Saturday, 31 January 2015

American Idol XIV Auditions: Day 7 San Francisco

Ever since Scott MacKenzie sand about the city in 1966 I have wanted to go there. This is the last place on the Audition run.

Katherine Skinner doesn't look or sound like the best of adverts for the city. She is 15 going on 45 and, for a moment when she was talking about getting the coat from Bowie I thought that maybe she was 45 and that might have been true. To be fair, she did sing well, doing Florence & The Machine's Shake It All. Jennifer Lopez has just more or less said what I said about the Bowie thing!  I was put off with the psychic cat business and the chatter and the coat but she did win me over. She does have a talent and maybe will annoy people so perhaps we won't see much more of her. Or the cat.

Erika David is more 'normal' with an Alicia Keys tune that was neither here nor there. Chandler Leighton is very 'Frisco with the stylish hat and dead straight blonde hair. Nice, cool.

Ryan Pinkston is older and a bit off-key although Harry said he was pinpoint accurate!

They all get through but none struck me as Idols, I am afraid.

Andrew Bloom next. Harry says 'Hello Andrew, what's your name?' Hilarious. Not too sure what his style was. Not something that I would buy but he was more or less in tune and seem to know what he's doing so could probably put a could performance in at future stages if necessary. So he drifts through but, again, makes no lasting impression.

Kellyeanne Rodgers seems to have too many letters in her name but sings very sweetly.

The next guy has about 40 members of his family with him. Luckily they're not all in the audition room but he had 60 in the house at the time. Reno Anoa'I has an extraordinary surname but at last we have a genuine talent that isn't just rehearsed or for show. Nice fellow doing the Rod Stewart I Don't Want To Talk About It number. If he can do more than just the 'white suit' type of act then he could do well. He gets a ticket to Hollywood. The place erupts as he seems to have most of the 60 with him.

Now we get a Puerto Rican chap who worships Jennifer. Harry gets called Henry which is quite amusing. He is Samuel Prince. He has some fun with the panel but he can't do a great deal on the singing front. So he doesn't get through. Just as well.

Then there's a bundle of people who don't make it.

Rayvon Owen has a nice gentle but good voice and sings Wide Awake that should go down well with the panel after quite a few not so good people. Good audition and a good-looking chap too who will have appeal amongst the home audience if he's lucky enough to get to the voting round. Not so sure he will but he deserves to move forward a fair bit.

Listening to the panel I am glad that we have this consistent three. They talk sense and, apart from Harry's great good humoured messing about, they don't seem to be trying too hard to impress.

Twins. Ezekiel and his brother with an old-style name too are a lovely couple and miss the chance that they might have had to retune. they weren't very good anyway.

Maddy Hudson is another quite loud teenager. She has the over-powering mother who means well but are we really bothered about her? No. Let's meet the girl. She performs very well although isn't that pretty to watch but that was a great audition regardless. Jennifer marks her down as one of her favourites so that bodes well for her. Lots of compliments. I think they were a bit over the top when they said that she should tell everyone else to go home and Keith thinks she could win. Remarkable.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

American Idol XIV Auditions: Day 6

Down in New Orleans, where Harry grew up. You can just tell he feels so at home there. The first guy's family grew up with Harry's. Drew Plaisance is terrible. I think he only came on to say something about growing up near the star. Dreadful.

Angelica Jelly Joseph is the first reasonable act after a huge pile of not so good stuff. You can almost sense the sighs of relief from the three panel and, particularly, Jelly.

Tiffany stringer is from Texas. You might have guessed that she is a cheerleader. She does a Cher Lloyd number. something modern for a change as so far almost everyone is doing ancient stuff. This girl is good. Strange hearing a number from an X Factor UK #4 or #5 act. She gets through, just, as then runs hilariously, missing Ryan and the cameras!

Young lad up next. In shorts and sandals. Greyson Turner is just 15 and sings something he's written himself. Remarkable stuff. Good voice. Good song. Lots of passion for someone so young. Easily through and one to watch.

Sarah Quintana is a really cool jazz singer. Love that and so do the panel. Harry tries to say that she shouldn't go through. Jennifer agrees but they don't see her doing anything in the competition. Odd but probably right.

