Once again, the Sundance Film Festival has been good enough to take the entire evening off so that I can recap "American Idol."
Once again, I am lying.
Click through for my full reaction to Thursday (January 23) night's episode.
8:00 p.m. ET. I am so tired.
8:01 p.m. Obnoxious parents are waking their children to audition for "American Idol." Somebody's also waking Ryan Seacrest. It's Ryan's mom Connie in a bathrobe! I'm not sure why we needed that as a show-opener, especially given how good sleepy-time looks.
8:02 p.m. Really? Ryan, J-Lo, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. all sitting side-by-side in the same limo? How far do we think they traveled like that? A block?
8:03 p.m. We had a singer with a garland last week, too. Is this a thing? Harry called yesterday's Garland Girl "cute" as well. Her name is Majesty Rose and she's yet another guitar player. This is definitely The Season of the Guitar on "American Idol." And a lot of these guitar players actually know how to use their instruments. In Majesty's case, she has a fine, soft, textured voice and she's a good strummer. Harry calls it "refreshing" and "elegant." J-Lo goes with "beautiful" and "effortless." It's three "Yes" votes for Majesty. "So you like me?" she says.
8:06 p.m. Majesty wasn't high energy, but at least she was awake. That can't be said for overnight gas station clerk Jesse Cline, who claims that he has "a big voice," but appears to be resting that voice by catching catnaps at various locations outside of the audition room. Jesse also has a guitar. Everybody has a guitar. I wouldn't have described Jesse's voice as "big," but he's also got an earnest, pure voice. "You are a believable singer," Harry says. Keith calls Jesse a born singer and he gets a ticket to Hollywood and a hug from J-Lo.
8:13 p.m. I'm using a picture from Alyson Ragona for this recap, but despite a very fine ukelele cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody," she doesn't advance.
8:14 p.m. Accompanied by a dog named Bubie is Chris Medina. Chris got the memo about guitars and he's carrying one even though he isn't playing it. The dog made a mess on Harry's lap and he still gives Chris a "Yes" vote. The other two judges agree, even without being soiled. I didn't think he was all that good, but his combination of props paid off.
8:16 p.m. Nurse tech Kristen O'Connor is very attractive, has a very altruistic job and she's got a nice voice. Emily Piriz has been watching "American Idol" since she was "a little girl." She's only 17 now and her performance showcases a lot of talent and a lot of weird cutesy affectations. Kristen, who has a beautiful smile, is going to Hollywood, as is Emily.
8:17 p.m. Another guitar. This one belongs to Ben Briley. He's also using his guitar as a prop. Ben has a totally distinctive country/blues voice He's got no polish at all, but the voice is totally authentic. "Gumbo came to mind," Harry says. J-Lo likes Ben's "nasally" tone. It's three "Yes" votes for Brother Gumbo.
8:25 p.m. Harry is pounding the judging table as Nica Nashae begins belting "Natural Woman." We don't need to dilly-dally, because Nica is going to Hollywood. She declares her intention to win and Harry and J-Lo agree that may happen.
8:27 p.m. It's going to be hard to follow Nica, especially for 15-year-old cook, Jordan Brisbane. But his baked beans have ground beef and whiskey, so you know he dares to be different. "I believe I have what it takes to shut 'American Idol' series down, he says. Jordan has a big smile and a big voice, even if I'm not sure he even knows how could he could eventually be. Harry warns Jordan that he shouldn't over-do runs, that he should capitalize on his sweetness. J-Lo didn't love the runs either, urging him to do what feels comfortable. Keith praises Jordan's raw talent. Jordan is going to Hollywood. Harry really loves Jordan's face.
8:34 p.m. The last time they were in Georgia, they found Phil-Phil. Hoping to capitalize on Phil-Phil's magic is Sam Burchfield, who came to his audition in full Phillip Phillips attire. Fortunately, Sam isn't entirely trying to emulate the former "Idol" winner. His version of "I Wanna Be Like You" is playful, musical fun. Keith loved his voice and liked Sam's guitar playing. J-Lo votes "Yes." Harry felt like Sam had an impediment when he sang and votes "No." Keith votes "Yes" and Sam is off to Hollywood, accompanied by Harry's negativity.
8:37 p.m. "A long as I'm what they're looking for, I'll make it," says pink-streaked Jess Meuse, who hails from the awesomely named Slapout, Alabama. She's doing an original called "Blue-Eyed Lie." The song isn't bad and Jess' voice is good, but why are her eyes so dead? Whew. As she progresses she becomes a bit more engaged. There's still something a bit too-cool-for-school about Jess. It's a good song, actually. It has a hook. The judges ramble about Jess, because they like her attitude. Jess is advancing.
8:41 p.m. That guy is NOT going to Hollywood.
8:45 p.m. Yeah. I was right. Jared Cotton isn't advancing. Travis Hunter-Brown isn't advancing either. This feels like the start of a disaster montage.
8:47 p.m. For some reason, Lauren Ogburn is trying to be a badass. It takes more than an American flag bandana to make that seem authentic. Lauren has moments where she sounds great and other moments where she gets lost mumbling lyrics. J-Lo has goosies! "I think you can over-accessorize to the point of ridicule," Harry says, correctly. Keith calls her authentic, which is ridiculous. Did you not hear the part about the over-accessorizing? Every bit of that felt like a put-on. Lauren is going to Hollywood. She cries and promises she's going to win. She is not going to win.
8:53 p.m. We're coming to the end. We've got a few repeaters. I don't remember either of these people, but they both claim they did well in Season 11. Neco Starr and Caleb Johnson are both good enough to go to Hollywood, but I don't suspect either of them is going all that far. Caleb's much better and realer than Neco,
8:56 p.m. They say that Bria Anai is only 15, but she may be the oldest 15-year-old ever. Maybe she's extra mature because of her meddling mom. She has very, very purple, sparkling lips. After all the jokes about her "momage" and her "dagent," Bria really just lets her voice do the work. It's a big voice and it makes her seem even older. There's a lot of talk about Bria's lips. She's going to Hollywood. "She had a thickness to her sound that belies her age," Harry says helpfully.
8:58 p.m. Keith thinks we had a lot of "artistry" in Atlanta. They sent 44 people to Hollywood. We're at 163 total, Ryan tells us.
8:59 p.m. Next week, we're heading to Salt Lake City, which is funny because I'm heading to Salt Lake City on Saturday. But now, I'm heading off to see the documentary "The Internet's Own Boy." Whee!
Who'd you like tonight? Who'd you hate?
Everything: American Idol
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