AMERICAN IDOL Audition Recap: Last Stop to Stardom?!

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Another week and there are three fewer hours of ‘Idol’ left remaining in the history of time.

That finality adds more drama to the auditions this year. Take the case fifteen-year-old blues singer Ethan. He came in, clearly not ready to win, but with some decent blues licks and the beginnings of a good voice. Ordinarily, I’d want them to send him home so he can come back next year…

…Except there is no next year.

And that’s the extra bit of jeopardy this year. Every hopeful has this shot and only this shot on a show like this because this is the only game left in town – don’t give me ‘The Voice’ because no unknown has a prayer of getting on that show.

So this is just about it, we’re almost through the last of the last chances to go from a nobody to a temporary star. Who knows? Maybe that will make me nicer on the youngsters this year.

I doubt it.

THE FOUR BEST AUDITIONS
Gianna Isabella
This was the short curly-haired girl whose mother is Brenda K. Starr. Yes! Brenda K. Starr. The singer of “I Still Believe”, a song that has to hold the record for most sounding like it was sung by another artist. I mean, doesn’t everybody just assume Mariah Carey sang that song? I’m not talking about her cover version, I’m not talking about her backing vocals, I’m talking about the main singer on the original track. Everybody thought that was Mariah right? It’s got to be down to that and the number of people who think “Oh, Sheila” was recorded by Prince right?

Oh. I was analyzing an ‘Idol’ audition? Sorry, there were more important issues to discuss.

Chris “CJ” Johnson
This was the tatted-up professional musician from Memphis whose “sob story” was basically the typical life of anybody trying to hack it in the music industry who isn’t big enough to get cast on “The Voice”. He sang “You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates which is just a free pass to the best performances as far as I’m concerned. It helped even more that he did a really cool slowed-down version of the song and has an honest road-worn voice that adds total authenticity to his performance.

Something tells me I’m going to hate him by the end though.

Jenn Blosil
This was the impossibly weird girl who looked like a Cabbage Patch Doll and talked like she was just coming out of anesthesia. She was set up to be the latest goofy audition that didn’t make it to Hollywood. Then she sang. Her instrument is absolutely phenomenal. It sounded like she was cleaned up in a studio or singing through some sort of perfect acoustic enhancement system. Yet it was just her voice. She might be a bit strange, but she has a voice that could definitely win her the show.

Jordyn Simone
This is the fifteen-year-old who looks like she’s 38 and sings like a blues singer even further down the line. She sang a Jackson Five song by herself and turned it into an Ella Fitzgerald standard right down to a smoky little tag on the end of the song that brought it home like a pro. I’m sure at some point will get a Danny Almonte reveal of her actually being much older than she says she is

Jake Dillon
This is the guy in the trucker hat who currently works as a plumbers apprentice, a job which he described right down to his having to deal with sewage. Lovely.

If there’s an opposite sewage, he pulled off the musical equivalent of it with country-rock rendition of “Danny’s Song” that was damn close to being the definitive version of the song. Hearing his backstory and the true blue collar struggle that his life is at this point, made the song even more impactful as you could hear every bit of the yearning in his vocal.

Amazingly, the judges almost didn’t put him through to Hollywood and Harry even said no. This despite the fact that I uttered an audible “Holy Shit” to myself the moment he started singing.

No pun intended, Mr. Plumber-man.

THE FIVE WORST PERFORMANCES
Derek Huffman
This is the kid who worked in a dollar store and wore a tank top that looks like it came from the discount section of said establishment. The kid couldn’t sing at all. He was totally flat the entire time but not completely awful. He gets incredible creativity points though for bringing in a boombox and a karaoke track for his performance – an actual Idol first. I’m not sure why it took somebody so long to think to do that ever since they started allowing instruments, but here we are, and he failed spectacularly. So spectacularly that he ripped off his shirt and started screaming at his family and every camera in sight that ‘American Idol’ doesn’t like “true entertainers.

Y’know. Like dollar-store karaoke singers.

Ellis Banks
This was the guy who came in dressed like the Iron Sheik got crossed with a character from the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’. Unfortunately, his outfit wasn’t the most ridiculous thing about him. The moment he dug into Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”, he began gesticulating like an Octopus trying to swat mosquitoes and somehow sang worse than that octopus might. We’re lucky that he didn’t go to Hollywood though, because, as he said – we just aren’t ready for him. Though that is part of what’s being a superstar is all about.

Leah Harbert
This was the girl with the horrible dyed-black hair and even worse fake tan who came in talking to the judges like a kindergarten teacher who is about to murder her entire class. She said that she was influenced by Britney Spears who “taught her to sing” through her albums. Or something like that.

I’m not sure what exactly she learned from Britney. It sounded more like she learned how to sing from a bottle of mouthwash as she essentially gargled her way through a massacre of “Chain of Fools” that eventually caused J-Lo to tell her to stop out of mercy for all of our ears.

Sadly she didn’t pull the plug quickly enough for us to unhear Ms. Harbert.

Harrison Cohen
This was the kid with the ultra-cool grandfather who seemed to speak in only pickup lines. All the wrong parts of the grandfather tricked down to the grandson, however, as Harrison is a creepy old man already at only a scant seventeen years of age. His performance of his original song wasn’t too bad from a musical perspective, but Harrison falls into the worst-of category due to his creepily leering at J-Lo during his entire song as though he were that guy from the ‘Second Chance’ preview on TV.

I hope J-Lo had extra security after that audition.

Xavier Soller
This is the Denver Nuggets game host who had the judges shoot some toy hoops before assaulting their earholes with “Friends in Low Places”. I mean, it’s basically impossible to do a good version of this atrocious song, but Xavier’s voice-cracking yelp was particularly appalling. I want to make fun of him more, but he had such a good attitude about the experience that I just can’t be mean.

I think I’m losing my edge in the final season.

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