The world’s best singing competition is back, for one last time! In the 15th and final season premiere of ‘American Idol’, there’s the usual batch of amazing singers mixed with awful yodelers, but one contestant does the unexpected and ‘arrests’ judge Harry Connick Jr.!
American Idol season 15 is shaping up to be its best yet! In the Jan. 6 episode, returning judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. are ready to listen to America’s best unknown singers, and they get what they asked for. They travel to Atlanta, GA and Denver, CO to search out the talent, and shenanigans ensure!
Seeking out the best of the best, the three judges are ready and eager to hear from America’s undiscovered talent. We’re first introduced to Michelle Marie, an exuberant 15-year-old from Florida. She’s such a fan of the show that her mom has a home video of her crying over eliminations over the years, and she correctly names all 14 winners in order! “You can uncross your fingers,” Harry tells her after her amazing performance of “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes. She’s going to Hollywood!
The auditions are off to a good start, and Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard, 37, returns to help with the process. Two more Idol hopefuls are given golden tickets: Josiah Siska, 17, who plays guitar and sings Johnny Cash‘s “Ghost Riders”, and Lindita, 26, who lost 150 lbs and became a personal trainer before auditioning. Standing before the judges, she slays “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown and holds the note so long that Keith checks his watch!
Of course, there are “nos”; Travis “Billy Bob” Evett, 25, has a great personality and is genuinely funny, but his rendition of “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” by Waylon Jennings is just “not strong enough” and his “pitch is all over the place”. Then there’s Sylvia Lee Walker, 16, who rants about her pet show goat, how her sister broke her collarbone, and how she likes to hula hoop — it is ENDLESS. She then yodels and it is awful; entertaining, but not Idol material. One cocky contestant thinks he’s going to get “4 yeses out of 3”, but his pitch is all over the place and he can barely carry a tune! Sorry, dude.
There’re more than a few inspiring stories behind some of the auditions, like Lee Jean, 15, from South Carolina. He lost his beloved brother in an accident, but it’s inspired him to pursue his dream of being a musician. He plays guitar and sings a soulful cover of “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran, and he’s so cute that JLo just wants to squeeze him. “This golden ticket means the world to my family…I know it would have meant the world to my brother,” Lee says after receiving three “yeses”. Yay!
Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks comes to help out the hopefuls, and we’re privy to several more successful auditions — including some by people with very unusual backgrounds! Jeneve Mitchell, 15, lives “off the grid” on a ranch with no power in Colorado, but her family turns on a generator twice a week in order to watch Idol. She gives a “super funky” performance of “Chainsaw” by The Band Perry, and wows the judges, earning her golden ticket! There are other contestants who live in the wild, including one guy who hiked the Appalachian trail, a girl who’s slept in a yurt, and one woman who lives 45 minutes away from the closet town. Ouch!
On the opposite end is Sonika Vaid, 20, from the charming town of Martha’s Vineyard in MA. Her parents emigrated from India, and now she’s living out her own American dream. She sings a beautiful cover of Carrie Underwood‘s “Look at Me”, and the judges are awed. “I love it,” JLo tells her. “That was a perfect performance!” Harry agrees. Keith is glad it’s a “simple audition without clever runs”. Sonika Facetimes her Dad after she receives her ticket, and it is so adorable.
Then things get really interesting: Reanna Molinaro, 23, is a badass police officer from New Mexico. She works 12+ hour days, chasing bad guys and all that good stuff, as she makes her way in a masculine field as a female police officer. Before she even sings for the judges, Harry and Keith act out a bit where they pretend to get in a fight, and Reanna handcuffs Harry while Keith holds him down! It gets even funnier: Harry tries to play the piano while his hands are behind his back, and actually kind of succeeds at what he calls the “handcuff blues”. Apart from the hilarity, Reanna does a great job at singing “Leavin’ On Your Mind” by Patsy Cline, and she gets 3 yeses!
There’s one final exciting moment: Kanye West shows up to audition! “I always wanted to rap, but nobody believed in me,” he tells the judges with a straight face, before performing a short a capella rap of “Gold Digger”, which JLo. Obviously he gets a golden ticket. Ha!
HollywoodLifers, do you think the final season of American Idol is off to a good start? Tell us how you feel in the comments!