American Idol Little Rock and Denver Part 2

27 01 2016

Best friends Amber Lynn and James Gray Dawson (the 8th) came down from Utah to sing for the judges. Amber chose “Unaware” by Allen Stone. I finally got goosebumps. That’s all that I need. The Philadelphia auditions for me were lacking of goosebumps. Harry said she is talented. He gave a critique to James that he was rushing the song. He needs to give her the foundation. Jennifer thought she had a lot of soul. She likes her whole vibe. Keith said he liked that she was in her own world. James VIII was also singing.  He picked John Legend “Sun Comes Up.” You could tell he was nervous because his cheeks were getting all red. I didn’t get goosebumps, but I LOVE his voice. Harry said it was refreshing to see people who were born to do this. Keith likes his groove. They both receive tickets to Hollywood.

Can Emily Wears sing as well as she auctions (and whoa—can she do that well)? She takes it down a notch singing “Bring on the Rain” by Jo Dee Messina. Sometimes she was just under the note. It was a pretty tone, but I don’t think she has enough though to make it to Hollywood. Harry said her singing needs a bit of work. Jennifer thought the voice was sweet but it was missing things that would make it whole and complete. Keith said the pitch was drifting everywhere. She said she was really nervous (oh man my heart feels for her). She does not get to go to Hollywood.

CJ (stands for Chris Johnson) is a professional musician from Memphis. He decides on a Hall and Oates song “You Make My Dreams.” I really like him. He has a great look and a nice sound. No goosebumps, but I’m hopeful. The judges sing some background vocals for it. Keith and Jennifer thought he sounded good. Harry thought it was cool. He gets a ticket to Hollywood.

Ethan Kuntz is quite an accomplished young man for 15 years of age. He trains hunting dogs as part of his family hunting breeding kennel business. He also is lead guitarist and singer in a blues band. He chose “Stormy Monday” by the Allman Brothers. He is an interesting kid. I like what he was doing. I think he would get eaten alive during Hollywood Week, but I am not sure he is quite 100% ready yet. Keith did not expect that voice and has mixed reactions. Jennifer thought he was a natural. Harry has no doubt in his mind that he is supposed to do this, and advises him not to doing anything else with the rest. That being said, however, it would be very difficult for him to get around the wide range of repertoire that American Idol requires of him. Harry does not think he is ready. Jennifer thinks he is. Keith is in the middle. He doesn’t think he is ready, but he thinks his voice is so good and gives him the yes.

Horse trainer Mary Williams wanted to sing old-time country for the judges. She chose Tammy Wynette’s “Until I Can Make It on My Own.” She surprised me. I didn’t expect that she was going to do well based on how she was being presented in the packet. I hate country music, but I love her voice. No goosebumps, but close. Jennifer had goosies on her leg. Keith was missing the feeling so it was more of something being performed than something being confessed. Harry thought the performance was a little bit clinical, but she gets a yes from him and Jennifer. Keith didn’t say anything since it didn’t matter, but she did press him for a yes or a no, and he said he would have been a no.

Xavier Soller is the end-game host for the Denver Nuggets had a warm up for the judges and Jennifer was the only one who got the basketball. He sang Garth Brooks “Friends in Low Places.” The singing was not terrible, but it was more of a hobby kind of singing. Jennifer and Keith both said no so there is no ticket.

Terrian Bass would like to make a statement to the world that you can be surrounded by misery but still find the good. She chose appropriately “Happy” by Pharrell. I felt badly for her. She has a nice voice, went off pitch quite a bit, and the energy was dragging in the song. Harry and Jennifer like her. Three yes votes.

Her name is Leann “Blue” McIsaac and has the blue hair to match. She is a self-described singing nomad. She specializes in coming up with songs for people on the spot. She planned to do that for the judges. Harry thought it sounded like a Jewish prayer song. Harry doesn’t think singing is for her but that shouldn’t take the wind out of her sails. Jennifer does not think American Idol is the right lane for her. Keith said no to the suitability for Idol.

Thomas Stringfellow’s parents takes in foster children and he would like to be an example to them to follow their dream no matter where it takes you. He chose “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran. Wow I did not expect that voice to come out of that young man. He is so unique. I got goosebumps. Yes, yes, yes from me. Harry admired him changing it up. Keith likes his vibe and liked that he changed it up. Jennifer said it was pleasing to her ear and a lot that was saying artist. Yes votes all around. I hope he makes it to the top 10.

