Year in Music 2017
The Year in R&B/Hip-Hop Charts: Drake Three-Peats as Top Artist, Kendrick Lamar's 'DAMN.' Is Top Album
The Year In Latin Charts: Daddy Yankee, 'Despacito,' Shakira & Ozuna Lead
The Year in Dance/Electronic Charts: The Chainsmokers, Marshmello & Calvin Harris Score
The Year In Social & Streaming Charts: BTS, 'Despacito,' Kendrick Lamar & More
'American Idol' Regains Some of Its Swagger at Texas Auditions
Finally -- that's how you do it, "Idol."
After a string of ho-hum episodes, the show came out guns a-blazin' in Galveston, Texas. For the first time since last Thursday's Pittsburgh auditions, we saw contestants (Skylar, Baylie, Cortez) that seem to have a legitimate shot at going far in the competition. And in pre-2011 "Idol" fashion, the lows were intriguingly low -- trainwrecks, if you will.
In short, it was the quintessential one-hour "Idol" episode. Took 'em long enough.
After a night of glorious highs and amusing lows, let's talk about the five auditions from the Texas episode most worthy of your attention.
You don't get much more country than Mississippi's Skylar Laine. The 17-year-old might actually have more potential than last season's similarly-voiced Lauren Alaina--and she nearly won the thing. Her audition of Pistol Annies' "Hell on Heels" sounded authentic as could be, and Skylar matched the three talented ladies of the Annies note-for-note. Should "Idol" viewers have a craving for a second straight season of country domination, you could do much, much worse.
Remember Baylie? If so, congrats -- you're a bona fide "Idol" historian (or you're on YouTube waaaay too much). The 22-year-old first auditioned during the show's sixth season, having been eliminated during Hollywood Week. These days, the more mature Baylie is doing fairly well. Her take on "Bed of Roses" had the sound of a country-pop crossover, and to see her in Idol's Top 24 is in no way a major stretch. Here's hoping she has better luck this time around.
Battle of the Judges
Here's where things got a little tense. Contestants Rachael Turner, Cheyenne James and Reagan Wilson -- seemingly shoo-ins given some of the talent put through in previous auditions -- failed to impress Randy and Steven, leaving J. Lo dumbfounded. Following their rejection, Linda Williams comes through, and the opposite occurs -- the men love it, and Jennifer is turned off. So, "Idol" faithfuls -- whose side are you on? Me, I'm on Jennifer's side. Nothing against Linda, but given some of the choices Randy and Steven have made (and claims, in the case of Aspen's Curtis Gray), rejecting the three girls is quite peculiar indeed.
Alejandro Cazares is talking 'bout a revolution. The 26-year-old from Houston spat plenty of chatter about leading a new music revolution in which the underdog could rise up and achieve fame for his or herself. But was it all talk? Basically. You have to admire his emotion and drive, but Alejandro's performance of Paramore's "Looking Up" fell well short of magical, unless you're the masochist type. Sorry, brah. Not this time.
"Idol" producers tend to fit at least one feel-good story into each audition episode, and with Ramiro Garcia, they really struck a chord. The 28-year-old Texan was born without ears, and doctors didn't expect him to even be able to talk, let alone speak. But after numerous surgeries, the worship leader auditioned Thursday night with "Amazing Grace." Vocally? Not exceedingly impressive, but enough to make it through. It's Ramiro's story, and his father's emotional response, that makes the audition.
Also worth checking out: Phong Vu's emotional (and spirited... and rejected) "Idol" audition, 28-year-old rocker mom Kristine Osorio, Cortez Shaw's R&B take on Adele, the onslaught of Scotty McCreery clones.