The gang traveled to Jennifer Lopez's native New York City for the fourth audition episode of American Idol Season 14. Jenny from the Block was at the center of the show, but as an added bonus, former runner-up and current Queen frontman Adam Lambert stopped by to fill in for Keith Urban, effectively putting the country star's bromance with Harry Connick Jr. on hiatus (thankfully).
Lambert was a breath of fresh air on tonight's episode. The singer lost to Kris Allen in the finale of Season Eight. Lambert had moderate success as a solo act following Idol, but he did score a sweet gig in 2012, fronting the iconic rock band Queen (under the name Queen + Adam Lambert). He was a mentor last season and recently landed a major label record deal. Besides Clay Aiken, Lambert is probably the most recognizable runner-up, and his road to stardom has been the most unique out of all the Idol alums.
We went into the episode ready to put a lot of stock into Lambert's comments. He's the first contestant to get a crack at the judge's chair and everything he says is validated by the fact that he went through the whole process. The former runner-up was the "no" man for the night, which was extremely refreshing. However, after he did a mock audition, recreating his Season 8 "Bohemian Rhapsody" performance, he admitted to being a little tough on the singers.
This ep, however, was about the hometown girl. The show opened with a nice scene where J.Lo walks past her old house and informs the current resident that she use to live there. The guy has no idea who she is and doesn't care. It provided a nice laugh to start things. But New York was given two hours, so there was bound to be some serious talent. We saw a lot of stars in the Big Apple.
5. Sal Valentinetti did his best Frank Sinatra, singing "Fly Me to the Moon." He even took Connick for $100 since he knew the tune's real title ("In Other Words"). I'm not sure his voice is strong enough, but the kid's got moxie. And some of the viewers are probably going to like his crooner vibe, as Lambert pointed out.
4. Jax took on The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" like a champ. She was the first true star voice we've heard on Idol this season. Her performance was smooth, controlled and captivating, turning the pop hit into a jazz lounge ballad. She said her singing was therapy for her New York policeman father after 9/11. We can see why. Such a beautiful rendition of a classic tune.
3. Najah Lewis transformed Maroon 5's pop hit "Payphone" into a devastating ballad that was "inventive and unique" according to Lambert. She's another real contender who will shine past Hollywood. Lambert said, "That's an artist" after Najah and Jax's performances. He's 100 percent correct.
2. Adam Ezegelian, an awkward toy designer, channeled Lambert for Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild." The former Idol contestant wisely asked him to sing another one. He killed Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours." He might actually make it to the Top 24. In the trailer for the finalists singing, there's a gentleman with an afro that pulls off a heavy metal scream at the 2:15 mark in this video. We're guessing that was Ezegelian.
1. Travis Finlay was moving. He destroyed Rihanna's "Stay" and all three judges were ecstatic. J.Lo warned him about playing around too much with his runs. He's going far, no doubt.
Props also to Nick Fradiani, Maddie Walker, Courtney Zahn, Tion Phipps, James Dunn and "Hollywood" Anderson.