Lucky for us all, the Chicago auditions started very quickly without all the usual rah-rah for the host city folderol. We did see a brief appearance by my fave, Haley Reinhart giving words of encouragement to the crowds assembled in whatever sports arena they were gathered. I found out today that Haley was dropped by her record label along with a few dozen other acts during what was called a major housecleaning. Her label let her down badly and not by dropping her. Her CD flopped. It wasn’t the CD Haley fans were hoping for. I hope she finds another label that knows how to make an album that allows her to be who she really is musically. But I digress.
The first auditioner, Mackenzie Wasner has a good but not great country voice. Knowing Vince Gill and having sung with him certainly hasn’t hurt her musical abilities and maybe it even gives her some country street cred. I didn’t think she was exceptional but she deserved to get through.
Then we had some awful blond guy. I didn’t even write down his name. Kiara Lanier who bonded with Mariah over their mixed race genetics wowed the judges but I found her singing to be only marginally good. She didn’t have that certain something that past top 10 contestants need to get there. She won’t even get close to that level. I think Hollywood week will cut her dreams to shreds. She was damn cute, though.
Stephanie Schimel apologized for being shaky but the shakiness didn’t come through in her audition. While she wasn’t giving Nicki “that thing” whatever that thing is, the other judges were impressed enough to put her through.
After we established Melissa Bush, a shy massage therapist from Michigan, wasn’t related to any famous Bushes, we established she can’t sing well.
Gabe Brown, from Colorado, bribed the judges with cookies. He needn’t have done that but it was a nice gesture that made him memorable. He wailed like your drunk friend on karaoke night at the local bar. Even when asked to sing quietly, he eventually belted it out. He was loud but in tune. He doesn’t seem to be a musical fit for this show but he is treading on ground formerly trod by James Durbin who did OK on Idol Gabe got through to Hollywood so we’ll see what happens. He definitely stands out in the crowd so he should be hard to miss.
Kevin Nabity, a hyper nerd from Iowa, sped his way through a Bare Naked Ladies song then warbled his way through a Styx classic murdering them both. Isabelle Parell enlisted Keith to duet with her on Baby, It’s Cold Outside. She found warmth from the new judges but Randy gave her a “no.” She’s through to Hollywood anyway. She wasn’t bad but she should have waited a couple years before auditioning. She has a lot of growing and maturing to do.
Griffin Peterson was not that good but it appears Nicki votes with her Little Nicki. Nicki pleaded with Mariah to give him a yes so the girls at home could see him one more week. I’m not sure what Mariah was voting with because it wasn’t her ears. I guess it was a bonding moment for the two of them. Randy’s vote was the only one that made sense.
Curtis Finch, Jr. belted out a gospel-tinged tune by Smokey Norville, someone I don’t know. Finchy harkened back to Joshua Ledet and got him three yeses since Keith had to leave early. God is able to do what?
Mariah Pulice got all emotional talking about her battle with anorexia. It was typical heavy-handed AI backstory crap. Singing a rather soulful rendition of Let It Be she moved the judges and is moving on to Hollywood.
Yet another country singer, Brandy Neeley was yet another audtioner still in high school. She has soul. She was better than the one who sang with Vince Gill. She was one of the best of the night. Clifton Duffing never sang for his father or mother before singing for the judges. He wasn’t the best I’ve ever heard but he was still pretty good. All the judges gave him a well deserved yes. They couldn’t say no with his parents in the room listening to him for the first time.
For a professional dancer, Ieisha Cotton hardly busted a move when Keith asked. Her singing was atrocious. Randy told her she was tone deaf. You can’t get much harsher than that. She got four no votes and hopefully she won’t come back again next year as she threatened. Johnny Keyser, who auditioned last year, sang Try a Little Tenderness and got through to Hollywood again. I don’t remember him at all.
Kaz Ban does not look or act like your typical American Idol contestant. She has a KT Tunstall, coffeehouse jazzy vibe to her which I liked as did the judges. She first sang a song from Pinocchio, an odd song choice, followed by an original when Randy asked her to play her guitar. She was a good singer with and without the guitar but she was also a good guitarist which was refreshing. Having a white girl with a guitar on Idol be nice but I fear she won’t last long. Remember Lily Scott? Sometimes being too talented and quirky is too much for the pinheads who call in to vote. Besides she seems to have a little chip on her shoulder coming into the competition. And she said she just wanted to make it to Hollywood. Does she even have the drive or stamina to go further? We’ll see, won’t we?
When Ashley Curry said her friends said they never heard anything like her, I knew we were in trouble. She claimed she was a musical theater student but she was so awful I can’t believe she ever passed her entrance audition. If she was attending a school for the deaf I might believe it. She was one of the not-too-obvious wackos.
The much hyped Lazaro Arbos has a pretty debilitating stutter but like Mel Torme, the stutter doesn’t manifest itself when he sings. And he sings well. I can’t imagine him getting far through. He wasn’t that good.
Kaz Ban and Brandy Neeley are the two singers from tonight I am most looking forward to seeing again. Other than that, the talent wasn’t overly impressive.
Only two shows into the new season and I am already sick of Nicki Minaj. She is rude, obnoxious and self-absorbed. More importantly, she is crazy jealous of Mariah and she can’t hide it. Almost every girl auditioning has been in some way influenced by Mariah. Many of those auditioning are also great admirers of her and this seems like it’s driving Nicki nuts if she wasn’t nuts to begin with. Nicki knows they don’t feel the same way about her because she has not shaped that many vocalists in her relatively brief career. I also think she really wants a penis. She acts like she desperately wants to be the alpha male of the group. She keeps hitting on single men. Preying might be a better word. She interrupts the other judges often. She thinks she’s the center of the universe. If I stop watching Idol midseason, she’s probably going to be one of the reasons. I’m still hoping getting a life would be the real reason I stop watching this show.
If it seems like I stopped watching the show next week, it’s an illusion. Next week I have jury duty so if my reports aren’t as timely, it’s because I was so tired and had to get up too early to invest the time and energy it takes to get these reports done.