American Idol 14 – Live Blog and Recap – Auditions No. 1 (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap of the American Idol 14 Season Premiere, “Auditions No. 1”! Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. are back to serve as judges as the search begins for the next American Idol!
Will our winner be in tonight’s group of auditioners? Will there be any surprise golden ticket recipients? And will we see any familiar faces among the group of auditioners? It’s just one hour tonight (and two hours tomorrow), because I guess Empire needs a lead-in, although I can’t remember the last time a show really benefited from having this as a lead-in, as much as I do love Idol. Either way, it should be a big show tonight. Hopefully, it’s not too cluttered with jokesters.
Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating the post with live, running commentary and analysis, while Rickey uploads videos of tonight’s auditions for those who can’t watch live.
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We open with the video of Ryan Seacrest “introducing” us to the Top 24, which I still think is an utterly ridiculous idea, since a lot of these voices are incredibly distinctive. Once we meet even a third of these people during auditions, we’re going to know. Of course, the Top 24 spoilers have been out for the better part of forever now, so anyone who wants to find out can easily do so. Still, I’m trying to stay relatively unspoiled. I mean, if I have to watch the audition phase, I’d like at least a little suspense.
With that said, this group does sound pretty good, even if the video doesn’t do as good a job as the production team probably thinks when it comes to concealing their silhouettes. But whatever. At least it’s better than the new opening credits. I mean, holy damn, who the hell approved that? The clip of the tour bus traveling through New Orleans and other places is fine, but the remix of the song is the dirt worst.
-The judges are kicking things off in Nashville.
RILEY BRIA, 17, is up first!
-Keith immediately recognizes Riley as the guy he played with at a country awards show in 2012, having won the honor by participating in a camp set up by the Grammys. He’s excited for Keith to hear him sing for the first time, so much so that he does a Keith Urban song, “Georgia Woods”.
-He has a good voice. Not a great one though. But Jennifer seems to really like him, just smiling all the way through the performance. And the guy does shave some serious guitar chops, so there’s musicianship there. He’s also got a certain effortless quality going on that makes him appealing. I’d put him through, just to see what else he could do.
-Harry thought it was an impressive performance, like he’s not even trying. Jennifer liked it a lot too. Keith, meanwhile, tells Riley not to be afraid to dig into the performance. That said, he’s all about Riley. It’s a “yes” from each judge.
RILEY BRIA is going to Hollywood!
-I don’t think he’s the best singer to start off the season, but he did a perfectly fine job. Outside the audition room, he signs the new Wall of Fame for all gold ticket recipients.
PRISCILLA BARKER, 19, is up next!
-Priscilla’s mother absolutely adores Keith Urban, and she describes herself as “spunky”. She sings “Delta Dawn” by Tanya Tucker, and although she has a guitar, she waits a bit before actually playing. I don’t know if that’s how the song starts off, but if it’s not, it’s a smart choice for Priscilla to allow her voice to be showcased for a bit. I like her.
-Priscilla then relates the story of how her mother “touched” Keith Urban once, and says she doesn’t know what she’d do if her mother came in to meet Keith right now. However, she assures Keith that she and her siblings have “trained” their mother to make sure she doesn’t act a fool. Harry then goes into some kind of Bigfoot voice, for reasons I overlooked. Priscilla “feels” for J-Lo, being trapped between Harry and Keith. And I feel for her standing there, awkwardly watching.
-It’s time to vote, and Harry says yes. J-Lo says no. But Keith gives her a “yes,” saying that Hollywood Week could give her the push she needs. Priscilla’s mother comes in to meet Keith, and she’s just as well-behaved as Priscilla promised.
PRISCILLA BARKER is going to Hollywood!
-Not the greatest singer, but loads of personality. I really, really like her.
CAMERON BEDELL, 26 is up next!
-Cameron is up next, and he sings “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray Lamontagne, and it’s a pretty solid vocal. We learn almost nothing about him though, other than that Keith really wants to jam with him. Cameron thinks it’s surreal that the judges all like him, and J-Lo takes it upon herself to vote on behalf of the other two judges.
CAMERON BEDELL is going to Hollywood!
-I don’t feel we really got enough of Cameron to make a determination on how far he’ll go. On the one hand, I think he deserved to go to Hollywood. On the other, he was kind of forgettable.
-Back from break with the judges singing “Cupid” by Sam Cooke while we get clips of the contestants in the waiting room talking about how hyped they are to meet the judges. One girl, however, is still under the belief that Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey are judges, and is both confused and a little disappointed to find out they aren’t.
-And now, it’s a list of joke auditioners, at least two of which didn’t sound half bad. But there’s no real point to this segment, since none of them get through, and none of them are particularly funny either.
AMBER KELECHI WALKER, 15, is up next!
-Amber a ball of energy and nerves, starting off by noting how pretty Jennifer is. She notes that she and Jennifer are both Leos. Harry asks where Amber is from, and she notes “Memphis, Tennessee…the hard part.” We then get a video package in which she says if it weren’t for music, she’d probably be in a gang, or pregnant, or in jail, since she’s from a part of town where hardly a week goes by without a funeral. She loves her mom for all she’s sacrificed for her, and notes that music has given her something to believe in.
-She sings “Heartbreak Hotel,” and while I think she has a pretty voice, I don’t think she’s anywhere near ready. She just doesn’t have control of her voice, since she seemed to be relying on power more than anything else.
