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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 28 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

American Idol XIII Ep. 5 and 6: Salt Lake City and Omaha Auditions

Well, we don’t know about you – but we can’t believe the auditions are already over. Maybe it’s because we have judges who are actually okay with letting the talent be the focus of each episode. We’ve loved hearing so many singers over the past few weeks and even though we know that not all our favourites will make the finals, it’s been great to see all that America has to offer and, perhaps, by seeing all this we might actually agree with more of the judges decisions this year (or maybe not). That said, let’s get right down to business and talk about who we thought deserved those golden tickets and why. Tonight, Ashleigh won’t be writing with me because she had to work and isn’t caught up yet, but Andrew will be bringing you extra picks to make sure you know some of the talent we’ll be faced with come Hollywood Week.

From Salt Lake City, my picks for the night were:

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

1. Austin Wolfe – “Radioactive” (Imagine Dragons) – This girl was intriguing to me for two reasons: one (and the one that really matters) is her voice. We’ve heard umpteen people sing this song throughout the auditions this season, but her take on it was just different enough to hook me. The way she finished certain lines was interesting and effortless and I kind of wish the judges had asked her to sing another song, but I guess she’ll be doing that come Hollywood Week. I’ll definitely be looking out for how her voice handles other challenges.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

2. Briston Maroney – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (The Rolling Stones) – Cute guy, so he’s got the teenage girl vote and he’ll have my vote if his “musical background” keeps rearing it’s head in the form of great song choices and great handling of them. I mean, how often does a kid his age pick a Stones song and play it pretty handily on the guitar? Those kinds of things will differentiate him from other cute tween favourites, for sure, and maybe hook him some of the older vote.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

3. Alex Preston – Original Song – Perhaps appropriately, Idol Season 9 winner Lee DeWyze’s song “Don’t Be Afraid” was played in the background after Alex got his ticket. I say appropriately because one, like DeWyze, Alex had a very unique tone that I think people will either love or hate and two, he was a white guy with a guitar who described his own stylings as “obnoxious”. I don’t know about obnoxious, but the fact that he was bold enough to give an original song a spin, whether great or not, was a testament to the kind of creativity I hope to see in the later rounds.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

4. Paisley Van Patten –  “When The Lights Go Down” (Faith Hill) – I think Paisley was one of the few “big voiced” singers we had on Wednesday. With her comeback story of a failed record deal in Nashville due to alcoholism, you couldn’t help but root for her and when she opened her mouth and blew the lid off this Faith Hill ballad, I was completely on board. She reminded me of last season’s Kree Harrison with the volume on her voice turned up a notch. Personally, this girl is a front-runner for me, but I’m worried her newfound confidence may lead to some attitude clashes in Hollywood.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

5. Dexter Roberts – “Drive” (Casey James) – Dexter seems like a cool guy and I think the judges hit the nail on the head when they said that he just sings because he has to. I felt like it ran through his veins and while he may not be the most talented person to walk through those doors, he’s middle-America likeable and talented enough to probably forge his way through Hollywood. His cover of an Idol alum’s song was a smart pick and showed that he can do what they’ve done. He also seems well-grounded enough not to get involved in the drama and just sing. So, for that reason, I picking him.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

6. Kenzie Hall – “I’m Going To Find Another You” (John Mayer) – Cute, young blonde girl armed with an acoustic guitar is always a favourite on this show and her inflected, more bubbly version of Mayer’s angsty song fit her appearance. It was cute and just good enough not to be dismissed as “high school talent show fodder”. There might be a lot of girls like her in Hollywood, but if she can give infuse her song choices with the same young vibe, she might be able to differentiate herself from the rest.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

7. Samantha Calmes – “From Birth” (Original Song) and The Jefferson’s Theme Song – One of the most interesting auditions of the night came from this Boho guitarist who, like the judges said, sang an original that fit her to a tee, but I was left wondering what else she’d be able to do. When she busted out the Jefferson’s theme song, I was sold on her talent and definitely would have given her a yes, but chalk me up as sceptical with whether her eclectic stylings will bode well for her in Hollywood and with the rest of the theme weeks.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

