American Idol 2016 Recap – Auditions #5: Denver, Little Rock, Atlanta, Philly – Live Blog (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for American Idol 2016, “Auditions #5”! Host Ryan Seacrest and judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr. continue the search for the final American Idol!
Tonight is the final week of auditions in American Idol history, and we kick it off by heading all over America, as tonight’s auditions range from Denver, Colorado to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also on the docket are stops in Atlanta, Georgia, and Little Rock, Arkansas.
Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary and videos of the highlight auditions as soon as they become available!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We open with a look at all the contestants nervously preparing for their auditions (check out that slow-motion hand-washing action!). The judges then arrive, as the drum beats build, turning this into a super anxiety-inducing video, which I guess is the point.
MIRANDA “POH” SCOTT opens the show!
-Poh is the younger sister of Shi Scott, one of the Top 24 finalists from last season. Shi is even here with her for the audition, which makes me wonder why Shi isn’t auditioning again, considering semifinalists are allowed to come back. Poh talks about how she and her sister became really close after they started moving around in their high school years. Now, they’re inseparable, but she wants to be more than just Shi’s sister.
-Poh notes that she’s Shi’s sister, and we cut to Shi outside the door, who’s already blubbering with pride. So cute. Anyway, Poh sings “Fairytale” by Sara Bareilles, and it’s really good. Her phrasing is just delightful on some of these notes, with a little bit of Amy Winehouse in the way she enunciates. She’s got a lovely tone as well. Poh isn’t all the way there yet, but I could see her accomplishing big things on this show.
-Harry tells Poh not to ever say negative things about herself, because it’s like telling people what to think. He really liked what she did with her notes, while J-Lo liked the way she sings, saying the movements match the voice. Keith declares Poh one of her favorites of the day. The judges are unanimous in their decision…
MIRANDA “POH” SCOTT is going to Hollywood!
-Shi embraces her sister and explains that this is the first time Poh has ever really done anything on her own, so she couldn’t be more proud. Meanwhile, the judges share memories about how good Shi was, and how badly they wished she had risen over the course of last season. I really don’t know why Shi didn’t give this another shot, but I suppose going through this experience once is emotionally taxing enough.
-Back from break with American Idol winners Taylor Hicks, Nick Fradiani, Ruben Studdard, Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze, along with Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken on-hand to help in the arena auditions. We get an absolutely INSANE audition from a man in drag who sings “Natural Woman” while falling out of his dress and cartwheeling all over the place, and then falling onto his back and kicking his legs up in the air. This was awful, and Clay is totally in the right to rip into this guy, saying that American Idol is a show that has given him everything he has, and that this man’s audition was an insult to everyone who takes this seriously. The man insists Clay doesn’t know talent, and that’s why he lost, but Clay is quick to respond with a dismissive, “I don’t have time for this.” Go Clay.
AMELIA EISENHAUER is up next!
-Amelia is a teenager who brings a katana sword to the audition with her. It’s a flat-edge though, so it can’t cut anybody. Still, it’s a cool visual when she slices through her own name graphic. As an added bonus, she plays the fiddle. I love fiddlers!
-Amelia sings “Many Rivers” by Annie Lennox, and I REALLY like her voice. This was one of the biggest surprises of the audition for me. I can’t really place who her voice reminds me of right now, but it’s got this husky quality to it that sounds all the prettier when she does her runs. I thought this was great, and the fiddle added a beautiful element of musicianship to it.
-Harry liked the audition, but cautions Amelia to hit the notes more squarely next time. Keith and J-Lo, however, don’t really have any criticisms. They love her voice, and are anxious to put her through. It’s another unanimous decision!
AMELIA EISENHAUER is going to Hollywood!
-In celebrating in the confessional room, Amelia says she’s going to scream, just not here. I like her already. She’s quirky and has a cool sense of humor. And she’s a talented musician in addition to having a great voice. I’m definitely rooting for her to go far.
JOY DOVE is up next!
-Joy just might be the most exuberant contestant we’ve had so far this season. She’s just a bundle of…well, exactly what her name is. The judges already love her energy and enthusiasm, as she announces herself with claps, and she never stops smiling once. I really, really dig her already.
