Posted: 8:03 pm Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
By Rodney Ho
Enough about Atlanta traffic woes! Let’s get to ‘American Idol.”
Tonight was very heavy with guitarists but plenty of promise. Oddly, we were in Salt Lake City auditions but heard from three Alabama singers. Yes, that’s the state of Ruben Studdard, Bo Bice and Taylor Hicks.
It appears they flew a lot of folks in who they found through the bus trip through the South.
As a result, we get a heavy dose of country and some seriously good talent. Overall, 30 made it through.
We hear at least seven of the final 31, based on the spoilers.
One more hour to go in Omaha and then we’re off to Hollywood.
Here are some of the more notable auditions:
Austin Wolfe (“Radioactive”): She brings a little jazzy feel and intensity to the song. Is she a star? I’m not sure but she’s a decent singer. IN
Kylee Adamson, lumberjack (“When You Say Nothing At All”): She didn’t do anything special but was good enough of a country singer to get to Hollywood.
Montage of folks who are IN. Keith Sanders (Lenny Kravtiz-ish), Michael Simeon (cool tone/singer-songwriter), Tessa Norman (R&B with an attitude).
Then montage of OUTS: Samantha Townsend (“I did not now that was Eeglish,” said Harry Connick Jr.) followed by two more who get no names. This montage only illustrated that Keith Urban is the nice guy, aware folks are being seen by their family and millions of viewers.
Alex Preston sings an original with a guitar. Pretty voice but he does not have much of a look, save for serious bags under his eyes. He does feel what he’s singing, which Jennifer Lopez likes. IN
Samantha Calmes is the type of singer who seems to work better because of her guitar. Then again, she sang “The Jeffersons” theme song a capella. So I’m a fan!”I wasn’t as impressed with your voice but the choices you made,” HCJ said. IN
Montage time: Lebryant Crew, a real estate appraiser, brings poise and confidence to his audition. He even winks. Laurel Wright has a Taylor Swift-ish voice. both IN.
D.J. Bradley sings a really boring song and doesn’t really entice me. He has interesting hair, though. “A quirky vibe,” J. Lo said. “Mysterious vs. disinterested, which makes me disinterested,” Keith Urban said. He was on the fence but ultimately said yes. I don’t anticipate he will go far. IN
Julie Awful is borderline. She gets a no from Keith Urban but gets through. I expect we will never see her again. IN.
Kenzie Hall goes John Mayer on us. She is cute and sweet. Her personality enhances her vocals, which are versatile. Who is she? She’s only 16. “She played a diminished chord,” HCJ said, impressed. Easy IN.
Paisley Van Patten had a record deal in Nashville at age 15 who suffered from alcoholism. “I really blew it with my addiction,” she said, in a rare back story feed this season. Her boyfriend quit on her because she was trying again for stardom. She has a wonderful voice. “Love your voice,” Keith said. IN.
Haydn Olsen doesn’t sound particularly good. HCJ says it’s not good enough. J. Lo likes it. Keith? No. OUT
Quick NO’s: Chase Boyle and Julia “Miss Cyclops”
Montage guitar quickies are IN: Jocelyn Baker and Blake Branscom.
C.J. Harris from Jasper, Ala. gets a swift back story with vague parental issues and his dad died a year earlier with a heart attack. He brings a southern rocker/country vibe with just a hint of soul. “You had my attention through the entire tune,” HCJ said. A 100% IN. He has tears of joy afterwards. We’ll be seeing this guy again for sure.
Tiquila Wilson travels from North Carolina to sing Adele. She has a lot of energy and tackles Adele with verve. J Lo gets the “goosies.” Easy IN.
Chase Thornton, an enthusiastic buser and model, should stick with modeling. OUT.
Jessica Bassett, a student with a really lovely voice, was given a no by HCJ and Keith. Surprise! OUT.
They then did a bit showing the judges in their early days. Urban himself did a TV talent show at age 16 doing Air Supply. The criticism didn’t deter him. There’s J. Lo as a fly girl! And then Connick as a kid playing the piano at a festival.
Emily Rottler does that thing with her enunciation a lot of singer songwriters do nowadays. But she’s good at it. “You’re the real thing,” J. Lo said. IN
Dexter Roberts, another Alabama man traveling to Salt Lake City who is a dog kennel dude, brings interesting country blues. “You seem like the kind of guy who sings to get through the day,” HCJ. “Sounds authentic to me.” IN
Ally Roundy sings that oversung Etta James song “At Last.” Keith thinks she’s not quite ready. “Diamond in the rough but too much rough,” HCJ said. OUT
Briston Maroney travels from Knoxville. He has a very unusual voice, sounds much older than his age (just 15!) Makes me smile. HCJ only worries he might mess up his voice, the way he growls. But he’s a definite IN.
Montage again of youths: Carson Heline (OUT), Sabrina Lentini (IN) and Lei “Fish” Loutetai (IN) are all promising.
Johnny Newcomb looks nervous but is more imitative than original on Pearl Jam’s “Last Kiss.” ‘I don’t believe that’s your voice,” HCJ said. “It’s premature for you to be on ‘American Idol.’ ” J. Lo changed her mind with a Daryl Worley cover. HCJ still said regardless, he’s not ready. Keith gives him a yes. But he has almost no chance of going very far in Hollywood unless he brings more confidence to his performance. IN
Kimberly Toshi irritates with “Barracuda” an is OUT.
Carmen Delgina, whose dad is Wonder Mike is from the Sugarhill Gang, opts for “Tainted Love” but overdoes the runs. “You’re a talented young woman but I don’t think your vocals are strong enough to get you to the end,” HCJ said. “Very inconsistent,” J. Lo said. “Something was disconnecting,” Keith said. But they all give her a yes. IN.
Kassandra Castaneda does yet another Adele cover (this time, “Chasing Pavements”). I really like her even if she’s a bit raw. “It was just alright,” HCJ said. He felt she missed too many runs and said no. J. Lo liked it. “You had a lot of good control.” Keith is the tiebreaker who feels she could blossom in Hollywood. IN.
Kenneth “Woodie” Gaddie goes gospel with “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” He gets yeses and is IN.
Last up: Casey Thrasher from Tuscaloosa, Ala. He is a traveling musician. He met Urban at the CMA Awards and chose “Believe” by Brooks & Dunn. He is special. The man can sing with heart. “I love you,” J. Lo. “It had so much feeling.” HCJ: “Your drive is extremely strong… You will do practical things to get better.” Keith: “You have such hunger and desire and desperation and want to get a break.” IN.
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.