Philadelphia may be a hot bed for indie rock these days, but the city of Brotherly Love did not fare so well for American Idol. On Wednesday night (Jan. 13), the final season of the show made its way to Philly, and something tells us The State of the Union isn't the only reason this city was trimmed down to a one-hour package.
With the help of season 2 runner-up (and season 15 hater) Clay Aiken, the judges ran through a series of middling singers. In the midst of the mediocrity, we got some entertainment through a dude singing "Born this Way" in a glittery thong and some other dude bringing along a boombox to sing along to Shaggy's "Angel." But, like most of this season, the ladies are the ones who are starting to shine through.
Let's look at the five best auditions, shall we?
05. John Arthur Greene, "Somebody Like You": There's a lot going on for John Arthur Greene. When he was 8 years old, he and his 13-year-old brother were playing "cops and robbers," when a gun went off and killed his sibling. He's also a Broadway star, currently in Matilda (and with a credit on NBC's Peter Pan Live!). So, there's a level of success in music already there, even with a darkness to his past. For his audition, John took on Keith Urban's "Somebody Like You," and while it was pretty vanilla, there's clearly an ability to sing there. We don't get many mixed results with this Idol judging panel, but Harry Connick Jr. passes, while Urban and Jennifer Lopez approve, so he squeaks through. Don't expect him to leave the Great White Way anytime soon, though.
04. Sara Sturm, "Lips Are Movin'": Sara Strum works at a breakfast restaurant, so you know this audition was just filled with egg puns. This charming 17-year-old girl just lit up a room with her personable nature. When she opened her mouth to sing Meghan Trainor's "Lips Are Movin'," she continued to shine with a clear tone that embodied Trainor's range and sensibility but without her baby doll rasp. Is she Hollywood material? Sure, she definitely could use the development. Will she move much farther than that... well, that remains to be seen, but for today, she's an adorable addition to the Idol roster.
03. Harrison Cohen, Original Song: There's a lot of creepiness going on for Harrison Cohen both leading up to and during his audition. He brought along his grandfather, for one, and while that is not a problem, his grandpa is scoping out ladies in the crowd like crazy. Harrison also has an intense energy to him (and a teenage horniness) that he brings in front of the judges with his original song. The flavor of the composition has a little Latin flavor to it and a pop rush that channels those current teen idols like Shawn Mendes. Though he was a little too focused with a death stare straight for JLo, his vocals were solid and he rightfully gets three yeses.
02. Gianna Isabella, "House of the Rising Sun": Gianna Isabella doesn't have a sob story, per se, but she does have a shadow looming over her: she's the daughter of Brenda K. Starr, a 1980s pop star who is most famous for her single "I Still Believe" and employing Mariah Carey as a backup singer. For her audition, she took on "House of the Rising Sun," best known on Idol for Haley Reinhart's rendition. For her take, Gianna showed her pedigree: she had soul, range and while a few of her notes were sharp, her potential and shining personality were the real stars of this audition. She got an easy and sentimental "yes" from all FOUR judges - yes, her mama got her into Hollywood.
01. Jenn Blosil, "Radioactive": At first, it seemed like Jenn Blosil's audition was going to be a joke, which Idol has (thankfully) brought back en masse this season. But, despite her spacey manic pixie Brooklyn girl getup, Jenn wasn't just a curly haired, spacey girl - she was actually a solid singer. With her take on the VERY tired song choice "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons, Jenn delivered a Zooey Deschanel meets Feist vocal while accompanying herself on the piano. It was all a quirky little indie package, but it felt modern and sweet. She could use a nap or something to help her focus on living, but the voice is definitely worth all the extra quirk.