I breathed a sigh of relief when the audition episodes of American Idol were over. I love the show, but the audition episodes last way too long. It’s time to hear some singers. Hollywood week is upon us and through two nights I’ve come to a few conclusions.
Ellen Degeneres is going to be an excellent judge. I thought she did a fantastic job for what little we saw of her. She was articulate and actually listened to the contestants. It’s a far cry from the debacle of last season in which the judges decided they were more important than the people up on stage. That was a huge gripe for me last year and also was my fear of choosing Ellen as a judge. So far, those fears are unfounded. I think Ellen is going to be fantastic. She can think on her feet and form an opinion in a short amount of time and as a performer herself, she knows what it’s like in the spotlight and she knows how to work an audience. All of that will be helpful as a judge.
I have not missed Paula Abdul once this year. Having Paula leave the panel has made Kara a more confident and articulate judge during the early rounds. Randy Jackson is irrelevant as ever as a judge. I don’t know if he has said much worthwhile in the previous 8 seasons and he hasn’t been giving us much this year. Simon Cowell seems to be enjoying things much more during Hollywood week than during the audition rounds and I think this being his last season, he is going have some fun with it and enjoy his time instead of looking like he’d rather be having a colonoscopy than sit through someone singing in front of him.
All that being said, this show is about the contestants and that is what I love about the show. It’s early, but I have two that really caught my eye during the auditions and they shined bright during part one of Hollywood week. I hope they go a long way.
The first is Andrew Garcia. The married father had a rough childhood and has gotten through it. That’s fine. The back stories need to come a little differently. If I heard about all of that at a later time, I think I would like him even more because I’m already invested in him as a performer and when that happens, I want to know more of where someone is coming from. Anyway, the first video is of his audition and the second is his rendition of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up”. He has a smooth voice and he knows how to make a song his own.
The second contestant that I love is Didi Benami. Her audition package kind of put me off, but I love her voice. It is pretty unique. She has terrific phrasing and it seems like there is something powerful in her. The first video is her audition in which she sang “Hey Jude”. The second is her rendition of “Terrified”. I really like Crystal Bowersox as well. She is the one that sings right after Didi in Hollywood.
Who are some of your early favorites? My full performance show recaps will start in two weeks during the Semifinals. Make sure to look for those!