8. CJ Harris – “Soul Shine” (The Allman Brothers Band) – Again, I sided with the judges on this one when they said that although CJ didn’t necessarily have the vocal chops of some other competitors that we’d seen so far, he just had that flavour and vibe. I mean, how often do we get a black male country singer on the show? He’s our very own Darius Rucker and he cries on cue! Honestly, I think this guy is just endearing enough that America will eat his style up if he gets to the voting rounds.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

9. Tiquila Wilson – “Someone Like You” (Adele) – First of all, she’s named after an ingredient in one of my favourite beverages (the Margarita), but even better was that despite her larger than life personality, she had talent to back it up. We’ve heard Adele more times than I can count these past few weeks, but Tiquila’s version reminded me of outgoing winner Candice Glover in parts and, for that reason, I want to see more.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

10. Casey Thrasher – “Believe” (Brooks & Dunn) – With the most screentime of the night and one of the few sappy stories of the audition tour, young dad Casey Thrasher is definitely a producer favourite. I’ll admit that he had a very rich tone and his song choice was smart and inspiring, which is often what hooks viewers, but I think he’s going to need a little extra push, both musically and looks wise, if he hopes to become a front-runner.

With all that said, I thought Salt Lake City was a very interesting stop on the audition tour. We got a lot of unique voices even if we didn’t see a lot of singers who just flat out sing and blow you away, but maybe those kind of voices won’t stand out come Hollywood Week.

For the second night, we had a shorter show in Omaha, Nebraska and, honestly, it might have been the most uneventful night of auditions. There were a few people who were good but I don’t think I ever got the kind of chills I associate with seeing a potential winner. That said, let’s recap the talent that we did see.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

1. Quaid Edwards – “A Change is Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke) – Quaid, who’s mother toured with Keith Urban back in the day, definitely had the look and there was a voice in there. The thing is, while with some singers I’d say the judges should have deferred putting them through, I think Quaid has found his voice and just needs to figure out what to do with it, so I think putting him through and letting him grapple with the challenges of Hollywood Week might be a good idea. A little pressure might reveal a diamond in the rough, or might cause him to crumble. We’ll see.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

2. Alyssa Siebkin – “No Hands” (Waka Flocka) – I, like the judges, was generally unimpressed by Alyssa’s shtick of turning a semi-vulgar rap ballad into a cute acoustic diddy. On top of all that, I found her voice to be a little shrill, but what I did appreciate was the possibility that she might choose a better song and flip it in Hollywood or later in the competition. So, for that reason, I would have maybe given her a second chance too. I’m actually surprised the judges didn’t ask for another song from her.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

3. Tyler Gurwicz – “Set Fire To The Rain” (Adele) and “Grace” (Jeff Buckley) – Harry took the words out of my mouth when he pointed at that Vermont native Tyler sang the kind of song that fit him to a tee but didn’t leave much to the imagination. After deliberating for a while on a second song choice, his Buckley pick convinced me that may his unique tone might just be flexible enough to buy him some more time in the competition. He’s going to have to have a few more songs in his back pocket though in order to advance.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

4. Tyler Marshall – “Proud Mary” (Tina Turner) – How often do you hear a guy sing Proud Mary? It’s pretty rare and Tyler’s soulful voice just dug right into the song and let it rip. I think it was smart of Tyler to kind of contain his performance not get carried away like past black males on the show (see: Jacob Lusk & Joshua Ledet) – there will be plenty of time for that later, but better not to polarize himself right off the bat. Just sing and sing well, and that’s what he did and it got him to Hollywood.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

5. CJ Jones – “Stand By Me” (Ben E. King) – After getting Harry on his feet to stomp out a beat with him, CJ proceeded to deliver a competent cover of a classic song. If this was the voting rounds, I don’t think what CJ did would be enough to keep him safe but, as it stands, it was enough to show that he had a voice. I think he’s going to need to be a bit more creative though if he hopes to stand out in Hollywood based on the preview we got of Harry saying they needed knockout performances come next week.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

