American Idol 14 – Live Blog and Recap – Auditions No. 2 (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for night two of the American Idol 14 Season Premiere, “Auditions No. 2”! Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. are still in Nashville, looking for the next American Idol!
But will they find that person in Nashville? Or will it be as generally underwhelming as last night’s batch of auditions? Also, will we see any returnees among tonight’s group of auditioners? It’s a two-hour show tonight!
So keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating the post with live, running commentary and analysis. Videos will likely come later, so hang tight.
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We open with a hype package touting that this is the series that creates “bonafide stars,” and we see this through a montage of past contestants such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson, Phillip Phillips — you know, the usual.
Aaaaand still with this terrible freaking opening theme remix. Hot damn, is that an ear ache of an arrangement.
-We get some stuff on the pressure of auditioning, before cutting to our first auditioner…
ANDREW ANNELLO, 22, is up first!
-Andrew is hyper and packed with personality. He even does his own voiceover right before auditioning! He sounds pretty close to the official FOX voiceover guy, to boot. Andrew has been told he has ADHD, but he simply sees it as Positive Personality. He’s here to “bring the energy, baby.”
-He sings “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder, and while it’s not exactly terrible, he’s just so over-the-top with affectations that it comes across as a mess. Harry wants to hear a few seconds of something without all the silliness, so he sings a few bars of “My Girl,” and it’s just okay. I mean, it’s better than the first song, but I still wouldn’t put him trhough. That said, his personality makes him so lovable that I can’t help but root for him.
-J-Lo likes Andrew, but Harry tells him he has to be judicious with his silliness. Keith, meanwhile, says he wants to feel it more. Andrew insists he will, but Keith says it’s not that simple. Either you feel it or you don’t. However, when it comes time to vote, the judges are unanimous in their decision…
ANDREW ANNELLO is going to Hollywood!
-After he gets his ticket, he brings in his mother to meet Harry, since she’d “slap the dog fire” out of him if he didn’t at least ask if she could meet him. I like Andrew. He doesn’t have the best voice, but what differentiates this from a show like The Voice are the characters. As long as they can sing, and as long as it’s not a show packed with novelty contestants, it’s cool.
LOREN LOTT, 21, is up next!
-Loren is an actress, and she’s excited to meet J-Lo. When she enters, we get a pretty cute segment in which Harry jokes back and forth with the music director before Loren’s audition. She sings “Treasure” by Bruno Mars, and this is pretty cringeworthy, particularly when she tries to get the judges to sing along and fails. A total karaoke, Broadway performance.
-Harry doesn’t like it, saying she sounds like an actress singing. He puts her on the spot and asks her to sing something she might sing at home while doing the dishes. This leads into an amusing back-and-forth in which they argue over whether or not J-Lo actually does the dishes. Loren sings a few bars of “Saving All My Love For You” by Whitney Houston, and this is MILES better than the first song. I don’t love her voice, but I think she has a certain quality about her. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a star quality, but it’s something I can’t quite put my finger on.
-All the judges agree it was better, but Harry didn’t love it, so he says this isn’t her year. However, J-Lo and Keith say “yes,” so…
LOREN LOTT is going to Hollywood!
-I seriously doubt she’ll last, but I said the same about Amber Holcomb, so that shows what I know.
TREVOR DOUGLAS, 16, is up next!
-Trevor is confident but also self-effacing, joking about how girls love to see an idol on stage. He’s a self-professed science geek, and says talent and personality are the scientific formula for an American Idol. He strikes me as a really sarcastic, jokey, less serious version of Sam Woolf.
-Trevor sings “Sing” by Ed Sheeran, and this is an awesome version, in my opinion. His guitar work is really good, and his falsetto is impressive for someone this young, who hasn’t really been singing as long as some of the other people in this competition.
-Keith asks how long Trevor has been singing, and he talks about how he had trouble with his voice breaking when going through puberty. J-Lo loves his geeky quality, while Harry loves his confidence. Keith simply just says YES.
TREVOR DOUGLAS is going to Hollywood!
