We were wondering where all the talent was this year on American Idol. We had heard a few impressive voices, but overall weren’t wowed. Tonight it showed up, and it seems the show has been holding out on us.
As with last year’s Hollywood round, the contestants are split into two groups, one group sticking around to test their fate in their auditions, and the other half out on a tour of California. The half auditioning first meet with Debra Byrd and Michael Orland, American Idol’s vocal coaches, to pick out audition songs out of a list of twelve, and to also figure out which key they will perform in.
All this is really new to Kellie Pickler. She has never had voice lessons or been told what key is best for her. In front of the judges, Kellie sings Hopelessly Devoted To You. Simon tells her the timing was all over. He figures it’s just nerves, but it may cause a problem in the future. She ends up moving on, and is shocked, and probably a little lonely, as her roommate doesn’t make it.
For one of the wonderful surprises tonight, we hear Patrick Hall sing If. He has a beautiful tone, and it’s a moving performance, just with that little blip that we see. Before this season began airing, Paula warned us about the great talent we would see, saying one of her favorites was a guy named Patrick. We hadn’t really seen any Patricks that made us sit up and take notice … until now.
It’s not clear why they kept Patrick a secret, but perhaps they just didn’t want to lay out all their cards on the table so soon. Unfortunately, I had a momentary stoppage in my TIVO (that would by my daughter turning it off because, “I didn’t know you were recording it!), so I missed the judge’s comments, but I can only imagine he is moving on.
The tour group makes their first stop – The Hollywood Bowl. All are completely in awe, knowing this is is one place they picture themselves singing someday.
Ronnie “RJ” Harmon, from the Austin auditions, and Steven David, from the Greensboro auditions were both very full of themselves and thought of themselves as ladies men. Steven had even tried to squire away with Paula after dancing with her, despite the fact his wife was nearby. After singing tonight, RJ is told he is a likable guy, and Steven is told it wasn’t one of his best. Neither one of them make it to the next round, and RJ becomes uncharacteristically camera shy.
Lisa Tucker from the Denver auditions, had been told she was one of the best sixteen-year-olds heard … ever. As she sings Hopelessly Devoted To You, no one changes their mind. She makes it through. Perhaps it’s the song. Laura Wright, Shelby Johnson, Eden Kentner, and cowboy hat-wearin’ Matthew Buckstein sing the same song, and also make it through.
The tour group is downtown Hollywood, and funeral director Jason Horn pictures seeing his name and star on the Walk of Fame someday. Dual talent Ayla Brown puts her hands in front of Groman’s Chinese Theatre, thinking more of her signing talent than basketball at the moment.
Perhaps never seeing their names on the sidewalks of Hollywood will be Ashley Guadanuz, Kymyata Kelly and Linelle Kawawa. Not only are their names non spellcheck friendly, Ashley was told she looked defeated just walking out, Simon told Kymyata he had a fight going on between in tune and out of tune, and out of tune won, and Linelle is told she made the song sound scary. Ashley isn’t as defeated as thought, though, saying they should all keep their eyes and ears open and look and learn, as it will only make them better.
One name we all remember from the Greensboro auditions is Paris Bennett. She says tonight there is no little person in the world as loud as her. Comments like that remind me of Fantasia. She sings Can’t Fight The Moonlight, and puts her own unique gospel-like spin on it. There is no question; she is moving on.
The tour group is having some fun in the sun on the Santa Monica Beach, but not Meghan Zeiger. She’s not feeling good, and knowing she is one of the better singers, she wants to rest her voice. Turkey crooner Garrett Johnson is completely mesmerized at the beach, seeing the ocean for the first time. He says this is the biggest thing that has ever happened to him, and while that’s not hard to imagine coming from a guy from a town of four, I think that can probably be said about everyone else there as well. Garrett cries out of happiness, and wonders if he’ll become known as the Crying Cowboy. No, sorry, Garrett. You won’t ever get past the name of Turkey Singer. I think you might be forever stuck with that one.
Simon thought at the auditions that Taylor Hicks would have an image problem because of his gray hair. Tonight he sings First Cut Is The Deepest, and has that Joe Cocker/Ray Charles thing going on again. Paula tells him she was and is a fan of his, and Simon tells him he is very interesting, as people seeing him would think he was someone’s father. At least they will be seeing him … for least one more round in Hollywood.
As the second day in Hollywood begins, the forty-one that survived yesterday’s auditions are out on the tour, and much more relieved. The group that was on tour yesterday is preparing to try their luck before the judges. Seen on the tour bus is someone I’m pretty sure is April Walsh. She was the one that sang the Bjork song with “Sssh” at the end, and possibly also the girl seen missing the steps on the escalator. This must mean she made it through.