-Jennifer says yes, but Harry says he likes Amber more than her voice, noting that she needs more work. He says no. However, Keith says yes, offering her a golden ticket. She falls to her knees, practically slamming her head on the ground. She’s so happy, she’s in tears. She thanks the judges and then asks if she can have Harry’s autograph, to which he happily agrees. Keith feels it’s the least Harry can do, if he’s not going to say yes to the girl. Amber races through the halls and then goes back into the waiting room, where she’s met by cheers and her proud mother. In a confessional, she promises to work as hard as possible to impress Harry. Well, if nothing else, I like her attitude.
AMBER KELECHI WALKER is going to Hollywood!
-Amber is a really likable girl, but I can’t imagine she’ll go much farther than this. Of course, I could always be wrong, but still, I’ve yet to see anyone I think can win this competition yet.
KYLE BLAINE CORMAN, 24, is up next!
-Kyle is from Staten Island, and says there aren’t very many places for him to play back at home. However, he shouts out “the Staten Island music scene” before his audition. In various interviews prior to his audition, he keeps blanking out, uncertain of what to say. He looks like a cross between Charlie Askew and Rocky Dennis. That said, the dude has glorious, long red hair. So nice, in fact, that Harry wants to touch it. So he runs his hands through it…after which he asks for Purell. For his part, Kyle thinks all of the judges are insanely good-looking (I mean, he’s not wrong).
-Kyle plays the Goo Goo Dolls version of Supertramp’s “Give A Little Bit,” and you know what? I actually kind of like it. He plays a little fast, but his voice is very unique.
-J-Lo says that Kyle’s voice isn’t really a singing voice, it’s more of a talking voice. Kyle starts to sing “Lego House” by Ed Sheeran, but Keith says this is an audition and they’re trying to give him feedback, so if he isn’t going to listen, he should just leave. Kyle apologizes, and J-Lo insists it’s all good. However, this is the end of the road for him.
-We follow it up with a montage of nameless contestants who’ve been cut. LOTS of tears follow, although we don’t hear a single note from any of them. Were they all that bad?
-Next, we meet a barista from across the street who got “an hour off” for his audition. Um…dude, you can’t just be all, “Gonna audition for Idol. BRB” like you’re going to be gone any less than three hours. Maybe he got an hour off, but there’s no freaking way he’s been there for any less than two.
KORY WHEELER, 26, is up next!
-He sings “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” and it’s a lovely performance, very folksy. His voice is full of character, and really impressive. However, I don’t recall hearing a voice like his in the Top 24 teaser, so I guess he doesn’t last, which is disappointing. But I’ll enjoy him for however long he lasts.
-The judges are all really impressed by him. Jennifer has “goosies,” and Harry says they haven’t heard a voice like his before. Keith is equally stoked about what Kory could do. It’s unanimous…
KORY WHEELER is going to Hollywood!
-Ryan escorts Kory across the street to show Kory’s boss the gold ticket he just received.
MICHAEL SIMEON, 20, is up next!
-Before auditioning, Michael reveals he has a special request for the judges after he sings. When he shows up, he introduces himself and then launches into his rendition of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”. It’s pretty good, honestly. Not great, but one of the best of the night so far.
-So the judges send him to Hollywood unanimously, but Michael makes his request. It’s to slow dance with J-Lo. He hands the guitar so Keith can play a song for them. However, Harry thinks if they’re going to do this, they need to do this big. Harry sits at the piano while Keith plays guitar, and Michael sings while J-Lo rests her head on his shoulder. It’s actually quite a lovely little moment, particularly once Keith and Harry start harmonizing with Michael. Just very sweet. Harry then jokingly bills Michael for $700,000.
MICHAEL SIMEON is going to Hollywood!
-Harry admits he’s just a little bit jealous, saying it looked like such a lovely moment. “Don’t worry, you’ll get to dance with him next time,” Keith jokes, in one of the funnier moments of the premiere. J-Lo then immediately steals his thunder by saying, “Hey, I’m a great girlfriend and wife. I just keep picking the wrong f***ing guys!” This segment was just aces.
EMILY BROOKE, 15, is up next!
-Emily believes that Ryan Seacrest told her to audition in the finale of Season 13. It was a sign to her, and so she started saving up every penny for the trip to Nashville, once she learned they’d be stopping through the city. She gigged and gigged until she had enough to come, so she literally does have everything riding on this. Emily introduces herself to the judges, and they’re immediately taken aback by how she actually looks her age, which is kind of rare and refreshing these days. I actually disagree though. The way she’s styled makes her look 20. Not that it matters either way.
-Emily sings “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood, and it’s one of the best of the night. Still not great though. I don’t know what it is with this first batch of contestants. Maybe the next time I hear each of these people, I’ll be more enthused. A lot of this talent, though, is pretty raw and needs honing. But that’s what tends to happen in Hollywood week. The judges seem to really like her though, with J-Lo noting that she did a great job, even though Carrie Underwood songs often make her nervous for contestants. After she leaves, Harry notes that Emily might have the most potential of anyone they’ve seen. It’s a unanimous decision…
EMILY BROOKE is going to Hollywood!
-Emily signs the Wall of Fame, and we’re out!
So what did you think of tonight’s show? Any potential finalists here? Sound off in the comments! Until tomorrow night, thanks for reading!