Life after ‘American Idol’: Simon Cowell, Carrie Underwood, Sundance Head, Jessica Sanchez

THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" -- Pictured: Sundance Head -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

THE VOICE — “Blind Auditions” — Pictured: Sundance Head — (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Tuesday, September 20, 2016

NBC’s “The Voice” is back for season 11 and recycled “Idol” contestants are inevitable. The first episode featured Sundance Head from season six semifinals. (It’s small solace for Fox given that “The Voice” is a major reason why “Idol” is no longer.)

The 37-year-old Texas singer with a beard and a seeming country edge opted for a soulful rendition of an Otis Redding song. Adam Levine turned around as he started the chorus, followed moments later by Blake Shelton. Adam immediately knew he was in trouble.

“If you are on my team, we’ll do a whole lot of different,” said Levine.

When Alicia Keys asked him where Head learned to sing with such soul, he credited Keys and sang a bit of “Fallin’ ”

Head, who is packed with personality, brought his son Levi up to get an autograph from Levine. But his two kids both said he should pick Shelton. And that’s just what Head did.

Shelton said “Sundance is one of the most interesting artists I think that has ever auditioned for ‘The Voice.’ ” He certainly looks like a lock for the live shows at least.

On MJsBigBlog poll, Head is No. 1 among all the performers opening night.

Head made it to the top 20 season six on “Idol” in 2007 but was eliminated after performing Pearl Jam‘s “Jeremy” during the second week of three weeks of semifinals. Below is his initial audition that year, which happened in the summer of 2006. “Powerful voice,” Paula Abdul said. “You blew it out,” Randy Jackson said. “This boy’s the bomb.” “One of the best voices we’ve heard on this audition tour,” Simon emoted. “I’d be amazed if you don’t make the finals. Well done.” (He would end up being amazed.)

Sundance’s father Roy Head landed  a no. 2 hit “Treat Her Right” in 1965 that was kept out of No. 1 by the Beatles “Yesterday.”

Here he is performing his dad’s hit:

Here’s his “Mustang Sally.” In the intro, he talked about missing his newborn son Levi.

And here’s “Nights in White Satin”

A Macon teen Maggie Renfrew tried out singing “Lost Boy” but nobody turned around. She was pleasant but a bit rough around the edges. The judges encouraged her to work on her craft and come back.

The judges teased each other as you would expect and having confident women like Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus to take on Blake and Adam is not a bad thing. This is the first time the gender balance is even.

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AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- "Live Finale Results" Episode 1123 -- Pictured: (l-r) Howie Mandel, Grace VanderWaal, Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

AMERICA’S GOT TALENT — “Live Finale Results” Episode 1123 — Pictured: (l-r) Howie Mandel, Grace VanderWaal, Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Simon Cowell was gushing after “America’s Got Talent’ concluded its most popular season in five  years. Surely, he was thrilled that more people watched partly because he was a judge, replacing Howard Stern. And he loved the winner, the adorable 12-year-old Grace Vanderwaal along with magicians The Clairvoyants, intense singer Brian Justin Crum, inspirational Philadelphia Eagles player and magician Jon Dorenbos, prop mime dude Tape Face (who Stern would have loved) and former “Idol” crooner Sal Valentinetti.

“I had a feeling when we were filming the show that this was going to be a really good year,” Cowell told Billboard magazine. “I think the producers did an outstanding job, and you get great talent on the show, and all these things come together to create that incredible sweet spot, which is what I think we had. It was just a gut feeling that there was still room for them to grow with this format.”

And Cowell enjoyed judging a variety of acts – not just singers as he did on “Idol”: “You never get bored. Sometimes, when you’ve got singer after singer, it can get a little bit monotonous depending on who you have that particular season. With this show — particularly the new edition — literally, a box can walk on and you’re thinking, “What’s in the box?” I haven’t got a clue who’s auditioning. They never tell us. It reminds you of being a kid again. It’s sort of fun, magical, weird, but all the things I like.”

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Carrie Underwood appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” last Friday for the 10th time and Ellen gave her a surprise:

Earlier, Ellen asked Seth Rogan to give her a sentence to insert into her interview. He asked her to encourage Carrie to do the chicken dance. See how it plays:

Amazingly, this is the first year Carrie has ever been nominated for CMA Entertainer of the Year. She will co-host with Brad Paisley again November 2. Here’s her “Dirty Laundry” on “Ellen.” It’s now at No. 31 on the published Mediabase 24/7 country chart in its second week, just behind Lauren Alaina’s “Road Less Travelled” at No. 28 in its fourth week.

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Season 11 runner-up Jessica Sanchez has been tapped to sing Hillary Clinton‘s theme song “Stronger Together.” What? Clinton has a theme song? Yup.


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