-Joy sings “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)”, and it’s a great pick for her voice. She has a pretty good tone, although this particular performance is more loud than anything else. That said, loud can be good in situations like this. She’s got real presence, and I’d love to see what she can do onstage with a band backing her.
-Harry loves her energy and spirit, and thinks it’s a great thing that Joy sings loud. J-Lo and Keith are equally enthusiastic about Joy. Their decision is a no-brainer…
JOY DOVE is going to Hollywood!
-Joy celebrates with her family, and she’s just so happy that I can’t help feeling like I’m getting a contact high from all the smiling. She’s great.
MACKENZIE BOURG is up next!
-Mackenzie shares a birthday and a homestate with Harry, and right away, Harry is already optimistic about this performance. It gets doubly interesting once Mackenzie declares that he’ll be performing a medley of the judges’ songs. This should be interesting (J-Lo even says as much, because I guess Puerto Rican minds think alike).
-This is an awesome performance, as Mackenzie’s voice is pure as water. He doesn’t go over-the-top with the vocal inflections or the runs the way a singer like Thomas Stringfellow did. Among the songs in the medley are “Stupid Boy” and “Memories of Us” by Keith Urban, “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” by J-Lo, and “Come By Me” by Harry Connick Jr. Half the songs are unrecognizable, but I still loved what he did with each of them. I think he’s got all the potential in the world to actually win this thing, and not just because he’s a cute, young white guy with a guitar.
-Harry thinks Mackenzie is a smart son-of-a-gun with his song choices, while J-Lo loved how he reinvented her song. Keith jokes that he loved the 1st and 4th songs (both Keith Urban tracks), before noting that Mackenzie has a lot of talent to offer in the competition. I’m typing this up like a court stenographer, so I’m probably underselling just how hyped they were about Mackenzie. But, needless to say, this kid is on the fast track to top contender status.
MACKENZIE BOURG is going to Hollywood!
-Mackenzie’s dad seems even more amped up about the golden ticket than his son:
“I’m going to Hollywood!”
“YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT!”
I could get used to this level of enthusiasm, honestly.
-We get a video package of people who came to the auditions in pairs over the seasons. Some of these auditions worked better than others, although the less we talk about the Brittenum Twins, the better.
ANDREW BIRDWELL and AARON BIRDWELL are up next!
-These brothers are self-described “giant nerds”, and we see this in action as they play Magic: The Gathering in the holding room. They’ve been singing since birth, and while Aaron is quick to declare that he’s the better singer, Andrew feels he has more raw talent.
-I have no idea what the hell they’re singing, but it’s awful. They try harmonizing, but it just doesn’t work. Aaron has a little bit of a voice, but Andrew’s just got nothing going on. I like these guys’ personalities, but the actual talent is severely lacking, which is a shame. I wanted to love these two.
-Keith describes it as something like a Gregorian chant, but Harry is quick to correct him, declaring it a “Gregorian can’t.” J-Lo immediately says no to them both, at which point Aaron asks if they can sing another song. “I think we’re good,” J-Lo responds. And that’s it for the brothers Birdwell. In their confessional, they state that their mother will likely be disappointed. But hey, she’s your mom! She’ll love you anyway. At least I hope. If nothing else, they’ll still be way better at Magic: The Gathering than I’ll ever be. And I can’t tell you how many times that would have come in handy for me (I lead a strange life).
-Back from break with a hype package for the judges, detailing why each of them is such a big deal. One contestant is really nervous about getting to audition in front of such huge stars. She’s outrageously adorable, and I SWEAR I’ve seen this girl before.
JENNA RENAE is up next!
-Okay, NOW I know where I know her. She was on America’s Got Talent! And if I recall correctly, I was pretty upset when she didn’t get through. Granted, my reality show crushes tend to carry on a long time. Jenna says she’s wanted to audition for American Idol for virtually the entire time it’s been on the air, and I really wish she’d done it sooner because she’s great.
-Jenna sings “She Don’t Love you, She’s Just Lonely” by Eric Paslay, and it’s really good, although this sounds far more like pop/soul music (a la Sara Bareilles) than country. But maybe that’s because she’s playing the piano. Either way, it sounds amazing, and her voice is one of the most controlled we’ve seen so far. I loved this.
