You would think American Idol would want to lead its viewers into its 13th Hollywood week of a struggling series with the best round of auditions ever, right? After last week's stellar showings with some of the best Idol talent in years from Detroit and Atlanta, and even last night's solid Salt Lake City auditions would lead you to believe Omaha had big things in store. But. Nope. These were the most mediocre auditions of the season by a long shot.
For the first five auditions, American Idol producers decided to start strong and end strong, but this episode decided to focus largely on rejections for the first 20 minutes or so, showing straight bad singers or performers who were so middle-of-the-road that it was hard to even keep them separate from one another. Perhaps after two and a half weeks of strong auditions, Idol wanted to prove it still was being picky and truly going through thousands of singers in order to make a point? I don't even know.
Luckily, Omaha only took up one hour of viewers' time, so let's get this show out of the way and look at the five noteworthy auditions. Not even the five best, just the five really only good ones.
5. Andrina Brogden - I'll precede this by mentioning that Harry Connick, Jr., was not feeling this audition, but that's not uncommon for the judge with some insanely high standards, so Andrina Brogden got by only on two Yes votes to Hollywood. However, this girl does have a truly unique voice and is worth a solid chance for Idol.
She chose to take on Beyoncé's big power ballad "Halo," which is a little risky. And it was totally clear Brogden was feeling nervous all throughout her audition, which affected her sense of confidence. However, her voice had a nice blend of a whisper, slight smokey quality and a touch of old school soul. Mix that with her exotic, multi-racial look (and a cool look counts for Idol), and she could be a nice contender, albeit one who's not going to go all the way.
4. C. J. Jones - American Idol always manages to bring in some real soulful dudes, and C. J. Jones was tonight's strong guy. With a shaved eyebrow and enough gusto to insist that Harry Connick, Jr., actually stand by him, he's mildly throaty voice boasted some real rich tones and a timbre so unique, the judges would've been crazy not to let him through.
This guy looks like a punk in some ways, but it's clear he's got some real heart to him, which was nice to see.
3. Paula Hunt - Poor Paula Hunt and her mama have a backstory that could melt even the most frozen heart. Her mother had a record deal all lined up but her dreams were shattered with an MS diagnosis, leading her to pass her dream onto her daughter, who now sings for the troops. This is an American Idol story that 100 of the best in the business just couldn't write.
Luckily, she didn't need the sad story to boast one of the best auditions of Omaha. Her rendition of Etta James' "All I Could Do Is Cry" had some simply pretty tones with a hint of Adele's signature vocals in the deeper notes. This girl has the soul and the drive to power through this competition.
2. Tessa Kate - If Tessa Kate just had a liiiiittle more grit to her voice, she would've easily been the star of the show tonight. However, she was all sunshine with her take on Johnny Cash's classic "Folsom Prison Blues." As Omaha is apt to bring, Kate has a slight twang to her voice and belted the track out with a lot of heart. But, is that was Johnny Cash songs really need? I'm not so sure.
The judges appreciated Kate's timeless sound, which favorite judge Harry Connick, Jr., likened to an old '70s television acts, and there really was (ironically) a June Carter vibe going on. If she wasn't so damn sunshiney, Kate would be one to absolutely slay Idol, but she's still apt to do quite well.
1. Tyler Marshall - It took until 8:26 until Idol brought in a truly solid audition tonight, so maybe that's why Tyler Marshall is the night's best showing for me. He packed a lot of soul and energy into his rendition of "Proud Mary."
Little whines and grasps of air mixed with a slight Bruno Mars quality helped to make Marshall truly shine. Even better, as the judges mentioned, he just had a really happy vibe to him. It's clear this guy just LOVES to sing and thus, we love to watch him love to sing.