Recap: American Idol 11×03- Sunday Night Special

There are certain times in my life where television just gives me some great gifts. Having American Idol on a Sunday night- definitely one of them.

First of all what a smart decision putting the show after such a big game (Giants headed back to the Superbowl, guys!), sure to have some football fans leaving their tv sets on while they scream about how mad they are that the 49ers won’t be in the big game, or rejoice that the Giants will be heading back to face the Patriots (a story that has unfolded before). After the respective rejoicing or screaming, the fans could possibly calm down enough to realize “Oh. American Idol? I love this show. I had no clue it was on tonight.” or “Oh. American Idol. I haven’t watched this since Paula Abdul was a judge. What? Jennifer Lopez? Turn it up!” In any case, I waited around for the game to finish up to get the first taste of my Idol fix for the week.

Sunday’s audition special was held in San Diego, California, aboard the USS Midway. Again, great decision by the network to play this after football. All of this is very American and Patriotic, so it should hold some viewers, correct? I haven’t seen the ratings yet, but I can imagine that it probably accumulated more viewers than ABC’s short lived Work It. However, that wouldn’t be saying much.

The night started off in a big way (remember, we still had the football fans attention) with Jennifer Diley, a self-proclaimed “patriotic” girl. She was wearing a red and white top…kind of, and blue jean shorts…kind of. Basically, she was not wearing much of anything, but it still did not make up for her very tepid voice. After being thoroughly ogled by Steven Tyler and given the up-and-down by a very unimpressed Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer sang Jessica Simpson’s “With You” (RIP Newlyweds). Could this girl have a more thin sounding voice? I am absolutely positive she could not. While she was definitely not as bad as many contestants in the past, she had no prayer of getting past the Big Three. After being given three Nos, Jennifer decided to go after a more ambitious artist, Mariah Carey, further proving her plain voice. After a round of silence by the judges, Jennifer walked her patriotic self out of the room.

Now that we had gotten past the short roadblock that was Jennifer Diley, we Idol viewers were given the special treat of Ashley Robles, who I believe could be a huge contender this season. A single mother, Ashley works several jobs to provide a good life for her absolutely adorable daughter, who, when asked, told Ryan Seacrest she was “gonna be a dancer,” and all of America instantly fell in love. Ashley walked into the room with such a presence, I just knew her voice would be very special. I was not wrong. Ashley sang one of the most ambitious songs anyone could choose to ever sing anywhere- Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”. Right when she started my arms were just chills chills goosebumps chills. She is SO GOOD. She is so consistent and knew how to play with the notes and runs without being indulgent, and had such incredible dynamics that really made me feel the song. She went big on everything, never holding back or taking the easy way out, and it worked for her from the first note to the last note. I think she is now officially my favorite audition of the season (sorry, Lauren Mink. I still love you and “Country Strong”!). The judges of course loved her. I really hope audiences love and connect with her because she has a perfect voice for big pop songs; she doesn’t have a pretentious, diva, I’m-in-this-for-me personality; and she is absolutely stunning.

The third contestant of the night was Jayrah Gibson, who claimed that if singing didn’t work out, there is “no B-plan.” Not Plan B. B Plan. He also said some other crazy things like “People said I can’t write. I can’t sing. I could just sing” I mean, he was probably extremely nervous, but I found his stumbling quite funny. He instantly got my attention because he was just SO excited to be there auditioning for the judges, and first sang a song he wrote called “Shake Your Money Maker”. This song absolutely sounds like any other song that discusses shaking your money maker, but it did show that he has a great personality and isn’t afraid to be entertaining and outgoing on national television. Once he got past his energy ball entrance and first song, he actually began his audition with “Just Friends” by Musiq Soulchild. This is another one we have need to be watching for, Idol fans. He  has an extremely contemporary R & B voice. However, I get nervous when people have that kind of voice when we have such artists as Usher, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, and Jason Derulo really dominating that R&B/Hip-Hop/Pop Scene. If Jayrah hopes to contend with the likes of those men, he will needs to find a unique twist on what he does.

Aubree Dieckmeier was the next contestant of the night, though she may aspire to do an audition for Tyra Banks over Jennifer Lopez. She said something along the lines of “I just dream of becoming a singer on America’s Next Top Model,” which of course cued a blooper reel of her trying over and over to say the right show, when she finally ending with “I just want to be a model, ok?!” The funny part is, she could absolutely be a model. Tall, great body, the longest legs you can imagine, gorgeous face, and great presence. If singing doesn’t work, I hope she can find herself in the pages of Vogue, or maybe Cosmo Girl. I wasn’t sure how Aubree’s voice would be, given her questionable start with the modeling misstep. She sang “Feelin’ Good”, which is bold seeing as so many great vocalists have done great things to that song. Aubree was not deterred by this song choice. In fact, she brought new elements to the song I had not heard before. I could truly imagine myself lying on the beach and plugging in my iPod and listening to this sweet voice lull me to sleep. She was very comfortable onstage, but I am excited to see how she grows because the judges and I all noted that she does lose some power in that upper range. Once developed, I think that she could have a definite career in music. Maybe not non-stop #1s like Adele, but I would download her single.