Tywan “Tank” Jackson was up to 400 pounds and decided to take charge of his health. He has lost 60 pounds doing Zumba and then developed his own exercise routines that he calls Tankercise. He entertained the judges with his dancing, but then refocused and sang his audition song “Superstar” by Luther Vandross. He should have ditched the dancing before the singing audition because he was out of breath for the music. He has a nice voice (except for a bit of improvisation in the middle). Jennifer said he was one of his favorites. Harry asked if he knew Rev James Moore. His ability to dance, sing and entertain are powerful weapons in this competition. All three judges say yes.

John Wayne Schulz auditioned in season 10. He is part of the Marine Corps and is a flight instructor. In season 10 it had come down to him and Scotty McCreery making it through and they picked Scotty who went on to win that year. He was glad it happened because his mother’s cancer had returned and he was able to spend those last months with her before she died. He sang “The Dance” by Garth Brooks and with the story of what happened with his mom made me cry. Keith said it was refreshing not to hear a cover of Garth. Jennifer was enjoying listening to him. Harry thought it was the perfect, succinct performance. He is through to Hollywood.

Leah Harbert taught herself to sing with Britney Spears. She decides to tackle “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin. Jennifer looked like she was bracing herself for a massacre of the song. Frankly so was I. And it lived up to my expectations. Her vibrato and her effective nature of her voice were annoying me greatly. Harry suggested that she work with a vocal coach. It was a definite no. In the post interview she blamed a cold and her voice cracking on the reason why she didn’t make it.

Jordyn Simone chose “Who’s Lovin’ You” by the Jackson 5 to audition. I WISH I could sing like that at 15. WOW! I got goosebumps at the end of the song. She was born to sing. Jennifer is speechless. Harry said she showed them a complete set of skills. Jennifer said there was something special there. Keith said she had something unique. She is through to the next round.

The next group is a montage of female singers which included Kassy Levels (who Keith said there are people who want to be a singer and who just are and she belongs to the latter group); Rhea Raj is a 15-year-old student in Princeton, NJ (Jennifer liked the breathy quality of her voice). Both are moving to the next round in Hollywood.

Jake Dillon is hoping to leave his plumber apprenticeship behind and open a path to a music-making dream. He chose “Danny’s Song” by Kenny Loggins (one of my favorites of all time). I like his voice a lot. Keith and Jennifer were mouthing the words along with him. Harry thought it was good but good isn’t going to cut it for them. They are looking for spectacular and he didn’t see it in that performance. Keith likes him as a guy. He is worried that he is going to get killed out there in Hollywood. He can see the fire in him and he sees that. Harry is a no, Jennifer is a yes, and Keith is a yes.

The next contestant’s full name is a mouthful: Ashley Lillinoemaineleipuananiokaloni Adams-Soderbegh. She chooses “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles. Oh yes. I love her. She is unique. Jennifer said there were a few things she liked but she wanted a little bit more of output from her soul. Harry said she is interesting but she doesn’t fit in anywhere. He likes that sort of mystery there. Keith said he liked it. Harry and Keith say yes; Jennifer says no.

The next contestant is either brave or stupid in choosing an Adele song, “Make You Feel My Love.” He was born in New York but grew up in Moscow. Andrew Nazarbekian started singing and captured my attention right away. Goosebumps!!!!   Oh my God. He is awesome. Harry said the best part of that is that he came in here and sang. He receives three yes votes.

Elvie Shane is the next contestant. He chose “House of the Rising Sun” by Animal. He is incredible. I had goosebumps throughout the song. Harry said he has this quality about him that he is about the music first. Jennifer thought he had a spectacular voice. It cuts through the whole entire room. Keith loves that he loves to do this and it is contagious. He gets the yes vote from all three.





American Idol Season 12 Chicago Auditions

18 01 2013

AmericanIdolLogoA lot of great talent blew through the windy city during the Chicago auditions. The little skit at the beginning was cute where the person on the phone thought their friend got through but she did not. It was a nice change of pace, but I wondered how much it was staged or actors were involved. And the rivalry between the divas, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey continued to evolve, while Keith Urban felt like a scratching post. Meow. Nicki, while having some constructive comments, also left me thinking “what is she on tonight?” Nicki giving contestants nicknames is also going to get old real quick.

