On Wednesday’s episode of American Idol, the first hour kicks off in San Antonio, Texas for the first time in six years. There, judges Nicki Minaj, Randy Jackson, Keith Urban, and Mariah Carey, continue to play nice with each other and focus on the bevy of hopefuls vying for a ticket to Hollywood.
Wednesday’s episode focued on big voices and big backstories, as the FOX show breaks out the violins for a few contestants. While I’m all for the occasional sob story, these felt like overkill. And, I find myself rolling my eyes more than dabbing away tears.First up is Vincent Powell, 29, a return contestant who made it to the end of Hollywood Week last season. The Austin, Texas-native gives a powerful performance of “Rock me Baby,” prompting an “Amen! Thank you, Jesus!” from Randy. He’s through to Hollywood.
While I’m rarely entertained by the bad auditions, I can’t get enough of brothers, Derek and David Bacerott. After an awful attempt at Mario’s “Let me Love You,” they proceed to argue with every single judge on the panel. At one point, a frustrated Nicki puts her foot down.
“You’re part of the audition is done. So, let’s take it down a notch and realize that we are trying to help you. “ The hilariously delusional brothers continue their pleas until a suddenly serious Randy sends them out.
After a few more reasonably talented contenders get sent through, we get to the first big disagreement of the night. Judges can’t agree on the fate of Mississippi’s own, Papa Peaches, a quirky character who says he’s “really a big black woman trapped in a little boy’s body.” Hmm.When the panel comes up deadlocked, it’s up to Randy to break the tie. Although he originally voted “no,” he changes his mind after Nicki convinces him to give the kid a shot.
The biggest surprise of the night comes from 19-year-old Adam Sanders. The soft-spoken teen seems timid at first, but blows the judges away with Etta James’ “At Last.”
You go boy! He gets a standing ovation from all but Nicki. I’m now convinced she doesn’t stand, ever.
Next stop Cali!
When judges land in Long Beach, Calif., they’re missing both lovely ladies of the panel. Mariah and Nicki are apparently stuck in traffic, leaving Randy and Keith to fend for themselves for the first few auditions.
The day is pretty boring until a purple-haired teenager shakes things up. Sixteen-year-old Stephanie Sanson puts her death metal twist on Adele’s “I Set Fire To The Rain,” prompting Mariah to wish she could call her pastor. The teenager’s crazy antics are so unexpected, they’re funny. And she really commits by flipping off the judges and cameras with both hands as she screams her way out the door.
After that, more good auditions happen — more than usually aired on one episode. The next one worth noting is from 16-year-old Jesaiah Baer, who is interrupted by a fire alarm during her audition. After a brief evacuation, she returns to finish her super soulful, jazz-y turn at “Settle Down,” complete with scatting. Nicki is instantly impressed and so is everyone else. Unanimous yes.Now I have a bit of deja vu, because I thought we already had a heartbreaking speech impediment survivor story this season. Guess nobody told 24-year-old Micah Johnson that Lazaro Arbos already stole our heartswith those puppy dog eyes and soul-melting smile?!
Anyway, back to Micah. He has a speech impediment due to a botched tonsil removal that left his nerves nicked. Now, he can only speak clearly while… (wait for it) — singing! He does his own version of Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried” and wows the judges. Keith’s advice? “Just sing all the time.” That is exactly what I remember Randy saying to Lazarus. Come on, guys, some originality would be appreciated.
Now, for the big finish. Teasers have been running all night about the “most inspirational story” of the season. Finally, we meet Matheus Fernandes, 21, an Atlanta-native who is inexplicably short. While he’s not a dwarf, he’s extremely small. The judges are beaming from the moment he utters the first words of “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
If it wasn’t for all the theatrics from judges and the dragged out message of perseverance being rammed down my throat, this is the point I might have been moved.Corny comments make it harder to swallow, like when Randy feigns sincerity for the first time of the night and says, “I know society can be crazy and harsh, but we don’t put up with any of that around here.”
With a noticeably revived commitment to telling contestant’s stories, American Idol may finally be on the right track. Who knows what the judges will find when the search continues tomorrow in Oklahoma City Thursday night.
Did anyone move you on Wednesday’s episode?
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