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“I can’t wait for 40 people to sing the same Adele song for six ‘bleeping’ hours!” moaned a cranky Steven Tyler as American Idol arrived in Adam Lambert’s former stomping ground, San Diego.
Mercifully, we were spared that nightmare as Idol continued its renewed focus on singers that have a real shot at advancing beyond the Hollywood rounds — which included movie star and frequent Idol guest Jim Carrey’s 24 year-old daughter, Jane, who shared a bonding moment with Jennifer Lopez (lest we forget she was a featured Fly Girl and co-star to Carrey’s “token white guy” on Fox’s In Living Color many moons ago.)
With an opening shot of the USS Midway, the show set the tone with its Top Gun theme — clearly, the hunt was on for only “the best of the best.” Admittedly, the Midway was a strange locale for a singing competition. Several times, starry eyed hopefuls were interrupted by jets, noises, and occasional outbursts from Tyler, who at one point screamed, “I went through four hours of hair and makeup to listen to this bull—t?”
At one point, when Ryan Seacrest introduced this season’s Katrina “Bikini Girl” Darrell wannabe, Jennifer Diley of Ohio, it was easy to feel the judge’s pain. As we know, Idol loves to repeat past storylines so Diley replicated the original gimmick note-for-note, from the itty-bitty bikini to warbling a Mariah Carey song (“Hero,” not “Vision of Love”).
Tyler gave the best critique of her performance: “Your voice lacks some fire that your getup has.” Randy Jackson agreed, telling her “to come in dressed like that you have to blow us away.” She was promptly shown the door. Then there was Ali Shields, who was inspired to audition for American Idol by former judge Ellen DeGeneres and, thanks to her crazy rapping and dancing, may very well be this season’s Vote for the Worst poster child if she survives the Hollywood rounds. And that’s a big if.
Distractions aside, here are our picks for San Diego’s top 5 auditions from San Diego.
1. Ashley Robles, a San Diego based club DJ with a zillion jobs, a five year-old daughter, and an ambitious song choice, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” has a beautiful voice that shows serious octave range. It also helps that she reveals her favorite song to sing to her daughter is Lopez’s, “On the Floor.” Tyler was impressed, telling her, “you are going to be big.” Jackson agreed, noting “that’s how you audition.”
2. Jayrah Gibson, an aspiring songwriter, revealed that he was told to stick to writing for other people because he cannot sing. He added that his one goal is to succeed as an artist-there is no, “B Plan.” What I liked about his audition, besides his sweet, honeyed R&B vocals, was his decision to perform his own composition, written just for J. Lo, “Shake Your Moneymaker.” He immediately set the tone that he’s ready to make a record, as Jackson pointed out. He reminds me of X Factor‘s Chris Rene, in that his original song stuck with me more than his rendition of Musique Soulchild’s “Just Friends.” Jackson said he was “mad good,” but Lopez sounded like she needs more convincing, and “looks forward to hearing him sing more melodic songs.” That makes two of us.
3. Aubrey Dieckmeyer of San Clemente, Calif. can’t decide if she’s auditioning to be a singer or America’s Next Top Model, as she continually referenced Tyra Banks‘ show. Whoopsie! She is a pretty girl, though, and her rendition of “Feeling Good” had a sweet, earthy tone. Lopez enjoyed her vocal runs, and Randy gave the 20-year-old some sound advice, explaining that she tends to lose power in her upper range, but he respects her natural talent. Tyler seemed entranced, adding that he liked “her flavor.
4. Frat boy Kyle Crews, a 19-year-old from San Diego, is in serious need of a stylist prompting Jackson to tell him to “lose that shirt.” However, this self-confessed “ladies man” had the strongest showing of the night as he soulfully crooned Monica’s “Angel of Mine” (originally performed by Season 8 finalist Anoop Desai). Tyler believes that Crews possessed the best male vocals the judges heard that day. Jackson agreed, saying, “You sound nothing like you look.” Some may remember Season 2’s Clay Aiken being told the same thing.
5. Jim Carrey’s daughter, Jane, wanted us to know that it’s difficult growing up in the shadow of a movie star and that the last name both “helps and hurts.” This story didn’t have quite the impact of Hallie Day’s tragic tale from the Pittsburgh auditions, but Jane seems like a grounded individual — a mother and a waitress trying to achieve success on her own terms. In one of the cutest moments of the evening, Lopez said she remembered her as a baby, blurting “I was a Fly Girl.” Jane then proceeded to perform “Something to Talk About,” which had “potential,” according to Jackson. Lopez had constructive criticism about connecting with the audience, and Tyler told her she needs to work on her “volume.” Watch video of her audition below:
I should give honorable mention to the last performer of the night. Jason “Wolf” Hamlin gave a heartfelt audition in memory of his father, a guitar maker who passed away. Hamlin, who admitted he only began performing on guitar three years ago, at first sang a lackluster version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Midnight Special,” but came to life when Tyler asked for a different song. Hamlin delivered with Johnny Cash‘s “Fulsom Prison Blues” on the “git fiddle” built by his father. If Hamlin survives Hollywood, with his Cash meets Elvis swagger, country voters could easily propel him straight to the top 12.
With San Diego behind us, and Colorado ahead, what do you think of the auditions so far, Worshippers?
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