With her father playing piano for Vince Gill, Mackenzie Wasner, age 17, got a lot of experience on stage because Vince would let her perform. She had a beautiful voice but I felt her vocal range was limited from what I heard. There was no “wow” factor for me. I felt like I was listening to some Joan Baez.

Mackenzie

Mackenzie Wasner

It was a quick “no” from the judges for Austin Earles who massacred Mariah’s song, “Fantasy.” If you are going to Mariah, especially in front of her, you have to try at the very least not to insult her.

Coming off a birthday fundraiser for Barack Obama, Kiara Lanier came in confidently and performed “The Prayer” by Celine Dion. The best part was that Nicki Minaj was talking, talking, talking, and Kiara said, “Could I say something?” Then she turns to Mariah Carey to share she was a huge fan, and which point Nicki quickly shut up. Keith Urban said she sounded a little like Aaron Neville. I thought it was good, but it was a little bit off-key and her vibrato cracks at times (maybe nerves?).

Kiara

Kiara Lanier

Nicki was not “wowed” by Stephanie Schimel who sang “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” by The Mamas and the Papas. Once the other judges put her through, Nicki said she said “no” because she was wearing purple eye shadow like her and felt they have a rivalry going on. WHAT????????? Nicki is beginning to act like Paula.

StephanieSchmiel

Stephanie Schmiel

If you have to wear a costume to your singing audition, it is 99.99% likely you are not going to be able to sing well. Melissa Bush sang “Downtown” by Petula Clark. I hope she is a better massage therapist. Then Nicki leaves her with the comment, “You’ll always be my bush?” WHAT??????????????

Melissa

Melissa Bush

Gabe Brown brought his rock-and-roll/best-of-Jack-Black imitation and cookies! This led me to wonder if they have official taste-testers for the judges. Nicki said she would call him “Curly” because of his hair I imagine. He is a really funny guy, but I did not appreciate the loudness of his voice which made the song “Give Me Shelter” border on a screamfest. I think if he dials it down a little bit, he could represent the rock-and-roll crowd well.

Gabe

Gabe Brown

Computer animator/dancer Kevin Nabity ruined “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies and then went on to “Come Sail Away” by Styx. This is “not for you probably.” Probably? Randy Jackson was more to the point: “Let the singing go.”

KevinNabity

Kevin Nabity

Isabelle Parell, age 15, was channeling Mandy Moore’s character from the movie, A Walk To Remember. She asked for someone to sing a duet with her to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and both Keith and Mariah were happy to help. I like her personality but I would like to see more range from her. It was a “no” from Randy without any further explanation, but she is through to Hollywood.

Isabelle

Isabelle Parell

At this point, Keith Urban had to leave for a Vegas concert, leaving Randy Jackson to referee between the ladies.

Griffin Peterson is very good-looking but he has just an average voice. Nicki has nicknamed him, “Grrr.” He sang “Washed By The Water” by Need to Breathe. Meanwhile outside, we discover where he gets his flirting genes from–his mother. Ryan fulfilled a bucket-list request for her for a kiss (on the cheek). Randy said “no” as well to him, but Mariah and Nicki found common ground for a yes.

Griffin

Griffin Peterson

I love Curtis Finch, Jr. He is a tutor at a private school in St. Louis. He sang, “God is Able” by Smokie Norful, who coincidentally Randy Jackson spoke to the night before. Testify! I got goosebumps! You know what that means. Nicki has nicknamed him “Finchy.” Curtis asked if his friend could meet Mariah because it would “change her life” and they were happy to accommodate. There was finally a nice moment between Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey where Nicki complimented her and she said “thank you.”

CurtisFinch

Curtis Finch

I liked Mariah Pulice‘s audition with “Let It Be” by The Beatles. Mariah Carey said the name is now the 62nd most popular name. I checked that statistic and it is more like 98th in 2011. It was 78th in 2008 (which was the best year for the name). I also liked that Mariah Pulice shook the judges’ hands and thanked them for giving her a chance.

MariahPulice

Mariah Pulice

And at this point, the show goes into the day 2 auditions. Keith Urban is back but not between the ladies!

