American Idol: yee haw, y’all

It’s Grand Ole Opry Week on “American Idol,” meaning the contestants last night had to sing country music songs by anyone who belongs to the Opry, including recently inducted member and former Idol champ Carrie Underwood. Opry veteral and country music legend Randy Travis spent the week in Hollywood training and mentoring each contestant. Country week can be challenging for most of the finalists at best, and painful for viewers at worst. But honestly, there wasn’t anything last night that was so hideous you knew for sure what tonight’s results would be. At least, that’s how I saw it. Here is a recap of the very good, the good, and the mediocre:

THE VERY GOOD

Allison Iraheta sang Patty Loveless’ “Blame It On The Heart” and while I had my doubts about this young (16!) hopeful, Allison proved last night that she is not only going to hang around a bit, but that she could be a contender to win it all. Her voice is just sick. Kara said Allison can sing anything in her own style, Paula said it was rock solid, Simon said it was good but tuneless in spots, and Randy strongly disagreed with Simon, saying it was “dope.” I agree, it was dope.

Danny Gokey came out dressed in this weird white jacket that made him look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from “Ghostbusters.” Really, whose idea was that? Danny started off slowly with Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” but in the chorus he soared to heights that few in this competition can match. And to be honest, I hate this song. Kara said the second half of the song was amazing, Paula said it was brilliant, Simon agreed with Paula but said he hated the marshmallow suit and that it looked like Danny was going on a polar expedition, and Randy agreed with Kara that he only liked the second half of the song.

Anoop Desai was close to being eliminated last week, so he knew he had to step up his game. And he did just that, with a solid performance of Willie Nelson’s “You Are Always on My Mind.” Paula declared, “Anoop is back!” and that he touched her heart (please…), Simon said Anoop went from “zero to hero” and that it was an excellent song choice, Randy said he showed great skills and that he loved the arrangement, and Kara said Anoop took a classic song and made it sound amazing. Indeed.

Matt Giraud closed the night with Carrie Underwood’s “So Small,” but did a really cool piano version of it. This kid is a dark horse…..remember, his day job is as a dueling piano player, and his only blemish so far was that awful Coldplay song a few weeks ago. Kara said there is nothing small about Matt and that he is a true talent, Paula said it was authentic and honest, Simon said Matt doesn’t get enough credit for his vocal skills the way Adam and Danny do, and Randy said it was his favorite performance of the night.

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American Idol runs for the roses

Thank you FOX for once again keeping the “American Idol” auditions show to one hour last night. I have a feeling I’ll be giving you those hours back, but it’s still nice to have a condensed version of these initial shows. Last night it was a trip to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and not a ton of trips to Hollywood. Here are the bad and good of what they showed….

THE BAD

Tiffany kicked things off, and she was a bleach-blond trailer trash looking thing whose parents had been telling her how great she was for years. Yikes. She sang Mariah Carey and was just awful, and apparently stunned that the judges thought she sucked. Welcome to the real world, Tiffany…..Mark Mudd was a real hill-jack and took on country legend George Jones. Dude was not very good, and when he was leaving the stage said to the judges, “Be careful.” Look, I live in the south and I know that people say that..it’s a form of sayingm “Take it easy,” but the judges took it as a threat to their safety…pretty funny….Ross, a self-proclaimed nerd who was trying to use mathematical formulas to learn how to sing, had a deep and horrible voice, and in the end just knew he wasn’t good enough….Aaron Williamson sang Creedence Clearwater’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and was just too loud and emotive for this competition….and finally, Rebecca Garcia from Nashville sang Carrie Underwood and Paula had recognized her from being on the morning news while she waited on line for her audition. For some reason, we all thought Rebecca was going to be good, but she was just awful. Kara thought that her audition was a joke, literally, which made Rebecca cry…oops…..they also showed a medley of bad auditions, including this really large dude named Patrick who thought he was Michael Jackson, and a girl who sang in all weird vibrato.

THE GOOD

Joanna, a 23 year old from Los Angeles, who Kara recognized as a former recording artists for A&M Records, was somewhat humble and nervous, but as you might expect, was an awesome singer. She sang Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” and really belted it with great control…..Brent Keith Smith sang Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough” and while he had a great voice, did not have the fire Simon Cowell wanted to see. Still, he’s moving on…..Matt Giraud, a 23-year old dueling piano player, proved that he has probably better vocal skills than anything. I want you all to keep an eye on this one…..Alexis, a 21 year old from Memphis, was a pasty, blonde girl who took on Aretha Franklin and sounded way more soulful than you would expect from a white girl. She really has enormous potential too…..after another medley of yes’s (thank you again FOX), the last contestant was Laneshe, an 18 year old from Cincinnati, who had been growing up most of her life in homeless shelters with her mom and siblings. This was the sad/heartwarming story of the night, but there was nothing sad about this girl’s vocal chops. She even had the balls to sing one of her own songs, and it was very good, though not as good as her monstrous voice. Feel good story or not, this girl can sing and could really go far in this thing.

Next week the auditions move to Jacksonville, Florida. I’m relieved that these initial auditions are halfway through, and that Hollywood is beckoning. See you on Wednesday!

  

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American Idol: Lots of Hollywood Tickets from KC

Last night, Day 2 of Season 8 of “American Idol” on FOX brought us many good performances, and golden tickets to Hollywood. Sure, there were lots of the usual horrendous auditions, but the producers chose to focus on the talented ones, and there were a higher percentage of them than there had been in Phoenix the night before. Here are the lowlights and highlights…..

THE BAD

Chelsea Marquardt kicked things off, and while she was a really pretty girl, she was an awful singer, like all-over-the-place awful. At least she can go be a model if she wants to….Brian, a 20 year old kid from KC, sang an ARETHA FRANKLIN tune, and that should be your first cue that he sucked. But dude had a hard time accepting his fate, and they showed him crying followed by a nice montage of other contestants who didn’t pass their audition bawling and/or screaming like they were in pain.

No, really….There was “banana boy,” a humorous one dressed in yellow who used a real banana as a prop….Jasmine, a 17 year old girl from Nebraska with a love for jazz and a very bad voice….Andrew, who came with two cheerleaders to help his cause, was not a bad singer, but while the judges were first considering sending him through, they decided in the end that Andrew was not ready…..

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