It’s only week two of American Idol Season 3 (or Season 18, if you’re not one to retcon the first 15 rounds that aired on Fox), and they’re already pulling out the quirky Broadway wannabes, the fire trucks and the wince-inducing comedy skits featuring judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan during auditions. Despite having to pad out the two hours with some of these shenanigans, a few diamonds in the rough showed up to give stardom a shot.
At the Savannah, Georgia auditions, 17-year-old Cyniah shows up to belt out Calum Scott’s piano ballad “You Are The Reason.” It’s a moving experience for the judges, as evidenced by Lionel telling the contestant she reminds him of watching a young Whitney Houston coming up. Luke gushes that the performance was “tastefully done from A to Z,” and so off Cyniah goes to Hollywood –but not before a dozen or more of her family members pour in to congratulate her. Awww. Next!
A ball of energy called Kay Genyse strikes multiple poses and declares that she’s here “to win, sing, perform and GIVE YOU LIFE!” To prove all of that, she pulls a fortune from a cookie out of her hair (no lie) that states “your talents will be recognized and rewarded,” and gives it to the judges. The problem is that her rendition of Duffy’s “Mercy” is bland on bland.
Luke is a no on sending Katy through and Katy’s on the fence. To determine if the 19-year-old from High Point, N.C. can back up all that she claims to be, the judges walk her outside to the street and ask a gathering crowd their opinion on her singing. After a few bars, these locals don’t seem too hard to please, and so Katy and Lionel give her access to a golden ticket.
Next up is Kyle Tanguay, the first-ever male cheerleader for the Philadelphia Eagles. Clearly already over that gig, Kyle, 21, shows up to sing Shawn Mendes’ “Mercy,” and he’s brought the entire rest of his cheer squad as support, pom-poms and all. Despite claiming to never had a vocal lesson in his life, Kyle is a swell singer, and so away he goes to La La Land. Next!
This Louisiana gentleman knocks the judges for a loop with his soulful voice, but those pipes don’t come without a fair amount of pain. He relays the story of losing his mother eight years prior, an event that sent him down a self-destructive path. He explains that he finally got his life back on track when his son came along.
Jovin’s performance of The Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” has Lionel comparing him to barbecue sauce — scratch your head and move on. Katy adds, “I got chills in my cheekbones, and I’ve had so much botox.”
Every audition episode, some nut rolls in and makes me love them. This time around it’s 16-year-old Claire Jolie Goodman from Illinois, who dreams of Broadway stardom but showed up to audition for a pop singing competition for some reason. Her voice sounds like one of those zither sound effects you’d hear in a 1950s sci-fi movie when the cheap-o flying saucer on a fishing pole would be lowered onto the miniature set. I don’t even know what the hell is happening, and it doesn’t matter anyway. It’s a no all the way around.
Elsewhere, Margie Mays, a quirkster you may recall made it through last season until she crashed and burned in Hawaii, is back. This time she brings boyfriend Jonny West, who’s also here for a shot at fame. Margie barely scrapes her way through to Hollywood after delivering her original tune “I Found A Boy,” but Jonny easily impresses the judges’ panel with his piano-rap original. Lionel says, “You have everything American Idol needs to make you an American idol.” And so off Margie and Jonny go.
Later, Eliza Catastrophe, 28 rolls in with her guitar and a can of sardines that nearly causes Katy to lose her lunch. Juliana subjects everyone to her song called — yep — “Sardines,” and it’s a no from all three judges. NEXT.
California girl Sarah Isen brings her two moms, her sperm-donor dad and nine of her 26 half-siblings (dad was giving it away left and right over the years) for support when she auditions with Beyonce’s “If I Were A Boy.” She lands a golden ticket, as does piano-playing Juliana Gargano from Staten Island, who was inspired to come sing her song “Growing Pains” by watching past contestants Caty Turner and Alejandra Aranda. Katy tells Juliana, “I think you’re Top 5.”
Back in Savannah, married country duo Curt Jones and Hanna Prestridge, aka Treble Soul, each try their luck separately. Curt fails to shine when he tackles a Travis Tritt number, but Hannah, a recovering prescription pill addict, conveys raw emotion with her original tune “Day To Day.” Katy tells Curt that there’s a flower and there’s a gardener, and so budding Hannah is sent on through to the next round while Curt will have to contend with being her support behind the scenes.
Next week, we hit the halfway point with the auditions.