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Tonight marked the last night of auditions for American Idol’s final season. Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick Jr. handed out the last of the golden tickets to the final class of Idol hopefuls heading to Hollywood Week.
Jessica Cabral was the first of the last singers to audition. She sang “Brand New Me” by Alicia Keys, and she had beautiful tone. “That’s one of the best voices I’ve heard,” Connick said, and Lopez mentioned there were even hints of Kelly Clarkson in her voice. She scored the first golden ticket of the night.
She was followed by belly dancer and three-time World Champion horse runner Cody Ostrenga, who sang “Proud Mary.” Unfortunately, singing was not one of Ostrenga’s many talents. He did not make it to Hollywood.
Brian Dale Brown similarly brought a lot of energy to the audition room. He opened with a few impressions, including one of Urban, but his vocals were less precise. He could technically sing, but he was way too over-the-top. Still, the judges saw something in him and decided to send him to Hollywood.
Gina Naomi Baez brought along a companion for her audition: her dog Tinkerbell. She sang “Lips Are Movin,” and while her voice was strong, the judges just didn’t feel like she had the potential to become a superstar. As Connick put it, she didn’t bring any emotion to the performance. Baez became another one of the many people to audition for Idol’s final season who didn’t get a shot at their dreams of becoming the next American Idol.
The next contestant, Melany Huber, came to Idol after having battled cancer. She sang “Talking To The Moon” by Bruno Mars, and her voice was impressive, but even more than that, she had very strong presence. “Some people, when they sing, they don’t have to try to emote. They just do,” Lopez said to Connick when Huber was still performing. All three judges said yes.
The next batch of contestants brought along some familial support for their auditions. Rachel Karryn’s grandfather, Caroline Byrne’s brother and Bianca Espinal’s father all played guitar during their respective auditions. All three young women had very different voices but were equally talented. They all advanced to Hollywood, where they’ll have to make it on their own.
Justin Sullivan, who is openly obsessed with Kelly Clarkson, auditioned next. He sang “Stronger” by Clarkson, naturally. Though he wasn’t quite as talented as Clarkson, he did have a nice voice. It just wasn’t good enough to make him the bookend to his favorite singer of all time.
The judges saw something special in Chynna Sherrod though. The 16-year-old singer auditioned with “One Last Time” by Ariana Grande. It was a very laidback and effortlessly beautiful performance, and all three judges loved her. She secured a golden ticket.
Lillian Glanton, who lives on a poultry farm, auditioned next. The 15-year-old singer-songwriter sang one of her own songs, “Country Boyfriend.” Connick thought she simply wasn’t ready for the competition. Lopez liked her song but agreed that her voice still needed some work. Urban, however, liked her voice and said yes. Connick said no, leaving it to Lopez to decide. Lopez decided she liked the song enough to give her another shot, so Glanton is going to Hollywood.
The judges also couldn’t agree on Kacye Haynes. Lopez saw something special in the performer, but Urban didn’t think his voice was powerful enough for him to be a solo artist. IT fell to Connick to make the call. He ended up saying yes, and Haynes advanced.
Full-time musician Zach Person brought a lot of experience and confidence to his performance. He had a soulful voice and rich tone. His guitar skills were as impressive as his voice, and the judges liked the whole package, sending him through to Hollywood.
Proud redhead Colette Lush auditioned next, singing “Who’s Lovin’ You” by Jackson 5. Lopez said she reminded her of Carrie Underwood. “It was that easy for you,” Lopez said. Urban pointed out that she didn’t sound like anyone else. All three judges said yes.
The next contestant, Avalon Young, said she feels like people don’t expected her to be a singer when they first see her, but she’s all about defying expectations. She sang an acoustic version of “XO” by Beyoncé, and it was gorgeous. “You have a very different voice,” Connick said. She’ll have the chance to showcase that originality in Hollywood.
Usen Isong, who works as a background actor, decided to step into the spotlight. He auditioned with “I’m Not The Only One” by Sam Smith. The judges loved both his voice and his personality, sending him to Hollywood.
Next, Jaci Butler, the lead singer of an alternative rock back, sang “It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars. Butler definitely has when it takes to be a solo performer, and the judges were impressed, giving her a golden ticket.
Stephany Negrete auditioned with “Who’s Lovin’ You,” and it was very technically precise, but that took away from the emotional side of her performance. Lopez felt like she was spending too much energy on trying to hit every single note. But she did like the singing, and Negrete got a unanimous yes from the judges.
The very last person to audition for American Idol was Manny Torres, who sang “This Love” by Maroon 5. Torres had an infectious personality and a dynamic voice. He made the song his own and brought his sound to it. The judges were impressed by both his vocals and his performance skills. Torres closed out the last American Idol auditions ever with style, accepting the last golden ticket ever.
With the auditions over, next week the grueling process of Hollywood Week begins. Who do you think is ready for the next stage of the competition?
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