Jennifer Lopez pointed out that American Idol remains a talent competition that is “not cast,” as in some other shows, and the judges panel could never have predicted any of the diversity they saw from Salt Lake City, a place noted for a very famous choir, after all. Whether by bus, or by foot, the talents coming to the stage heard mostly affirming words.
One of Season 13’s revamps to the show is an early tease featuring a hopeful talent, and this week, Casey Thrasher from Alabama, a young father, was that subject. Would he make it? We’ll see later. First off, Austin Wolfe sauntered out, in her sexy boots with a very sultry voice on “Radioactive,” and she took the gold ticket like it was nothing. Kylee Adamson is a pretty lumberjack, and she can sling her voice, too, as well as her ax. Everyone loved her vibe, and she sailed on. Keith Sanders scored some points with his name, but more with his rich voice, as did Tessa Norman, who had attitude in all the right ways. Harry Connick, Jr. was loving his day in Utah, playing off of Keith Urban’s comment that great talents are in towns across America, and “they all come to American Idol,” according to the piano man. Harry also contended that compared to some of the true critics any young talent faces in the business,
“I look like Mother Teresa.” Alex Preston surely impressed the panel, strumming in an advanced harmony to his soulful, self-written song. The judges all loved his style, along with his technical skill, and Alex doesn’t need a pick to have a place near the top for a while. Samantha Calmes had a look from another era with her fanny pack, very willing to share the contents. It wasn’t until she broke into The Jeffersons theme, “Movin’ On Up,” that she truly moved the judges. Harry loved her Louisiana rhythm, Jennifer Lopez loved her style, and Keith Urban loved the strength that came through her song. Some bus tour contenders came through one of whom was preacher the Labryant Crew, who praised his way to gold. DJ Bradley got mixed reviews, especially for being a touch too Ed Sheeran, but his turn on “Hometown Glory” turned gold. It might be awful to have the name Julie Offill, but the Dallas blonde sang her way to Hollywood.
Always out for mechanics, Harry noted the way Kenzie Hall played a diminished chord on John Mayer’s “Gonna Find Another You,” and the panel praised her in unison. Paisley Van Patten has a story Idol laps up, overcoming her alcoholism, and putting her relationship on the line to live her career dream again. She picked the perfect song in Faith Hill’s “When the Lights Go Down,” and Keith Urban was commendably open in saying “I relate” then adding that she sounded raw, and that “raw is a good place.” There was a short string of disappointments, as in Detroit, including a girl named “Cyclops,” but CJ Harris erased bad memories, and inspired with the story of his father’s passing, and the panel “believed it” right along with Keith. Taquila Nelson sang lovely Adele, and admitted she was putting “God’s dreams” aside for a moment to find her own. Not exactly like a church girl, but hopefully she will not lose her way forever from the flock. Dog trainer and duck caller, Dexter Roberts, has a sound that could already be on record and radio with a slight makeover. Don’t be surprised if you see his “BBFF” (Bang, bang, flop, flop!) hat catching on! Ally Randy missed her mark this time, but she has years to come back, and Jennifer will still love her. Briston Mahoney gave “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” all he had, and the panel wondered about the affected, gravelly voice, but gave him his Hollywood chance. Hawaiian “Fish” Letoulei will be seen later, along with Sabrina Lentini, but young Carson Henline has to keep at it.
Johnny Newcomb was over the top a tad trying to be Eddie Vedder, but pleading his case changed J Lo’s heart, and he got a chance. Kimberly Tosti told the panel that she was a trained opera singer, but she was just plain too loud for anyone in earshot! Carmen Dell Gina comes from a musical family, but it wasn’t an easy sell to persuade the panel, even though they loved dad Mike. She got her one more chance in the end. Kassondra Castaneda gave her Uncle Jay’s phone number to Jennifer, who was quite diplomatic about the overture, and she still made it through with two yes votes.
Casey Thrasher closed the night, just as he began it. The young father didn’t have a perfect audition, but he had a hunger and a drive, and a heart for his family that was undeniable. Sometimes heart is the difference, and that difference got him on the next step to his dream.
American Idol airs Wednesday and Thursday on FOX. The last audition stop is Omaha.