Although I am not a particular fan of country music, Brandy Neely, age 17, sang with a lot of power to the Hank Williams’ song, “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” She is very confident.

Brandy

Brandy Neely

I also like Josh Holiday. He sang “Back At One” by Brian McKnight. I liked his runs.

Josh

Josh Holiday

Courtney Williams is also a very nice singer and was put through with four yeses.

Courtney

Courtney Williams

Andrew Jones sang “Knock on Wood” by Amii Stewart. I have not heard that song in a long time and enjoyed it.

AndrewJones

Andrew Jones

I thought a looming disaster was about to happen with Clifton Duffin whose parents have never heard him sing before. A secret squirrel. He sang “Superstar” by Luther Vandross, his mother’s favorite song. Ryan sneaked the parents in and his mother became very tearful at hearing the beauty of her son’s singing. Mariah cried. Keith Urban said he got all teary-eyed seeing his mother cry. Theme music plays, “Secrets” by OneRepublic (I’m not joking).

Clifton

Clifton Duffin

Ieisha Cotton is a professional dancer who dances better than sings. She tried Ashanti’s “Thank You”. Mariah tells her stay with her dancing. Then Mariah claimed to be distracted by Nicki when Nicki asked her for a yes or no and Mariah said “yes.” When Ieisha comes out, she informs her family, “They said I’d be better off dancing….so hopefully I can make it on next year.” WHAT???? What part of stay with dancing means you can make it on next year. Try out for “So You Think You Can Dance” instead (but her dancing was not that great either).

Ieisha

Ieisha Cotton

What planet the judges on when they gave four yeses to return contestant Johnny Keyser I just don’t know. I did not think it was good enough anymore for the level of competition that they have in season 12. Nicki says to Mariah, “You’re dismissed.”

JohnnyKeyser

Johnny Keyser

The most unique act of both the New York and Chicago auditions was Kez Ban (pronounced Bahn) Sauerbier. She is a street performer and has recently started doing fire performance. Keith made a funny comment about “old flames” when he asked her if she was seeing anyone. She is different and I LIKE HER A LOT, especially when she sang her original song. I’ll remember her. She is in total shock that she made it through because she is quirky. Randy loves her.

Kez

Kez Ban Sauerbier

A montage is played of Les Miserables–those who did not make it through. I blame the people in their lives who never told them they did not sing well.

A lot of time was wasted on Ashley Curry, a delusional college student who attends St. Mary’s University in Minnesota studying musical theater. I guess any college will take your money and find ways to keep it. She has a twin and apparently singing is the only thing that separates the two of them. The look the twin gave Ashley in the holding room was more of, “Girl, you are going to crash and burn” even if her words are encouraging. I think the twin is the smarter one. Ashley ruined “Mamma Knows Best” by Jessie J. Randy was laughing the whole time. She asks to sing it again because she sang it in the wrong key and it is done in the SAME DAMN KEY. The judges cannot keep their laughter contained anymore. Mariah actually got up to try to contain herself and went to look out the window. Randy tells her someone should have told you before (that she cannot sing). Security walks her off as she tries to sing it a third time. Her sister says, “She’ll never stop singing (then a pause)….ever.” Mom reinforces her AGAIN, “It is for you.” Ashley blames the judges’ response on them being tired. Sweetie–I was not tired. I listened to it twice, once on one day and again on another, and you need to move on to a different career. Perhaps your acting is better. Please don’t contribute to noise pollution.

AshleyCurry

Ashley Curry

Last was a story about Lazaro Arbos. He has been stuttering since the age of 6 when he and his family lived in Cuba. When they moved here when Lazaro was age 10, the stuttering got worse. He has had a lot of therapy but has never improved. I think that he should seek out a speech therapist that specializes in stuttering. He sang, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel. A few of his words were wrong, “I will leave me down” instead of “I will lay me down” but it is okay. He has to be nervous and indeed after the song he is sweating quite a bit. I was curious why people who stutter while speaking do not stutter while singing. This is what I found: “The reason for not stuttering while singing is the prolonging of the syllables.”

Lazaro

Lazaro Arbos

Forty-seven contestants in total are through from Chicago to Hollywood. Next week is Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of the breaking story about the feud between Nicki and Mariah.