Welcome back to the cattle auction. America’s ultimate karaoke contest is back for its final season to crown one more winner, reminisce about the good old days, and take a few curtain calls. Tonight’s show was a mix of bubbly kids with braces, young adults with interesting jobs, sob stories for the tear ducts, and a little tragedy for the ghoulishly impaired. Returning judges Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban handed out 14 golden tickets on air while rejecting a yodeler, a young mother with a pink ukulele, and fat John Travolta.
Here are my short takes, updated here and there after seeing the videos that I linked. To see the videos just click on the contestant’s name.
Michelle Marie, 15. One of the kids with braces, she looks like she might still be working on puberty … probably fodder, but she was on “X-Factor” when she was 13. Sooner or later somebody is going to win one of these talent shows in the womb. I just noticed that she’s been wearing those braces since “X-Factor” two years ago. Are they a prop?
Josiah Siska, 18. Deep voice, sounds more like the bass singer from the Oak Ridge Boys than like, say, Scotty McCreery. I think he was forcing it a little, and that will cause intonation problems when the pressure builds … probably not a contender, but I think he’ll be around for a few weeks.
Lindita Halimi, 26. If Rosie Perez could sing like Amy Winehouse, but deep down she really wanted to be a cross-dressing diva… Talent show veteran, she won a Kosovo competition in 2008 … major contender if she doesn’t turn out to be annoying, and she could make the tour just singing Amy Winehouse songs. She should really quit it with all the overwrought, show-off glory note crap. That gets old fast.
Lee Jean, 15. The way he sings makes me wonder if he owns one of those auto-tune microphones … talented but really green, probably fodder but sometimes the tweeners surprise us in Hollywood.
Jeneve Rose Mitchell, 15. Braces, a cello and terrific instincts, but at this point she is mostly attitude, without much vocal strength or restraint … most likely fodder but at her age, with her natural performance instincts, she might grow into something in a hurry.
Sonica Vaid, 20. Cute kid, but her performance was more like a junior high recital than an American Idol audition … my first impression was that she was fodder, but you tell me after watching this video (click on her name). The video is fuzzy but the audio is good.
Reanna Molinaro, 24 … I think Harry passed her through just so she would take the handcuffs off … fodder in all likelihood. Patsy Cline always makes girls sound good, even if they are a little rough around the intonational edges.
Shevonne Philodor, 24. She’s making a career out of these talent shows. The link is to a performance on “Americas Got Talent” … fodder; she doesn’t have enough voice for the big stage.
Kory Wheeler, 27. Reminds me of Paul McDonald a little, the guy who married Nikki Reed. He has a better voice than Paul, but I don’t know that he’s as polished. He doesn’t finish his phrases … some sleeper potential, just for the style and the weird eyes.
Laurel Wright, 19. I finally figured out who she reminds me of: Allison Williams, the actress from “Girls” and disgraced anchorman Brian WIlliams’ daughter … I think she can contend, her voice is buttery and she has some power behind it.
Joshua Wicker, 25. Five for Fighting voice … he’s a contender, but he has a little blow-up potential; he might not be as experienced as he needs to be in order to land every song with that high-wire act of a vocal style.
Jordan Sasser, 27. I think his wife would have made it if she had gone last; I don’t think the judges took her seriously with the pink ukulele, but they would have once they heard her husband, who was as impressive as anyone all night. His voice reminded me of Burton Cummings, and his command, particularly of his dynamics, was impressive … contender if his televangelist persona doesn’t grate too much. The link is to a Journey cover; don’t be too harsh on him, that song ain’t easy to sing.
Kerry Courtney, 24. I agree with the judges, who called his audition ‘performance art’. He reminds me of little Joe, an old friend who was more at home playing on the streets than on a big stage, and I’m not sure Kerry will stand up to that sort of pressure … interesting sleeper. Some people are going to just hate him, but maybe one of the judges will fall in love with his weirdness and push him through.
Shelbie Z, 23. Powerful voice in the middle, but a little strained when she reached for the high notes and she seemed like she was petering out a little at the end. I loved her phrasing, her rhythm, and her intonation when she wasn’t straining at the top, and she seems like she has some “Designing Women” charisma. Apparently she was a contestant on “The Voice.” She had the same issues with her range then … more of an interesting sleeper than a contender, but I’ll be looking for her in Hollywood to see how she’s doing. The link is to her blind audition on “The Voice.”