Season 14’s audition tour comes to a close tonight. We’re back in San Francisco, which delivered a couple of killer contestants last night. With any luck, more are on the way.
First up is Adanna Duru, a college freshman who shares with us adorable pictures of her childhood dance recitals. She sings Lady Gaga’s “You and I,” and I hear a touch of Fantasia Barrino in her tone, which is thrilling because Fantasia is the best. This girl, “the full package” as J.Lo notes, gets some constructive criticism from Harry in which he tells her to make sure she really thinks about the meaning behind each lyric. When Harry dispenses this brand of advice, I think it means he really likes the contestant and genuinely wants him or her to succeed. I’m curious to see what happens to her in Hollywood, which is where we’ll see her next week.
Christopher Michael, 26, announces that he’s going to perform an “original anthem,” which he “spit out like butter” when he was using stress as his fuel. (What?) Here’s a sampling of the lyrics to his stress-fueled anthem, which he growls at the judges:
Such a stressful time right now in my life, yeah
Ain’t gonna run away
I’m gonna look that beast right in his eyes
I’d like to share more with you, but I honestly can’t understand him. It’s pretty aggressive and he’s playing his guitar quite violently, and it’s the first time we’ve seen the judges laugh at a contestant this season. Which is sad to see, but I honestly can’t blame them. Harry was so moved by Christopher’s passion that he threw his chair and, I’m pretty sure, broke it. Yikes, you guys. Michael leaves with an undisclosed amount of stress, but chalks his dismissal up to his being “too hard rock.” Okay.
Malibu resident Hunter Larsen enters next, and throws a little of “That’s Life” at us, and it’s not at all what I was expecting. Her voice has an old-timey quality to it with a touch of grit. She’s an obvious yes for the judges.
Hey readers, have any of you guys ever auditioned for Idol (or The Voice or The X Factor, for that matter)? These stadium auditions in front of the producers look SO terrifying and brutal. How many rounds of that do you have to go through before you even get to the judges?
NEXT: A few more contestants…[pagebreak]
Back to the auditions, tiny Daniel Seavey is 15, and he is just the cutest little guy I’ve ever seen. He says a lot of people compare him to Justin Bieber, which displeases him. Hey Dan, you’re a much better human being than Biebs, and I’m basing this on hearing you speak for 15 seconds. Well done. Daniel plays about 100 instruments, so we know he has the attention of Harry.
Daniel, Daniel, Daniel, you’ve got a lot of passion kiddo, and a weirdly low voice for your size and age, and you’re breaking a lot during this performance of “Hallelujah,” but we can either chalk that up to nerves or puberty. Keith asks for something on the guitar, and he sings “Straight Up.” He’s so cute I just want to hug him! He knows what he’s doing—there’s a lot of technical skill there. He’s not going to win this show, but don’t we all love a little kid running around at Hollywood week? And I suspect he won’t go down without a fight. I want them to put him through, which goes against everything I claim to believe about this show, but I really want to see him again because he’s just that precious. Harry passes and blames puberty (for real), but Keith and my girl J.Lo are with me, so little Danny gets a golden ticket! Weeeeeee. (He makes a joke to the camera about asking J.Lo out. He knows what’s up.)
Our next hopeful gets the Idol “American Dream” segment treatment. Born in the USA, Rocky Peter grew up in Nigeria after his father abandoned his family, and he tells us of his struggles growing up living among trash and drinking dirty water to survive. Music gave him hope, and he clung to the fact that he’d one day return to the country in which he was born. Are we feeling inspired? (I’m not being sarcastic, I’m genuinely moved by this story.) Rocky sings “Wrong Places,” an original song about searching for love, and it’s got a really nice late-90s singer-songwriter vibe to it. His voice is soft and controlled. Is he cut out for Idol? That’s Keith’s concern. But based on the fact that baby Danny just got through, I’d say Rocky at LEAST deserves a shot at Hollywood Week. And you know what? He gets it. See you next week, Rocky!
Random Idol segment: Judges are sick of hearing Sia’s “Chandelier” because honestly, who the hell can sing that song other than Sia? It’s an impossibility, as Harry proves with a screeching rendition that is also highly amusing. I so badly want to go drinking with these judges, you guys. Idol gods, can we please make this happen? It’d be my dream come true.
Jaq Mackenzie, who’s “15 and a half,” follows Harry’s frightening Sia impression, and she sings an original song. (She goes to a performing arts high school, so of course she sings an original.) Jaq is super cute, but the vocals aren’t there for me, at least not yet. She’s also rocking an amazing ’90s throwback outfit—daisy sundress, leather jacket, choker necklace—that I seriously think I saw on Hindsight a couple of weeks ago. The judges aren’t sure about her. Hollywood week could either help her, or it might be too soon. I think it’s too soon, judges! But what do I know? She’s through.
And now, Idol loyalists, we meet our last audition of the season. Tiana Jones, a 16-year-old from Florida, is super cute in her white button-down and bowtie. We learn that her childhood was punctuated with foreclosures and bouts of homelessness, during which she and her family stayed on the floor of their church. Today, she’s traveled here with her mom (who’s adorable), and I really hope the trip was worth it. She sings “Wings,” and she is so appealing. Visually, she’s channeling a young Janelle Monae, and while her vocals are not perfect (but VERY good), her performance is infectious. Natural entertainer. Keith asks if she’s working on anything right now, and she immediately responds with “My pitch,” so she already knows where she can improve, meaning she’ll be a hell of a competitor in Hollywood. She’s the one to watch from this episode. The only one from this episode, for me.
And with that, it’s over! But it’s really only just beginning. More than 200 contestants will gather in Hollywood next week, where we’ll see people break under pressure, argue during group night, and inevitably need medical attention. Can. Not. Wait. See y’all then.