Meghan Zeiger is still sick, even after resting at the beach yesterday. She hears that people t hat aren’t as good as her are sounding better, and she’s very worried. After she sings, she is asked what happened. She pleads her case, saying she is sick and picked a key lower than her normal to sound better. Luckily for her, the judges aren’t voting solely on today’s performances, and they let her through. She’s relieved, but she still has to get that voice better to make it to final twenty-four later in the week. After her excuse got her through, everyone that does poorly tries the same thing.
Out on the tour, some are wondering why Simon Cowell doesn’t have a star on the Walk of Fame, but Ryan Seacrest does.
Even though we know they are currently in jail, the Brittenum twins, Derrell and Terrell from the Chicago auditions, apparently haven’t been found out yet at the time of filming, and are here for the auditions. Derrell sings I Know I’ll Never Love This Way Again, but Simon tells him although he can sing, he doesn’t believe for one minute he can win this thing. Terrell acts as cheerleader and says, “Pretty good for a dude in the key of Dionne Warwick.” He sings First Cut Is The Deepest, and Paula says she likes him better than his brother, because he showed off his range of colors, although was over the top. They make it, and talk about how unimpressed they are by Carrie Underwood. That’s right, and I bet she’s real impressed with you as well, sitting in jail.
Dental hygienist Gina Glocksen, crooner David Radford, Brett “Ace” Young, and Kevin Covais, all sing If I Ever Fall In Love Again. Despite the fact that each gives a completely different type of sound to it, they all make it through.
The other set of twins from Chicago, Joshua and Jeremy Simmons, (they would be the ones not currently in jail) are up. Joshua goes first, and Paula calls him a young talent, and says it was a great performance. Simon says he isn’t so sure he will remember the performance in thirty minutes. Jarrett is up, sings I Believe In You And Me,and is very pitchy. Simon apparently agrees, and says the song was too big for him. Yeah, I’d have to agree. There are probably very few people that can pull off a song sung by both Whitney Houston and Kelly Clarkson.
While neither Joshua or Jeremy make it, they are only seventeen, and say they aren’t stopping. They Brittenum twins agree with that, and go a step further saying they don’t need t odo this again, as they are too talented. The Brittenums say they will call J. Moss for for the Simmonses. I bet that’s exactly what they are doing tonight from their jail cell.
The tour group finds themselves at the “Magic Castle.” They are asked to come up with the magic words to make the secret door open, and Taylor Hicks things it might be “Clay Aiken”, while Paris Bennett thinks it is “Simon Cowell.”
It’s finally Garrett Johnson’s big moment. He’s already had two firsts the past few days – his first time in an airplane, and his first time at the beach. He says it’s been tough here, as he hasn’t been practicing as much as he normally does. He explains his mom says he’s like a steak – a lot of talent, and really, really raw. I get the raw part, but is steak talented? As Garrett steps on the stage, he says, “Holy Crap!” then launches into Can’t Fight The Moonlight, and does sound a little affected. At the end of the song he throws his cowboy hat out to the crowd, then looks at the judges, and says, “Butcher me now.” Simon assures him that won’t be happening, as they’ll be judging him on everything they’ve seen from him so far. He makes it through.
Meanwhile the Brittenums say they have seen people go on here without any talent, but they understand as it is a TV show. Could these guys really be that brazen knowing that had crimes they could be arrested for at any minute in two separate states?
Stepdad Chris Daughtry that had said at the auditions that he was inspired by Bo and Constantine sings First Cut Is The Deepest, and I am much more impressed than when I heard him in auditions. He moves on, as does Mandisa Hundley and Katherine McPhee.
Simon could not believe it when Paula and Randy put Dave Hoover on a plane to Hollywood, asking at the time if they were completely insane. No longer hyper tonight, Dave is standing on his head and sitting on the floor in a lotus position. He then runs into his audition, and gives props to the “honorable overloads.” He tells everyone they are “in the presence of Mr. Dubious Duba Dub Dub Bubba Wubba Yubbly.” Great! He sings a most appropriate Bat Out of Hell. And this is one of the approved twelve songs for the auditions? After he jumps off the stage to he front of the judge’s table, startling Paula, Simon calls him wonderful. Not so surprisingly, this is the end for him.
Ninety-nine in all made it to the second round in Hollywood, the Group Auditions. I expect we’ll see a few more surprises then, probably a few more talents we haven’t been introduced to yet. It will be interesting to watch how far Garrett Johnson makes it, because his mom is right. He is raw. But it would be wonderful for him to make it. He could put that little four-person town of his on the map!
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