After a drama-filled group round last night in “Hollywood,” the remaining “American Idol” hopefuls were narrowed down from 100 to 60 with their final solo auditions. It was a solid night all around, with Casey Abrams and John Wayne Schulz cementing their frontrunner status, and new faces like Ashton Jones and Jacob Lusk emerging as favorites from out of nowhere. Read on for our top 5 picks of the night, and tell us: who were your favorites?
1) Casey Abrams
Song: Ray Charles, “Georgia On My Mind”
We Say: Casey Abrams brought the melodica to “Idol” with his first audition, and here in Hollywood, he’s broken new ground with the upright bass. But more importantly, he’s a total natural when it comes to singing. Unpredictable phrasing and a fresh, well-executed arrangement of a classic should put any doubts to rest — Casey’s a shoo-in for the top 12.
2) Ashton Jones
Song: Jennifer Holliday, “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going”
We Say: Ashton Jones didn’t emerge as a favorite until Hollywood’s group auditions last night, when she and Ashley Sullivan put a twist on Blu Cantrell. Her solo audition tonight proved that it was worth the wait to see her shine. If Ashton can rock a dress and heels like that in Vegas, and translate her R&B-styled vocals to a Beatles song, how can she not make the final judges’ cut?
3) Jacob Lusk
Song: Billie Holiday, “God Bless the Child”
We say: Jacob Lusk pulled out all the stops with this performance, from melismas to impossibly high notes to ad-libbed laughs (paging Christina Aguilera!) — and it paid off. Everyone was moved, and perhaps Jacob himself was moved most of all. Still, we’d like to what he can do with a more intimate performance. Jacob’s sort of reminding us of an even hammier (albeit more talented) Michael Lynche right now, and we’re not sure how we feel about that.
4) Ashley Sullivan
Song: Michael Buble, “Everything”
We Say: Ryan describes Ashley Sullivan as an “emotional time bomb,” and Jennifer advises her, “It’s about control when you sing slower songs, and most of it is about controlling your emotions.” These are not good signs for Ashley, whose nerves got the best of her once again, as she forgot the lyrics of a song that she dedicated, perhaps ill-advisedly, to her boyfriend. Nevertheless, she makes it to the next round, though we can’t say we’ll be crushed if she doesn’t make it past Beatles week. Can Ashley get her act together when it really counts? Stay tuned.
5) John Wayne Schulz
Song: Fleetwood mac, “Landslide”
We Say: We’ve got a sneaking suspicion the judges are making a choice between John Wayne Schulz and fellow bass-y country singer Scotty McCreery, and based on tonight’s performances John’s got a clear lead. He picked a great song in “Landslide” and delivered it both honestly and skillfully, all while showing off his chops on the guitar. What more can you ask for at this stage of the game?