After American Idol's Season 14 opener, judges Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban both shared some words with the press about the talent they've seen so far. The New Orleans jazz artist promised viewers that the judges have seen plenty of contestants capable of attaining superstar status. Urban stressed the importance of finding someone with great singing abilities, studio presence and live skills.
Urban strikes me as the judge who has the hardest time denying contestants. As Rolling Stone Country notes, the country star knows all too well about the process since he too competed in talent shows in Australia when he was trying to get noticed.
"Finding really great artistry is important," Urban said. "Seeing it in people sometimes is very difficult to do. I would not have seen what I eventually became in me. I don't see it when I see [early footage] of me. But I had some sort of determination. That counted for me. But if I had judged me on one of these shows, I wouldn't have thought I'd have the career I was going to have ... at all."
That quote right there is the perfect descriptor of these initial audition rounds. You see some people who are highly trained singers and others who are hanging on to the thinnest thread of a dream. Right in the middle are the ones who just need some work — and they're the ones who make it interesting. Loren Lott straddled that line and Connick probably had it correct — this isn't her year. More training would definitely help, but Urban couldn't say "no," so she's on to Hollywood.
Urban's "yes" on those contestants right on the line is often met by a "no" from Connick. It happened a few times this episode. There were a few more surprises from the second Nashville installment (one of the biggest was Connick saying the show wasn't scripted ... please). Check out the best performances from Nashville part two (and one from Kansas City).
5. The build-up to Trevor Douglas made it obvious that he was going to be decent. The 16-year-old's squeaky, chipmunk voice helped him nail some impressive falsetto parts to Ed Sheeran's "Sing." His street performing paid off too — the singer is a seasoned entertainer. J.Lo had it right saying Douglas' "quirkiness" is an advantage.
4. Cody Fry started his career by singing commercial jingles as a child. He's also a touring musician. His experience was evident from the start. Fry's performance was soft and inviting. The judges didn't even want him to stop.
3. Serena-Joi Crowe was the first female of the episode to absolutely destroy the audition. It was her fourth time on the show. Good for her. Obviously she never gave up and all her hard work was easily detected. Get it girl.
2. Naomi Tatsuoka did the Kansas City side of the episode justice. Her "Someone Like You" included, as Connick put it, "everything and the kitchen sink." It wasn't boring, it was theatrical. So what if it wasn't the most polished performance? When you drop something like "Tequila Tuesday" in the preface to the audition, you shouldn't expect a squeaky-clean audition anyway.
1. Garrett Miles was the undisputed champ of Nashville and episode two. His blindness had nothing to do with it either. Or maybe it did. Maybe that contributed to his calm, cool collectiveness. But you can't teach that country swagger. His "Proud Mary" rendition was damn good because, as Urban noted, it was original. The tune from Selena in Spanish, with J.Lo, was an added bonus.
Other notable auditions from Kansas City included Jhameel, Lovey James and Jess Lamb.