Week two of season 15’s auditions kicked off in Philadelphia, with former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken dropping by to both help and mess with some of the artists.
The first audition of the night came from Gianna Isabella, the daughter of 1980s pop singer Brenda K. Starr. Isabella sang “House Of The Rising Sun,” and judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban were all immediately impressed. The powerful performance got her the golden ticket so that she can try to follow in the steps of her mother.
Derek Huffman gave a slightly different audition next, bringing in a boombox to back him up on his vocals for “Angel” by Shaggy. It was a charming performance, but he definitely didn’t have what it takes for Hollywood.
Next up was 15-year-old Isaac Cole, who grew up on a farm just like a lot of season 15’s Idol hopefuls so far. He sang “Love Like Crazy,” accompanying himself on the guitar. “You have the blues,” Lopez said, impressed by the maturity of his voice. Connick cautioned Cole not to sing with a country twang if he doesn’t speak with one, but he was also impressed by the vocals. Cole advanced to Hollywood.
After a slew of rejections, the judges were hoping that 17-year-old Sara Sturm might break the dry spell in Philadelphia. She sang “Lips Are Movin” by Meghan Trainor, and Urban complimented her confidence. All three judges said yes to Sturm.
Sporting some very original fashion choices, 25-year-old Ellis Banks brought a lot of energy to his performance of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” It was fun, but the judges said it wasn’t what they were looking for.
Jenn Blosil, who described herself as quirky, auditioned with “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons and played the piano. All three judges liked what they heard, and Lopez also threw the word “quirky” out there. “You’ve got this easy presence about you,” Urban said.
Next, 17-year-old Harrison Cohen from New York auditioned, singing an original song called “No Time.” He overdid it a little bit on the seductive looks, but the vocals were strong, and the song itself was impressive. “I think you’re talented,” Connick said, though he expressed doubts as to whether Cohen could be the powerhouse they’re looking for to bookend Idol’s run. Still, Cohen sailed through to Hollywood.
The last contestant of the night was Johnathan Arthur Greene, whose brother passed away when he was 8-years-old in a firearm accident. Green, who is in Matilda on Broadway, uses music as a coping mechanism. He sang “Somebody Like You,” and while it was an impressive audition, Lopez expressed some doubts about his ability to keep up with someone of the other contestants. Connick said no, and Lopez said yes, leaving Urban to make the final decision. He decided to give Greene a shot at Hollywood.
The auditions continue tomorrow night in Denver and Little Rock. What did you think of the talent in Philadelphia?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.