Quentin Alexander sings Royals by Lorde. Nice. He's a cool guy and from New Orleans and the streets there. He's a bit laid back compared to what you'd expected looking at him but he'll get a chance to impress another time as they are more than happy to put him through.

Mikey Duran is 19 and went to the same school as Harry. He sings a song he's written. Quite a few are doing that. Seems risky but at least they can't be accused of copying anyone or karaoke. Nice job. they have trouble stopping him but not in a bad way. He steams through. I don't think he'll get that much further but nice fellow for all that and worth the next stage.

Very pretty girls follow. Nalani Quintello. Tori Martin. Hope Windle. All get another chance.

Ricky Dale Hendricks is 17. He does hunting and fishing too. Fairly tedious Country track but he knows what he's doing and puts on an impressive performance. Lots of likeability for this one. Good looking young fellow would get bags of girls' votes if he were to get through.

Bianca Jade is a drag queen who is a bit in your face. Not a bad singer but not really good enough. She does get through, though.

Adam Lasher is related to Carlos of the amazing Santana. He also does a track he's written himself and is great. So risky doing it that way but those that do pull it off do so really well. he has a thumb in plaster and has a cool image. Nice fellow. Could do well.

Eyebrow manufacturers would like Erica Washington. She is also pretty good, singing Beyonce's Halo pretty well. Possibly as well as the star does it. Good singer. Lots of talent. Pity about the eyebrows.and bad hair. another who will keep going for a stage or two but maybe not go all the way.

American Idol XIV Auditions: Day 5

Now we're in Minneapolis for the next set of auditions. The format of showing mainly good people is so much better than some other years.

Shannon is first on. With a surname like Berthiaume that's a lot of vowels and she gives us all the vowels from House Of The Rising Sun. Keith says she has a raw talent and I agree. She may have slightly overdone the thing but as the production team play Janis Joplin in the background maybe that was only part of what she's capable of. Nice.

Shannon is followed by some geeky guy. I'm not expecting to be impressed. Kemil Casey is the name. I don't think we need to try to remember it.

Morgan Ovens has a funny name but sings totally convincingly. We only see a glimpse though. With Courtney Guns competing on the name front she gets through with a couple of others we only get short shots of.

Vanessa Andrea is a sweet girl and has a great Country style. she gets upset but actually sings herself better. I like that girl. She's cool. A bit old style perhaps and her audition suited her to a tee. Not sure where she goes from here but she's fun to watch and you have to smile at her comments about Keith and Jennifer.

Zach Johnson comes on like he's had too much chocolate and coke but settles down with a nice and well-tuned Country song. Sleepy stuff. However, he gets through and actually gets a promise from Keith to get him up on the stage at a forthcoming concert. Harry's dubious but we get to see it for real!

Aaron Bissel is a cute boy with a really nice voice. We don't see much of him.

The next girl may not appeal to some of our Left Wing readers. Cindy Joel likes hunting and shoots bears with arrows and fires pistols at things. She does a lovely version of Patsy Cline's Crazy. She's got some talent. Just gets through. She killed a bear last weekend. Harry explains.

Amusingly, the next guy comes on in a bear outfit! He's no good.

Next guy is in Million Dollar Quartet a musical about Jerry Lee Lewis and others. Jacob Tolliver is excellent but Harry says that he can't get through without being himself. Keith wants to hear him sing a song as himself not as a character. He does a Sam Smith number and is easily through.

Hannah Mrozak is 16 but sounds 36. Full volume stuff but very good. she could do well.

Kristi Kroker has yet another unfortunate name. Nice girl but not good enough, as were several more following in the clips. Mark Andrew is back again and I expect he'll make it this time. Good, committed singer and a bit different. Keith asks for another track. He comes out with I Want To Be Like You. Not so sure about that but the panel do see that he is set apart from so many others and he can certainly stay in tune. Nice guy.

Monday, 26 January 2015

American Idol XIV Auditions Day 4

New York. Cue Jennifer walking down a street and trying to tell some guy that she used to live there. He has no idea who she is!

