American Idol recap: The emotional stories and familiar faces keep rolling in
It’s week three of the American Idol auditions and Katy Perry is feeling the love. It turns out that the location of the Los Angeles auditions is also where Orlando Bloom proposed to our judge. “This room is blessed!” she yells after contestant Jordan Jones (who does a cool rendition of The Cure’s “Lovesong”) proposes to his girlfriend after getting a ticket to Hollywood. In fact, there’s a whole montage dedicated to Katy making people’s dreams come true because she’s full of love and joy in that room. It helps get teen Erin Kirby a pass to the next round and an artist named Amelia who I wish had gotten more than just a montage appearance. She does “Yesterday” on the piano and it is QUITE good. But the love doesn’t last forever. Eventually, the pendulum swings in the opposite direction and Idol gives a ridiculously harsh cut to a male model that is uncomfortably long and mean even for this show. Maybe one day American Idol will realize it doesn’t need these kinds of moments. Just give us the good stuff!
Speaking of, let’s take a look at who else will be making the trip to Hollywood this season:
Kimmy Gabriela, 17, Lakeland, Fla.
“Let’s Hurt Tonight” by OneRepublic
I love when the judges are so blown away by someone auditioning in front of them that the only critique they can muster is something like ‘she doesn’t really miss notes,’ like Luke Bryan does here. Music is in Kimmy’s blood — her father is a musician and she’s learned everything from him. She sounds super professional and in control for a 17-year-old and her voice is so good she doesn’t even need all the runs she adds in. Katy tells her she’s ‘Top 10 material’ while throwing that golden ticket at her, so yeah, I’d say the judges like Kimmy Gabriela.
Lauren Mascitti, 27, Nashville, Tenn.
“If I Can Lose You” by Lauren Mascitti & Renee Martin
Lauren walks in the room with her fiancé, who also happens to be famous Nashville songwriter Shawn Kemp, to accompany her, so you know this girl is a professional. And a little Google search confirms that she’s all over Nashville. It makes sense because she is extremely good. Luke compares her to last season’s Laci Kaye Booth, in that she isn’t going to be up there belting, but that she’s great at drawing people in to the story she’s telling. Katy was struck by the emotion that comes through her voice. I would like to download her original song IMMEDIATELY.
Courtney Timmons, 22, Harris Neck, Ga.
“Rise Up” by Andra Day
In case people don’t know, the typical way Idol works is that a contestant at an open call will perform for producers several times before getting to audition for the judges. This is apparently not the case with Courtney, who missed the initial open call, but decided to hang around outside the building, hoping there would still be a chance for her to get in front of the judges and sing. That chance comes by way of Ryan Seacrest, who brings her up directly from the street and introduces her to the judges. There’s a chance she could be awful — but she’s not! The judges are moved. You can tell she hasn’t been rehearsing and isn’t as polished as some of our other auditioners, but she easily earns three ‘yeses’ and all of Ryan Seacrest’s tears.
Lauren Spencer-Smith, 16, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
“What About Us” by Pink
Lauren here is a teenager from a small town in Canada with big dreams and dang does she crush this Pink song. Luke can’t even speak when she’s done. Eventually, he composes himself enough to tell Lauren that he loves the tone of her voice and finds her “intriguing.” She sounds much more mature than her 16 years. “That voice is 1,000 years old,” Katy tells her, moved by her “gift.” She compares her voice to Leona Lewis’s and advises her to work on figuring out who she wants to be as an artist moving forward. In Hollywood. Because she’s an easy ‘yes.’
Dewayne Crocker, Jr., 23, Pensacola, Fla.
“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin
Sure, we’re all here for Dewayne and his extremely odd but sort of cool song choice, but the big draw is his hilarious 78-year-old great-grandmother who is obsessed with Lionel Richie. Dewayne has a nice voice and he’ll get through on that, but the judges all tell him to work on finding an emotional connection. Be “less trick-sy and more connected” says the Lady Perry. But once his ‘yeses’ are out of the way, the real show starts: Great-Grandma gets to meet Lionel. She and her husband met dancing to “Lady” and walked down the aisle to that song at their wedding. So, Luke hops on the piano and starts to play and Lionel serenades Dewayne’s great-grandma while dancing with her. The stuff dreams are made of!
Dillon James, 26, Bakersfield, Calif.
“Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan
Oof, this story, guys. Dillon is a recovering addict and talks about his struggles, about how he ended up sleeping out on the streets, and then eventually made his way back to his family to ask for their forgiveness. This man has been through it, and that pain is completely present in his voice. It’s not a big performance, but it’s a powerful one. He makes some really smart choices as to what to show off and hi, hello, his falsetto makes me cry. Luke applauds him for coming in and singing with such authenticity, Lionel calls him a “preacher” and tells him he’d “go to [his] church,” and Katy calls him a “country Post Malone.” He’s definitely someone I’m looking forward to seeing again in Hollywood.
Geena, 27, Los Angeles, Calif.
“Don’t Want You Back” by Geena
Geena is a Katy Perry superfan, and has taken Katy’s ‘be confident in who you are’ attitude to heart. By which I mean, she shows up at the audition in an iridescent bucket hat. I honestly thought we were gearing up for a joke audition, but Geena sings an original on her guitar and even has the judges join in on the chorus (Katy improves it wildly by instantly harmonizing), and she charms them over. They like her personality and her “character” and are into her vocal chops. We’ll see if she drops the gimmicks in Hollywood and really lets her talent shine through.
Shannon Gibbons, 20, Bellport, N.Y.
“I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James
What do you want to know? I teared up within the first three notes this girl sings. Shannon is a working musician in New York, and has dealt with mental health issues her entire life. Music is what saved her. Her voice is smoky and immediately gives me an Amy Winehouse vibe. “This is why I keep coming back to this show,” says Katy as soon as Shannon is done. The judges vow to not let anyone who isn’t as good as Shannon is through to Hollywood from now on. WE’LL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT. Regardless, I have high hopes for Shannon.
Genavieve Linkowski, 20, Goodrich, Mich.
“How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” by Michael Bolton
Genavieve was a contestant in season 16 who was cut after Hollywood Week. Since then, she tragically lost her 18-year-old sister Corinn in a car accident. The loss kept her from wanting to sing for a while, but now she’s back and dedicating her performance to her sister. It’s an emotional audition, knowing Genavieve’s story, but it isn’t exactly the most dynamic one. She basically just belts the chorus of the song the entire time. Of course she’s moving on, but it’ll be interesting to see what other tricks she has up her sleeves as she tries to survive the Hollywood Week round this season.
Okay, now that all the business is taken care of, I have one deadly serious question for you all: Is Luke Bryan the biggest Lionel Richie fan on the planet?