-The judges adore her, although Keith says it doesn’t sound like Jenna grew up singing country. But this isn’t a bad thing, as Keith loves her voice, and Harry and J-Lo think she’s a very soulful singer. It’s positive reviews all-around for Jenna.
JENNA RENAE is going to Hollywood!
-Jenna is bubbly and excited about getting the Golden Ticket, and notes what an honor it was to meet the judges. Her victory dance/pose after getting the ticket is the height of cute. LOVE her.
MARIO BONDS is up next!
-Mario is a self-described “sexy black boy” who also happens to be blind. He admits he had a bit of a rough upbringing, particularly after he went blind, since he lashed out at the world, getting into fights, and eventually being institutionalized. But he persevered, and he projects a lot of outward joy and stability. I like him already.
-Mario sings “Inseparable” by Natalie Cole, and it’s pretty damn good. It’s not a blowaway performance or anything, but it’s leagues better than some of the teenagers they’ve put through so far this season. I would take a chance on Mario, since I think America would really grow to like him as the competition rolls on.
-J-Lo thinks Mario has a good voice, but she wants to be honest, saying that she was distracted by some of his techniques. Harry is in the same place, saying Mario has an interesting vibrato, but doesn’t feel it’s what they’re looking for. Keith agrees, adding his spirit is incredible and he does have talent, but that he isn’t there yet. Mario pleads to sing another song, but it’s going to be a no. Mario cries as his friend comes to help him out of the room. “I blew it!” Mario sobs, and this is the most heartbreaking rejection I’ve seen in a while. The judges offer their opinions in confessionals, and J-Lo says they usually tell people to come back next year, but they don’t have that luxury now. Adding to the heartbreak, Mario’s friend tries to encourage him by saying they could still call him back for an audition later. “No, it’s over,” Mario responds. Sad stuff.
-Back from break, they’re playing “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart, one of my favorite songs ever! It’s part of a video on redemption for contestants who didn’t make it in previous seasons. Case in point, our final audition of the night…
ADAM LASHER is up next!
-Adam is UNRECOGNIZABLE from Season 14, as he no longer looks like the nephew of Carlos Santana. Gone si the beard and the headband, in favor of slicked hair and a fresh suit. This is an amazing look for him. He looks seriously cool and — dare I say? — handsome.
-Adam sings an uptempo version of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, and it sounds like an arrangement John Mayer would have come up with. I love what Adam does with it though, as his voice is every bit as strong now as it was last year. I think he has a real shot of going far in this competition, if he keeps this up.
-The judges absolutely love him, and they rush to give him his Golden Ticket, because of course…
ADAM LASHER is going to Hollywood!
-Adam says this Golden Ticket is his shot at redemption, and on that subject, we get our final audition of the night….
EMILY BROOKE is up next!
-The judges instantly recognize Emily, and Keith is stoked to see her back. She recounts her journey last year, saying she was eliminated in the House of Blues performance, but took the judges’ advice and spent the year getting more experience and working on her craft. I’m excited for this, and it looks like the judges are now.
-Emily digs into The Voice deep cuts by singing “Careless” by Team Blake’s RaeLynn. It’s an outstanding vocal, and even J-Lo is floored by how much better she’s gotten (although J-Lo NEEDS to shut the hell up while the talent is singing. It’s just so incredibly obnoxious to hear her chatting with the judges while someone is singing for their lives). I loved this, and I’m hoping she can be this season’s representative country singer.
-Harry loved it, and proclaims Emily to be the best audition of the day. Both he and Keith express how inspirational she is, taking their advice from last year and using it to grow and improve. J-Lo says that when they cut her last year, this was what they hoped she’d do upon returning. I’m totally expecting her to be Top 24 this season. And once America gets the chance to vote for her, I can’t imagine she won’t make it through to the Top 10.
EMILY BROOKE is going to Hollywood!
-And that’s a wrap! Tomorrow night is the final audition episode in American Idol history! Join us for the live blog and recap! But for now, let us know what you thought of tonight’s episode.
Until tomorrow, thanks for reading and hanging out!