Cue Sal Valentinetti. He has the name and the look and the accent. He sounds a bit like Sinatra and plays the part well. Harry is right. he won't go far but he's fun to watch and can sing.

This is an interesting first too as Adam Lambert joins the panel in place of Keith for the day. Adam really has done well since coming 2nd several years ago now. he has been a superb mentor on previous shows but this is the first time a contestant has been a panel member. He is also at the time of writing performing to great reviews with the remaining Queen band members, substituting for the almost impossible to substitute Freddie Mercury.

Next up is someone called J None. Hmmm. He brings on some toy bear. I didn't think he was particularly good but he gets through. Nicer enough chap but lacking a memorable voice and none too sure about the tuning either. I can only guess the panel were distracted by the bear.

Jax is blonde but New York blonde and she is just Jax, no surname. Playing the piano she does a great version of the Beatles' I Wanna Hold Your Hand. She is really original, bags of confident. I like Jennifer's description of her being shy and confident at the same time. The real thing. Definitely one I would like to see more of. 18 going on 28.

New York is certainly bringing some different talent! Johnny Arco is next and very off the wall with a cool track using a violin like a banjo.

Another performer from the underground stations (seem to be getting a few of them this year) is Najah Lewis. Sha says that she makes a decent income singing in the stations already. She's OK. Not brilliant but she's OK. The panel like her and she flies through.

Tion Phillips does Bruno Mars well. Very well.

James Dillian Dunn isn't as good. They both fancy Jennifer Lopez and get through. Adam wasn't sure about James. He was right.

Nervously rushing on to stage is Shi Scott. Just 19 but good and sounds very like Amy Winehouse with an excellent cover of Valleri or Valerie. Harry says it's an Amy impression. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Adam likes her but the panel don't seem to think she's ready. I would say she was a damn sight more ready than the two guys before. Jennifer is very much for her. Nice surprise as Harry actually overturns Adam and takes her through. She's genuine. I like her.

We see Adam turning down a lot of acts. Good job, Finally we get Eric. Now how can Eric get through looking like that and wearing those clothes. He's singing The Show Must Go On. OK. That's going to be another that Adam turns down. Eh? Harry says No. Adam has to choose. Our Eric persuades Adam. Harry says he 'hustled the crap out of Adam'! How did that happen. I don't think we'll see much of him at Hollywood.

Maddie Walker is only 16 but this is her second attempt to get in. Jennifer recognises her. Pretty. Blonde.

Courtney Zahne and Jackie Nese Two more very pretty blondes. All just teenagers. None are really impressive but they can sing and do look good so, yes, they get through. I am not so sure Harry would have put them through.

Qaasim Middleton is fun and pretty talented, doing an amusing but quite smart version of Sir Duke from the Stevie Wonder days. He's also at a jazz school, 'working on his craft' as Harry says. Three very firm and solid yesses for that guy.

Brigette Guerette comes and goes. She gets a minute of fame, I guess. Harry then recalls how Adam must have been a great audition many years ago. He gets Adam to stand up and recreate his audition. We get the old video too, with LA Reid, Paula and Simon Cowell in the background! Oh boy. Those were the days. Adam is amazing. Quite a cool moment.

Adam Ezegelian is another Adam with a big voice and actually he gets some good notes for Born To Be Wild which is not at all an easy song. He admits to taking some of Adam Lambert's ideas there. He does a second track and that's pretty good. This is a podgy looking fellow with 70s frizzy hair. Odd but I quite like the fellow who didn't bother to dress up, sings with his hand in his shorts pocket. He's through. Interesting guy. I doubt he'll get too far.

Katherine Winston is lovely. Just 18 and easily through with a gentle number that is like Country but also with soul. Reminded me of Ella Henderson in UK's X factor. Talent but will she get lost in the crowd at Hollywood? Hope not.

Travis Finlay writes songs and teaches 'Beats' and stuff. he had to save his house in the recent hurricane so missed out on a lot of chances. Nice fellow and great voice. He'll be through for sure and I'd expect to see him get past Hollywood too. Nice audition. I know I can look up who makes the Top 24 and cheat with all these predictions but I am genuinely not doing that and, although I have looked at the list before, I can't remember who's in it. I am not sure he is but the pane; reckon he;s a star so maybe he should be.