6. Dylan Becker – “Queen of California” (John Mayer) – In contrast, I felt like Becker picked a great song for his voice. “Queen of California” is one of those songs that Ash and I love for it’s cool vibe. It’s almost like a popsicle melting on a hot summer day and the way Becker deliver it made me feel like he was that kind of guy. I appreciate a contestant who can send a clear message of the kind of singer they are right off the bat. Sure, I expect some unexpected song choices here and there, but Becker’s Mayer pick was true to him without running into the “predictable” or “safe” labels which just show a lack of ingenuity.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

7. Paula Hunt – “All I Could Do Is Cry” (Etta James) – Probably the best outright singer of the night was another one who begged the comparison to inaugural winner Candice Glover. Despite Paula’s slight lisp, her singing voice was crystal clear and her choice of an Etta James classic showed a love for old music without sounding dated and it’s clear that came from her mother who, although she herself could not sing anymore, seemed to be the inspiration for Paula’s affinity for music. I’m all for powerhouse female singers with soul and I think Paula has that. I just hope she doesn’t run into the trap of singing the same old, same old (i.e. Whitney, Mariah) because creative song choices were what led Candice Glover to victory.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

8. Andrina Brogden – “Halo” (Beyonce) – Andrina was one of the few contestants who left me baffled which may, perhaps, explain the judges mixed feedback on her too. I felt like her cover of Halo, at first, showed nothing but a decent voice, but in spots, she injected it with a little bit more and that intrigued me and made me wonder what else she could do. I think, like the judges said, she might be a little timid with her instrument and, as such, I probably would have asked her to sing another song, but the judges gave her the go ahead to Hollywood so I’ll be watching her to see if she let’s loose in her next performance.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

9. Casey McQuillen – “Skyscraper” (Demi Lovato) – While this is a very pretty song, I felt a bit like Casey’s cover of it was just good. I would have liked to see more dynamics from her and, for that reason, probably would have asked her to sing another song as well. I know I say that a lot, but sometimes one song doesn’t give you enough to go by in terms of versatility in the competition. I think single-song auditions should be reserved for people with really incredible voices. It’s sort of like Fox’s other reality show So You Think You Can Dance – if you’re really good, you go straight through. If you’re just okay, you have to dance choreography. That’s how I feel about singing too. Anyway, that was a big tangent all to say that I think Casey has a pretty voice but I’m interested to see if pretty translates into diverse.

Credit: Fox + 19 Entertainment

10. Tessa Kate – “Folsom Prison Blues” (Johnny Cash) – I think it was smart to close the show with another unexpectedly great audition. Tessa seemed pretty and timid, but when she opened up with one of Cash’s most famous gritty songs, I was drawn in. It was an unexpected song choice from her and she handled it with enough poise and confidence that made me believe she could sing just about anything in the same way. I’ll definitely be interested to see where she’s going over the next few weeks.

And with that, we’re done the auditions. 212 people are all headed to Hollywood for next week’s dramapalooza. The show promises some new surprises, but I’m expecting the next to open with some “sudden death” songs before they break off into groups. Maybe I’ll be wrong and maybe Per Blankens really does have some cool stuff in store for us. What I hope is that we don’t sacrifice the actual singing for the drama. I don’t want to spend 10 minutes on one shoddy group when I could hear three or four groups deliver some decent performances. Hopefully Idol 13 continues to deliver the goods. Ashleigh will also be rejoining me next week, so until next time, see you then!

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One Comment on “American Idol XIII Ep. 5 and 6: Salt Lake City and Omaha Auditions”

  1. Ashleigh Stokrp January 31, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    Love the thumbnails this week. ;) Can’t wait to catch up on what I missed!

    In terms of what we may see next week, I really hope that they stick with the refreshing take that we’ve had so far, in that it has been low drama, and high talent. I really would love to see this show get its groove back!

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