American Idol bounced back last Thursday (Jan. 22) in New Orleans, Harry Connick Jr.'s hometown, after a lackluster episode in Minneapolis. For the final audition week, Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Connick sorted through talent in San Francisco. The City by the Bay's first episode was decent (still better than Minneapolis), but Idol probably saved the best auditions for tomorrow (Jan. 29). The talent and the singing styles were varied, which added to the episode's success.
San Fran was billed as one of the show's favorite cities because it has so much personality, which is exactly what the competition is all about, Seacrest explained in his opening monologue. Katherine Zimmer proved the host correct, bringing her unique blend of style and vocals to the screen (She was told to audition by her psychic cat). She's young and untrained, but she gave it her all, which earned her a golden ticket.
What San Fran lacked was a general sense of direction — a ton of contestants couldn't figure out how to leave the audition room. The #IdolExitFail was delightful. Then there was Samuel Prince's audition. The crew acted out a telenovela before he sang and it was actually pretty funny. Despite being a character, Prince proved that he wasn't cut out for the competition. Relive the skit below.
Talent-wise, the ep was mediocre. Entertainment-wise, San Fran was one of this season's better efforts. It seemed like there was a pleasant balance of the judges and the singers. Connick and Urban didn't bro out too much either. J.Lo's criticism was on point and Seacrest was practically non existent. Yeah, this was a fun episode.
5. Chandler Leighton's jazz room version of Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" was totally sweet. Unfortunately, she was sandwiched between two other singer's that lacked originality so her clip was brief. Leighton has a clearcut idea of what she wants to sound like. Plus, I have to applaud the song choice, only because we haven't heard any Joel yet. She could be a real contender in Hollywood.
4. Reno Anoa'I took on Rod Stewart's "I Don't Want to Talk About It," another great song choice. "You got a great voice, man," Urban said. "When you're singing, I believe you," Lopez added. Connick seemed like he was going to pass, but instead Anoa'I received three yeses. Then his entire family flooded the room. He can carry a breezy tune, but there wasn't too much power. That could be a problem down the line.
3. The Tim Tebow-looking Andrew Bloom tore through Alex Care's "Too Close" on acoustic guitar. He had J.Lo in the zone before Connick and Urban joined. He was definitely one of the better male-guitar auditions, breaking the pop hit down to really show off his range. Bloom also received a solid amount of screen time, most likely because the judges were really digging his performance. He's a passionate guy too.
2. Street performer Maddy Hudson showed off her raw talent, singing with a voice much older than her age indicates. J.Lo complimented on her style, calling the singer "one of her favorites" and adding that Hudson could possibly win. She exuded star quality, according to Connick. She's an impressive package, but there's work to be done if she wants to win.
1. Rayvon Owen turned Katy Perry's "Wide Awake" into a haunting ballad with a soulful, touching performance. Urban looked like he was on the verge of tears. "It should have bothered me more that you were smiling so much through it," he said. "Sometimes there's something to be said for just standing there, planting your feet, and singing," Connick added. That pretty summed it up the best. This guy has serious star potential.