American Idol took to the road to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, escaping to beautiful Aspen, Colorado. However, finding big talent does not mean you have to necessarily go to the biggest cities in the country, as I believe we found some special gems in Aspen.
Music teacher Jenni Schick started off the night. She was a little blonde young woman who teaches music to elementary students with energy to spare. This all sounds great when you read it, right? Well, I personally cannot imagine someone who could drive me up a wall faster. I’m sure she needs all of that energy to take care of children all day, but she seemed more like a karaoke star than a superstar. She sang Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker,” one of my personal favorite songs. She doesn’t have an awful voice; however, on the really big belt notes, she didn’t deliver. Songs like that have the power to make anyone jump off of their couch and headbang all around the room. She didn’t use that power — possibly because she didn’t possess it. The judges did put her through to Hollywood, though, and I can only imagine what kind of antics this girl will cook up during Hollywood week. Watch her, but not for all of the right reasons.
Keyboard player Curtis Gray stepped up to the plate next, middle part and all. One part of a five piece band, Gray ended his pre-audition video with some very odd vocal exercises. When he sang for the judges, they seemed quite impressed, whereas I seemed to find his voice extremely vanilla. But not in the way I like vanilla ice cream because I can put one million other toppings with it. Vanilla like he is too plain to ever be remembered, plus he had a weird nasal quality to his voice that I simply couldn’t find into. J-Lo also praised him because she said he was very “handsome”. Personally, I wanted to take shears and give him a new hairdo, destroying his middle part. I can’t say we’ll see him go too far.
A short three auditions played next, although why they didn’t showcase one completely I will never know. We were first shown Richie Law, a very slight young man with a very deep country voice. He was good, but let us remember last year’s Scotty McCreery, obviously born to sing country music. If you are an imitation of last year’s winner, but not as good, I can’t waste my time on you. But maybe he’ll grow in his own direction.
Next we were given a taste of Devan Jones, and I am here to say now I want to whole cake with ice cream and whipped cream and sprinkles and a platinum album to go with that. I cannot fathom why we were shown ten seconds of Devan and five minutes of Jenni Schick. This guy has a voice that is ready to make perfect pop and R&B songs. I am always saying “There is already an Usher. There is already a Chris Brown.” There is not a Devan Jones yet. We need a Devan Jones. Watch out for him, readers and watchers.
Mathenee Treco. I don’t have much to say about him. He has a pop voice, but not a unique one. He screamed some. He’s forgettable.
Twin sister Tealana Hedgespath was the next contender for a golden ticket. Her twin did not audition, but was there to support her sister. Tealana told of how she and her sister have always been very into performing, and her sister is in fact now attending a performing arts school. Tealana has always felt she lived in her sister’s shadow because people would always come up to her and tell her all about how great her sister was, but never mention her even though they were both into music. Unfortunately, the nation found out why. First of all, she doesn’t exactly have the personality of someone who needs to take on the role of an Idol, going on interviews and being in magazines and hitting the red carpet. When asked what her name was, she responded, “Tealana, but you can call me dawg.” Cue awkward silence. She attempted to sing Melissa Etheridge’s song “Bring Me Some Water.” I do feel awful for the girl, truly. I don’t like it when people who have a great sibling are just awful but want to be so good. It was just bad. It was all bad. I don’t know that she hit ten notes quite right. She is clearly not tone deaf, for it was never so off I couldn’t recognize the melody; she just doesn’t have a pretty voice. Naturally, she was crushed when she was turned down for Hollywood, but she ran into the comforting arms of her “You’ll always be my Idol” mother. The weirdest part was in the post-audition interview when she and her sister sang together and hit some pretty good harmonies. That is a mystery to me.
Ultra hippie Haley Smith flounced into the room for the next audition, but not before making me realize we have a perfect flower child on our hands this season. Haley just screams hippie. Actually, she probably whispers it because she is such a chill young woman. I just think she is cool, but not too cool as last week’s Hallie Day. The girl works three jobs- she’s a house cleaner, a bus girl at a restaurant, and a meat packer (although she is a vegetarian). She sang Rufus & Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good”, but put her own unique spin on it, and did it successfully. This girl has absolutely every right to be on American Idol. If anyone watched her audition and didn’t find her absolutely stunning and special is a fool, in my opinion. We have a real contender on our hands now, people. She just did these great things with her voice and with the melody of the song that made it true to itself while giving it new life. Wow. I can’t stop thinking about it. I have already watched it multiple times since then. I hope she can function in Hollywood and steal millions of votes per week from viewers.
