'American Idol' Keeps Portland Weird at Auditions
There's a popular phrase in Portland -- evidenced by a number of signs found across the city -- bearing the saying "Keep Portland Weird."
Wednesday night's "Idol" auditions, for the most part, did that motto proud. It was certainly the season's most eclectic audition, featuring a number of wide-ranging contestants (though, surprisingly, not one person asked if the judges could come to their DJ night. *)
Though an altogether entertaining episode, the Portland auditions did little to sell me on potential star talent. Still, a few showed promise worthy of discussion. Read on to find out who I thought were the noteworthy contestants in the City of Roses.
* Obligatory "Portlandia" reference -- check.
1. Jermaine Jones
The quiet, unassuming Jermaine may just have the best chance of Portland's contestants to make it to the "Idol" live show. The so-called "gentle giant," standing at a formidable 6 feet 8 inches, amazed with the smooth R&B of Luther Vandross' "Superstar." Fans of last season's Jacob Lusk, take note -- THIS is your man for season 11. The 24-year-old's nerves may get the best of him in the long run, but for now, call him a cautious bet.
2. Jessica Phillips
The 25-year-old Brooklynite is arguably this season's equivalent of Chris Medina. After boyfriend D'Angelo suffered a stroke, Jessica has served as his caretaker, leading him on the path to recovery. But personal life aside, she also has a voice to write about home. Her take on Faith Evans' "Again" is reminiscent of the original, with a modern vibe to her vocal. She'll need to pick it up a bit in Hollywood if she wants to stick around, but she has plenty of time to improve.
3. Britnee Kellogg
You know J.Lo likes a performance when she's all, "I'MMA SING WITCHU" and sings along during. Britnee, who had a posse with her at the audition that rivaled that of a budding rap star's, delighted with a soulful, smoky "You're No Good" (made most famous by Linda Ronstadt). This performance came only after Britnee explained to the judges that her ex-husband cheated on her (Steven: "You have a beautiful sense of humor"). Great stuff? Nah. Worthy of moving on? Absolutely. And her two kids? ADORBZ.
4. Brittany Zika
Ah, here's our Portland hipster. After nearly tripping onstage and thereby declaring herself "Tripster the Hipster" (Brittany's got jokes, and they're better than David Weed's), the 21-year-old came out strong with an intriguing take on Brandi Carlile's "The Story." Brittany's voice is certainly unique; there's a strange, deep tone to her voice that could either take her far or leave her with the rest of the oh-your-voice-is-interesting-but-not-for-this-competition rejects. This time at least, the judges seemed to like it. Dig the look, too, contrary to what Randy says.
5. Ben Harrison
I feel like I have to include at least one "Idol" reject... and man, was this guy entertaining. The baby-faced 28-year-old, to use a relatively standard Internet emoticon, practically has a :D face all the time. The judges during his performance of Queen's "Somebody to Love," on the other hand? Hmm... let's go with D: -- not a horrid voice, but his falsetto was troubling. But don't feel too bad for Ben. He held himself up high, and announced that he and his supporters would be getting pizza after. And at the end of the day, isn't that what all of us really need?
Also worth checking out: Liberian refugee Romeo Diahn's thin-voiced take on Bob Marley, Naomi Gillies' hit-and-miss (mainly 'hit') vocal on "Cryin'," Ben Purdom sucking the emotion out of everything he performed.
What is your take on the talent in the City of Roses? Did the contestants do Portland justice? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to tune in tonight at 8 p.m. for the conclusion of "Idol" auditions on Fox, coming to you from St. Louis.