Benjamin Farmer. He's a bit annoying to listen to. Great song but he's no good. S we get quite a few bad auditions where people try to stand out. Most fail dreadfully.

Ariana is Yanni G apparently. She does things with a stool and a cup and even has her boyfriend playing guitar with her. Is that what the programme rules allow? If so, everyone should come in with friends. She gets short shrift. Nick Fradiani, her boyfriend, is good. He auditions on his own so all's well after all. He really gets the song across. I don't know what it was but there's something about him that works. He's through but not the girl. I would have given her more of a chance.

Another busker in New York City. These are certainly individuals. The last one today is 22 year old 'Hollywood' Anderson who sings a song he's written himself and it's great. Nice voice, great style. He has to go through. That song is something special. Harry says his audition is possibly the best not only of New York but of the Season so far.

Surely he makes it further than his name.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

American Idol XIV Auditions Day 3

A few quite good people come and go but we don't get a great deal about them. Maybe we will later as they all get through. The first to get some good screen time is Joey Cook who is a bit different and actually very good. She carries an accordion and can play it well but it is quite loud and sort of drowns out her voice which is quite an original sound. The panel love her and she's easily through. Watch her. She could be around a while yet.

Alexis Gomez. Hippy, Mexican Hill-billy. OK. That should be interesting. Any song that talks about the little white church and eating chicken will do well, She has the name and ticks an awful lot of boxes. Keith says 'no' but she juts scrapes through. I don't see her making it much further as she hasn't got much that's really individual, despite the name.

Anton Bushner is a tall dark handsome man. Well, boy, as he's only 19. Classic Country with a great big C, Two of them. Great singer for that genre. Quite what else he can do I don't know but he did that extremely well. Lots of feeling and Harry is very complimentary. Easily through to the Hollywood round.

Cedric is next and it looks like there is some Twitter vote going on over there that I wasn't aware of. We only get a

Stephanie Gummelt has a really high speaking voice. She sings her own song which is pretty good, maybe not immediately catchy but I can see it doing well. Nicely done. She is quite a character and a very natural singer.

Ashley Stehle is just 15 and it's a bit weepy because he parents are deaf but some new technology enables them to hear her voice now which is all very emotional. It's odd watching the family watching her but the panel is dead right - she is not ready for the competition and the song was not really in tune at all. Sad stuff but fair.

Ellen Petersen has a banjo. Blue eyed, pretty blonde singing blue grass with some yodelling thrown in. She's good but I do feel she's quite old-fashioned. She seems professional and knows how to perform on stage so, as the panel say, there's probably a great deal more that she can bring to the show. She gets through easily and the two guys sing along with her as she just plays some track that they ask her to do. Amazing moment. Some confidence. Some memories for Ellen, whatever happens.

Kohlton Pascoe says he walks around and plays music everywhere. He is a real traveller, hitching his way around towns. Moved out at 16 due to differences with his folks. His voice is real earthy for a 21 year old and he starts with a moody original number that he wrote himself. Quite good but I admire how Harry reminds him that the show will expect him to do things that he may not feel comfortable doing. Imagine him in the sing-a-long at the start of the show. Or dressed in white or something! He's talented and I'd like to see him go further. He gets through. That'll be interesting. He'll get put up in a hotel now! That'll be an interesting line to follow which I hope works out for him.

I love the bit at the end where Ryan brings on a massive plate of bones - spare ribs. they look delicious and I just wish we could get something like that over here.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

American Idol XIV auditions; Day 2

I haven now found the full show. Before those that I have already covered appear Andrew Annello who is full of confidence but very loud and a bit mad. He eventually does show he can sing well and gets through but I doubt he'll go far.

Loren Lott is a lovely actress and she has a great personality and sings well. I don't know why the panel take a while to put her through and only two out of three at that.

Then Trevor Douglas and we get a bit more than the other video showed. He's a really cool guy and performs the Ed Sheeran number very well. Now, can he do anything else? We'll get to see soon as he is easily through. Nice chap.