Waitress Alanna Snare shared so much with us in her audition. A very pretty girl, Alanna works at a restaurant that is famous for selling “Rocky Mountain Oysters”. Ooooh oysters? Sadly, not the oysters you may be thinking of that come from the ocean. Rocky Mountain Oysters are, in fact, Bull testes. Why she felt compelled to tell us all about this and the other interesting foods at her restaurant is beyond me. I would find any other interesting thing to tell about myself rather than that bit of information. To make matters worse, she sang Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” for her audition. Now, there are three things very wrong with this. One, Dolly Parton is one of my favorite singers. I think the woman can do no wrong. I was dancing in my seat last weekend when I watched Joyful Noise. So you have to be great to do Dolly. Two, Brooke White did an incredible version of “Jolene” on Dolly Parton week during season 7 of American Idol (I may or may not be listening to that version at this moment). Three, Alanna Snare was just bad. She can’t sing, so while I was excited to hear a new take on a great song, I was simply let down. However, she didn’t make a big hooplah or do anything funny when the judges turned her down, so it was another “why are we wasting our time on this girl?” thing for me.
Shelby Tweten was next, and served as a very emotional story for the night. In March, Shelby was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, and was feeling very bad about life and not wanting to stay on her medicines. She would go into episodes where she would start shaking and freaking out, and her mom would start singing and have her join in, which would always calm her down. Then she decided to audition for American Idol, and since then has had a a reason to stay on track with her medications. She seems like a super sweet girl, and she wants to show that having bi-polar doesn’t mean you cannot function in society. She sang Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home” for her audition, and while it was good, I think someone needs to work with her in finding a style all her own. She is from Minnesota, and just doesn’t have that country flare! I do love her voice though, with this hint of a raspy quality that can be great if developed well. She also needs a bit of work on opening up that upper range because at times it was coming out as a scream. I honestly hope that she can do well and serve as a very positive example for people of all ages struggling with feelings that they cannot function in society because of a condition like bi-polar. To end her audition, the show played Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper” in the background so you know I was feeling that! They get me every time, those Idol producers.
A montage of very bad singers came next, which is a given for most every Idol episode. One did make me actually laugh. This scary scary man’s rendition of “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down, a song I definitely used to jam to when I was in my Radio Disney days. When the judges asked “Was that real?” he responded with “I hope so.” Sorry, sir, but we don’t.
Getting us back on track, sort of, was Jairon “don’t forget the” Jackson. I think some people must have really liked him, but there was something about him that made me feel very uneasy, like he was hiding something. That is a strange thing to say about someone you only saw on tv for 3-4 minutes, but strange things have happened on Idol before, meaning they can certainly happen again. I could be completely wrong, so don’t let my weird feeling judge the way you see him. He sang an original song, which I can’t remember a single thing about, which isn’t good. He does have a very mature sound in his voice, and it is obvious that he is passionate about singing. His high notes weren’t sweet music to my ears, but they weren’t the worst things I’ve ever heard. The funniest moment was when he ran out of the room, golden ticket in hand, and yelled “I’m going to Disney World!” Gotta get through Hollywood first, sir.
Lady Gaga wannabe but never gonnabe Angie Ziederman pranced all over our screens next. I promise you, I found this girl so annoying that I don’t know why I’m wasting time telling you about her. She had really awful eyeshadow on, which is where I could end this. Sadly, she just kept talking about how people call her Lady Gaga when she walks down the street. She wore a tacky dress, and had blue or purple or something hair. But not in a “this girl is so fly and cool” way. In a “I need every single person to notice every move I make” way. She also described herself as a “Vintage Glitter Queen”. I can’t believe I’m writing still. I don’t know what her song choice was, but it was a Broadway song, but seemed like something that could come from the closing night of a bad community theatre’s production of “Moulin Rouge”. Randy, for once, took a stand and was like “I don’t like this”, but J-Lo just praised her because she loves musical theater. Then Angie sang a pop song maybe, but it could have also been a showtune. It was just so indulgent I can’t imagine her ever connecting to an audience because she would be so focused on herself. However, she will make good drama in Hollywood, and if she doesn’t then I will be beyond surprised. I’m just praying that she loses the eyeshadow.
The final contestant of the night was, get ready, “Magic Cyclops”. I can’t say very much about this joke of a person. This was such a gag. I love American Idol until I die, but I much prefer when they show a great and inspirational story at the end of an episode rather than a joke like this person. Magic used to live in Davenport, Iowa, but had to leave after his gambling addiction left him in debt to so many people. He wouldn’t take off his sunglasses. He owns 11,00 air guitars. This person isn’t real! What the heck?! I’m annoyed even writing this. He was doing a weird British accent that I feel like was supposed to be Russell Brand, but it was bad. He sang Neil Diamond AND “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet. He was obviously terrible. The judges all left the table because they were done with him, and then he exploded a cannon from his back that shot confetti and scared the snot out of J-Lo. Not literally, although she would probably still be beautiful, as always.
Just when I was thinking this episode was ended with a bad taste in my mouth, the Idol team pulled it together by playing “We Are Young”, a song that is currently my #1 Spotify jam. If you haven’t heard the song, go listen to it now.
Overall, I’m thinking we have some real talent emerging this season. I can’t wait to see more of Devan Jones and Haley Smith, but I’m also keeping my eye on Shelby Tweten, hoping she can find her niche.
What did you think of this night? Who were your favorites and least favorites? And don’t forget to tune into Idol again for more auditions!