-This dude is my favorite so far, so I’m glad to see him get through.
-Next, we get a brief clip of another Gold Ticket recipients, including a girl with a huge voice named PIPER JONES, 24, who absolutely blows away the room, en route to earning her way to Hollywood.
KELLEY KIME, 23, is up next!
-Kelley’s tiny daughter, Hope, is absolutely adorable. She’s stunned to learn she’s going to be on TV. “We’re gonna be stars?!” she says. When she comes in with her mom for the audition, she sings “Let It Go,” and OH MY GOD, SHE’S ON PITCH! She’s already better than CJ Harris! J-Lo gives her a Golden Ticket, and you know what? I’d have given her one too.
-And now we see where Hope gets it from, as Kelley sings “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, and it’s just terrific. Wonderful control, and performed with confidence. This just felt effortless. After the performance, Harry asks Hope how her mother will get to go to Hollywood, and Hope answers by giving her mother a Golden Ticket. For his part, Harry is really glad Kelley could sing, or else this whole thing would have been pretty awkward.
KELLEY KIME is going to Hollywood!
-Back-to-back awesome auditions. This really ought to have been the season premiere show last night.
-We come back from break with CAMMIE LESTER, 15, who is crying to the camera in a confessional, saying she feels she’s had her dreams crushed. We flashback to her audition, and it’s a shame since, on the one hand, she can sing; however, she starts off the song on the wrong key and never recovers. And if you’re doing “One and Only” by Adele, you can’t afford to be in the wrong key.
-We then follow it up with a quartet of rejections, which actually kind of surprised me, since these contestants were being built up as likely Golden Ticket recipients just from how they were shown with thousand-watt smiles and soundbites about hard work and dreams. I really should know better by now.
GARRETT MILES is up next!
-Garrett suffers from optic nerve hypoplasia, leaving him effectively blind. He’s been singing since he could talk, and has been playing guitar since he was 10, although he has no idea where his talent came from since no one in his family can sing or play. He credits God Almighty for his talent, and also his dad for supporting him in his dream.
-Garrett sings “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and I think it’s genuinely great. He has a classic, old school country voice, and one of my favorites of this competition so far. Of course, then he becomes my favorite singer of the entire competition so far when he reveals that he first heard of J-Lo from the movie Selena, which he loves, revealing that he can play “Como La Flor”. AND HE THEN PLAYS “COMO LA FLOR” LIKE A FREAKING CHAMP! YES, DAMMIT! YES! (Sorry, that song is very personal to me and my family)
-J-Lo loves him, and Keith and Harry love his distinctive tone. It’s an absolute no-brainer decision…
GARRETT MILES is going to Hollywood!
-So glad he got through. I’m rooting for him.
-Back from break, and after a brief clip of Keith playing at a local Nashville music joint, we get the audition from the quirky, nervous, but immensely talented CLARK BECKHAM, 22, who sings “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” in one of the best auditions of the season so far. Harry loves the commitment in his tone, while J-Lo applauds his qualities of grittiness but sweetness. Keith actually didn’t like the grit of the song, but he does like Clark. He says yes. However, Harry doesn’t think he’s ready, and says no. J-Lo is the deciding vote, so naturally, it’s a yes.
CLARK BECKHAM is going to Hollywood!
-He celebrates like he just won the lottery, and his loved ones flip out, even lifting Ryan Seacrest off the ground and walking off with him, in an amusing little moment.
GINA VENIER, 24, is up next!
-She’s a street performer with a “lucky egg,” which is basically a shaker — one of the litany of instruments she plays, such as the guitars and the drums. Her dad taught her drums at age 6, and she just advanced from there. She calls her instruments her “toys,” and even comes in with a drum box that she plays with a foot pedal, and uses it in conjunction with her “lucky egg,” living up to her identity as a “One-Woman Band,” as Seacrest calls her.
-She sings “Put the Gun Down” by ZZ Ward, and it’s a strong, confident performance. No sooner does she finish than the judges are ushering her through to Hollywood with a Golden Ticket. And I don’t blame her. She’s as unique as she is talented.
