American Idol recap: 'Stop Believing,' says Harsh Harry
Auditions continue in Austin and San Francisco, "Harsh Harry" diva-snaps his way into our hearts
Episode 2 plunked us down in Austin and San Francisco, where — just like anywhere else in America — screams of delight and terror sound the same. #ThisIsReal #IdolHorrorStory #TheChamberAwaits.
Harry Connick Jr. continued his crusade of harsh truth-telling, with a refreshing transparency about his role as a facilitator in the Idol machine. So many of his critiques were not only on point for the situation, but spoke volumes about the way this show really works — like when he told 17-year-old mini Rihanna Quiandra Boston-Persall, “You have as great a shot at working in the industry as many of the people here.” That’s the nicest thing he could offer her (she did get a golden ticket), and really, why should he deliver superfluous compliments? Leave that to the others!
“Some of the people who audition do not belong in this business. Let’s also be real,” said Harry in one of his snappy let-me-tell-you-how-sh*t-works confessionals: “Sometimes you gotta stop the bleeding.”
HEY GURL HEY.
Now’s as good a time as any for an…
Esteemed Colleague Email Interlude
Let’s try not to think about it; the Good Lord in Heaven is busy. May I distract you with this….
Random Shot of Boobs?
Nah, that didn’t quite work, but let’s move on.
I’m still not excited by most of the contestants, and it doesn’t seem like the judges are either — many of tonight’s and last night’s yeses had a distinct “Because if not you… who?” vibe to them. Here are the ones who shone a bit brighter than the others:
Jesse Roach, 27: At first it seemed like only J. Lo’s abs would be around to judge the first contestant of the day. I would not wanna be judged by J. Lo’s abs. They’d take one look and laugh their ass off, thus strengthening themselves even further. That’s how success works. The tattooed working musician sang “Do Ya” by K.T. Oslin, winning over J. Lo with her outfit, Keith with her “story that’s way older than you are,” and Harry with a non-distracting rasp to her voice. I love that Jesse’s here because some neighbor lady popped into her garage and basically forced her to, and I love even more that she didn’t freak out in self-indulgent delight upon seeing her friends outside. Every season needs at least one, am I right?
NEXT: The worship leaders you may be revering for a few weeks Megan Miller, 23: I knew she looked familiar: This was the girl on crutches from last season! Megan bellowed her way through Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name” with such massive force that Harry worried about when her voice would blow out. Keith enjoyed her “impassioned rasp,” but very astutely pointed out that if the singer sounds like she’s working too hard, it’s a two-way street and the audience will strain while listening. Time will tell if this young and bright-eyed Ethel, Louisiana media consultant will emerge as the next Steven Tyler.
Spencer Lloyd, 19: Right away, Harry hated this pretty boy’s guts — his eyes were too blue-green, his name was too cool, he carried a guitar. (I’m so drawn to Harry’s friendly animosity I can’t even handle it!!!) Wouldn’t you know it, the Arkansas worship leader sang a Colton Dixon tune. I could hear his voice go flat a few times, but come on, y’all — you know singing isn’t the real reason he’s here. “You’re gonna bring something to American Idol that needs to be there — it’s an image thing, so I’m gonna say yes,” said Harry. I’m torn between loving the transparency here and hating the fact that the producers were obviously gunning for this guy. Are there no other Hot Men, Good Singers in the 75,000? Come on.
Line of the night from Harry: “Whoever’s gonna line up next to you is gonna have to deal with the deafening screams of your looks.”
T.K. Hash, 28: Holy s–t, now I’ve really seen it all. THE PRESIDENT has auditioned for American Idol. This service manager from Charlotte missed some notes on “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” (I can’t believe that is a real song title), but he did have an energy that changed the chemistry of the room for the better, like J. Lo said. Because that’s just the effect that Barack Obama has on a room, man. Harry: “I wouldn’t say you’re the greatest singer I’ve ever heard — but you’re likable.”
John Fox, 20: It’s worship leader mania tonight! (Also every night.) John wrote a song for church when he was six, enthused his mom. Aw, this guy’s parents were the best — so gentle and supportive and non-flashy about it. John’s twangy “To Make You Feel My Love” didn’t seem to stir the judges, at least not visibly, but they approved: Keith liked that the guitar wasn’t the dominating aspect of the performance and thought John had authority in his voice. “You’re such a great guitarist, Keith,” the kid gushed. I love these genuine darts of musical admiration so much more than the BLIND RAGE FREAKOUTS we’ve seen from…you know. Different types of super fans. I wonder if John will reconsider those earrings for Hollywood Week. I’m picturing an Idol stylist brutally ripping them out upon his arrival. Get to them first, John! Save your earrings! We shall all be saved.
NEXT: ‘You’ll have your own spot in the sadness’ Rachel Rolleri, 17: Keith detected a thickness in her tone, “like a Cher thickness.” Whoa! Really? This is the girl who winced/winked at the judges upon messing up a chord in Sugarland’s “Stay” — cute the first time, but deadly and annoying if executed again, warned Harry. But he liked her understated confidence — “extremely important in Idol” — and agreed to give her a shot.
