Greetings from Park City, Utah, where the Sundance Film Festival comes to a screeching halt so that I can recap the Wednesday, January 22 episode of "American Idol."
Yup. The Festival has stopped all screenings for two hours tonight just for me.
Isn't that sweet of them? And then I'll head over to see "Land Ho!"
8:00 p.m. ET. Things are tense in The Chamber. Just as Chris O'Donnell. See, he was in a movie called "The Chamber" and it sucked? Never mind. I haven't had a full night's sleep in weeks. Anyway, though, tonight's contestants aren't just doing it for themselves, they're doing it for Detroit.
8:02 p.m. Everybody is very excited in Detroit. Or at least they're as excited as somebody can be to be in Detroit. Things are so bad in Detroit that even Keith Urban feels sorry for them.
8:03 p.m. Our first Detroit contestant is a local and she explains this means she has a certain amount of grit. That will help her deal with Jennifer Lopez chewing gum and wearing plaid in auditions. She's waitress Keri Lynn Roche and she's doing a breathy, slowed down version of "Radioactive." She's good, but Keith wants to hear her do something without her guitar. It turns out that Keri's cover of "I'd Rather Go Blind" is spectacular and much more interesting than her Imagine Dragons cover. "I love your style," J-Lo says. Harry Connick Jr. really digs that Keri's in her own head. She's going to Hollywood. "Bit of artistry. What a concept," Keith says.
8:06 p.m. Up next is Julian Miller, who has a guitar, but also a uniquely scatterbrained style for an 18-year-old kid. So far, I'm feeling good about Detroit. Keith thinks Julian's on the move, at least as far as Hollywood.
8:07 p.m. Time to see some people who are gonna be good.. Paris Primeau and Olivia Diamond have great names and very good voices. Samantha Furtwengler doesn't have a star name and I'm not sure she's as good as Paris or Olivia. And none of the three of them is as good as Julian or Keri. Paris is going forward with her pink hair. Olivia is going forward. Samantha, however, isn't ready for Hollywood this time. Good call, judges.
8:10 p.m. So many guitars!
8:14 p.m. "Every city has a rhythm," Ryan Seacrest says. But in Detroit, people particularly enjoy tapping things.
8:14 p.m. Speaking of marching to the beat of a different drummer, meet high school tuba player Malaya Watson. She's got a lot of soul for a 15-year-old, plus she's an amusing goofball. "I loved it," Keith says. "Thank you for doing such a great job," Harry says. "You're blessed," J-Lo says. Malaya is going to Hollywood.
8:17 p.m. There are several businesses in Detroit. "Idol" found them. They're open and everything. Following the fresh-faced Malaya is Bryan Watt, a positively geriatric 29. While he may be old, he's a talented White Guy With Guitar. Where was he last year when the show needed him, darnit? I think Bryan probably could have been in the Top 10 last season. Now clue this season. J-Lo makes an amusing groaning noise. Harry says that Bryan is Superman, that he would save him. Keith wants to see more ache.
8:20 p.m. Gorgeous Khristian D'Avis was born in Detroit, lives in Chicago and speaks with a strange Italian accent. She's got a good voice, but her rendition of "Saving All My Love" isn't so great. She plays with a band, but she wants to be bigger than that and she cries and begs. Everybody is confused when, when she gets emotional, her strange accent vanishes completely. J-Lo gives her a pity "Yes," while Keith goes "No." Harry wants to see more of her, so she's going to Hollywood. That was a weird audition. Khristian comes out crying and Seacrest is concerned for her. Keith is pissed off that Khristian didn't appear to be listening. "You know what's crazy? You just lost your accent," Harry tells Keith.
8:29 p.m. J-Lo is fiddling with her microphone in cleavage. "That's OK. Fix the tits," an idiot says when he enters the room. We don't learn his name or if he can sing.
8:30 p.m. Also representing Detroit is 17-year-old Jena Asciutto. She does a good enough version of "Rolling in the Deep." It's a little shout-y, but it makes Keith smile. "You do something with your tongue," Harry says, claiming it closes her off and sounds like a speech impediment. Keith, however, loves her voice and her audible personality. Keith likes the way she shapes her mouth. J-Lo likes that Jena didn't sing the song like Adele.
8:33 p.m. Things were good for too long. So let's watch some freaks.
