San Francisco

The singers:

The first three golden ticket winners were put together in a short montage. I didn’t hear enough to really be sure, so take my “guesses” with a grain of salt:

Brittany Mazur, 21– She has good power for someone with sort of a little girl tone, a bit of the killer scratch, and good rhythm. She got a little bit lazy when she wasn’t singing her glory notes, and the song was one of those perfect vehicles. I liked her, but I’m not sold off of the fifteen notes that I got to hear. She’s more of a sleeper than a contender.

Lara Johnston, 20– If I listed her attributes individually almost every one of them would be positive, yet something troubled me about her. I’m trying to put my finger on it….. She wasn’t able to get her nerves settled before she started singing, so she was still holding them down while she sang. They came bubbling out, as I listened, as tiny shakes in her tone that didn’t seem to be intentional. These kids are all nervous, of course, that’s not the issue. “Never let them see you sweat” might be the best way to express her problem. She can’t last if she can’t get the nerves out of her voice. I really liked her tone and phrasing. She has a radio friendly sound. Let’s hope that she can get feet under her a little bit better the next time.

Matthew Nuss, 25– I enjoyed him at first, but he petered out badly at the end of his audition. He took a breath in the wrong place (not deadly) and then everything went up to his throat (deadly). He was singing freely at first, so if it was just early jitters he might be ok. I’m dubious, since the pressure doesn’t ever let up, but his voice is good and he’s a freaking music teacher. He’s probably mid Hollywood Week fodder, but I am a tiny bit interested.

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Stefano Langone

Stefano Langone, 21– He kept trending sharp, which bothers me more with him than it would for most singers, because it’s the only thing keeping me from calling him a standout and putting up near the top of the power rankings this weekend. I’ll just say that, if he stays in tune when he has some accompaniment, he is short odds for the live shows. He has everything else. He has a fantastic, charismatic, powerful voice and the quiet confidence that I love. Even with the sharp notes, he’ll be way up there in the power rankings. I want to hear him again.

Clint Jun Gamboa, 26– Interesting kid. I hear his voice as one that would fit well in a group more than by itself. It’s pure and sweet, and his intonation was impressive for all the runs that he was doing. He doesn’t have the power that too many others will have, so he’ll have to bring some creativity to stand out. He has a chance, but lets be real. He is a finesse singer, not a power singer, so he’ll have to be almost perfect.

There were five girls put together next, all very cute and bubbly, but they didn’t look like teeny boppers. I’d guess that they were all in the 19-23 range. They aired all five of them telling the judges their home towns, but they showed just three of them singing and they didn’t give any names. All of them made it, but who the hell knows how good they are? The first one was screaming and out of tune for her five notes, the second one sounded pretty weak in her six notes, and the third one had a really nice face while she sang her three notes. None of that means anything for now. If they are any good, we’ll see them again later.

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Julie Zorilla

Julie Zorrilla, 20– Wow. So much frosting, but where was the cake?

The terrific back-story, the trills, the eyes, the drama, the emotion, the poise, the love from the judges. Julie pulled off every single hook that makes an Idol audition stand out. Well, other than having range, good intonation, natural rhythm, vocal power, maybe an interesting voice… what did I miss? She isn’t really a singer, is she? I got more of an actress vibe, or a girl that was singing for the talent portion of a beauty contest vibe from her. She isn’t terrible, but I didn’t hear anything that would make me want to hear her sing again. I’d rather talk to her parents. What a story they could tell….

Don’t get me wrong, I’m impressed with this kid. Her story is interesting, and she seems like a good kid with a bright future. It just doesn’t include singing for a living, at least not yet. She might have a chance, just because she got the star treatment from the producers. I don’t see it, but I don’t really have a problem with it. What the hell, I like frosting.

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Emily Ann Reed

Emily Ann Reed, 26– Cute voice, but she really can’t sing at a professional level. I didn’t have a problem with her intonation like Steven did (she landed on some nice shelves in her melodies, by which I mean some of her melodic notes really hit the tuning fork and spread out), but her phrasing was amateurish and her breathing was all over the place. Her voice is the kind that can be really interesting if it is accompanied by a lot of style and musicianship, like Lilly Scott showed last season. Emily is a cute kid with a cute voice and a cute style, but I would be amazed if she survives much longer. She reminds me of Hick Chick Vanessa Wolfe more than she reminds me of Lilly. That’s not a bad thing to be in life, but it’s a bad thing to be when you are competing with the alligators that she’ll be up against inHollywood.

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James Durbin

James Durbin, 21– He has a crazy strong, wild horse of a voice; the closest thing to Adam Lambert’s voice that I’ve heard since Adam himself. That is a huge, huge talent in and of itself. I would even go so far as to say that his voice is as good as Adam’s, and possibly even better since he showed some bluesy bends that Adam never had. He can, and will blowHollywood away unless something outside of his talent gets in the way.

The bad news: Adam Lambert spent 16 years in musical theater, honing his craft and making himself into the monster that he was on Idol in Season 8. JD is fairly green, and he might have some maturity issues to deal with.

Overall, a voice like JD’s doesn’t come along very often. He is a contender, and there is no obvious reason why he can’t win it all. He is standout number three. A lot of things will have to go right for him, and he is going to have to show that he has some stuffing to go with his talent.