Last year’s fourth place finisher Jason Castro accompanied his brother Michael to the audition. And apparently golden tickets run in the family. Michael, who claims to have just started sing 20 days before the audition because if Jason could do it, so could he, impressed the judges with his version of Gavin DeGraw’s “In Love with a Girl.” In fact, Kara called him “ballsy.”
I liked Michael better than Jason, but he seems to share his brother’s carefree attitude – as well as his interesting taste in hairdos. Unfortunately, the laissez-faire attitude probably won’t bode well for Michael in the competition.
Another 26 will join Michael in Hollywood. And continuing in the kinder, gentler format we saw in Phoenix, Idol showed us more of the Hollywood contenders than the train wreck performances.
That’s not to say that Kansas City was without a few memorable rejects. The one that really stands out in my mind was Banana Man. College student Vaughn English not only came dressed in banana colors, but he sang some type of ode to the banana complete with props.
Aside from Andrew Lang, who came with his own cheerleaders, the rest of the rejects were pretty forgettable. But that left more time for our real contenders.
And the contenders seemed to be coming in pairs tonight.
Sister act Asia McClain and India Morrison opened their auditions with a rap on “Cookies’ dedicated to Randy. Unfortunately, the pair will have to split for the Hollywood trip. India deserved the bid that she got. She shows some real potential. And was it just me or did Asia really look like she was just there to encourage her sister to audition? If she was disappointed in her dismissal, she hid it well.
Also making the trip to the audition together were best friends bartender Jamar Rogers and music teacher Danny Gokey.
Danny had this very heartbreaking story about how his wife passed away four weeks before the audition, but it was his rendition of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” that won me and the judges over. Danny was my forerunner for the night.
But Danny’s situation had me intrigued. So, I asked my husband if I were to have an untimely demise if he would then try out for American Idol in my memory. He told me no, he was going to Hooters instead.
But unlike Danny, his friend Jamar wasn’t quite as memorable and I think the judges were a little lenient here although Jamar did get the okay across the board. In my opinion, Jamar really missed out on the rhythm of the song – “California Dreamin’.” He might have a decent voice, but I just wasn’t impressed.
Maybe the judges were getting tired, but I thought they let a couple slide tonight, including Von Smith and Dennis Brigham.
There is a fine line between a powerful voice and shouting, and I think Von, who sang “Over the Rainbow” was straddling that line.
And Dennis’ version of Chris Brown’s “With You” did absolutely nothing for you. Maybe the judges put him through because he had that dream about Simon?
Several other contenders showed some potential, but we just didn’t get to see enough of them to really form an opinion.
Ashley Anderson is lucky she had a strong voice, because I’m sure that singing the wrong words to “Footprints in the Sand,” a song Simon co-wrote did not help her case. But in the end she moved on unanimously.
Then there was Casey Carlson who impressed the judges with her rendition of “A Thousand Miles.” But honestly I’m more curious about her profession – bubble tea maker. What is bubble tea?
Jessica Furney, who takes care of her grandmother, tested her chops on Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby.” Joplin songs are tough audition songs. I’d really like to see what you could do on another song.
Behind the “geeky” look, Anoop Desai proved that he had some soul when he belted out “Thank You” by Boys II Men. Which reminds me – if I ever go back to college, I want to find a program where I can study barbeques too.
But even among all the contenders we saw, a few stood out. Not only am I looking forward to seeing what else they can do, but I liked how important family was to these contestants.
Matt Breitzke, the welder who sang “Aint No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, topped my list. The judges were split on him, but I thought he had a nice bluesy sound.
And I might agree with Simon that the Michael Jackson tune wasn’t the way to go for Asa Barnes, the middle school band director. However, I like singers that make me want to get up and dance and that’s just what Asa did.
And last of the night, but certainly not least was Lil Rounds who’s home in Memphis was taken out by a tornado. Randy called her a combination of Fantasia and Mary J. Blige. I thought her rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do” had some real potential.
Six more cities and 93 more golden tickets to go.