For the rest, a line or two from the earlier video. Here goes;

Lovey Scott
Very professional. Excellent performance. Blame her parents for the name.

Trevor Douglas
1950s look. Could be Buddy Holly back on Earth again. Great style and maybe he could host a revival. Nice work.

Piper Jones
This is a big girl with the gospel choir voice. You can just see her, and probably hear her too in the chapel every Sunday. She desperately needs advice on how to appear on a prime time TV programme. I know it's about the voice and singing talent but the little pink bow and short dress on that figure just don't work. I'm not that sure she was that good anyway.

Kelley Kime
The exact opposite. Blonde, blue-eyed and slender Country girl. We'll see a few of them, I guess. She's good. Luckily her parents didn't add another K to her name, although you do do wonder sometimes.

Garret Miles
A good ol' Country boy - and I mean boy as he looks about 14 behind the dark glasses. Very white skin. Looks a bit unhealthy but does a good job of a Creedence number and impresses Jennifer when he sings in Spanish without rehearsal. Just seems a naturally talented guy who'll do well.

Clark Beckham
He sings @It's A Man's World'. I'm not sure he can play the guitar that well, though, and after a while his singing seems to go the same way. a bit painful to listen to. I doubt that he got any further.

Gena Vinier
Now this girl is different, sitting on a box and slapping out a rhythm with one hand and shaking a shaker thing with another. I liked her and it was an interesting audition. 'Put The Gun Down' was a particularly appropriate song too for today, although, of course, Fox would have no clue, these being recorded some weeks ago.

Alex Shier
A good-looking 19-year-old guy who is the sort you expect to do well. Ne's got some passion and the song's not overdone either as is so often the case when people just try too hard. Is he a bit average though?

Cody Fry
As if to show how average the other guy was we now get a strange looking chap doing 'Over The Rainbow' really really well. Nice voice. Old style appearance but much better guitar playing than many we see. He could be one to watch out for. Not your normal chap and it takes a good performance nowadays, especially after the likes of Carly Rose on X Factor, to do that song justice. Much depends on the prodcers as we're seeing several 'retro' acts now.

Hector Montenegro
Back to the more typical contestant. Slightly odd and tuneless soul but one of the few black guys we're seeing. Not good.

Sarian Joi Crowe
Now that's a name to get attention if nothing else. She comes across pretty well but maybe tries a bit too hard. Fun to watch and she has something. We may see her again.

Alison Paritikos
Very brief. One minute she's there, the next she isn't. then she's back and then she's gone again. From the tiny clips we get she's nice and can sing. That's all! Maybe she gets through and we see a lot more another time.

Jake Black
Yet another 'old style 'look. Another original too - he does an Ed Sheeran number and that works really well. I can see him making it to the next round.

Steffi Ledbetter
A talented vocalist here but a bit screechy at times. She does Back To Black which is a bit of an odd choice and not so sure it worked for her.

Savion Wright
Nicest soul singer so far. Quite a gentle sound and good rhythm. He could do well. They need someone like him in the Live Shows too. None so far that I've noticed.

Zack Kaltenbach
Wow, we're certainly getting the good names this year. He sings 'Grenade'. All a bit average.

Naomi Tatsuoka
Not pretty by any stretch of the imagination by pretty impressive. Another Gospel Girl. Starts on her knees and then gets up to wail even louder. For me she mashed up the Adel song but I can see her getting further.

This strange looking guy needs just the one name. He has a load of black felt tip on one side of his face and look Filipino or Chinese. Certainly very different. Funny thing is that I cannot now recall anything about what he sang.

Lovey James
Yes, that's two Loveys. And, yes, another blue eyed, pretty blonde with a mini skirt who looks like a pop star and would be a delight for the photographers and album cover artists. She's pretty good too and I am sure she'll get a bit further in the competition.

Jess Lamb
Showing almost everyone else the way to go, though, is this girl. Simple name and she sits at he piano, playing while she sings 'Ain't No Sunshine' really well. This girl is good. Another one to watch. She adds quite a bit of her own vibe to this and I am not entirely sure she'd be that commercial or easy to manage. We'll see, bo doubt as the weeks go by.

