The American Idol audition stop in Omaha was part reunion, rejoicing, and reservations for the panel of judges and yearning hopefuls. Cornfields and farmlands can still yield powerful crops of voices. Who was golden enough for Hollywood?
Keith Urban probably never imagined that the son of someone he shared the stage with decades ago would be before him, standing in that Idol oval, awaiting his verdict. That’s just what happened first out in Omaha, when Quaid Edwards came out, welcomed by a “Good to see you again” from Urban. Quaid’s mom, Jolie Edwards, of Jolie and the Wanted, toured with the country superstar early in his career, and not only did her boy do himself a favor by listening to all the panel’s concerns, and pledging a concerted effort, which got him gold, but mom got herself a very heartfelt hug and praise as a mom from her old tour mate! Harry Connick, Jr. liked Quaid’s “shade of green,” but not so much for Simon Huack, who was a no sale. There was a dry patch before those golden tickets got going. Madisen Walker showed vocal maturity for her 15 chronological years in Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats,” so much so that Harry and Jennifer put her through, despite Keith’s critique that she “didn’t stand out” just yet. Alyssa Siebkin made Ryan Seacrest promise that he would pose with her for a “victory selfie” if she took gold, and she got her wish, with Jennifer and Keith’s affirmative vote. Tyler Gurwicz had a moment like no one before in the competition, singing Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” he looked too angry for Keith Urban, and seems too niche-locked for Harry. They gave him a shot to pick something else, and he came within a razor’s edge of blowing his chance, but finally let out his vocal, and the panel gave him his chance in Hollywood. Tyler Marshall always has that “happy face,” as Harry Connick, Jr. called it, and he sang to the heavens for rejoicing in all circumstances, and he will find his circumstances in Hollywood for awhile. Tyler Marshall didn’t hesitate at all to say “Come up here” to Harry Connick, Jr., and Harry did come up, and do a groovy slow dance along with CJ’s “Stand by Me.” CJ will be around a while longer, too! Dejante Lanear will be singing in Hollywood, along with the remarkable Paula Hunt, who stirred everyone with her story of service to our country in the Air Force chorus, and caring on her mother’s dream after multiple sclerosis took her voice. She offered Etta James’ “Pain in My Heart” so perfectly that Harry Connick, Jr. deemed her voice as “elegance,” and congratulated her for making every soldier she sang to ready for battle with American pride.
Andrina Brogden had the look of a small-town girl, but the big dreams of any American Idol winner. Jennifer thought she shied away from notes, but Keith and Harry thought she had perfect subtlety, so to yeses made enough. The square dance caller and the singer didn’t quite meet the standard of the season, but Casey McQuillen certainly did, singing “Paper,” she took the golden paper, and Harry said she would be so fun to watch blossom through the season. Tessa Kate has been a performer for years, at the amusement park where she sells to tickets. This was her chance to take herself higher, and she chose “Folsom Prison Blues” as her boarding pass. Her high-pitched performance was shy of “chipmunk level” by J Lo’s estimate, and all three judges found her completely engaging and different, and definitely needed in Hollywood.
The trauma truly begins next week in Hollywood. The competition airs Wednesday and Thursday on FOX.