Sunday, March 18, 2018

American Idol Auditions Continue with High Notes and Tears

American Idol is in the second day of auditions and what I like so far is that the judges are not filled with drama (ala Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey) and they aren’t mean (ala Simon Cowell). I think it’s a good start to the show. I still wish Harry Connick Jr. had come back, but I like these three American Idol judges.

So far the show won its Sunday night ratings war, debuting with 10.3 million viewers, according to Variety magazine. Let’s see if it can hold decent ratings, especially once it gets to the voting stage where viewers always seemed to drop in previous seasons. Now for today’s contestants:

Up first is 15-year-old Mara Justine from Galloway, New Jersey, who is auditioning with “Love on the Brain” by Rhianna. Her voice is amazing and she instantly gets the first ticket to Hollywood. “That’s worth doing American Idol,” said judge Katy Perry.

After a montage of young singers, we focus on Andrew Weaver, a 16-year-old from Bremen, Georgia, who auditions with Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” He sounds a lot like Sheeran, but is he original? Griffin Tucker, 15, from Dallas, Texas sings the Beatles “Lady Madonna,” and Lionel calls his level of talent staggering. Finally, to finish out the montage, Christina Jones, 18, from O’Fallon, Illinois sings “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” Luke calls her audition a “pure thing of beauty,” and she’s through to Hollywood. All three are sent to Hollywood.

William Casanova, 26, from Washington, D.C. nails Ray Charles’ A Song for You, even though he was a little shaky and I didn’t understand some of the words he was saying. He gets a ticket to Hollywood.

Like on The Voice, I would like to hear the judges tell the contestants what they want to work on with them and some things they can improve. So far, the critique for those who get the ticket is all sugary sweet. I’m getting a cavity, so can we please tell them what they need to improve? Some need to sing with their eyes open, while others seem to need some better stage presence.

Now in Los Angeles, California for auditions and we get flashbacks of the judges in their younger years.

From Venezuela is Michelle Sussett, a 22-year-old waitress from Miami, Florida. I wish she had focused more on her singing audition and not the dancing and took it seriously. Does she want to be on the show? Katy seems annoyed that she’s being forced to dance and actually mocks what Sussett is doing. Perry falls on the floor during the dancing, but says that she cute and quirky. They actually put her through.

Next up is Misha Gontar, 26, from Marengo, Illinois who shows Ryan that he’s going to sing a particular Ukranian song. Although his song choice is interesting and his tone is interesting, they judges turn him down.

Twenty-one-year-old Brandon Diaz from Ashburn, Virginia talks about he is auditioning for his dad. That’s the concern that I have about those who are auditioning. You should be there for yourself, not anyone else. He auditions with “Unaware.” His range is great and the judges are engaged. Hey Luke Bryan told him he went too high, so there’s a little bit of criticism, but Katy said he was the best male singer so far and possible Top 10.

Construction worker Trevor Holmes, 27, is a part-time construction worker and part-time singer and has a full-time crush on Katy Perry. He does have a girlfriend but might dump her the way Katy flirted with him, who knows? He auditions with “In Case You Didn’t Know” and American Idol does a really cute montage where Trevor hears nothing of what the judges say and only sees Katy. Trevor gets a ticket to Hollywood and is now contemplating his relationship.

In New Orleans, the judges are going to hear 17-year-old Laine Hardy from Livingston, Louisiana and sings “Hurricane.” He has an old soul sound to his voice with some gravelliness and I like it, but he’s so nervous so I hope they work with him on that. Laine gets a ticket to Hollywood. The judges compare him to a young Elvis Presley.

Singing next is Autumn Woods, 27, from Katy, Texas whose rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” makes me want to never hear that song again. Turn around and leave the room now (see what I did there?). Now we’re at a montage of rejections.

Gabbii Jones, 20, from St. Louis, Missouri says her daddy has given her 30 days to accomplish her dream of becoming a star — what reality is her dad living in? She can definitely sing. Sorry Dad, this girl has talent, but she has to work on her stage presence. I’d rather listen than watch her perform. Lionel tells her that there are things to tone down but of course she gets a golden ticket. Let’s see if she survives the group rounds.

Cameron Theodos, 25, a high school basketball coach from Shreveport, Louisiana, is in a montage of contestants talking about how American Idol can change their lives. True. You might end up as Lil Sweet on a Dr. Pepper commercial — sorry Justin. Hey, at least people know you now. They like his voice and send him through. I’m not so sure about this one.

In 2010, the next contestant, Thaddeus Johnson, 25, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, auditioned for American Idol, but was a lot heavier. He received a golden ticket but didn’t make it through the Hollywood rounds. He ended up tipping the scales at 390 and decided to make a change after wanting to end his life. He has a great voice, but we already knew that since he got so far in 2010. This time he sings “Don’t You Worry Child,” and Lionel Richie gives him a hug and a golden ticket. I hope he makes it past the Hollywood rounds and gets to the Top 10.

Rissa Watson, from Apache, Oklahoma, said she started crying that American Idol came back and she hasn’t sung for a group larger than 150 people. This small town 17-year-old girl sings Adele’s When We Were Young,” and she gives Katy “full-body chills.” Thank goodness she didn’t decide to go into the furniture business because she would need the time off to go Hollywood.

It’s grandma and grandpa advice time! A cute montage of the support system that comes with the contestants. Garrett Jacobs, 17, from Bossier City, Louisiana. His 68-year-old grandmother Honey, yes Honey, supports him. He auditions with “It’s a Man’s World,” and has a unique sound to his voice. Luke calls him ‘Bad Ass’ and thinks he’ll grow into a better singer. He’s going to Hollywood and I’m not sure he’s going to go far, but we’ll see.

Of course to close out the competition, we need a heartwrenching story. David Francisco, 25, lives in Nashville, Tennessee and was hit by a car and paralyzed from the waist down. He thought that his life, singing and relationships were over. While he was recovering, he got a letter from his friend Christie and they fell in love. He can walk now and is auditioning with “Isn’t She Lovely.” I like this guy’s vibe and tone to his voice. Katy starts crying and Lionel isn’t far behind. Of course, Lionel gets up and gives him a hug.

About Lisa Iannucci

Lisa Iannucci has been interviewing professional athletes and Olympians, sports writers and film/tv personalities for more than a decade. Her book, A Film & TV Lover's Travel Guide is now available:

About Lisa Iannucci

Lisa Iannucci has been interviewing professional athletes and Olympians, sports writers and film/tv personalities for more than a decade. Her book, A Film & TV Lover's Travel Guide is now available:

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