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  1. The NGH Report - American Idol 18’s Auditions Pt. 4 - “I’m taking it all in!” The big announcement this week? Katy is pregnant! This will be an interesting season for sure. I’m sure there is going to be no less than 5,000 random bits about babies this year. I’m sure they will all be incredibly creative and not repetitive whatsoever. I’m kidding. It’s going to be hell. An absolute hellscape. Here we go! Danny La Rota ?? years old AL “Royals” Danny is currently in dental school, and after he received his golden ticket… he seemed stupidly unsure about whether or not he wanted to continue training to be a dentist. His voice is strong, but affected. He has that late 90s alternative pop sound that used to be all the rage. The range is fairly impressive too. If he is smart and has a strategic plan Danny could stick around for a while. 8/10 Makayla Phillips 17 years old CA “Who’s Loving You” Makayla is such a pro. Your voice is refined and strong. She has a bit of a Jessica Sanchez vibe. I think she will likely do very well in this competition. Very marketable. Very safe, but that can be a pro to winning this show. See: Laine Hardy. 8.5/10 Devon Alexander 22 years old CA “Not In That Way” Devon is literally just a less polished version of Clark Beckham. It’s the classic white boy blue eyed soul sound. He’s nervous, but he shouldn't be. It’s a good vibe. 8/10 Mosean Wilson 23 years old IL “Slip Away” Man, there is just something so infectious about this man’s attitude. He’s genuine, kind, cool, and confident. Also, how many people can confidently stroll into an audience with an old Casio keyboard on your back? Mosean has an incredibly throwback blues sound and this season is really starting to seem like a soul/blues focused event. Lots of singers in this genre! 8.5/10 Faith Becnel years old LA “Lady Marmalade” I have a very hard time taking any contestant seriously when they sing “Lady Marmalade.” It’s a sign that they care very little about activating lyrics and telling a story and they care way more about vocal gymnastics which will do nothing to separate you from the others in this competition unless your vocal level is so out of this world it becomes a focal point. I just have no idea who she is other than a talented singer. That’s a problem. 8/10 Kat Luna 19 years old ?? “Shallow” Kat and Alejandro come in together since they are in love and a couple. It’s honestly too gooey to handle. They are one of the most attractive couples I have probably ever seen on this show. I think Kat is the better singer. She’s got this great alto husky tone to her voice that can really captivate a room. 8/10 Alejandro Garrido 26 years old ?? “Shallow” He wants us to call him Space Cowboy and I will @#$%ing not. 7.5/10 Sophia Wackerman 20 years old CA “Water” This was my favorite audition of the episode. Sophia is ready for this. She’s confident, has a great look and a great personality, but also has a very unique tone to her voice. She’s also an instrumentalist. All signs are go for this contestant. Also, her mother sang in The Moody Blues! That type of coolness can’t be beat! She’s a very present singer. 8.5/10 Jimmy Levy 21 years old FL “Wicked Game” His version of this song sounds nothing like the original. He’s a fine singer, but he’s super nervous, and doesn’t seem built for this. He won’t last long. 7.5/10 Olivia Ximines 16 years old CA “Language” On the other hand! Olivia is VERY built for this. She’s young, pretty, and has a voice that seems like it will be able to handle anything. She’s like a young prizefighter! Olivia could grow considerably over the course of this competition. 8.5/10 Marna Michele 27 years old CA “Million Reasons” I think Marna is great, but I’m not positive the judges notes actually helped her here. They took away some of the unique qualities of her tone only to fix a vocal scoop, which is, in my opinion, a really bad trade off. I think Marna could surprise as long as she doesn’t get too in her head. 7.5/10 Zach Dobbins 18 years old WV “Misuse” Luke’s ability to speed tune will always be an amazement to me. I love this show for moments just like this. Some kid from the sticks shows up to audition in front of superstars and actually has something. It’s rough, but it’s there. The question with contestants as raw and authentic as this is… can they hold it together in a competition setting? Can they make adjustments and strategize? Sometimes they surprise, but sometimes they flame out. We shall see! 8/10 Ren Patrick 26 years old TX “Dancing On My Own” Following in ABCs Idol tradition of ending the show on a feel good note, we are introduced to Ren who is coming out of an abusive relationship. Her phrasing is unique and she activates the lyrics in a way that makes me think she is an effective storyteller. Vocally, she is strong enough to make the live rounds of the competition, so we should keep an eye on her. 8.5/10 See you next time! NGH
