Friday, 10 February 2012

The One Where Heejun Gets Told To Shake It Out again

"At this moment in time, there's an awful lot you haven't seen yet. A great many you haven't seen yet." said Nigel Lythgoe earlier this week. So, with over 300 still hopeful entering Hollywood week, those that we are shown can be expected to be a bit of a hint as to who to look out for in future - with a few disasters thrown in for good measure. (Blink and you'll miss 13 of the Top 24!)

It's never easy writing about this part of the series as all we get is a line or two from selected auditions and a very few very brief comments from the judges as they whittle the 300 down by about 50%. We really don't get much to comment on ourselves so the best I can do is give you my own take on what we saw in the first hour.

Johnny Keyser is one of those confident guys that are difficult to reject but seem a bit bland. Good-looking bloke and he sounds great and gets through easily enough but you're left wondering whether he's really Live Show material for all that.

Heejun next. "Shake it out," the judges say as the Korean stands looking distinctly odd and wobbles his arms around like a duck that thinks it's a penguin. You get the feeling that it's the distinctly odd bit that will mean we see him around for quite a while. He sings OK and has some nice tones in there somewhere but his pronunciation of words jars, especially those beginning with a P and he'd better not choose Papa Don't Preach for a future audition. Is he an American Idol? No. Icon for people to wish well in the Live Shows? Probably.

We hear that someone called Gabi gets through too but we're none the wiser as to why or how.

Elise Testone has an energetic and earthy attitude and is sufficiently different to all the Steven Jones hareem that will be advancing soon enough. You wonder whether she should be called Elise Testoserone as she certainly seems to have plenty of balls and it'll be interesting to see how the make-over people present her for the Live Shows which I'm sure she'll reach.

Baylie Brown has everything the show needs: she's gentle, country but not just country, pretty and experienced, just doing her thing and doing it well - the kind of girl the producers can rely on both to perform and attract viewers.

Hallie Day has the added benefit of a back story that no doubt we'll be regularly reminded of. She's a natural and performed well, looking lovely and, in the brief glimpse we get, packing in enough emotion to show that she means what she sings and she will do well.

A pile of others appear to get through but we get no names or anything. So far there are no new names getting through, though.

Jen Hirsh is beautiful and another experienced, reliable performer that should be in the Live Shows. A little more mature than some of the others, she is already in the business and has an album out so is familiar with the environment she's in and you get the feeling that this audition was a breeze for her with no sign of the nerves many of the others show. She wasn't as tuneful, though, as I might have expected so, whilst she'll get through, much will depend on what she gets to sing as to whether she can really compete with her young rivals.

Lauren Gray gives the audition all she's got and is really trying too hard to impress. She's quite impressive but inclined to shout a bit.

Phillip Phillips reminds us that there are some males in the competition. You'd think he'd be a good ol' country boy but he has a jazz feel with lots of individual style and puts his own interpretation on what he does. He's though safely.

Reed Grimm is naturally confident too and has an exhuberance that people will like for a while, as long as he doesn't overdo it. He sang about a Golden Ticket which was pretty weird, with a scat style and, like the previous guy, is original and can certainly sing and perform. Lots of experience too.

Travis looks like he's going home with a hang-dog expression even before he starts. He hit the right notes and seemed reasonable enough but, despite all the sympathy for his back story, he's neither one thing nor another. He doesn't get through and we get the sad tv bit. You do tend to feel sorry for the chap.

Adam Brook makes it four guys in a row. He's a bit heavy on the ears - so far there hasn't been any normal male singer that you can really say is modern and a potential winner and this guy, whilst OK and through, isn't an Idol either.

Jane Carrey gets included because her dad's famous. She gives us a nice version of a CCR number but it isn't exactly brilliant and that's the end of her road.

David Leathers is more like what I expect to see in Idol-land 2012. He's cheeky and comes across well. Nice range and does a good job. He's young, though, and how long will the chat up lines keep him going?

Shannon MacGraine gives one of the best auditions of the night and has to be a certainty for future rounds if she can maintain that standard. There could be some fascinating battles to come if she's up against the other talented and pretty girls already through and those yet to come.

Jessica Phillips has a nice voice but some notes were way off. The footage of her back story was unnecessary and I'm not sure we'll see that much more of her anyway.

We don't get to see Angie Z or the impossibly good-looking Britanny Kerr (a case of That's enough pretty girls, Ed.) but they're through.

We do see Erica Van Pelt who is another strong contender that will make the voters' choices difficult if she carries on performing as well as this.

Creighton Fraker is yet another slightly off-beat guy who is doing well in this series. He made a good job of this audition and joins several others who will also make choosing tricky later on.

Aaron Marcellus is the music teacher. He over-sung his number, trying to impress too much but he did hit all the right notes and sails through, one of the few vaguely normal likely male Live Show possibilities.

Lauren Minck does a nice performance of Heart's Alone. Not an easy song but she gets it dead right. Nice performance.

Jeremy Rosado has a cool personality, the sort of likeable guy you can see making the Live Shows but going out pretty smartly afterwards. He's no Idol and his vocals are very strained at the top end but there is a nice tone in there if he can stay in the best range. He'll survive for a while yet.

Symone Black is the last act we see in Part 1 and she has a nice tone, sings well and presents Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay well. Unfortunately, she seems to faint and falls off the stage at the end and we get the dramatic medic call as the credits run. I'm not so sure that was the most sensitive way to end this section - you sort of felt putting this on last as some sort of cliff-hanger was wrong. "Tune in tomorrow to see if Symone survives". No, this is American Idol, not some soap opera. Obviously, she recovers or they'd never have dared end that way.

It's the really annoying group round next. I'm dreading having to try and stay calm and avoid rude language when I write about that round when we learn precious little about the contestants, get scene after scene of people wandering around, arguing, panicking and generally either being really lucky to get in with some good guys or left to put something together with a bunch of others. Still, Scotty couldn't find a group last year and that didn't do him much harm. I just think it's all a bit pointless viewing.

Let's hope I'm wrong!