The second week of Idol auditions seemed to repeat the first, giving us plenty to think about after Thursday’s two-hour special, but leaving us a little high and dry after Wednesday’s one hour offering. Perhaps this arrangement was deliberate, leaving the audience wanting more for next week rather than ending on a bad note. Either way, there were still a fair handful of standouts on both nights to talk about so below I break down the best of them with my take on their talent.
- Gianna Isabella, “House of the Rising Sun” (The Animals) – Daughter of 80’s singer Brenda K. Starr and friend to J Lo was both endearing and showed potential, if a little unpolished, on her first go-around.
- Jenn Blosil, “Radioactive” (Imagine Dragons) – Glassy eyed, glorified weirdo emerged as the star of the night, breathing new life into an over-sung pop song by dismantling it with her airy vocals and piano skills.
- Harrison Cohen, “No Time” (Original Track) – The boy with the “foxy grandpa” turned out to actually have an interesting tune penned that hooked the judges when paired with his voice, which actually wasn’t half-bad.
- John Arthur Greene, “Somebody Like You” (Keith Urban) – The final audition of the night came with a sad story about a tragic accident where Greene accidentally shot his brother while playing with a loaded gun, but the soulful guitarist delivered a heartfelt rendition of a song choice that was a bit of a surprise coming from him.
- Amber Lynn, “Unaware” (Allen Stone) and James VIII, “Sun Comes Up” (John Legend) – Harry gave James some flack for rushing his girlfriend while accompanying her on the guitar, but she still sounded stellar and James wasn’t bad himself, bringing a bit more of a straightforward take than his girlfriend’s vocal acrobatics.
- Chris “CJ” Johnson, “You Make My Dreams Come True” (Hall & Oates) – Not the song I would have expected from this tattooed music man, but the judges said it best: he turned a classic song that everyone knows into something that played to his strengths. Experience and knowledge of self goes a long way in this competition.
- Thomas Stringfellow, “Gimme Love” (Ed Sheeran) – Thomas definitely brought the teen heart-throb factor, but on top of that, he had one of the more unique voices of the night and proved he’s more than just a pretty face and worth remembering on the way to the live shows.
- John Wayne Schulz, “The Dance” (Garth Brooks) – Rival to Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery came back with a vengeance when he shot straight to that heart and avoided karaoke comparisons with his take on an emotional Garth Brooks tune.
- Elvie Shane, “House of the Rising Sun” – There was an unexpected brightness and energy to recovering addict Elvie’s take on a classic. He started raw, showing that he truly had a voice, then hammered it home with some power on the guitar.
It will be interesting to see, of course, whether these good auditions translate into good contestants. There have, in seasons past, been contestants who delivered a phenomenal original song, only to fall apart in Hollywood. Alternatively, we’ve seen contestants rise to the occasion under the pressure of that grueling week.
For example, Season 13 had its far share of contestants who came bearing original songs. Season 13’s wildcard-turned-runner-up, Jena Irene, pulled out all the stops to claim her spot in the finals when she sang her original song “Unbreakable Me.” She has since released a video for the song and I can honestly say it sounds even better as a studio version. Third place contestant Alex Preston and fourth placer Jessica Meuse both had original hits on the show as well (Fairy Tales and Blue Eyed Lie respectively). Since the show, Preston has released a self-titled album, while Meuse has recently give fans another taste of her talent with a single entitled “Rio Grande.”
Also cashing in on his fifteen minutes of fame is Sam Woolf, who came in fifth after receiving the season’s one and only save from the judges. Woolf came into the season as a front-runner and proves why on his five song EP “Pretend” that he released back in 2014.
But none of them can call themselves Season 13’s winner. That title belongs to throwback rocker Caleb Johnson, who released his first album “Testify” shortly after winning and announced on Twitter that he’d be putting out the first single from his sophomore album called “Soul and Blood” this month. It seems all of Season 13’s Top 5 have something in the works, which is great to hear!
So now, it’s in your hands. Which contestants delivered your favorite auditions on Wednesday and Thursday night? And is Idol’s final season meeting or exceeding your expectations or is there more work to be done?
Let me know in the comments below and tune in next Wednesday and Thursday at 8PM Eastern/9PM Central for more auditions. As always, I’ll be back next Friday at 11AM Eastern with my recap of those too!