  2. The NGH Report - American Idol 18’s Auditions Pt. 3 - “Shoe-wee!” The third audition episode begins with a bang, but it did feel like some of the talent tidal waves we have seen have begun to recede. Yes, there were some strong singers in this episode, but it didn’t have that viral “can you believe that?” moment that the others have had for me. Also, as someone who has auditioned for this show, and had to sit thru the cattle call round for hours to be seen, and then advanced to the Producers and the Judges rounds… watching a girl just camp out in front of the taping and circumvent three separate auditions to be seen by the judges was INFURIATING. Every single person in this competition had to wait in that crazy cesspool of insanity to finally get to this stage… and you just show up on the 1-yard line ready to score a touchdown? Get away from me with that. Here we go! Kimmy Gabriella 17 years old FL “Let’s Hurt Tonight” Kimmy is a pretty standard Idol trope these days. She’s a 17-year-old wunderkind who has a great instrument, but has absolutely zero artistic identity. She can be molded, but it feels a bit old school for what Idol has become. Katy asks her if she is fluent and can sing in Spanish. Kimmy does. Katy is impressed. But… why? Why do these judges get so impressed at Spanish-speaking singers having the ability to sing in a language they can speak? It’s not magic. It’s just another language. What a weird obsession. The judges predict Top 10, which sounds pretty good to Kimmy, but typically the judges predict Top 3, so this is actually an insult to poor Kimmy. 8/10 Amelia 23 years old AZ “Yesterday” Quick clips by three contestants! This is a great rendition of “Yesterday” and Amelia has an awesome smokey tone. I wanted to hear much more about this contestant. 8.5/10 Erin Kirby 16 years old GA “Who You Are” Erin has a very strong upper register, but doesn’t seem to be a confident guitar player. We hear maybe five seconds of her performance. 8/10 Jordan Jones 26 years old AZ “Lovesong” I’m going to be honest… I don’t love this rendition of Lovesong. It’s far too minor and his tone is washing away all of the complexity in the number. He proposes to his girlfriend after he gets sent through and she says yes. 7.5/10 Lauren Mascitti 27 years old TN “If I Can Lose You” Can we talk about the very old elephant in the room? Lauren’s fiance is Shawn Camp, a famous songwriter, who is 53-years-old! He could literally be her father. 26 year age difference! I don’t know… feels like a yikes to me. Her tone is very pleasant and her songwriting ability is confident and assured. She is mature enough that she knows her identity and could do very well. 8.5/10 Courtney Timmons 22 years old GA “Rise Up” Unfair! Please refer to my earlier comments. Courtney is fine. She has a voice, but she seems far too laid back to be competitive enough to actually win this thing. It’s all just a bit too bland. 7.5/10 Lauren Spencer-Smith 16 years old Canada “What About Us” Lauren delivered one of my favorite vocals of the episode. The tone, the size of her voice, and her ability to phrase the song in a way that is pleasing and unique feels effortless. She seems well beyond her age in her ability. 8.5/10 DeWayne Crocker Jr. 23 years old FL “Don’t Worry Be Happy” This was a fun laid back version of this song, but it doesn’t really match the intention of the lyrics. So, creative, yes, but not really coherent. The voice though is pleasing and big. If he can open his personality up a bit more, he could stand out in a good way. We haven’t had many strong R&B male singers as of yet. There’s a spot for him. 8/10 Dillon James 26 years old CA “Make You Feel My Love” Dillon receives one of the longest backstory packages of the episode. He suffered from drugs and alcohol and struggled back from a very dark place. I mean, if someone has a full body Jesus tattoo inked on their body… either they are part of a Mexican cartel or they have seen some things. He’s got a haunting quality to his voice. Luke mentions a comparison to Chris Isaak which feels dead on to me. His voice is unique and discernible. I’m not really sure if I am into it or not, but my interest is certainly piqued. 8/10 Geena Fontanella 27 years old CA “Don’t Want You Back” Geena comes dressed like Billie Eilish, I guess? The verse feels contemporary and is lyrically fine, but then we drop into the chorus and hook and it is the most repetitive thing I have ever heard in my life. Then the judges start singing with her and I want to jump into one of the circles of hell. I’ve already forgotten about her, which is odd because she was literally peacocking throughout that entire audition. 7.5/10 Shannon Gibbons 20 years old NY “I’d Rather Go Blind” This is always a big song for people to undertake, but Shannon does better than respectable with it. It’s a very soulful rendition that is well beyond her age. You really have to have gone through some darker times to connect with this type of material and it’s clear it is an honest audition. 8.5/10 Genevieve Linkowski 20 years old MI “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” As per usual, we end the night with a sadder story. Genevieve returns to audition for Idol after two years, but since then she has lost her older sister in a car accident. She’s had a very rough few years and is back for her sister. Vocally, I don't really remember this contestant, but when I went back to look it doesn’t seem like she has grown much since then. Perhaps the improvement is that she has a bit more purpose beneath her. 8/10 See you next time! NGH
