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'American Idol' Season 15 Recap/Review: Second-to-Last Auditions Bring Back the Magic

by Carolyn Menyes   Jan 20, 2016 22:04 PM EST

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American Idol's final auditions are coming to a close, so it only makes sense that the show brings out its big guns. Perhaps this is why, instead of keeping it to one city the producers decided to jump things around, cherry-picking the best of the best to show viewers.

Of course, the show wouldn't be a fun watch or a story to tell if it were just all good singers, which is why peeling back the curtains just a bit to see the first few rounds of auditions this season has been a revelation. First of all, this gives us a true look at the process - you don't just walk into the door and sing for Jennifer Lopez, of course.

But for those singers who didn't try and do cartwheels in drag for Clay Aiken (please watch that if you haven't seen it), there were some real gems. Let's revisit the second-to-last Idol auditions ever with the five best auditions of Wednesday night.

05. Miranda "Poh" Scott, "Fairytale": Miranda "Poh" Scott (Yes, that Poh from Teletubbies!) has an Idol alumna in her family - her sister Shi Scott was a top 24 contestant last year. But she's looking to break out on her own. Like her sister, Poh channels an easiness in her performances, which she brought to this jazzy Sara Bareilles number. Her ease of performance does not come without a few bumps - Poh's a teenager and her inexperience shows, but her raw voice makes for pleasant listening and she's a good choice for Hollywood.

04. Jenna Renae, "She Don't Love You": Jenna Renae may claim to be a country girl at heart, but you would have never really known it from her performance of this Eric Paslay track. She accompanied herself on the piano and while there were hints of a twang in her voice, she was more filled with a soulful peppiness - think Sara Bareilles. This performance was thoughtful, clear and simply pretty. Is she unique enough to make it much farther than the initial Hollywood rounds? Well, that remains to be seen - but for now this is more than good enough.

03. Amelia Eisenhauer, "Many Rivers to Cross": Amelia Eisenhauer set herself up to be one of the few ~wacky~ auditions of this season - she brought in a katana sword for goodness' sake. But, when it was time for her to actually sing, she had a beautiful voice well beyond her years. There was a bit of a husky tone in her lower register but when Amelia broke out the runs and reached into her higher tones, she displayed some real malleability and range, all while she had a fiddle in her hands, which only helped her to stand out more.

02. Mackenzie Bourg, "Stupid Boy/Come By Me/Love Don't Cost a Thing/Memories of Us": Well, if there is one thing to be said about Mackenzie Bourg, it's that he knows how to work a room. A veteran of The Voice, Mackenzie knows that brown-nosing the judges is certainly one way to make it through to the next round, which may have been why he put together this Idol judge medley. OK, yes, it was a way to standout (and I am here writing about him), so it worked on that level. It also worked on the level of vocals. Mackenzie has a cool vibe surrounding him, with hushed vocals to match. He's one to watch for the top 24.

01. Emily Brooke, "Careless": Emily Brooke is only 16 years old, but this is her second go-around on Idol - she was cut last year just before the top 24. But, she's back with another year's worth of experience and it showed in this Raelynn cover. Emily could project across the room in both volume and personality, and her twang was just perfectly balanced to make this a stunning showing. It was heartbreaking to see Emily get cut from Idol last year because she was clearly so full of promise but it seems like the right decision - she is a potential winner and a definite star in the making.

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