Last Wednesday, the Idol crew headed up to Portland, Oregon, for the next round out auditions. With only Oregon and St. Louis left, the auditions are coming to a close, and Hollywood rounds start next week. Let’s see what kind of talent (or mis-talent) we found in Portland.
Very excitable Brittany Zika was the first contestant to face the judges for the night. She had an interesting personality. When people think of Portland, let’s be real, they probably think of a city full of hipsters. Personally, I found Brittany to be a girl who wanted to appear to be a hipster, but was really being someone she simply wasn’t. She just seemed…not very comfortable in her skin. However, I did appreciate her voice. She sang “The Story” by Brandy Carlisle. She has a nice voice with a jazzy feel that isn’t just like everyone else, I definitely can’t deny that. However, Idol is not only about the voice. It is about the whole package, since over the course of the show, the nation really begins to know the contestants. We’ll see how Brittany develops and becomes more comfortable being herself. If not, I can’t see her sticking around very long.
Ailing Ben Purdom was up next, although I can’t understand why. I personally think the producers could have found a more entertaining person to fill up his time. He is suffering from a cold, and had about as much personality as a sleeping duck. He works as a salesman, and after his performance of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” (not joking) AND Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” (again, not joking), I cannot see him having much of a future in music. By not much of a future, I mean the guy better want so many other things besides a singing career. However, Randy, who I usually care nothing about, said something that actually made me laugh when he told Purdom that “In a weird way, that [Super Bass] was actually better.” You know it’s bad when that’s the best a judge can say.
Jermaine Jones, a giant of a man and self-proclaimed “mama’s boy”, filled our screens next. This man is just so LARGE. I don’t obese or overweight; he is simply so BIG. However, it seems the he really has a big heart as well, and a deep voice that really just fills up the room. He sang The Carpenter’s “Superstar” and that man has a true gospel voice. The judges all loved him and felt him, putting him through with flying colors to Hollywood. Personally, I like his voice and personality, but I don’t know exactly where he will fit in. There are so many types of music to tackle on American Idol, and while people do it every year, I feel that Jones’ voice is so specific. Who knows, he may surprise me.
It didn’t take long this week for me to realize Jennifer Lopez is getting more and more gorgeous.
Up next was Britney Spears. Oh, no, wait. That’s Britnee Kellogg, who most certainly looks just like Britney Spears, and even has two young adorable boys. She was married to a man that was holding her back to pursure his basketball dreams. This seemed all ok for her to let him go after his basketball dreams, but when he also began pursuing other women, she knew that he wasn’t the man that would provide a good life for her and her sons, so she left him. That tricky team at Idol played the most adorable clips of her family and had them all watching outside, and of course America automatically loves her and them now. She sang the Linda Ronstadt, who is one of my favorite musical artists, tune “You’re No Good” and she was SO good. Just because she looks like the Queen of Pop does not mean she sounds like her. Her voice has a very raw quality, and singing this song was just perfect to go along with her story. She captured that scorned woman essence very well. With those adorable kids in tow, her positive attitude, good looks, and great voice, I hope that Britnee Kellogg has a fair amount of success this season.
Trying to “Keep the party going” was Sam Gershman, in her tiny pink shirt that showed off too much of her assets. She just has the most energy in the world, but not in a way that would make me want to be her friend. In her audition she was listed as a “motivational dancer” so…that just says so much about her personality. If you watched her audition, what was that first note? It was like…a squeal. One high little squeal that last for such a short amount of time before she sang her song. I don’t know that name of the song she was singing, but it wasn’t good by any stretch of the imagination. Her voice was just in so many places. It was more impressive that she actually jumped around so much. Steven told her that her voice was a bit too Broadway, but it is probably more off off off off off Broadway.
Super attitude David Weed was up next. He works in the fast food industry, and “dies a little inside” every time he has to ask people if they would like fries with their order. He sang Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”, and to be honest his lower rang wasn’t the worst thing I have ever heard. However, this was a super strange choice for an audition and when he went into his upper it was just absolutely awful. It wasn’t even singing, it was screaming. Not good screaming though; screaming that made me want to really rip off my ears. It just got worse and worse and worse so although it started not as terrible as many contestants in the past, this audition was a bullet train to destruction.
Romeo Diahn was the next great story of the night. Originally from Liberia, his father sent his family away his family to a refugee camp in Ghana when Civil War broke out in his homeland.Romeo saw so many people perish, but finally got the chance to come to America. Diahn has a great African voice. This sounds like such a joke, but I seriously see him as a kind of Wyclef Jean, who puts a sort of African vibe in many of his songs. Similarly, the judges love the flavor of his voice, but all three are not sure where he’ll fit into the competition. I wonder this as well, but hope for the best for this young man who has endured so much in his short life.
Naomi Gillies stepped up next, choosing quite an ambitious song to sing. She performed Aerosmith’s hit “Crying”. Personally, I would never ever sing a song by one of the American Idol judges because they clearly feel a great deal of ownership to their own songs. However, I did enjoy Naomi’s performance of the song, and the other judges did as well. I do look forward to seeing what else she can do because this first audition seemed very formulaic to me. She would sing loud, then soft, then loud, then soft, etc. It didn’t feel very honest. I want to see how she grows before I give her my fan card.
Baby face Ben Harrison went next and drove me crazy. He thinks he is super adorable, when in actuality he is just really bad and very annoying and acted like he was definitely enjoying some sort of substances. To me, it just sounded like he was being choked or constricted because his voice sounded like it was being strangled. The judges were really bored with him really quickly, and Steven resorted to pulling out his hilarious noise maker to make Harrison stop singing. Get off my TV screen.
Yes to the yes contestant Jessica Phillips was the final contestant of the night, and her story truly touched me so deeply. She and her boyfriend of 5 years recently have gone through an extremely rough patch in their relationship. Last Easter he suffered a massive stroke while celebrating a friend’s Birthday. He then went to the hospital for a month and a half, and upon waking up he did not know who Jessica was, nor could he could. She notes how much their relationship has changed, as she is now very much a caretaker for her boyfriend, but she is so grateful that he has come so far since his stroke. He even spoke about his love for her and how blessed he is for her staying in his life, which of course brought tears to my eyes. She chose to sing “Again” by Faith Evans. She had a perfect voice for that song, and honestly I think a perfect voice for hip-hop radio. I could hear some qualities reminiscent of Keri Hilson or Kelly Rowland. Plus, she has a great story and a great presence on stage. I want her to really do well this season, for herself and her boyfriend. She could serve as a real inspiration to so many.
Well, Portland didn’t provide a ton of shining stars. However, I am really pulling for Britnee Kellogg and Jessica Phillips to do well in Hollywood and hopefully make it into the semi-finals of season 11 of American Idol!