Emmanuel Zidor, 24: He’s the one who crawled in singing, tricking us all into believing he was a Joke Contestant. The feeling never really went away for me (Dawg), but I can’t deny the power and clarity of his vocal on “I Believe in You and Me.” I can’t decide if the Miami airline ramp agent’s huge personality will be alluring or off-putting. But I’m eternally grateful to Emmanuel for prompting this brilliant exchange:
J. Lo (warning him not to make her cry): I’ll have to fix my makeup!
Keith Urban: Or someone will.
J. Lo: They.
Oh my God. It’s just such an amazing encapsulation of reality. #ItTakesAVillage
David Luning, 26: Awww. A thoughtful, quiet creature in a great big hat, David sang a surprisingly dark original about giving his heart away when he should’ve kept a part of it for himself. I rather liked this! It’s not American Idol-y, but I don’t know, I can see this guy playing a minor character on another show I recap, Nashville. (Isn’t that what all aspiring singer-songwriters should do, ASAP?) Keith pointed out that David might be crushed by all the big voices in Hollywood, but the other half of him (including all the hairs to the left of 64B) appreciated David’s “staunch originality” too much to let him go.
“You’ll have your own spot in the sadness, know what I’m saying?” offered Harry. Gah, I love his way with words! Don’t we all have our own spots in the sadness? I feel it every time my remote control thuds on the chilling dread of live TV.
Selena Moreno, 22: Ugh, this twins segment just decimated me, sob-wise, and I loved every minute of it. Long story short: Selena, not Sierra, is the better singer, as evidenced by her confident take on Janis Joplin’s “Try.” I couldn’t get the sense that she was amazing, but you never know; the splashy twin-sister element of the presentation may have corrupted that, as Harry pointed out. I loved what he perceived from his perch at the table: “When Selena was watching Sierra, she was like ice…. she knows. They know.” I got my second goosies of the season here. I’m delighted at how the other sister’s lesser vocal talent was presented as this DEEP DARK SECRET they always knew was there. Great sisterly dynamic, too, after the verdict. We’re not all created perfectly equal; not even twins.
NEXT: The Good, the Bad, and the Sound Healer Briana Oakley, 17: Another returning contestant! Remember her from Hollywood Week last season? I could not stop staring at Briana’s yellow candy tongue during her cover of Sara Bareilles’ “Stay,” but I did hear J. Lo mutter “Jordin Sparks” in the face of such a clear-toned, powerful youth. “What I liked is that you’re proud to sing,” said Harry. “You opened your mouth.” That would definitely help.
I also kind of liked androgynous “Hakuna Matata” tee-wearer M.K. Nobillette, wild-haired Remi Wolf, 17, whom Keith called “a primitive talent,” and Sacramento student Aranesa Turner, mostly for her Willy Wonka song choice, “Pure Imagination.”
So many short-as-Seacrest “yes” auditions flew by — I’m not complaining; it’s great to hear even a snippet, but there’s just not enough to critique.
I am gonna have a LOT of fun screen grabbing oil field worker Eric Wood‘s face if he makes it to the live shows. “Oil worker!” exclaims J. Lo. She’s never heard of such a thing. “How much do you like working on the oil rigs?” Keith Urban drilled Eric. The “Simple Man” singer sure doesn’t wanna do it forever.
He’s got Ryan Gosling eyes (Ryan Clark, 22).
Season 1 third place finisher Nikki McKibbin has a 15-year-old son, Tristen Langley:
I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS. #GettingOld #ThisIsReal #IdolJourneyToSorrow
We did see a few “joke” contestants tonight, the most cringe-worthy of whom, for me, was tantrum-throwing man child Ronald Reed. “I have something that the world honestly needs to hear,” he insisted.
Nope. The word “honestly” was the tell. Only liars use it! I found that out by reading my own Twitter feed.
I liked how this kid’s family member (uncle or dad) lingered with Ryan after Ronald crumpled into a dramatic heap on the floor. Well, “that’s character,” the dad says. “That’s character-building,” Ryan corrects him, referring to the valuable experience of rejection. “That’s right,” Dad admits. He gets it!
Greasy, Aggressive Cowboy got old real fast, and it’s too bad Low Weight, High Reps couldn’t sing a lick. Meanwhile, I still thought Bare Feet, That’s All I See was a joke even as he started composin’ “Hallelujah. The judges agreed that Adam Roth‘s “schizophrenic” rendition sounded forced. Then J. Lo gave him a yes and the sound healer threw Keith Urban into a trance until he offered him a golden ticket. Whatever. All I ask is that he wear shoes in Hollywood. Especially if he walks there, collecting sounds along the way. #IdolJourneyToThirdDegreeBurns
Random Pause of the Night
How do you not love this? Pure Idol magic.
Now here it is: Your moment of zen.
Did anyone sound-heal you tonight, Idol lovers? Discuss!
Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.