8:34 p.m. Up from Georgia is Melanie Porras. I know she's going to be good, because FOX had a picture of her and because she gets a long clip package all about her father's deferred musical dreams. I like Melanie's version of "Fever" and I like that she's actually a good guitarist. J-Lo, however, felt that Melanie took safe choices, so Melanie changes things up with "Wanted Dead or Alive." A little Bon Jovi is all that it took for J-Lo to decide she loves Melanie. J-Lo can here Melanie recording albums. "You already have the seeds," Harry says. She's going to Hollywood. Her father is going to be proud of her, after the commercial.
8:43 p.m. Condo wifi went down. So I don't know why Keith was signing that guy's leg.
8:43 p.m. But I'm back in time for Liam Newberry, who lists Harry as a musical influence. He's probably not an influence on Liam's blue pants. Liam does a nice Frank Sinatra impression. It's not especially inspired and J-Lo says that the performance was a little too straight. Keith was missing sexiness from Liam, the sexiness he expects from Harry. Ha. Harry tells Liam to unlearn what he's learned from musical theater. Liam is confident beyond his talent and he declares he's an "American Idol" winner. It won't be this year. He's heading home without a ticket. "I know I'm better than they think they am," he says.
8:47 p.m. Will our next singer be as good as Liam thinks he is? Jade Lathan is definitely more interesting than Liam and not just because she's been sure to wear some flowers in her hair. She's got a distinctive style and a huge voice when she wants to open it up. Harry calls her adorable. J-Lo likes some "whistley thing" in the back of Jade's voice. I like how absolutely everybody this week has to tell J-Lo how beautiful she is.
8:49 p.m. Keith Urban is providing accompaniment for a very decent singer, a duet that only happens after the guy already had a Golden Ticket.
8:50 p.m. #Dreamgirls
8:54 p.m. Wow. Between 14 and 18 percent of you think Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for "Eight Mile"?
8:54 p.m. We saw Sarah Scherb at the top of the episode. Her dad works for Delta. Harry Connick Jr leads a long commercial for Delta. J-Lo has no clue what he's talking about. I hope "Idol" got a lot of money for that. Sarah's going to Hollywood.
8:56 p.m. Another Detroit beauty is Sydney Arterbridge, who does "Loving You" and mostly executes the upper-register part. Or at least she does better than Harry's wife, which is enough for a ticket to Hollywood.
8:57 p.m. Looking jaunty is Maurice Townsend. He's a minister-of-music at his church. He's also got four kids at 26. He sings and does it well, but "Idol" decides to mix up the traditional structure by doing Maurice's "It's great to be a father" clip package half-way through his audition. "I just sat back and was enjoying the show," Keith says. "That was a really good performance," Harry says. Maurice brings in his family. J-Lo coos. Harry praises their family style. And one of Maurice's songs gives him his ticket. "I just wanted to eat her," Harry says of Maurice's daughter. "She's a muffin," J-Lo says. Well that was weird. Do they not feed the "Idol" judges? It's not like they're at Sundance. Me? I haven't had a real meal since last week sometime. All children look like muffins to me.
9:06 p.m. On to Day 2 in Detroit. J-Lo is late. Harry and Keith and the producers are eagerly awaiting the "Wedding Panner" star, who waltzes in with a spin and a matter-of-fact "I'm late." Keith recognizes David Oliver Willis. I remember David Oliver Willis, too! His father was born in 1906. David was awesome and should have been in the Top 12. He's a great singer, a great guitarist and he confuses people who like to stereotype based on race. Harry is worried that David's guitar-playing might steer his vocals too much. Nobody's so worried that David isn't going to Hollywood. Harry says David was born for this, but still won't win.
9:10 p.m. On to Karlita and Rakita. They're twins and they're auditioning together, which makes sense because they say everything in unison. Unfortunately, they're better at shouting than singing. And by the end of the audition, they're not even good at the shouting. "That was just a minute of screaming," Harry says. J-Lo says it was "really out of tune." Keith has no funny insults to add. Farewell to the twins.
9:13 p.m. I'm assuming "Waking Up In Vegas" girl isn't going to Hollywood. But we'll see!
9:17 p.m. "The voice wasn't there for me." Keith tells her. "I don't think singing is for you," Harry says. "I hate Harry Connick Jr." says "Waking Up In Vegas Girl."
