two performances. Keith said, “The people like you Sam.” His voice is money. His tone is great. It was a good song for him. His performance will get better and better. Jennifer said he has a sweet quality. She hopes he can gain small degrees of confidence as the show goes on.

Fifth Pick

George Lovett. He chooses “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. Adam helped him with some stage movement. He was very nervous. I did not like this song as a ballad. It sounded like he was dragging a bit behind the band. His voice cracked a few times. His pitch was rough at times. Jennifer said it was really good but he needs to control the runs; there were just too many. Harry said it was easy to come so invested that you can sing yourself right off the microphone. His passion spun out of control. Harry has heard him sing better (and Harry gets boo #2 for the Idol season). Keith said song choice is crucial and that this song did not play to his strengths.

Sixth Pick

Dexter Roberts sings “This Ole Boy” by Craig Morgan. I like his makeover. I have no reference to compare this to, but I did find it enjoyable. Harry said there were good things about what he did. Keith said he was the real deal, a fully fledged country boy from Alabama. He was fun and easy to watch. He agreed with Harry about him needing to find out what separates him from all the country voices that sound just like him. Jennifer said it was easy in a cool way. She remarked that if he was nervous she did not see it. For American Idol, he did his thing.

Seventh Pick

Alex Preston. YAY!!! He plays 11-12 instruments? Whoa. He sang, “Volcano” by Damien Rice. His challenge is also making eye contact. I could tell during his performance that he was really trying to apply the lessons he learned during the workshop. I LOVE IT. It was better than the original. My new favorite performance of the night. He has such a unique sound among the boys. Keith said it was the best song choice of the night and a good performance. Jennifer said it had such a groove that was different than anything else. He is in his own lane. If he stays there, he could go very far. Harry said music is a religion to Alex. He said his favorite part was that he ended on the “9” and that Alex knew what he meant. Ryan asked for Harry to explain and he did with Alex’s assistance.

Eighth Pick

Malcolm Allen singing “Comin’ From Where I’m From” by Anthony Hamilton. I have never heard that song before. I think he still needs a lot of work on his stage presence. The stage swallows him up. He sings well, but there are some really talented guys in the mix this year. Jennifer said he has a great voice. She wanted his physical performance to hit her more. She said she should have gotten goosies on that–to hear the pain that is in that song. She needs him to bring his heart and soul to it next time. Harry said he is a good run singer, but the danger is singing in the exact same run over and over and over; it was the same five notes and he needs to sing it in tune which elicits boo number three for Harry. Keith said–oops he ran out of time to talk. He felt like he was at the Grammy’s. He told Malcolm he needed to make artistic choices and gave him a suggestion on how that could have worked.

Ninth Pick

Ben Briley (aka “Gumbo”) I LOVE his makeover. He is singing “Soulshine” by The Allman Brothers Band. He also tends to close his eyes while he is singing. I really liked it. My judgment of him getting through over Neco Starr might have been premature and incorrect. I really truly enjoyed that. Harry said Ben seemed to like it and thought he (that he thought Ben thought) nailed it. It was a great job and was interesting. Keith said he has a great voice which was better than his guitar playing. Keith thought it was the first shredder solo on Idol. Jennifer commented that some people come alive when they are on stage versus in the rehearsal which is a sign of a true performer.

Tenth Pick

Spencer Lloyd to the delight of all the teenage girls in the room. He sings, “Love Don’t Die” by The Fray. He asked for advice about whether to use the guitar or not with the performance. Randy said for him to sing with it. Adam Lambert and vocal coach Melissa Garcia said without the guitar. The song started off rough with a lot of notes out of key. Midway through though I felt he found a groove. Being a worship leader, I know he can get a crowd going and this crowd was going, going, gone. Keith said that song choice is important and this was not his best vocal performance tonight. Jennifer said he moved the crowd and that when he is up there, he is a star. Harry said the song, “Say Something” was his strong suit; this was not. He reminds Spencer to stick to what he knows. This was not good (and Harry was booed again). He told Spencer that singing ballads is good.