GINA VENIER is going to Hollywood!
-All of a sudden, this one hour of TV has completely washed away my skepticism and dread for this season after last night’s show. So many talented people.
ALEX SHIER, 19, is up next!
-We meet Alex alongside his dad, who is his biggest supporter. Alex looks like Josiah Hawley by way of Matt Giraud. He’s got an absolutely killer voice, and he sings one of my absolute favorite songs in the known universe, “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran. Apparently, Alex auditioned last year, and J-Lo remembers him, although he had long hair. He explains that last year, he’d never played a live gig before. But after getting rejected, he started playing live gigs to get better, and here he is. It’s a really solid audition, so I’m not sure why Harry was so down on it. He just didn’t get what was supposed to separate Alex from an Ed Sheeran knockoff. Still, the other judges overrule him…
ALEX SHIER is going to Hollywood!
-He cries after embracing his family, proud to get his Golden Ticket.
CODY FRY, 24, is up next!
-Cody’s father is a musician, and so he grew up in a house filled with music. He tells the judges he grew up singing anything and everything he could, from commercial jingles to video game songs. He says he’ll be singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” prompting a glorious Dad Joke from Harry, in which he responds by saying Cody should sing it here instead.
-Cody’s vocals are very understated, but when he dips into his falsetto, it’s gorgeous. And his runs are well-chosen and beautiful. He seems more like a crooner, so the point where I don’t think he needed the guitar. But I love that he brought it anyway. Harry notes that Cody auditioned at the perfect time, since the music landscape is warming up to his style of singer, whereas he might not have gotten through if he’d auditioned 10 years ago. It’s unanimous…
CODY FRY is going to Hollywood!
-We follow this up with a package of Keith visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, followed by a commercial break trivia question in which we’re supposed to guess how many of his own shirts Keith saw in the collection. Um…I really don’t know or care, but let’s say 10.
-Back from break, and apparently 10 wasn’t even a choice, which shows just how much I was paying attention to the segment. The answer was 1.
HECTOR MONTENEGRO, 24, is up next!
-Hector is a master cosmetologist, saying that it was a hobby of his that became a career since he grew up in a household packed with women. He notes that he saw some women in the waiting room who could probably have used some help with their hair and makeup (he excuses his cattiness by saying, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful!” Um, sure?). However, J-Lo is not one of those women who needs help, as Hector tells her she has THE most beautiful skin.
-Hector sings “Too Close” by Alex Clare, and he’s got a very easy-going, cool tone. I like his guitar arrangement, to boot.
-Harry thinks Hector has a really nice voice, but thinks he’s missing something in the presentation. J-Lo disagrees, saying she thinks he has a certain swagger about him, and the voice is definitely there. Keith agrees that he’s a good singer. Ultimately, all three judges vote, and it’s another unanimous decision.
HECTOR MONTENEGRO is going to Hollywood!
-Hector hugs J-Lo and is so thrilled, he accidentally says he’s going to Hollywood, FLORIDA. Hollywood, Florida actually is a place though.
SARINA-JOI CROWE, 19, is up next!
-Sarina is back once again, and says what she plans to do this time is let more of her personality and bubbliness come through, since there’s nothing not to love about her. To her credit, she sings the HELL out of “Love Runs Out” by OneRepublic, singing it so well that Harry remarks, in the middle of the performance, that she’s singing it better than the original artist. He remarks that even her runs were in time, and that she sang better than she did last year. It’s an absolute no-brainer for the judges, who pretend like they aren’t putting her through at first, only for J-Lo to hand her the Golden Ticket, since no one’s buying it…
SARINA-JOI CROWE is going to Hollywood!
-We come back with a montage of Golden Ticket recipients, each one better than the one before, including country singer ALISON PERATIKOS, 19, beat-boxing Ed Sheeran-type JAKE BLACK, 26, and STEFFI LEDBETTER, 20, who manages to get Keith and J-Lo to give her a shot after Harry says no.