Friday, 9 January 2015

American Idol XIV starts - the full first show and review

Although it looks like British TV is ignoring American Idol this year, we can still see it almost as soon as we would have done, maybe even earlier through the wonders of YouTube.

Here is a full first show. And it is a good one, also getting decent reviews and viewing figures across The Pond from what I can make of comments so far.

The three judges, or mentors, really do go well together and it is a return for keith Urban, Harry Connick Jnr and Jennifer Lopez. Despite their careers and star status, they seem totally unassuming and naturally good company, sitting in the same old scenery as all previous thirteen Idol audition rooms, with hopeful contestants coming in and singing with little more than their guitar for accompaniment.

There is a warm and plesant feeling about American Idol which I am not sure I get with X Factor or The Voice.

First on is Riley Bria, a good example of how few Americans now seem to have anything like a normal name! He sings what keith terms 'an obscure Keith Urban album track' pretty well and has previously played with keith onstage when he was selected in some earlier talent competition. He's a fresh-faced, likeable chap and through to the Hollywood round.

Next you'll see Priscilla Walker who announces that she's one of ten children. She talks about siblings a lot which isn't a word we use much here. Maybe we don't have many examples of ten of them. Listening to her talk you'd think she was about 9 years old but she's actually 19. She says Diddy isn't of Daddy but the pronounces Daddy perfectly well in the song she sings which I have forgotten the name of. She's a cool Country girl and, once you get past the voice, has a great personality an singing presence. She gets through but jennifer says 'No.' Not sure why.

Cameron Bedell is next. Plenty of soul but he has an awkward stance when he's singing and the most dreadful shade of dark lilac hoodie. Still, he's entertaining and will be faely through to the next round.

Amber Walker has quotes galore. She doesn't know she has but just comes out with them! Here are just a few I managed to scribble down:
I come from the hard part of Mississippi
Every Sunday there's a funeral
If I didn't do music then I'd probably be killed now
 She is great. She's the one with pink hair in the introduction video which might well mean she gets a good way through. She sings an Elvis number! Now that was unexpected. Heartbreak Hotel. It sort of worked but Harry was not at all sure and said 'No.' the other two see her through, though.
Harry, can I have an autograph or something?
really quite funny and sweet and you just want her to do well. Maybe not win but do well enough to get away from all that bad stuff. Her mother looks pretty frightening though.

Kyle Blaine Corman is an odd-looking dude with very long curly ginger hair and unhealthily white face. 'Give A Little Bit' by the Goo Goo Dolls is a great track and I thought he rocked it well. He has a cool voice, in tune and great guitar work too. But I suppose that very 70s look won't get him the votes he'll need later. So he gets a 'No.' from all of them. Surprising.

Kory Wheeler works in a coffee shop over the road. He sings 'I Can't make You love Me' pretty well. A bit average by my reckoning and I don't see him going anywhere. Nice chap but that's about it. He seems the sort that should be selling insurance or helping you in a library, not serving coffee across the road in a Nashville cafe. But he's through. They all like him a lot. Surprising. Again.

Michael Simeon is a farmer, he says. I am not so sure. He does a good job of a Sam Smith cover and is easily through but then he has the cheek to ask for a dance with Jennifer. This must have been rehearsed. Harry and Keith jump up and do the guitar and piano thing while the contestant gets that dance, starting off in waltz mode but jennifer goes for the end of the night disco thing. He must have thought it was one lucky day, that's all I can say!
'That's the most fun I've had in months!' announces Jennifer. Gosh. How can someone so attractive not have that much fun every day?

Emily Brook closes the first programme. Now she is good. She is just 15 but seems to have gigged her way around various places to gather enough money to cover the trip to Nashville. That's a nice example of commitment after memories of some contestants in previous years where they're driven up in big black 4x4s by mothers dripping with jewellery.

Emily sings Carrie's 'Blown Away'. Now that's not an easy song but, boy, does she do it justice. Very impresive. So far, she's my favourite.

Her parents come up on screen as Webster. I expect I'll figure all that out eventually. she'll be around for a long time.