Posted: 8:03 pm Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
By Rodney Ho
Amazingly, the Atlanta episodes don’t even start until tomorrow and we’ve had FOUR people from Georgia featured on the show going to Hollywood. First, one in Austin, then San Franciso then two more in Detroit tonight.
And even better, Harry Connick Jr. gives Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines a big plug by asking a woman whose dad works at Delta if she had ever met “Deltalina,” the red-headed flight attendant who has told millions of travelers not to smoke with her wagging finger.
Based on the spoilers, at least five of the singers on the show tonight make it to the final 31. And 40 total folks made it out of Detroit, including several who journeyed from the South.
Here’s a recap of the hour:
They open with “the Chamber” again. Stop it! Stop it now!
First up: Keri Lynn Roche, a waitress who has a bit of Crystal Bowersox in her with a bit more soul. It’s up my alley and she’s IN.
Next: Julian Miller, an 18-year-old shoe salesman, has youthful verve and confidence. IN easily.
In montage form: Paris Primeau (a quirky red-headed torch singer), Olivia Diamond (R&B) are all IN. Samantha Furtwengler (country) is out.
Tuba player Malaya Watson possesses a clean R&B voice with some weight and emotion behind. Very impressive for a 15 year old. “I don’t need to hear anything else,” J. Lo said. “God gave you something so pure, real and special. I can’t wait to see you go through the transformation you’re about to go through.” Very easy IN.
Guitar player Bryan Watt traveled all the way from Thomasville, GA to Detroit to sing Carrie Underwood’s sad “So Small.” “Confident, patient, easy performance,” Harry Connick Jr. said. He compared him to a superhero. “Nice slinky groove,” Keith Urban said, noting he could add even more ache. IN.
Khristian Davis goes for a very raspy, low-key Whitney Houston. But she’s not good enough and frequently off key. “Inconsistent dynamically,” Keith said. OUT
Jena Ascuito warbles through Adele. Karaoke quality. No more Adele! Not good enough. But the judges inexplicably like her. IN.
The Singing Manicurist and the jokey person with the eyebrow makeup are in and out in less than 60 seconds, thank goodness.
Melanie Porras, 19, from Kennesaw started with “Fever,” which J. Lo clearly has heard too many times, too. Very predictable in a bluesy style. Her Bon Jovi was a bit more interesting. Someone below said she reminds them of Haley Reinhart. Bingo! J. Lo thinks she could be doing records. “You already have the seeds,” HCJ said. “You’re on the way.” IN.
Harry Connick Jr., bored and waiting for J. Lo, “tries out” in front of Keith Urban and does some improv, ultimately botching the National Anthem, causing the crew to laugh (‘They’re laughing near you,” Keith cracked) and then getting Keith to sign his ankle.
Then Liam Newberry, a fan of HCJ, does a decent Sinatra-esque “The Way You Look Tonight” but lacks swag. “It was a tiny bit too straight down the middle,” J. Lo said. OUT.
Jade Lathan has an unusual voice and brings it out with an Amy Winehouse cover. “I don’t want to patronize you but you’re really adorable,” HCJ said. “You just look fresh and sweet and nice. You did some things I didn’t expect.” IN.
Sarah Scherb, a pretty girl with a pretty voice whose dad works at Delta in sales. Harry Connick Jr. asks if she has met “Deltalina,” the famous woman on pre-flight videos who wiggles her finger to tell folks not to smoke. She said her dad has met Deltalina. HCJ is tickled. J. Lo looks confused until he says, “It’s for people who fly commercial!” You can hear the crew laughing as he adds, “Occasionally, when I’m not on Greyhound, I fly coach on Delta!” Oh, by the way, she’s IN.
Sydney Arterbridge, who looks a lot like Melinda Doolittle, dares attack the 1970s classic Minnie Ripperton “Lovin’ You” with the “la la la’s.” She almost but doesn’t quite get the high notes but otherwise, she’s quite good. IN.
Last up: a 26-year-old father of four and minister of music, Maurice Townsend, isn’t terribly commercial looking but he can sing and makes it IN.
David Oliver Willis, who made it to the Vegas rounds last year, does a quality cover of Alex Clare‘s “Too Close.” No doubt where he’s going, though HCJ warned him about not being too reliant on the guitar. He’s IN though HCJ doubts he can win.
Rakita and Karlita Gulledge are the second set of twins we’ve seen this season. They duet Beyonce‘s “Listen.” They oversing it with plenty of offkey moments. Horrid all the way around. OUT.
They then feature Blake Soles for the sole purpose to see HCJ dog Keith Urban.
Brandy Neelly, a previous contestant who J. Lo recalls, covers Hunter Hayes and is okay. It feels too mannered to me. But Keith applauds her. “I love your voice,” he says. IN.
Ethan Harris loves Keith Urban, has him sign a drawing he did of him, then does a cover of “You’ll Think of Me.” It’s not nearly as good as Keith’s. HCJ called him “Ronnie Osmond,” the lost Osmond. The judges are charmed. I’m not. IN.
Then HCJ, clearly the comic relief, does a “confessional,” where he claims to be a bad judge cribbing off J. Lo’s notes, showing too much bro-love to Keith and stealing Ryan Seacrest’s hair products.
Montage time! Leah Guerrero has a cool look and a decent sound. Zach Day, a “tram driver,” is fun. Symphony Howlett has the coolest name ever and over does the runs and what HCJ dubs her habit of creating “annoying” breaks in her voice. They are all IN but all with caveats. And we know that montage people are people we seldom see much again.
Ayla Stackhouse is a Motown lover does an extensive audition showing a lot of energy and skill. “There’s some star potential there,” HCJ said. Duh. IN.
Eric Gordon, a lab technician from Kansas, does not look like a star but he certainly uses a lot of hair gel. He has a decent voice but I don’t see a star here. IN.
Xavier Cavillo, Mr. Duck Dynasty with the beard, doesn’t impress with an aggressive but ultimately so-so CCR cover. He begs for another shot but doesn’t get it. Tony Delbarrio looks like “Weird Al” and is off all the way around. OUT and OUT.
Ryan Nisbett lost a ton of weight after going gluten-free. He has a serious pompadour and admits looking like a hipster. He is ill but pulls off a really cool Sarah McLachlan “Angel.” I am as pulled in as the judges. I really hope we see a lot more of him in Hollywood. IN.
Now we see the lady we heard a bit of in the opening seconds of last week’s first episode: Marrialle Sellars, 17, from Indianapolis. “I have something to prove myself and make my dad proud,” she says. She gets back story treatment that has been relatively sparse to date. Her dad died when she was young. She blends rock and soul in her mix and yes, more rasp. (Rasp is big this year.) She’s IN. Is there any doubt she’s going to make the top 31? She reminds me a little bit of Nadia Turner from season four.
Here are some teasers Idol handed out before the show began:
The awful twins:
Thomasville’s own Bryan Watt.
About the Author
I'm the media writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and ajc.com. I've been following radio since 2001, TV since 2005. I cover everything from the local radio and TV news scene to shows shot in Atlanta ("The Walking Dead," "Real Housewives of Atlanta") to networks based here (CNN, TBS, Up, Weather Channel) to celebrities who visit town.