Atlanta has a good reputation when it comes to putting American Idol talent out there. Remember, Philip Phillips came to the Atlanta auditions just two years back, and beaucoup of other artists had their start in this peachy place. Judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr. had their hands full handing out golden tickets, and Harry got a lap full of dog, too!
Majesty Rose York had a majestic presence and perfect elegance in her subtle performance of Coldplay to her own accompaniment. Elegant was the term Harry Connick, Jr. used for her, and Keith Urban noted that “quiet is better” for talk like hers, making him want to lean in to hear more. Jennifer Lopez said her sound was effortless, so no wonder the panel made the effort to give her the first ticket to Hollywood. Jesse Cline worked the night shift at his gas station job, then drove eight hours from Kentucky to his audition. Sleep can come later, because Jesse sailed through his song, surprising judges in being so “believable,” as Harry described, and having that quality that makes them an artist that “happens in a nanosecond,” as Keith offered. Just when it seemed that everyone in Atlanta might get a golden ticket, Allyson Ragona and her burning hot pink hair came forth. As if that were not distraction enough, Harry couldn’t keep his eyes off her blue cat T-shirt, making him think of David Bowie in a peculiar “Space Oddity” association, i.e. “Major Tomcat,” one might suppose! No gold there, but Chris Medina and his dog took Harry’s heart, as he held the precious pooch in his lap the whole time his owner sang, and that singing was good as gold, too.
Kristin O’Connor is a nurse by day, and now on her way to stardom along with Emily Pitz, only 17. Ben Briley is another aspiring Idol who’s as real as it gets, doing Amos Lee as his audition choice, and reminding Harry Connick, Jr. of gumbo. Nica Neshae was nice and through to Hollywood, singing “You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman). Jordan Brisbane was a fresh face it was hard to take your eyes off of when he sang Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man,” being just a boy. He went a little overboard on runs, but the panel saw his raw talent, so we’ll see him a while longer. Sam Burchfield went from being a concertgoer at Phillip Phillips’ show in Atlanta days ago to being a concert giver at his audition. Harry Connick, Jr. thought he had an affect that didn’t work, but his “old school” style was plenty unique for Jennifer and Keith. Jessica “Jess” Meuse is a one-woman powerhouse of entertainment, from the tiny town of Slapout, Alabama. Her heart is all in, saying “I’m either going to be a successful musician or a broke one.” Her songwriting and shoulder-swinging style wowed the judges, and her fortune exchange from now on, no matter what comes after her Hollywood days. Ryan Seacrest let his mom take a big role in his hometown stay, and she playfully put him in his place often. There was a short string of strange dressing performers who were decidedly “not singing” according to Harry. Lauren Ogburn gave Jennifer Lopez “goosies” singing “Fancy,” and got her chance from the other two judges, too. Harry advised her not to try so hard to look true blue Americana, because that already comes through in her voice. Neco Starr and Calab Johnson made the second try their charm. Both contestants made it pretty far in two years ago, when home and worked on their craft, and came back strong in these auditions. Expect both these talents to be more seasoned this time around. Bria Anai freely admitted that her mother was her “momager,” coordinating her life down to her wardrobe colors matching her lipstick, but it all worked. She sang Adele’s “One and Only,” keeping eyes on those shimmering lips, and she left with gold.
44 took tickets in Atlanta, and there’s 163 heading to Hollywood so far. American Idol stops in Salt Lake City next week. The show airs Wednesday and Thursday on FOX.