“This is Hollywood Week. And this is [[American Idol (2010 Series)|American Idol]]!” gurns Seacrest. We’ve just had the obligatory circle-jerk over how many people applied and how we’re down to a select few. It’s things like this that reveal the cookie-cutter format of this show. But hey – at least there’s no surprises.
And here’s [[Ellen DeGeneres]]’ debut as a judge on Idol. She clears up any questions about her credentials straight away. “I have to come out and entertain a room full of people.” She knows what she’s talking about, people!
[[Katie Stevens]] returns to the stage and gives what sounds like a gutsy vocal performance, if she’s a little stilted on stage presence. Simon calls her “quite good”, and Randy compliments her “great natural talent”. And don’t forget Antonio “Skiiboski” Wheeler, the salesman from Orlando who thinks he’s pretty smooth. In that creepy way that Snoop Dogg probably thinks he’s smooth. You can hear the flaws in his voice, but it’s a passable R&B sound. Ellen leaps on his stalking around the stage. “You were like a leopard behind a cage. But seriously, don’t frighten your audience.”
Katie and a couple of others get through. Skiiboski gets rejected, gently challenges the judges, but leaves with a smile and a song. Just when we thought it was going to turn ugly!
[[Andrew Garcia]] does a Paula Abdul song on acoustic – Straight Up – and rightly gets a ton of praise for his musical ingenuity. Kara calls it “genius – you owned that moment…you took the song and flipped it”. Vanessa Wolfe is our next auditionee – memorable for that country-girl line “ahm-a gonna ride on an a-aeroplane!” Her voice is shaking with nerves, and not what we remember from her first audition. Ellen is quite nice to her without really saying anything important about her singing.
Andrew gets to move on to the next level, but a teary Vanessa is sent home along with other rejects. I kinda felt bad for her, because having such bad nerves on audition day must be awful.
Cornelius Edwards – yes, the “I done ripped mah pants” guy who scraped past the judges first time round. Maegan Wright also failed to impress the judges when she took to the stage with a keyboard. Amadeo DiRocco – gets booted after the highs of his first audition. We loved this guy, but he fell out of favour with the judges.
[[Janell Wheeler]] plays a beautiful acoustic rendition of Kanye West’s American Boy. Ellen tells her it was amazing and Simon congratulates her on a good audition. Some of the piano and guitar toting auditionees make an utter mess of their auditions. It’s almost as if they decided to play live for the first time!
Cute-as-a-button teenager, [[Haeley Vaughn]], opts to play guitar for her audition, but unlike 90% of the others does a good job of it. Great voice. And a sugar sweet ending. Randy reminds us that Haeley is the pop-country gal. Rock mother Mary Powers predictably selects a Pink track to sing. Ellen praises her “amazing voice”. Both Haeley and Mary get through, which is a relief – both singers are brilliant and unique!
Ellen messes with the auditionees heads when she choreographs them in step-forward, step-back.
There’s no other word for it, beatboxing oddball Jay Stone comes out next – and what he calls beatboxing sounds to me like he’s singing through a broken microphone. Sadly, the microphone is working just fine. [[Lilly Scott]] sings an Ella Fitzgerald tune, a nice, jazzy number that showcases her voice excellently. Kara says “everything about you is refreshing”. Lilly gets another chance, while Jay – thankfully – gets sent home.
[[Michael Lynche]]‘s wife is about to have his baby – and he’s not present for the birth, he’s auditioning – this story just gets sadder and sadder. Later on, Michael will get booted because his father spoke to a local newspaper about his progress on Idol. For the moment though, the judges let him through – because he’s awesome – but imagine missing your first child’s birth and then getting kicked out of Idol? That hurts.
Next audition? [[Tim Urban]] sings a David Cook song, and manages to surpass his original audition with a soulful, richly textured voice. Kara nit-picks a “shaky chorus”, but otherwise the performance draws praise. Justin Williams the cancer survivor guy does a song on keyboard. Randy reulctantly says “interesting”, but the audience seem happier with the performance. Predictably, Tim gets another chance, while Justin goes home.
Maddy Curtis gives a strong acapella performance, which Simon tells her was “the wrong song for you”. Yikes! [[Casey James]] aka shirtless guy stands out for all the right reasons this time round with a bluesy performance on guitar and a fantastic, fantastic voice. Randy raves about his guitar playing and calls him “a real singer songwriter”. Casey – very deservedly – gets through (is he one to watch?) while poor Maddy is sent home.
[[Didi Benami]] plays a song by [[Kara DioGuardi]] (the old flattery strategy). Wow! Beautiful singing, beautiful girl. Oh, and she can play guitar…beautifully. I like this girl. Simon says “I hate to admit it, but I really like that song.” [[Crystal Bowersox]] gets a tattoo in honour of her son, then gets around to auditioning with Natural Woman. I thought it was going to be rubbish (especially with the elongated back story), but she performs well, the audience sing along and it’s an all-round great vibe. Simon calls her “infectious”, which we think he means in a good way. Both Crystal and Didi get through to the next stage.
And that’s it for tonight’s show. I’m pleasantly surprised. Some of the contestants who looked weak during the first stage auditions really raised their game. And I’m devastated for poor Michael Lynch, who sacrificed so much to be at auditions and then got dumped. I really hope they keep the door open for him next year.
Anyway, tune in tomorrow for more American Idol fun and games when we’ll be looking at the even tougher next stage auditions! I can’t wait.