Original Air Date: Feb 9, 2010
Patricia Morris Buckley — Staff Writer
Ellen is pretty good! She’s opinionated, she’s funny, she’s brutally honest — just like another judge I can think of. She even turns to Simon and says, “You’re leaving?”
So… it might be a good season after all. Better be, because the talent isn’t that overwhelming so far.
One hundred and eighty-one singers descend on Hollywood, all sure they’re going to win the singing competition. Longtime fans know that’s next to impossible for almost all of them. During this week, the talent pool has to be trimmed back to 24 contestants, 12 female and 12 male. On this episode, the group is cut almost in half, down to 96.
The singers are brought up on stage in groups of eight. They get to sing a cappella or with an instrument. Some made the wrong decision, while others stood way, way out.
In each group, we met a few of the contestants that had been featured in the auditions. For instance, the first group had 17-year-old Katie Stevens and the ever-colorful Skiibowski, the later whom frightened Ellen. Katy went through while Skiibowski will just be a humorous footnote in S9.
Then came early favorite Andrew Garcia, who performed a revision of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up” accompanying himself on guitar — and blew the judges away with his singing and arranging. Kara even compared him to S8’s Adam Lambert. Meanwhile, the very Southern gal Vanessa “Bridge Jumper” Wolfe, let nerves get to her and washed out.
Other wash outs were Cornelius Edwards, who split his pants in auditions, Maegan Wright, whose little brother tried to convince the judges his sister would be the next American Idol, and Amedeo DiRocco, who comes from a big Italian family.
Then Janell Wheeler showed she was more than looks, despite the long blonde hair. Haelay Vaughn , the 16-year-old who wants to be a pop/country star and got the very last televised Gold Ticket, proved she could be a contender.
Rocker mom Mary Powers impressed the judges, as did Todrick Hall, Charity Vance and Ashley Rodriguez. Beat boxer Jay Stone impressed no one, while 20-year-old Lilly Scott accompanied herself on the guitar to a soulful, absolutely perfect rendition of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Lullaby of Birdland.” Michael Lynche’s back story continued as his wife went into labor just before he took the stage and really shone (unfortunately, his father has revealed he made the final 24 and he has been disqualified).
Tim Urban seemed a bit shaky, but made it to the next round, while Ericka Rose of Barney fame didn’t (but she still has her whip to come home to). Same with cancer survivor Justin Williams or poor 16-year-old Maddy Curtis, who got the first televised Golden Ticket and had a great back story of four brothers with Down’s Syndrome.
But the show ended with three very strong contenders. Casey Jones, who took his shirt off for Kara, sang an impressive, bluesy “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and played the guitar even more impressively. Waitress Didi Benami’s “Terrified” had the opposite effect and Crystal Bowersox’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” had the audience singing the background and the judges tapping along.
A few favorites where MIA, such as foster kid Aaron Kelly, the police officer (can’t remember his name), S8’s Jessica Furney, and Lacey Brown (who made the top 50 last year). Hopefully we’ll see them during the group numbers tomorrow.
Was there anyone you were missing? What did you think of Ellen? Are you ready for the tears, swearing and drama of group numbers? Give us your Two Cents…