The city of brotherly love was certainly a mixed bag for “American Idol” judges on January 13, and even Season 2’s big star, runner up, Clay Aiken, couldn’t summon up one hint of his name in a trivia bout in which he was the only answer.Some hopefuls are too young to scan record sales, or follow Senate races, one would suppose, but there were memorable moments in the freedom city, and some of those were related to talent.The gifts presented encompassed the ridiculous to the sublime, but also artistry beyond a good voice, in some surprising packages.
Gianna Isabella was the first to grace the “Idol” oval for the night, and it could be said that her fine voice was in her genes, being the daughter of Brenda K. Starr, known for her hit of 1988, “I Still Believe.”Mom and daughter even dressed alike, and heredity and good fortune got together to give Gianna a fine audition with “House of the Rising Sun,” and Jennifer Lopez got to reconnect with an old friend who “tried to help me sing.”Keith Urban gave up his seat so that mom could be the one to give her girl that golden ticket.Derek Huffman brought a first to the auditions, unfortunately, it had nothing to do with a dynamic performance.He toted in his tiny boombox with a karaoke tape to accompany him on his version of Shaggy’s “Angel.” The stars were not aligned for the drooped-pants performer, and the three “No’s” came suddenly, causing him to angrily shed his shirt on the way out, with a comment that he was “embarrassed for America” in his decline.
It was a different story for Isaac Cole, who at 15, already has the pure heart and even purer vocal tones of a country treasure.Just take on Lee Brice’s “Love Like Crazy” brought Jennifer to near tears in no time, and got him to three yeses for Hollywood, too.Keith Urban was excited for what he would bring next, and Harry Connick, Jr.encouraged him to sing without a twang.One way or the other, he’ll be singing for several weeks.Sara Sturm has a voice far beyond her years, and she proved it on Meghan Trainor’s “Lips Are Moving,” then even made more Meghan humor with Keith Urban.Keith loved her confidence, Harry called her adorable, and Ms. Lopez thought she was “really good,” so the breakfast restaurant waitress will have a while off work while she’s in Hollywood.Ellis Banks definitely has his own style.The janitor by day came in all decked out in his “Jesus headpiece” and remarked how everyone would be wearing them soon, providing each judge one of the style gems.He broke into Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” with his whole body, and a huge burst of energy, but a voice from heaven knows where.He took the assessment of being “not what we’re looking for” in stride, sure to be styling somewhere down the road.
Jenn Blosil has a spirit that is seldom seen on a daily basis, or even in an earthly stratosphere, but the casual, fair-haired, fair skinned singer wasn’t spacy in the least with her rendition of “Radioactive,” on piano.She poured herself into the moment, and brought her own interpretation completely into the song.Jennifer called the performance “compelling,” Keith Urban found “a storytelling quality” to her voice, and Harry found something he wasn’t expecting.She wasn’t expecting a ticket to Hollywood, but away she goes.Harrison Cohen was another complete revelation of the night.He brought along his dating coach grandpa, who certainly had a good eye for the ladies.Harrison has the ear, and the gift, for a good song.He sang his own composition, “No Time,” that completely enthralled the panel.His good looksand laser gaze don’t hurt one bit in selling the song, either. It was an instant ticket to Hollywood, and hopes that grandpa would come along, too.
A brief tutorial was offered showing how the past several seasons have made it easier for Jennifer Lopez to say no to contestants, regardless of the pain.A living testament to life’s pain entered the audition room.Jonathan Arthur Greene has borne the burden of his brother’s death by his own accidental gunshot for many years, since the age of eight, and music has become his healer.Already starring in Broadway in “Matilda,” the power and exuberance of his voice seemed more infused with hope and with heart ache on Keith’s hit, “Somebody Like You.” Harry wasn’t sure that he made the right “bookend” to Kelly Clarkson for the competition, but the final performer for the night got two votes yes from Urban and Lopez, who still found a lot to like.
Tomorrow, “American Idol” heads back to Denver and Little Rock.