Chris Medina, this is your moment. He concluded the two hours with a captivating “Breakeven” that made me forget everything that went on before. The heart-rending storyline and Steven Tyler’s words to his girlfriend caused many a tear to shed across the nation tonight.
“Idol” judges and Nigel Lythgoe have been touting Milwaukee and the city was given two hours. (Most only get one.) Did the home known for “Happy Days” and cheese live up to expectations? We heard 12 singers make it to Hollywood. Most were pretty good. I especially liked the two babies, Scott McCreery and Thia Megia, and that teacher Scott Dangerfield. (Oddly, “Idol” sent a teaser of a gal who sang a Whitney Houston song I really liked but she did not appear tonight.)
SEMI SPOILER ALERT: Six of the 12 people we saw end up in the Top 40.
The show did not reveal how many made it through in Milwaukee. Why? It’s arbitrary given Ryan provided info for the previous two cities last week.
Here’ s my recap:
The first one up from Milwaukee is actually from the South:
Sixteen-year-old Scotty McCreery from Garner, N.C. has a deep Josh Turner voice and does a great Josh Turner imitation. Then he goes with Travis Tritt and pulls that off, too. He’s better than, say, Josh Gracin or virtually any male country singer “Idol” has ever attempted to harvest. Then Steven Tyler said the nuttiest thing I’ve ever heard: “Hell fire, save matches, **** a duck, see what hatches.” “You’re a throwback country guy,” Randy Jackson said, more cogently.
Joe Repka, a University of Toledo student, is clearly a joke. He wants to get in radio who has a DJ voice for sure. And a face for radio. His mom tell Ryan Seacrest she’s tone deaf. Apparently, Joe is, too. “Brutally honest,” Steven said. “Don’t lose your day job. Talk into the mike, not sing into it.”
Emma Henry, a 15 year old who just got her permit, drove 16 hours from Littleton, Col. She’s adorable. She starts poorly but she gets better. She has an interesting voice, not necessarily a clean one. And that’s not a bad thing. She is a bit too young. “You got a certain something I can’t put a finger on. It has a lot of character,” Steven said. “There’s something there to build on,” Jennifer Lopez said. “I don’t think you’re ready yet,” Randy said. J.Lo says no. Steven says yes. Randy has to decide. “This is just the beginning. You are just 15. You have a whole world ahead of you,” he said. “I really honestly believe you’ll get swallowed up in this whole thing. You need to work on it and develop it.” Randy pauses and he folds. He says yes. There is no way she’s going to get very far. She really isn’t ready yet. That’s the downside of having these 15 year olds come on. So many 16 year olds on this show could have been so much better if they had waited.
Commercial break. Bad singer montage. Koday Zalewski from Colgate, WI. Juanita Borges from Milwaukee (29 and looks about 49); Kamil Anthony from Iowa City, IA. Kanisha Miller from Milwaukee (who mocks the lyrics of “everything is going to be alright.”) Koday wanted a hug from Randy, then had a creepy request: “Can I get a sip of your Coke?”
Sob story alert: Naima Adedapo, 25, does grounds clean up at Summerfest Amphitheatre. She does a Donny Hathaway song with some pizazz. She’s not bad. I’m not in love but she has a shot. “I think you’re all that,” Steven said.
Another commercial break and we’re back to more crapola. Jovan Raymond has the gall to do “Jenny From the Block” worse than Jennifer Lopez! Yes, that is possible! Dude with the toothbrush Chris Kammer is 54 and clearly sent in for comic mischief.
Then we get back to business: Jerome Bell is a wedding singer. He heats up the room with Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” He’s a little over the top and pitchy at points, but fun. “Hot crazy vocals, in tune, tender, nice dynamics,” Randy said.
Thia Megia, a 15-year-old Mountain House, Calif. student, does Adele’s “Chasing Pavement.” Wow! She sounds smoooooth. “I love you. You’re the total package. You’re very comfortable there,” J. Lo said. “You have a lot of character, the smoke and heat,” Steven said. (She was on “America’s Got Talent” in 2009.)
Commercial break again. And we are back to comedy. Civil War re-enactor Nathaniel Johnson, 22, comes by with his dad. He has no discernible singing style. His actual vocals are okay but nothing to write home about. “I like the song,” Steven said. “It’s a no for me,” J. Lo said immediately with no actual critique. In this moment, I am wishing for Simon! Another loser: Mason Wilkinson. He’s stiff and terrible. The judges are speechless. Again, where’s Simon when we need him?
Seattle’s Molly DeWolf Swensen is a Harvard grad who interns at the White House. She’s in love with the prez – in a platonic way. Randy accidentally punched her earlier. She has a very breathy vocal style, very impressive. “Who knew?” Randy said. “Who knew what was going on at the White House?” “You have attitude and you know where to put it,” Steven said.
Haley Reinhart, an 18-year-old Wheeling, Il. student, didn’t make it season 9 but is back. She is a bit too melisma-filled for my taste but Randy said she is greatly improved. She’s through.
Tiwan Strong, a 29 year old daycare teacher from Chicago, twists the night away with mad skills. But he seems almost too practiced. In this year of the still forming young’uns, will he make it very far in Hollywood?
After the commercial break, an accountant Steve Beghun looks like he’s going to be awful. But shocker: he actually has lovely tone. “Surprising,” Jennifer Lopez said. “You are big. Your voice is high!” “I found you disturbingly great,” Steven said. He’s probably a wee bit too oddball to land in the top 40 but he earned a spot in Hollywood with that audition.
Vernika Patterson rips apart Minnie Riperton in the worst way possible. Fortunately, she doesn’t try the big note. Phew! “That’s such a beautiful song,” Jennifer Lopez said. “Thank you,” Vernika said, thinking that’s a compliment when it had nothing to do with her. Steven said she’s not that good. She gets a ‘tude. “I’m not even upset,” she said, sounding upset. Then she says they rejected her for her size and stomps out.
More commercials. Man, these two-hour episodes are long! Albert Rogers III from Oglethorpe, GA (our first representative on air this year). Unfortunately, he isn’t good -at all. He’s a vocal traffic mess. “It was like vanilla fudge and ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ ” he said. “I liked it but I don’t think it was ‘American Idol.’ ” “I thought it was terrible and a joke,” said Randy, being harsh. Go Randy!
Scott Dangerfield, a dorky looking teacher from Milwaukee, sings Amos Lee, one of my wife’s favorite singers. He is magically good. “Never judge a book by the cover,” Randy said.
Megan Frazier, a student from Green Bay and serious Packers fan, kills a few cats with her scary, operatic rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Baby.”
Alyson Jados from Chicago , who could be Steven Tyler’s daughter, gets a hug from Tyler. She has a bit of rocker edge doing “Come Together.” “Very pitchy,” Steven said. Randy says no. Jennifer said yes. Steven gives in though he his doubts. She’s good enough for Hollywood but not our future “American Idol.”
Chris Medina, 26, from Oak Forest, Il., has the 2011 Danny Gokey story – almost. He was engaged to Julie. She got into a bad car accident. Julie was badly injured in the brain and clearly is not anywhere near 100%. It appears she can’t even speak. He does a slowed-down version of Script’s “Breakeven” that is arguably better than the original. He’s genuine and cool. I already know if he makes it to the top 40 and well, you take your guess.