Everyone’s favorite singing competition is back! On the first episode of ‘American Idol’, we got to see what Nashville has to offer. There was plenty of talent to pick from and the judges weren’t stingy about sending some lucky contestants to Hollywood.
American Idol season 14 is underway and returning judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr, travelled to Nashville, Tenn., in search of this season’s new talent. What they found was that the bigger the city, the bigger the personalities!
‘American Idol’ Premiere: Season 14 Opens Up With A Bang
The judges “hit the first mile on the road to the finale” on Jan. 7, seeking out the best of the best. They rolled up to the auditions in style — in Keith’s lifted pickup truck, to a packed parking lot full of eager contestants. As usual, the parking lot was swamped with eager contests waiting to show off their vocal talents.
We were first introduced to Priscilla Barker, 19, a spunky girl from Mississippi. She is the youngest of ten kids in her family, but she is ready to step out from the shadows and pave her own way. Priscilla confidently strolled into the audition with her guitar and sang “Delta Dawn” by Tanya Tucker. Both her singing and bubbly personality won judges Keith and Harry, but Jennifer just wasn’t feeling it and said no because it wasn’t “special” enough. But with two yeses, Priscilla is off to Hollywood.
Next up, we met a string of “not so easy on the ears,” contestants. One girl who couldn’t quite grasp the fact that Nicki Minaj was not the judge, let alone carry a tune. But that didn’t stop her from trying to sexually dance around the makeshift stage, while singing “Gimme More” by Britney Spears.
We also witnessed a man in a brightly colored shirt, straw hat and red suspenders, enter the audition playing the bongos and singing a weird song, “Hold On To Your Kite.” If that wasn’t bad enough, we then witness a eager young boy sing a very high pitched version of “Your Love” by the Outfield, but for obvious reasons didn’t make the cut.
It was Harry who said, “It’s slim pickens out there.” We couldn’t agree more.
Keith Meets A Familiar Face
But it was Riley Bria, 17, who turned the game around. The young singer had actually played guitar alongside Keith during one of his concerts back in 2012 — and didn’t disappoint. He even picked one of Keith’s songs, “Georgia Woods,” to sing. In the end, he blew all three judges away and Jennifer was the first to say, “You are made for the stage.”
Then came a handful of yeses. Cam Bedell, 26, who is ready to stop serving tacos and start doing his music. Along with Ali Jane Hendersen, 17, who brought a unique rendition of “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” by Britney Spears. And also a harmonica playing Alex Renbarger, 18, who dazzled the judges with an amazing cover of “Forever Young.”
We then met a very nervous Amber Kelechi Walker, 15. She had a tough start at life and didn’t live in the safest part of Tennessee, but expressed it was music that saved her life. We quickly see that not only does she have a beautiful personality, she has an outrageous voice. Amber put her shyness away and belted out Elvis Presley‘s “Heartbreak Hotel,” leaving Jennifer with only one thing to say — yes! But it was Harry who wasn’t on board. “I think you need to get your vocals together… I think you need a little bit more time,” he said With the votes split, Keith was left in the famous tight spot, but in the end, Amber got her pass to Hollywood. Congrats!
One Contestant Gave JLO “Goosies”
Amongst some tough cuts, we see Kory Wheeler, 26, break out from the pack. He literally left his coffeehouse job during his shift and ran across the street to audition. Kory picked “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” by Bonnie Raitt and boy did he deliver! He even gave JLO “goosies” on her legs and arms. Kory even awed Keith who said, “You know what’s great about that…everything.” Now, it’s off to Hollywood to give even more people goosebumps!
Then came Michael Simeon, 20, and we quickly determined that he is going to be the one to beat. He soothed the judges with Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” leaving it very easy for the judges to all say, YES! But the best part of his audition was at the very end, when he asked Jen to slow dance with him. He clearly stole JLO’s heart.
As the episode came to a close, there was still time for Emily Brooke, 15, to steal the judge’s ears. She sang “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood, an she in fact, blew everyone away! “I loved it,” was all Keith needed to say and off to Hollywood Emily goes.
It was a great start to the season, but sadly in the end, there are only a limited amount of golden tickets to Hollywood. But, if tonight’s episode is any indication of what’s to come, we can’t wait to see where this season goes.
What do you think, HollywoodLifers, will season 14 of American Idol be the best one yet? Do you think the season is off to a good start? Let us know.
— Brittany King