Tonight’s Idol episode – the Denver and Little Rock auditions – might as well have been called the sleeper show. There were a bunch of “wow – but” singers tonight; a few of them are going to last until the live shows, most of them are going to be gone by the end of group night – and one of them could win the whole thing. I finally chose one standout, almost out of frustration from almost calling half the aired auditions standouts. Someone from this show is going to be in the top five, but I have no idea who.
Amber Lynn, 28. Janis imitator, looks like that girl who kicked Ted Mosby’s butt on “How I Met Your Mother (Natalie?) … not enough voice to contend, but too much experience to dump too early.
James Dawson VIII, 27. Casey James lives, down to the mannerisms. He’s a better singer than Casey, who would bleat like a sheep when he tried to hold high notes, but not as hunky … If he can show off his guitar and musicianship like Casey he’s a contender; if not, he’s still interesting.
Chris Johnson, 28. Good bar band guy, good voice, but he doesn’t have the sort of vocal tricks a player of his type probably needs for this sort of competition … I think he’ll be around awhile, and he can make the live shows if he doesn’t toss in a stinker, but he strikes me as the type who might make some dumb song choices and try to do too much.
Ethan Kuntz, 15. He might be the greenest singer they’ve passed through since hick chick Vanessa in season nine, but it’s the last year … I’m sure Ethan will enjoy his experience, but he’ll be going home by group night.
Mary Williams, 23. Patty Loveless style and attack, Loretta Lynn inflections and upper range, and Crystal Gayle tone and phrasing. Those three singers are related to each other; I’ll have to check to see if Mary is a long lost cousin … if she’s serious, not just a karaoke singer here on a bet, she’s a contender. She needs to sing songs by big-voiced singers to avoid the criticism the guys gave her; Tammy Wynette songs don’t fit her voice.
Terrian Bass, 18. Slop might count when you tell the judges that you are going home to get murdered, but wonker notes like that won’t work in Hollywood … fodder; she might be targeted on group night for some drama.
Tommy Stringfellow, 17. If Bret Loweinstern can make the live shows, I see no reason why Tommy can’t … contender if he doesn’t blow up; that style is a high-wire act.
Tywan “Tank” Jackson, 29. Anyone watch The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? … I’ll root for him, but I don’t expect him to survive past whenever the judges realize he’s taking a spot away from a real singer.
John Wayne Schulz, 27. I remember him from season ten; I think he’s the first repeater I’ve seen so far this season. I know a certain cougar who is going to be happy he’s back … he’s a contender, at least to the live shows. Once he gets there it’ll be up to the voters. He sounds like Mark Chestnutt without the West Texas accent, and unfortunately without the range, either. He needs to be careful to stay in his zone, and in his vocal range.
Jordyne Simone, 15. Chaka Kahn lookalike has a strong voice and some well developed vocal chops, but her intonation was sloppy as hell in her audition. She can’t go far if she can’t sing in tune … deep sleeper; her voice is too good to call her fodder, but perfect intonation isn’t a skill that can be acquired in a hurry.
Kassy Levels, 19. I’m not sure how unique her voice is, but she has tremendous command and rhythm … she was one of those dreaded montage singers so who knows, but I’m optimistic.
Rhea Raj, 15. Teenaged girls struggle with their upper range and their falsetto, even when they have strong, bright, lively voices. I had never noticed that before I watched Idol; I knew from my own experience that guys have that problem, but I didn’t realize that girls have it as well … Rhea has a lot more experience than most 15 year olds, but she can’t contend if she tries to live in her upper range. Maybe the mentors and vocal coaches can figure out what to do with her, or at least tie her down and make her stop singing so many of those high notes she used to be able to hit.
Jake Dillon, 22. I can’t believe they almost didn’t take him; I loved his audition. He has such a free and easy delivery, just light years ahead of even a good country singer like John Wayne Schulz … I was going to call him a standout before Clooney Connick Jr. turned him down. I think the guys were bugged because he changed the chord progression on the song – and he got nervous and misheard Keith’s request for a D7 – and they wanted to pass on him because he’s not a pro, which is weird in a supposedly amateur competition. I wouldn’t be surprised a bit if he won the whole thing. Or got dumped next show, because Harry doesn’t get him.
Ashley Lilinoe, 20. I thought she was a joke contestant until she started playing her guitar. J-Lo is nuts … she is a very interesting sleeper, and I need to troll the net to see what else she might have up her sleeve. She has a barter fair vibe, doesn’t she?
Andrew Nazarbekian, 20. Can I root against him so I don’t have to keep typing that name? He reminds me a little of Julio Iglesias the way he phrases, the way he rushes through the syllables like they have a train to catch … I don’t see any reason to expect him to be around long.
Elvie Shane, 27. How many different personas do you have to channel at once to be considered unique? At first glance he looks like a Van Zant, but he has the eyes of a Cherokee elder. His voice is strong, rubbery, and rich but his style is closer to Arlo Guthrie than, say, the singer from Shinedown. His manner was relaxed and easy going at rest, but once he got going he turned into an animal … Standout number three. He isn’t an old pro… or if he is he hides it well behind the forty dollar guitar. It’s possible that he just got lucky with a cool arrangement, but if he did that on purpose he’s going to be really fun to watch.