19-year-old Ali Shields took to our TV screens next, and if you are a fan of Ellen Degeneres, you may remember her appearing on The Ellen Degeneres Show” after writing a song about how much she loves Ellen, then being sent on the red carpet to interview celebrities. She’s honestly very funny and quirky, and I think audiences could really love her. She may need to rein in the energy a tiny bit, though. The girl definitely isn’t afraid to be herself and be weird, as she started her audition with Chris Brown’s 2011 hit “Look At Me Now”. This was clearly a joke, but it got everyone’s attention and made us laugh and feel nice feelings toward this quirky girl. After she did some “ghetto dancing”, Ali sang “Star” by Corinne Bailey Rae, finally proving she has such a nice voice. She has a tone not unlike Adele, but certainly not as developed and otherworldly or else she’d already be signed. I think she has the potential to sink or swim in Hollywood, so I hope they keep following her into the later rounds.

Proud Frat boy Kyle Crews was our next portion of entertainment for the night, and I was just very unsure how to feel about his upcoming performance based upon his video package. He could either be very good or very bad. Kyle is a full-time college student at UC Berkley, and serenades “every pretty girl he sees” (sorry to all of the pretty girls who were serenaded by Kyle. You are but one of many). When he opened his mouth to sing “Angel of Mine” for the judges, I was pleasantly surprised. This guy CAN sing. Now I see why all of the pretty girls actually stay to listen to his serenades! His voice reminds me very much of season 5’s Elliot Yamin, who is one of my all-time favorite Idol contestants. When the judges loved him, he was just so happy and so shocked. I really like this guy. I hope he does well, at least sticking around past Hollywood. I also hope his Fraternity brothers make some sort of appearance because that has the potential to be TV gold.

Next was Joanne Childers, who sang for literally about three seconds before her audition was interrupted by the loud honking of a ship. She didn’t seem to have a bad voice, but the show did not confirm whether or not she made it. At this point, we were given the treat of the longest montage you can imagine, full of airplane noises, boat horns honking, seagulls screeching, and any other loud noise you can hear inside your head as you read this. Yes, it was funny. Yes, it was unfortunate that the contestants and judges had to power through it. No, it did not need to go on that long, thoroughly stressing me out.

Jane Carrey went next, with an audition that made me so overwhelmed and shocked that I wish I had it on video. She is talking and talking and all of the sudden they drop this bomb on us- SHE IS JIM CARREY’S DAUGHTER. YES. HIS ACTUAL DAUGHTER. Sorry for the all caps, this just really shocked me. It still does. I know a lot of people don’t like Jim Carrey because they don’t find his humor funny or feel creeped out by him or whatever, but I really like him, so I was so happy about this audition. Also, it was so weird because J-Lo remembered Jane from when she about two years old. Anyway, she actually did audition for this show, and I did pay attention once I stopped being so tripped out. Jane sang “Something to Talk About”, and while she doesn’t have the most developed and ready for radio voice, she shows a lot of potential. If she works with the right people I think that Jane could have a real career in music. I also appreciate that she is going about it in a way that doesn’t involve daddy doing the real work. After she was put through to Hollywood, Jane called her dad and put him on speaker phone and that was just a precious moment. He was so proud of her and happy for her. It made my heart happy.

Bringing in the last audition of the night was Wolverine James Hamlin, who is apparently known as by “Wolf” to everyone. Given him resemblance to a certain X-Man, I am not entirely surprised by this. I wish I had the video clip of him saying “Beware of the wolf (howwwwwwwl sound).” Sadly, I don’t, but if you watched the show you were most likely as confused as I was in that moment. This guy really had his work cut out for him in winning me over. I couldn’t even tell you the first song he sang, but I thought “Meh. Good voice, not marketable. I may not even tip him if he was singing as I passed on the street.” The judges saw something in him, however, and asked him to sing another song. This time he got out his guitar and started singing Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”. Again, he had some talent, but I just didn’t see the big deal. Finally, he asked the judges “Ya’ll wanna see how I do it?” When they said yes, Wolf became an entirely different and wonderful artist! He had character in his voice, he was alive on that tiny Idol platform, and he played the heck out of that guitar. FINALLY something I could get excited about! This guy. I hope we keep a close eye on him because if he can maintain the confidence he displayed in the last bit of his audition, I expect he goes into the top 12.

So there we have it. San Diego. A very good round of auditions, with some people I expect we will see past Hollywood. Right now I say especially watch Ashley Robles and Jason “Wolf” Hamlin, as they were my top 2 of the night. I only have one complaint about last night’s show- they didn’t show any servicemen or servicewomen! They were on a military craft! Why didn’t they show any?! I am thinking back to the days of Josh Gracin and how inspiring his story was to many. Maybe there were just none good enough to show, or even put through. In any case, I loved last night’s show, and it made me excited to see what happens next with many of these contestants!

Don’t forget to tune in to American Idol again Wednesday, when the auditions move to Aspen, Colorado!


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