Auditions are already over! That was really fast. I am not complaining. Initial auditions are hands down my least-favorite part of this process (the sometimes interminable semi-finals are also right up there), so I'm glad that the show sped through them as quickly as possible this season. That said, of all the stops I say, Omaha, Nebraska, had easily the weakest talent on display.
Among the highlights:
Quaid Edwards made a huge mistake singing "A Change Is Gonna Come." Firstly, that song is so completely overdone on this show. I have last track of the number of times I have heard it, and basically none of them live up to the original. Secondaly, Quaid does not have the soul to pull off the song convincingly. His vocal was fine, but unspectacular. He is good looking. Girls will like him. But we have seen much better singers on this show - and we've seen them get cut. He got through by the skin of his teeth. His mom is a musician who had a connection to Keith Urban.
Madisen Walker, 15 but looks 32, did Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," and it wasn't anywhere near ready. There are some elements that worked here, especially toward the end of the song when the notes got lower. But her upper register was not great, and the judges were much too kind about her voice. Tellingly, after she left the judges all but said that she's going to get cut sooner rather than later. And seriously, I cannot believe that girl is 15.
Alyssa Siebken, 20, did an unplugged version of "No Hands" by WakkaFlokka Flame. She has a good voice, but that was such a goofy audition song. It bordered on gimmicky - like she wasn't taking it seriously. Keith and Jennifer said yes, Harry said no.
Tyler Gurwicz, 25, also did Adele - "Fire to the Rain" - and if I hate when girls sing Adele, I hate it when guys do it even more. It wasn't bad, though. He can definitely sing. Keith Urban thought that Tyler looked angry when he sang, and Harry Connick doesn't know where Tyler would fit in with this competition. Initially Keith and Harry both said no. Harry asked him to pick a tune to sing another song. Tyler was not immediately receptive - idiot - but eventually went into a second song that I didn't recognize. His pitch was problematic, but the bulk of it was solid.
C.J. Jones, 20, has a wonderful voice that frankly I was not expecting to come out of him. It's a great, honey-coated baritone. He did a lovely job on "Stand by Me." I am interested to see more from him.
Paula Hunt, 20, sings for a military band. She sang Etta James' "All I Could Do Is Cry," and she did a beautiful job with it. There is something very authentic about her. She tells a story when she sings. I could have listened to her sing all night long. And she is SO likable. Team Paula!
AndrinaBrogden, 18, did "Halo" by Beyonce. She did a very good approximation of the original song. Lopez stopped her early in and said that while she has a beautiful voice, her fear was shining through - Andrina was holding back. Harry thinks she can sing but she's not right for "Idol." Keith Urban liked everything about her, but she was clearly nervous about it. Keith and Jennifer put her through, but the advice was clear: she needs to conquer her nerves.
Tessa Kate, 25, did "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash. You could hear the nerves in her voice. I was not impressed during the first verse, but she came alive in the second and then I was into it. The judges compared her to Barbara Mandrell and Loretta Lynn, and I see what they're saying. She has a very high-pitched, vibrato-filled voice, which reminded me a lot of classic Dolly Parton. That is TOTALLY a compliment.
Next: Hollywood Week...in a hangar. With all kinds of twists. And Keith Urban got a HAIRCUT! And of course, tears.