Sure we’re here to talk about the next batch of auditions American Idol is throwing our way, but we can also be here to discuss the fact that I would very much watch a television show in which Lionel Richie plays a character called “The Captain” who has adventures at sea. Usually, I find these Idol opens gratuitous, but not this one. Bless you for the gift of The Captain. Okay, enough daydreaming, let’s take a look at everyone who received a golden ticket in this two-hour singing extravaganza.
Courtney Penry, 25, Houston, Tex.
“Parachute” by Chris Stapleton / “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town
You may remember Courtney from 2011 when she was known as the “crazy chicken girl in love with Ryan Seacrest.” Or you may not. I pray you do not. Back then, she made it to the Hollywood group rounds but now admits she just wasn’t ready. But she’s back! Very much still in love with Ryan Seacrest, but also with her fiance, Seth. Probably still with her chicken impression, too. Ryan seems grateful that Seth is around. Courtney’s first song is a bit much for our judges, so they have her sing something a little slowed down, and she wins them over. She squeezes in her wedding before heading back to Hollywood.
Logan Johnson, 20, Boise, Idaho
“Sober” by Demi Lovato
Logan arrives to his audition with eight months of sobriety under his belt after tackling an addiction to painkillers. The song obviously means a lot to him, and it’s hard not to get wrapped up in it. You can tell Luke loves it because the dude can’t hide his grin. They call in his family before they take the vote (so you know it’s going his way), and Katy tells them to take care of Logan because heading to Hollywood is going to be hard for him. But headed to Hollywood he is. Anyway, everyone ends this thing crying, including Logan’s older brother, also an addict looking to make a change, who couldn’t be prouder. I hate this show and I’m out of tissues already.
Eddie Island, 25, Nashville, Tenn.
“Stay OK” by Eddie Island
Welcome to the Island! Eddie gave himself his last name when he came to the realization that we’re all islands. I mean, John Donne might have something to say about that, but sure. His laid back attitude is infectious and Katy immediately feels a kinship because Eddie has googly-eyes on his guitar and she has googly-eyes on her nails. If only all the other hopefuls knew what it really took to win a golden ticket. Luke decides he’s going to “invest in the ol’ island” and even with an original song (usually a death wish), the Island makes it through.
Kason Lester, 28, Lebanon, Tenn.
“Holdin’ Her” by Chris Janson
Uh, hold on, folks. Kason runs a successful strawberry farm with his brother but pops on this show and says that music is his passion and he doesn’t want to be 80 years old and still farming. All I want to do is go off the grid and live the rest of my days on a strawberry farm. If Kason wins this season, I will gladly take his place. A strawberry farm! What a dream! It may be the sweet goody-baskets the Lesters bribe the judges with before Kason sings, or perhaps it is the backward hat-guitar combo, but Katy is sweet on Kason from the get-go. He gets a ticket to Hollywood and I am one step closer to my strawberry farm dream. Everybody wins.
Following this dude on a guitar, we get a little montage of several people playing instruments who are given the go-ahead to the next round. Jake Durkin (25, Cohasset, Mass.), Cory Young (21, Temecula, Calif.), and Betsy Jo (21, Miami, Fla.) are three more hopefuls who we’ll be seeing later in the competition. Hopefully, we’ll hear more of Cory’s insane rasp because that was something. I’d like more, please!
Juan Pablo, 26, North Hollywood, Calif.
“Bésame Mucho” by Consuelo Velazquez
¿Cómo se dice “drama?” Katy wants to know once Juan Pablo finishes his song because the man brings himself to tears! I mean, the answer is “drama” so it’s kind of a let down for what Katy’s trying to do, but she’s not wrong. The guy tells a story. He tells every story! Lionel is impressed that he can stand still and yet make everyone in the room come to him. That’s an artist. After a short break for Juan Pablo and Katy’s new telenovela, even macho man Luke gets on board with making Juan Pablo’s dreams come true. Funny story: Here he does not cry.
Shayy, 17, Midlothian, Va.
“Rise Up” by Andra Day
Thank the lord they didn’t air Shayy’s audition on Sunday’s tear-jerker episode otherwise I’d have no tears left to give. In the past year, Shayy discovered that she had a brain tumor and, after surgery, became legally blind. After you watch her package in which she talks about deciding to push through and live life and be thankful for what she had, you can never complain about anything ever again. It’s the law now. If you’re not crying once she starts singing, don’t worry—Lionel is crying enough for all of us. The man is moved. Get this angel-voiced young lady to Hollywood.
Landen Knowlton, 23, Tupelo, Miss.
“Washed by the Water” by Needtobreathe
Sergeant Nolton has arrived to finally whip these judges into shape. All it takes is some yelling and push-ups. Well, this is my hell. After their little lesson in military practices, Landen is all loosened up and ready to strum a little ditty on his guitar. He doesn’t stand out, but he’s very likable. All three of the judges agree that he should lean more on the subtle, softer side of his voice rather than trying to push. He will have the chance to apply this critique in Hollywood. Now we can all truly be at ease. Thank you, I’ll be here all week!
Ethan Payne, 15, Macon, Ga.
“Do I” by Luke Bryan
Ethan and Luke go way back. Ethan has cystic fibrosis and when he was 13, Make-A-Wish made his dreams come true by sending him to meet the man, the myth, the judge himself. Luke then made it even better: He brought Ethan on stage to sing with him and gifted him his guitar. Ethan is here today with that very guitar and a request for Luke to sing along with him. I’m not sure how far Ethan will go in this thing, but it’s a fun moment and also Luke Bryan is kind of the best?
Alejandro Aranda, 24, Pomona, Calif.
“Out Loud” by Alejandro Aranda
Lionel calls it “a religious experience.” Luke says he’s “never seen anything like that.” Katy anoints him “a genius.” So, uh, yeah guys, the judges really liked Alejandro’s audition. You know who maybe didn’t? Alejandro. Since he’s self-taught and has only been playing (both guitar and piano, which Lionel begs him to play even though he nails his audition with his guitar) for three or four years, he’s intimidated by all the talented people auditioning. He’s basically like all those dumb songs about how a lady is so beautiful and she doesn’t even know it, but, like, with musical talent. It’ll be interesting to see him tackle other artist’s songs with his unique way of both playing guitar (did you see that?) and his voice. But with his musical idols being Trent Reznor, Chopin, and Bach, anything is possible.
I don’t know if you can call anyone a front-runner during Idol‘s audition rounds, but if you can, Alejandro is it. Anyone else from this crop of singers stand out to you?
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