‘American Idol’ notes: Caleb Lee Hutchinson interview, TV ratings, Kelly Clarkson

AMERICAN IDOL – Ò103 (Auditions)Ó – ÒAmerican IdolÓ heads to Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City and Savannah, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on its new home on AmericaÕs network, The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, MARCH 18 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT). (ABC/Guy D’Alema)
CALEB LEE HUTCHINSON (DALLAS, CA)

Posted Monday, March 19, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Georgia’s second “American Idol” contestant to make it to Hollywood appeared last night: country singer Caleb Lee Hutchinson, a 19 year old from Dallas in Paulding County.

“It’s been a great day so far,” Caleb said the day after the episode aired, doing a flurry of media interviews. He had a viewing party with his family Sunday night and said as his audition aired, he was sure his family was more excited than even he was.

Caleb during his audition charmed judge Luke Bryan by imitating him, repeating a liner he hears all the time from Bryan on 94.9/The Bull. “It was definitely a risk,” “he said. “He could hated it but he was very kind to me.” (Caleb’s reward: he got to spend an hour with 94.9/The Bull’s Jason & Kristen morning show today.)

He then sang bluegrass band the Steeldrivers’ “If It Hadn’t Been For Love.” He thought it fit his style, enabling him to infuse blues and soul into his audition. The judges gave him a ticket to Hollywood, lauding him for the depth and texture of his vocals and his basic confidence in himself.

A South Paulding High School graduate, the 19 year old said music was always something he was drawn to. Nothing else ever caught his attention in school. He recalls his grandmother buying a karaoke machine when he was about five years old and he became obsessed imitating both Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

“I think it was my uncle who bought me a black cowboy hat,” he said. “I told everyone I was Johnny Cash.”

Though he said he listened to plenty different genres of music, the pull of country was strong. And his skills truly excelled after his voice changed around age 14. (“I think it just happened,” he said. “One day I couldn’t sing Guns ‘n Roses!”) He began performing around Atlanta, especially Mill Town Music Hall in Bremen, where he opened for Gene Watson, T. Graham Brown and the Kentucky Headhunters. His first appearance there, coincidentally, he opened for season 4 runner-up Bo Bice in 2012. “I was star struck,” he said. “But it feels like I’ve come full circle.”

Here are other factoids:

Current favorite country artists: Not surprisingly, the ones he likes are more old-school style e.g. Chris Stapleton, Luke Combs, Jamie Johnson, Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson. 

Favorite artist to cover: Given that “Idol” requires the ability to pivot to different styles of music, he said he sings plenty of covers in concert from different categories. He said he sings Post Malone, which is his “most out there” choice during his live shows.

Rejection did not make him quit: Though he did perform on “The Voice” and didn’t get a chair turn, he was psyched to get to Hollywood on “Idol,” the original reality competition show. (He can’t say how far he got but spoiler sites say he makes it pretty far. “I’m at a place where I’m willing to accept whatever happens,” he said. “I’ll going to do my best and do something I’m proud of…I do music because it’s what gets me out of bed every morning. It’s what I live for. It’s what I was born to do. If I was doing this just for money and fame, I’d get discouraged. That’s not my ultimate goal.” He just wants to make a living out of this and build a loyal fan base.)

Favorite songs from the judges: He is a fan of “Hello” by Lionel Richie, “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry and “We Rode in Trucks” by Luke Bryan.

His family: His dad William (who goes by “Hutch”) is in construction. His mom Piper is between jobs. His older brother Tyler, 27, is in school and working after a stint in the Navy. And he has a chocolate lab named Hershey. He said they’ve been nothing but supportive of his career aspirations.

Other instruments besides guitar: bass, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, keyboards, drums.

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AMERICAN IDOL – SUNDAY, MARCH 18 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT). (ABC/Eddy Chen)
MADDIE ZAHM (BOISE, ID), LIONEL RICHIE, KATY PERRY, LUKE BRYAN

The overnight ratings fell off week over week for “American Idol” this past Sunday vs. the debut, falling from 10.3 million to 7.7 million. Its 18-49 ratings dropped from a 2.3 to a 1.8.

“Idol” ratings counting three-day DVR usage for its debut climbed to 11.8 million.

Last Monday, the show faced off head to head against “The Voice” and lost. “The Voice” drew 11.9 million to the 8.4 million for “Idol.”

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Taylor Hicks appeared on “Good Morning America” on Monday with his harmonica in hand, of course:

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Chikezie Eze, a season 7 contestant, is facing some negative news from his estranged wife, who has accused him of domestic abuse and in legal papers has requested and received a restraining order against him. (Oddly, this is the second time in a week I’ve mentioned him. David Archuleta recently mentioned to me how cool and calm Chikezie was during the show.)

TMZ has the details. 

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THE VOICE — “Blind Auditions” Episode 1406 — Pictured: Kelly Clarkson — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

The battle rounds begin tonight on “The Voice” with new judge Kelly Clarkson in the fray. Her team of 12 includes some great singers but in a Gold Derby survey, one stood out: Jamella. She received 45 percent of the vote.

Jamella: “Dive” (Blind Audition 3): 45%
This 21-year old resident of Orange County, CA soared on Ed Sheeran‘s “Dive” and opted to go with Kelly over Blake Shelton.

Her support is a bit of a surprise given that she was “montaged,” which is never a good sign for longevity on the show:

Hailee Steinfeld will help Kelly coach during the battle rounds.

Here’s Kelly’s top 12 team:

Pictured: Team Kelly (l-r) Alexa Cappelli, Hannah Goebel, Brynn Cartelli, Dylan Hartigan, Jamella, Jorge Eduardo, Kelly Clarkson, Amber Sauer, D.R. King, Molly Stevens, Teana Boston, Justin Kilgore, Jackie Foster — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC)

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Clay Aiken’s Tweet of the week. He is following the NCAA:


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