Adam Sanders, American Idol

AMERICAN IDOL: San Antonio Auditions: Contestant Adam Sanders on AMERICAN IDOL airing Wednesday, Jan. 30 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Michael Becker / FOX

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"American Idol" rolled into two different cities during Wednesday night’s auditions – San Antonio and Long Beach. The differences between the two? Location, certainly. But beyond that, the episode presented two locations that produced very similar talent, in that the talent was, for the most part, good. Like, really good.

In fact, the show barely had time for its throwaway contestants that didn’t make it through. That’s a boring proposition for many, but then, that’s the new "Idol": mostly positive and focusing on the best (or, at least, the sob stories), with a few choice weirdos.

But last night yielded arguably the best crop of talent the season has showcased thus far. And when the most compelling "bad" audition is a duo of brothers who aren't so much bad as they are incredibly annoying, you know you’re probably not going to have a ratings hit. Wow, though, some of those singers.

Let’s count down the best of the best.

Adam Sanders – "I’d Rather Go Blind"
It’s no easy feat to render Nicki Minaj speechless. Adam Sanders can count himself as one of the few, the proud. He said he preferred the R&B/soul route musically, and put in an Etta James rendition highly becoming of both those genres, plus a little gospel. My first impression of Sanders was that he’d be too emotional to even get through the audition, but time and time again, "Idol" teaches us that first impressions aren’t always the best to take as fact.

Micah Johnson – "Chicken Fried"
A freak issue during a tonsillectomy left Johnson with a speech impediment, but if Lazaro Arbos taught us anything a few weeks ago, it’s to never count out singers who come on the show with speech issues, because chances are they’re going to shock everyone. Real talk: Micah didn’t blow everyone away like Lazaro did. But it’s still amazing to hear such a clear, crisp vocal come from someone who has gone through so many hardships vocally. His soulful take on "Chicken Fried" was something I’d love to hear more of.

Shubha Vedula – "Something's Got a Hold On Me"
I expected Adele to, once again, be the song choice of many this year, but instead, "Idol" has surprised me with a ton of Etta James, particularly "Something’s Got a Hold On Me," which is likely due to Avicii and Flo Rida sampling the song to great effect in 2012. Vedula decided to take on the Christina Aguilera rendition, and while sometimes I thought I heard too much Xtina and not enough of her own personality, there’s no denying she’s got pipes. As long as she’s not one of those singers that effectively mimics whoever’s song she’s singing, we may have a star on our hands, unless she wants to go the Weird Al route or something.

Sanni M’Mairura – "Who’s Loving You"
At first I couldn’t figure out what I thought of Sanni, the son of Kenyan and Tanzanian parents. His voice was sweet and silky smooth and he was able to take a Michael Jackson song and do it without sounding too much like the King of Pop, but the theatrics in his delivery were a bit of a distraction. But then I remembered that this is a singing competition and that it’s about the voice. Sanni has a good voice. A great voice. One of the best voices in the competition so far. So there’s that.

Papa Peachez – Original Song
I’m still trying to make some sense out of Papa Peachez. It starts with the name, which I feel silly just typing, let alone saying. Then it’s Papa himself, who describes himself as "a big black woman trapped in a little boy's body" (I think I recall Adam Brock saying something similar last season). But hey, the kid can sing. Song wasn’t great, but his deep, husky voice is certainly unexpected and very unique. He barely made it through to Hollywood, and his dislike of singing covers is probably going to hurt him in the upcoming rounds. But with some seasoning and lessons (and perhaps some better songwriting), I’d probably buy his album. Or at least download a song. Really.


IN OTHER NEWS:

  • The judges are right – Victoria Acosta sounded better singing mariachi than Fergie.
  • Stephanie Sanson’s fate was only fitting for someone who names their band You Only Live Once.
  • Vincent Powell is back, and has a huge crush on Mariah Carey, apparently. I could see this being a problem if he continues deep into the competition – which is likely, as boy can sang.
  • Rachel Hale is probably the most ebullient contestant I’ve seen in awhile.
  • Props to Jesaiah Baer for probably being the first to sing Kimbra on "Idol." Seems like she has some indie leanings, which is certainly fine with me.
  • Whichever "music producer" told Brian Martinez he should try out for "American Idol" is either really bad at his job or is the greatest troll in the music industry.
  • Reaction to Briana Oakley: "Wow. Wow. Wow." "Nicki hated it." "Wow. Wow. Wow."
  • Nicki forgot what words were during the Bacerott Brothers’ little stand of defiance, and I’m kind of with her on that. I hope performing together was a producer move and not something the men actually agreed upon doing.
  • Look, I made it through an entire recap without a "Silence of the Lambs" reference!

The "Idol" auditions come to a close in Oklahoma City tomorrow night. Expect country music and plenty of people wondering what else there is to do in Oklahoma.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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