9:18 p.m. Sorry, Blake Soles.
9:19 p.m. J-Lo pretends to remember Brandy Neelly. I don't believe that for a second. Brandy's very good, but she's not memorably good. And in order for J-Lo to remember her, she'd have to remember her from two years ago and with a different haircut. J-Lo liked Brandy's nasally thing. Harry isn't sure if he likes Brandy's "guttural" thing. He tells her not to correct it. J-Lo tells her to correct it. Brandy's going to Hollywood and we get to listen to several seconds of "Brandy, You're a Fine Girl," so it's all worth it.
9:21 p.m. "It's undefinable," Keith says of the quality an "American Idol" winner has to have. If creepiness is that quality, then there's a very good chance that Missing Osmond Brother Ethan Harris could win. He's got a really, really detailed sketch of Keith attached to his guitar and he's singing a Keith Urban song. If Ethan weren't so off-puttingly strange and if this were 1975, I'd think that he was a real contender. "I feel crazy," Ethan says listening to the judges, saying it's like he's talking to his TV screen. Yeah, you concern me Ethan. It's three "Yes" votes for Ethan, who gets a series of handshakes.
9:29 p.m. Harry Connick Jr. is in confession. He says he's been stealing J-Lo's notes and having "thoughts" about Keith. He says he stole hair-care products from Ryan.
9:30 p.m. We've got some dancers. Will they be able to sing, too? Leah Guerrero definitely can sing. Zach Day's a bit corny, but he can also sing. Symphony Hewlett's first name is "Symphony," so you know she's musical, even if she over-sings. The judges have some reservations about all of them, but they're also going to Hollywood, all of them.
9:33 p.m. Hailing from Detroit, but actually living in Hollywood is Ayia Stackhouse. She's gonna be going back to Hollywood. Harry makes a Barry Gordy reference and says Ayia has potential. J-Lo thinks she isn't afraid of the lights. She's got three "Yes" votes and a big smile. Harry suggests she may start exploding.
9:36 p.m. I want Eric Gordon's pompadour. "My wife taught me how to use a blow-dryer five months ago," Eric says. At 27, he's a bit old. He also seems like he should be performing with a guitar. J-Lo likes his groove and his sense of timing. Harry likes all of Eric's influences and he dug it. Eric's going to Hollywood, taking his Member's Only jacket with him.
9:43 p.m. The judges want somebody different. Xavier Calvilla is decent and he's got a great beard. That doesn't mean he's another Kid Rock or Eminem. He does a performance with a guitar and the judges don't love him. He begs for another chance, to sing something without his guitar. Harry tells him to leave with his dignity.
9:45 p.m. Dunno why we're listening to Tony Delbarrio? Is it just because he has long, curly hair?
9:45 p.m. Lots of people are unhappy. Will this be the last we hear from Tyler Blue? He says it isn't. Keith thinks that criticism is what elevates people.
9:46 p.m. Formerly fat Ryan Nisbett used to be 300+ pounds. He's a hipster and agrees that he fits the qualifications for hipsterdom. Leaving aside the wispy goatee, the bouffant and the thick-rimmed glasses, Ryan has some good vocal things going on. J-Lo calls him "sui generis." Wow. I'd expect that out of Harry Connick Jr, but not out of J-Lo. Everybody agrees that Ryan is unique, but Harry hopes people will give that a chance in this context. "He's going all the way," Keith predicts after Ryan coughs in his hand and then declines to shake Keith's hand with his germs. Ryan doesn't want to share his germs. He wouldn't fit in at Sundance, where everybody is coughing on everybody.
9:54 p.m. OK! Time to wrap this episode up.
9;54 p.m. Our last singer is somebody we've already seen this season. It's 17-year-old Marrialle Sellars and she started one of last week's episodes. Her father encouraged her to learn many instruments, but he passed away. That's sad. Fortunately, we already know that she's good. I assume we're gonna see more of her down the road. "You are gonna be a nightmare for the other competitors," Harry says. Oh right. She was the contestant who got her Golden Ticket torn three bits.
Off to go see something Sundance-y. I'll be back tomorrow with more "Idol" live-blogging. Who'd you like tonight?
Everything: American Idol
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