SAVION WRIGHT, 22, is up next!
-Savion is back! He’s actually glad he got cut last year, since it made him up his drive and grow his confidence. This year, he wants to win the entire thing and take it to the top. Hey, the braces are gone! Dude instantly looks more confident, just in his poise and speech. He looks like a grown-ass man now, where he looked like a scared kid last year. What a difference a year makes.
-Savion says he’ll be singing a song by the guy who inspired him to play guitar, Eric Clapton. He sings “Change the World,” and hot damn, this is really freaking good. I’m spamming the hell out of the word, but “confident” is what comes to mind here. He’s got an effortlessness and calm about him. No jitters, no uncertainty, no desperation. Just incredibly strong.
-Keith says it’s no…way he’s going to say no. “I love double negatives!” Savion says. J-Lo and Harry follow suit and say yes, sending Savion sailing through to the next round.
SAVION WRIGHT is going to Hollywood!
-Savion is incredibly gracious and humble, but asks the judges for advice on how to get better anyway, even though they had nothing but positives for him. Harry tells him to work with a piano teacher to break down each and every chord in “Change the World,” to help him get a better grasp of harmony since while he’s farther ahead than most, he’s skipping over chords. To his credit, Savion shows an eagerness to work on improving. I really like this guy a lot.
-So the American Idol Bus has been hitting 11 different cities across the country and bringing the best auditioners to the city audition. One such singer is our next contestant…
ZACK KALTENBACH, 22, is up next!
-He mentions going to the same high school as David Cook, and for some reason, I’m only just noticing now that these aren’t a cappella auditions, since they have the music director providing piano accompaniment for those not playing guitar. I have no idea how I’m only noticing this now, but whatever, I like it.
-However, I don’t particularly like this audition from Zack, who sings “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. He has a decent voice, but not great. It just feels passionless, which it really shouldn’t. Harry expresses his dissatisfaction with the vocal, saying he wasn’t moved by it. However, J-Lo thinks there’s star quality there. Keith feels the voice needs work, but he’s going to give him a shot anyway, baffling Harry.
ZACK KALTENBACH is going to Hollywood!
-And then we keep moving forward…
NAOMI TASTUOKA is up next!
-Naomi is another exuberant, quirky one, but very endearing. Sure, it’s kind of weird how she comes slamming into the audition, scaring Harry, but she has a winning sense of humor, having tricked people in the holding room into thinking she doesn’t know it’s Jennifer Lopez and not Jennifer Lawrence who is a judge. She prepares to perform, getting on her knees like it’s “Tequila Tuesdays,” launching into her powerful rendition of “Someone Like You” by Adele. It’s a very strong voice, although it’s a bit theatrical. Still, she’s got a damn good voice.
-J-Lo likes the voice, as do Keith and Harry, although they sometimes feel her performance was more about theatricality than vocal. Still, they’re pretty high on her, with Harry going as far as to say this competition needs her. I don’t disagree.
NAOMI TATSUOKA is going to Hollywood!
-Another strong, colorful vocalist, contributing to making this episode LEAGUES better than last night’s premiere. Seriously, the difference in quality is stunning. With what they aired last night, it’s almost like they wanted to have their lowest-rated premiere ever.
JHAMEEL, 24, is up next!
-He comes in with origami for the judges, including a turtle for Harry, a rose for J-Lo and a spaceship for Keith. He has a slick guitar and some cool face paint. However, the face paint comes with a story, as he explains that it’s a result of his OCD. He needs things to have symmetry, due to a tic he has where it bothers him when things are symmetrical. But he says there’s a certain symmetry in asymmetry, hence the face paint.
-Jhameel seems like a cool guy, although Harry then jokes that one leg is shorter than the other, prompting Jhameel to jokingly worry that Harry will bring his tic back. J-Lo gets on Harry’s case, noting how f’d up that was on his part.
-Jhameel asks if they want T-Pain or Frank Ocean, so he simply launches into “Buy U A Drank,” and his artistry is better than his voice. But he definitely can sing. The judges note that his star quality is better than the voice, but they seem to like him a lot.
