American Idol recap: Teens and Tears
Welcome to an actual teenage dream.
Welcome to your second helping of ABC’s rebooted American Idol this week. You can never have enough Idol, right? Just kidding, you totally can, but we will cross that bridge together when we come to it. We’re still early on in the audition process, and tonight Katy, Lionel, and Luke spend time in New York City, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, hoping to find a superstar. Or, if you’re Katy Perry, a boyfriend.
Guys, what if the real story of this Idol season was about Katy finding true love? She gets rejected tonight, but honestly, what a throughline that would be!
Tonight’s auditions are filled with your requisite people chasing dreams, sob stories, and teenagers. There are so many teenagers on this show!
Let’s see who shows up.
New York City serves up Mara Justine first. She’s all of 15, and she is in complete awe of everything American Idol. She walks into that audition room like she’s taking a very VIP studio tour. What unbridled enthusiasm! She also has some serious pipes on her for just 15. She sings Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain” and the judges are mesmerized by the voice coming out of this kid. She’s an easy pick for Hollywood. Mara’s tour will continue down the hall to the right…
Next up is a whole slew of high school students, here to remind us all of our mortality and impending death. Fun!
There’s 16-year-old Andrew Weaver. He sings “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran, your basic teenage heartthrob fodder. Andrew is followed by Griffin Tucker, who wows Lionel with both his voice and ability to play piano. And there’s also Christina Jones, an 18-year-old who should be commended for her audition. And not just for her killer voice — but because she sings her heart out while still wearing the rubber bands on her braces. Those things don’t mess around.
The good news is all three of these kids get tickets to Hollywood. Now, go study or something!
We meet William Cassanova from Washington, D.C. Is that his given name? No. Does it matter, as long as you live up to it? I mean, maybe. William here loves the ladies and works his 9-to-5 selling beautiful women’s shoes. He sings a nice version of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song for You.” Lionel thought he sounded nervous, but has tremendous talent. Luke has been waiting for someone like William, and Katy enjoyed it so much, she hands William his ticket with her feet. Some of the best on the internet, she says. Hard pass on this whole situation.
For something completely different, we head to Los Angeles. Michelle Sussett, who moved to Miami from Venezuela three years ago, is here to entertain. She wants to make people dance, baby. And she completes that mission with her rendition of Selena’s “Techno Cumbia.” All three judges are up dancing with her. And then one is down. Way down. Katy takes a fall. Stars, they’re just like us! On top of making the judges feel good, Michelle has a pretty decent voice, too. Katy isn’t convinced Michelle will be competitive, but they enjoyed the performance enough to send her through to Hollywood.
Also entertaining, but not as lucky? Ukrainian singer-songwriter-rapper Misha Gontar. The judges were having a good time, but not enough to give him a pass.
Things get back on track with Brandon Diaz, a 21-year-old from Virginia who warms hearts with both his falsetto and his relationship with his dad. Brandon’s dad is a musician who came to the U.S. from Cuba as a child. Brandon succeeding in music is his dad’s biggest dream — he’s learned everything he knows from his dad and is doing this for him. Brandon goes through to the Hollywood rounds and the tearful group hug commences. I’m into this whole thing.
Less heartwarming is Katy’s quest to find love in the audition room. She falls hard for Trevor Holmes, a handsome construction worker who takes care of his mother and has had a crush on Katy for most of his life. Luke approves of Katy’s love because according to Luke, Trevor is a dreamboat. No one really cares about his performance, it’s not Top 10 material just yet, but it is enough to leave Katy hot and bothered, so Trevor is moving on to Hollywood. But alas, Trevor only has eyes for his girlfriend, so Katy won’t be finding her true love tonight. What a roller coaster! (Recap continues on page 2)
America, get ready for Laine Hardy, a 17-year old kid from the bayou with a voice, I’m pretty sure, made out of gravel. He’s so nervous — you can see the sweat — but his no-frills, down-home country vibe wows the judges. “If you ain’t careful, you might win American Idol,” says Luke Bryan. So, yeah, he’s a Laine fan.
From a high to some lows: We get a whole group of “no thank you”s. I would’ve enjoyed seeing more of a character called “Hank the Businessman,” but this season of Idol isn’t playing around. They only want the goods!
For instance, Gabbii Jones, a 20-year-old from St. Louis whose dad has given her a deadline of 30 days to achieve her dream of becoming a star, or she has to go back to school. That’s insanity. Mr. Jones would be so disappointed in me. But not Gabbii! She sings, excuse me, saaaangs Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman,” and Lionel is so excited by it, he gives her a hug. Gabbii is going to Hollywood and has shown her dad what is up.
Following Gabbii, we meet two guys who know American Idol is their one shot at achieving their dreams, as well — even though there’s no hard deadline attached. The first is Cameron Theodos and his v. cute hat. He sings an original song and the judges are into it. He and his hat are headed to Hollywood. But the moment really belongs to Thaddeus Johnson. He made it to Hollywood in season 9, but was cut. Afterward, he fell into a deep depression. Now he’s back, he’s fought his demons, lost 162 pounds, and is ready to sing. He sings “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia, and although Katy still wants to figure out who Thaddeus is as an artist, the judges can feel the emotion oozing out of him. It’s back to Hollywood for Thaddeus.
Yet another small-town kid with a big dream rolls into the New Orleans audition room. Meet Rissa Watson, a high school student from Apache, Oklahoma. She’s next in line to run her family’s furniture store, but is bucking tradition to follow her true love: music. Guys, I could listen to Rissa sing all night. She tackles Adele’s “When We Were Young” with her guitar (Luke tells her to lose it next time), and her voice is a dream. Next stop: Hollywood.
Just when you think there can be no more teenagers left in the country, in walks Garrett Jacobs. He’s 17, 6’4″, and has the sweetest grandma in all the land — so sweet, they call her Honey. Okay, but for real this time, Garrett will have the teenage vote all locked up. Sorry, other teens from earlier! This country kid covers “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown and the judges love it. He has some things to work on, but he is raw talent. They group video-chat Honey to tell her the news. Can Honey have her own Idol after-show this season? More Honey!
The episode saves the most inspirational story for last. David Francisco moved to Nashville to pursue his music dreams in 2015. Three weeks later, he was hit by a car and paralyzed from the waist down. David fought back, regained some feeling in his legs, and has been improving ever since. He walks into the audition room with his fiancée by his side and wows the judges with Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.” Katy is crying, Luke is moved, and Lionel calls David’s spirit an inspiration. This is what American Idol is all about people — crying over strangers in our living rooms!
David will be joining the rest of the group in Hollywood. Two audition rounds down — how is everyone feeling? The judges have been throwing around a lot of “You’re Top 10” and “You could win this thing.” Do you think there are any frontrunners in the bunch so far?