The third audition episode for Season 11 of American Idol found the judges in San Diego. The producers decided to go for huge production value and placed the entire production on the aircraft carrier USS Midway. Cool right? Well, it looked cool – they even played the prerequisite musical clips from “Top Gun”. (Who would have seen that coming? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?) There was just one teensy-weensy problem – the USS Midway is docked in an active harbor close to the airport. Plane noise? Check. Boat noise? Check? Wind? Check. All in all it made for a different vibe and as a bonus, gave Steven a chance to wear a ridiculous pair of green aviator goggles. But what about the Idol hopefuls, you ask. How did the singers fare on the evening? Have no fear – read on and get the entire scoop…
First up was Jennifer Billey – or as she should probably be called: Bikini Girl 2.0. Dressed in (not much of) an American themed bikini, she told us – “I would call myself a Patriot”. I think most people would take a look call you an exotic dancer wannabe – but I digress. Ryan had her walk up and down the stairs a few times in what I can only assume was an effort to help her demonstrate to America how good her posture was. As for the singing – well, let’s just say it’s a good thing she has her looks to fall back on.
In order to cleanse the proverbial pallet, Ashley Robles was next up. A single mom from California, Ashley had a lot going for her in the likability department. She was cute, she was confident, and she could sing. Her voice was powerful, although I could have done without some of the growl. More importantly, her daughter was adorable. She told us all – “I’m going to be on the show with my mom. I’m going to be a dancer.” Nothing like a cute kid to draw in a few votes now in then…
Up next was Jayrah Gibson. I don’t even know where to start with him. Him informed us all that he’s been told – “you can’t write, you can’t sing, so all you can do is sing.” That was followed by an exposition on his theories on how to succeed in the world. I’ve read instructions on how to operate a cappuccino machine, in Japanese, that were easier to follow. When he met the judges, he decided to perform an original song he wrote for Jennifer – “Shake Your Moneymaker”. Surprisingly, he didn’t suck. He had a decent beat box to start and followed it up with a strong R&B voice. He was on to Hollywood, but let’s all agree – he shouldn’t be allowed to talk to the camera anymore. It’s just too exhausting.
Time for a montage of golden ticket winners. I’m pretty sure I spotted one of the Milli Vanilli kids from last year’s Hollywood week (he was one of the kids with the incredibly annoying moms. You can read about them here.) Here’s a bit of advice for the contestants. When you are standing below decks on an aircraft carrier, it’s probably best not to jump up and down with joy. You could crack your skull open. I’m just saying…
Aubree Dieckmeyer was next on deck. Before we get to her audition, I have two observations. First – with a speaking voice like that, Aubree shouldn’t encourage people to think she’s stupid by talking about being America’s Next Top Model. Second- who was the fat guy in the tie-dyed shirt who went waddling through the shot behind Aubree? Perhaps conducting the interviews in a public place was not such a great idea. Anyway – when Aubree finally had a chance to sing, she had a very interesting voice. It was smooth and cottony, but she just had too much of a Lindsay Lohan vibe for me to really take her seriously.
Ali Shields made it to the auditions by virtue of being an Ellen DeGeneres super-fan. I tried not to hold that against her. Evidently she sent a song to Ellen, who had her on the show, then sent her to the AMA’s, where she kissed Usher, and on and on and on. Sorry – I stopped caring 2 minutes ago. Ali was just a LITTLE too excited and goofy for me during the pre-interview. And then – she decided to rap. But that wasn’t all – she also threw down a little rump-shaker action. That’s right – a rapper and a booty dancer. She was a double threat. But could she actually sing? Well – yes. Kind of. I’m not sure she gets out of Hollywood, but she’s definitely a character. (The entire time, I kept expecting her to break out a Mary Katherine “Superstar” cheer – but I guess even Ali had her limits.)
Kyle Crews was next to sing for the judges. In my notes I wrote – “College student, frat guy, lady’s man, and pretty decent singer.” I’ll give him this, he didn’t lack for confidence at all (even though he claimed otherwise.) Steven called him “the best male voice we’ve heard yet.” I don’t know that I would go that far, but he was good. And I do agree with Steven – he needs to lose that shirt he was wearing.
After the break we joined Joanne Childers – getting her one shining moment on the stage – only to have it ruined by the horn of a passing boat. Seriously, they didn’t realize there would be boat and airplane noise? It was funny – unless you were a contestant, I suppose. (On another note, we also had our first, and hopefully last, fart joke of the season.)
Next up was Jim Carrey’s daughter – Jane Carrey. Yes, THAT Jim Carrey. She gave a very open and heartfelt account of what it is like to have a famous parent, and how that drives her to find her own place in the world. It was honest and thoughtful – I liked her right away. Once she got into the audition, Jennifer reminded us all that she worked with Carrey on “In Living Color” as a Fly girl, and knew Jane when she was two years old. Small world. When she sang, she wasn’t amazing, but she was pretty good. The judges nailed it, telling her she didn’t have the depth of emotion she needed. She got through to Hollywood, but will she be able to make it on her own, or will they perhaps keep her around because of her name? Time will tell.
The last contestant of the day was Jason Hamlin – or as he liked to be called – Wolf. The son of a guitar builder, he told us about the “git-fiddle” his dad constructed for him and how it led him to take up music. His dad passed away in 2010 and Wolf was singing for him. With that story, and as the last contestant of the night, you assumed he would be good. I really wanted to like him, but as he started singing, it just wasn’t happening. It was boring. Then he got to the back half of “Folsom Prison Blues” and decided to cut loose – and it started to work. It didn’t soar, but it was entertaining. Wolf is another contestant who has tons of character, but not necessarily the same measure of talent.
And with that, we came to the end of the San Diego auditions. In total, 53 golden tickets were awarded. Is it just me, or do the tickets to Hollywood seem to be piling up at an alarming rate? I see a large contingent of broken dreams heading our way on day one of Hollywood week this year when they have to quickly winnow the field. That’s when it REALLY gets interesting. I can’t wait.
Tonight’s “Pearls of Wisdom” from Steven Tyler:
Don’t you know it’s against the law to be that cute?
There was a fellow named Frick = and you know where we’re going with this one…
I can’t wait to hear 40 people sing the same Adele song, for six f-ing hours!
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