JHAMEEL is going to Hollywood!
-I’m really interested to see what he does in Hollywood, since he’s the kind of variety this competition needs.
JASMIN PINELA, 24, is up next!
-Jasmin is super-excitable, and it’s stoked to meet J-Lo, saying they have a lot in common from their respective NY upbringings. However, she sings “Listen” by Beyonce in the completely wrong key. Her tone is nice enough, but she’s just not even in the same zip code as the key. More troublingly, her voice gives out from basically shouting the entire song.
-Jasmin starts pleading for a second chance, prompting Harry to stare right at J-Lo and whisper, “I think we should vote,” before her emotions end up sending Jasmin to Hollywood. At least, that’s how it came across, like he was attempting to just move on to the vote in order to neutralize the hemming-and-hawing that goes with a contestant trying to play on Jen’s emotions for a second chance. Either way, it wouldn’t have worked, since J-Lo says it just wasn’t a good audition, even though she was rooting for Jasmin to be amazing. Keith wanted her to be great too, but she just wasn’t. He says it has nothing to do with her voice giving out, and everything to do with her being in the complete wrong key the whole way through. She does not advance to Hollywood.
-Of course, Jasmin seems to confirm the judges’ as being in the right for not putting her through, since she appeared not to have heard any of the valid criticism they offered. Case in point, when she comes out to her family without a Golden Ticket, she blames her rejection on her voice giving out, when Keith made an explicit point that they weren’t saying no for that reason, but rather her tin ear. Ah well, maybe she’ll have seen this on TV and will recognize where she went wrong. I think she has a decent voice — or would, if she could stay in the right key.
LOVEY JAMES, 16, is up next!
-Lovey is a professional dancer whose real name is Kirsten. She writes her own music, and even has some professional experience, including what appears to be a music video. Harry and Keith virtually talk over her entire introduction in which she explains how she got the name Lovey, in an uncharacteristically rude moment.
-Lovey sings “Break Free” by Ariana Grande, and I just wasn’t feeling this at all. It’s not bad, but she does have a look and a personality that makes her more recognizable. She sounds like a pop star, but her voice is too thin to really be all that memorable, ultimately.
-Keith asks Lovey how she got the name, and J-Lo says this is what happens when you talk over a contestant’s introduction. This turns into a running joke, with Harry asking what her name is. Back to business though, as Harry says Lovey sounds like pop stars on the radio now, which is in her favor. Keith agrees that she has a nice voice. And, of course, J-Lo is on the Lovey train.
LOVEY JAMES is going to Hollywood!
-And no sooner does Lovey get her ticket than we’re on to the final contestant of the night…
JESS LAMB, 28, is up next!
-She’s a seasoned performer, doing countless gigs on the road. She’s 28, so she views this as her last chance. She notes that she’s glad that there are some teenagers who can be picked right up off of this experience, but then that implies that she didn’t have this same opportunity when she was a teenager, since this show would have been around since she was 16. This didn’t have to be her last chance, had she auditioned sooner. Still, she’s here now, and that’s all that matters.
-Jess sings “Ain’t No Sunshine” by recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bill Withers, and it’s genuinely great. Such a soulful voice, filled with pain and presence. And her piano skills are impeccable. She’s a really compelling voice, and an interesting performer. I like her.
-Harry and J-Lo love her artistry, with Keith saying that Jess is the kind of artist where he’d stop dead in his tracks and listen if she started singing during an open mic night. All three judges are unanimous in their praise…
JESS LAMB is going to Hollywood!
-And we close out with Harry and Jess playing piano together, in a moment that leaves Jess with a grin from ear-to-ear…and Harry with a Golden Ticket of his own from Keith.
-And that’s a wrap! A much better show than last night, with lots of real talent. But what did you think? Who were your favorites of the night? Did anyone get through that you think shouldn’t have? Did someone not get through that you think deserved a chance? Sound off in the comments! Until next week, thanks for hanging out!