Monday, January 28, 2008

Four Cities In: American Idol 7's 15 Best Auditions So Far

We're about to head into the third week of initial American Idol auditions, and believe it or not, we've actually seen some talented folk! If past seasons are any indication, several of the contenders who seem strong in their initial auditions will collapse upon reaching Hollywood, while others who we have yet to see will soon step into the limelight.

Note: In making this list, I have not consulted the recently revealed alleged list of Top 24 Finalists -- click here to read that spoiler-ific list.

All we have to go on is what we've seen so far, though, so here's a look at my 15 favorite auditions from the first four cities:

1. Carly Smithson (San Diego)
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we've found a frontrunner. This girl is amazing! Part Kelly Clarkson, part Pink, she sounded awesome singing "I'm Every Woman," hitting notes that the other girls we've seen so far wouldn't even dream of trying to hit, a capella no less. And how lovely and genuine does she seem? Speaking up for her tattooed boyfriend, and declaring how hard she's going to work and how she hopes that this is her year? I love her already.

2. Perrie Cataldo (San Diego)
Sure he has a rap sheet, but who cares when he's got a voice like that! In fact, this single father's voice as he sang "I'll Make Love To You" vaguely reminded me of Elliott Yamin, which I mean as a very high compliment. His heartbreaking backstory (and his adorable son) won't hurt him one bit -- this guy seems like a definite Top 10 contender.

3. Michael Johns (San Diego)
I've never heard Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long," so I have no idea if that is what the song is actually supposed to sound like, but to my ears (and eyes), this guy is the real deal. He also seems like he'd be versatile -- he'd nail the country and soul themes, and could probably rock out as well. And that Australian accent? I approve.

4. Kristi Lee Cook (Philadelphia)
After the success of Carrie, Bucky and Kellie, you'd think last year would have been flooded with country hopefuls, but there was nary a country crooner in the bunch. Perhaps this year will be different, especially with Kristi, who is a bit like Carrie Underwood with more of an edge, in the mix. Clearly the producers think she's something special, as they teased this "cage fighting singer" throughout the Philadelphia episode. It was worth the wait -- her gorgeous rendition of "Amazing Grace" easily made her the city's best audition. Expect to see this girl in the Top 10.

5. Colton Swon (Dallas)
If Bucky Covington and Josh Gracin can get country music careers out of Idol, there doesn't seem to be any reason Colton won't be successful. Belting out Little Big Town's "Boondocks," he has a natural talent that could take him far. Now he's just gotta figure out how to stand in one place while he sings!

6. Kady Malloy (Dallas)
I was more impressed with her Britney impression than with her "Unchained Melody," but this girl definitely showed glimpses of potential, along with a very nice tone to her voice. She didn't high-belt, however, which makes me a bit nervous. 'Cause really, if you can't high-belt, what use do I have for you?

7. Junot Joyner (Philadelphia)
Wrapping his silky smooth vocals around Elton John's "The Blues," this guy showed raw talent and lots of potential. Good thing -- there hasn't been a good male R&B voice on the show in a few years now.

8. Jonathan Baines (Philadelphia)
Showing excellent musicality and possessing a contemporary, folk-y voice, this kid could be the real deal. And he's cute and charming, in a gawky way, which doesn't hurt. Keep an eye on this kid.

9. David Archuleta (San Diego)
Loved his audition, but I'm wondering why they didn't mention that this kid won Star Search a few years back. Weird. Anyways, he sounded great singing "Waiting for the World to Change," and he's adorable, which means, pretty much, he's a shoo-in for the finals. We could do worse.

10. Samantha Musa (San Diego)
Love Samantha -- hate her sister! Upstage much? Samantha sounded great singing "Until You Come Back To Me," but her sister's hogging of the spotlight totally distracted from Samantha's talent. And that comment about overcoming her earlier obstacles? Yuck!

11. Jessica Brown (Dallas)
This former meth-addict, who is amazed at how far she has come, gave a pretty strong rendition of "I'll Stand By You." Will she work her twang to her benefit, or will it pigeonhole her as "just another Carrie wannabe"?

12. Brooke White
There is something sincere about Brooke, as the judges kept saying, and her rendition of "Like a Star" was charmingly lowkey, but what's with the "no R-rated movie" shlock? Gimme a break.

13. Joey Catalano (Philadelphia)
There's an endearing quality to the dorkiness of this former fattie, and he does a killer Adam Levine impression, but is he versatile enough to survive in this competition? And how long until Simon starts telling him his voice is too nasal?

14. Beth Stalker (Philadelphia)
This stay-at-home mom crooned "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" in a manner that crossed Barbra Streisand and Fiona Apple -- and it kinda worked. Sure, she's old-fashioned, but there's something about her that allowed her to pull it off.

15. Chris Watson
With cheekbones like Chris' he didn't need to sound great, but he went ahead and did anyways. Granted, "Follow Me" is not the hardest song to sing, but he pulled it off with a suave confidence. But does he have a range?


Anonymous said...

A gun rap sheet is ok but a Mormon making a personal decision not to watch R movies bugs you?

Anonymous said...

Ditto to above comment!