  3. The NGH Report - American Idol 18’s Auditions Pt. 2 - “You brought the BBQ sauce!” The judges are really getting the hang of this at the start of their third season together. It’s weird, but I just feel like ABC is better at putting on this show. The stories are better, the contestants are given more freedom, and the show speeds by because it is so well edited. I wish ABC could have had this show during its’ heyday because they just do a damn good job producing this sucker. Another night of auditions and we saw some very good ones in this episode. It’s already shaping up to be another talent-heavy season. So, let’s get started. Here we go! Cyniah Elise 17 years old GA “You Are The Reason” She’s a natural. She’s young, but vocally ready for this. I hope she can handle the process emotionally because she’s going to be able to hang in there with the best singers. The question with R&B contestants is always… “Is there still an audience for this?” If she can continue to vocally impress like this it won’t matter. 8.5/10 Kay Genyse 19 years old NC “Mercy” I don’t really like her personality. It’s as if you asked a robot to watch a hundred confident people and try to mimic their habits. It just feels put on. She pulls a fortune cookie paper out of her hair and I jumped off a building. I’m done with her. The judges initially say no, but then decide to “take it to the street” to see what the public thinks, but here’s the thing, loyal readers, the public… is @#$%ing stupid. They don’t know @#$%. That’s why we have professional judges making these decisions… because if we let the public crown the next Idol it would likely just be a tiny horse in clothes drinking blue Mountain Dew out of 200oz Big Gulp. She’s not a great singer and she shouldn’t have advanced. She’s going to be destroyed in Hollywood. 6/10 Kyle Tanguay 21 years old NH “Mercy” Kyle is a male cheerleader for the Philadelphia Eagles and his entire cheerleading squad attends the auditions with him. I was really expecting this to be a joke audition, so congratulations American Idol editing team, you have shaken me. I am shook. I actually really liked Kyle’s voice. It sounds nothing like his speaking voice and has quite a bit of soul in the layers. He could be a surprising contestant. 8/10 Jovin Webb 28 years old LA “Whipping Post” One of the top three auditions so far. Jovin blew me away, but I’m going to be very frustrated because I expect him to go far and my spell check is consistently trying to spell his name as “Join” and I am losing my @#$%ing mind. It’s great to have such a legitimate blues singer on this show and one that is as young and contemporary as this guy is going to do well if he connects with the Idol audience. That audition could have been two hours long and I wouldn’t mind. 9/10 Margie Mays 26 years old DE “I Found A Boy” Margie 2.0 is kind of boring. She’s too calm, not weird enough anymore, and has seemingly learned the wrong lessons from last year. It’s not being weird that got her eliminated, it was lacking any discernible strategy. She just kept picking the wrong songs for the competition and this audition has the same problem. It’s not a great song for this competition and she’s blocking her uniqueness from coming through. I agree with Katy, I would have said no as well. She just doesn’t have a musical identity. 7.5/10 Jonny West 23 years old CA Original Song This is going to be super awkward for their relationship (he is Margie’s boyfriend) as he is just a way more interesting musician. He’s got a hell of a lot more dimension than she does. They are kind of opposite. He is chill before he sings, but active when he performs. Margie just showed us the other side of that. A very contemporary singer who I can see releasing a fairly successful album. I can already see this happening… Margie will be eliminated before Jonny. Awkward. 8.5/10 Sarah Isen 20 years old CA “If I Were A Boy” This backstory is pretty wild. She is the product of a sperm donor who has fathered 26 separate children… and they now all know each other. Insane. And the father? In all of their lives and totally chill about it. I’m kind of obsessed with Sarah’s tone. It’s very moving. The question with contestants like this is always, “Are they cold blooded enough to win?” You have to be smart. You have to have a strategy. You have to execute it. We shall see. 8.5/10 Julia Gargano 21 years old NY “Growing Pains” Another fantastic audition tonight! We are starting this season strong! The original song she sings is very well-constructed and Julia has this very endearing Sara Bareilles vibe. The lyrics are just so advanced for her age. “Put a bandaid on a shotgun wound and pray to God it heals me, rolls off your tongue, you mutter words so cold and I suppose that’s honesty.” She’s also just very likable which is going to be great for her odds going forward asking for the Idol audience vote. 9/10 Hannah Prestridge 24 years old TX “Day To Day” ABC has done a good job of ending their audition episodes not with the best singers, but the best stories, and that’s what this is. Hannah has a compelling country voice and is a fairly solid songwriter, but viewers will remember her for how she overcame addiction. She auditioned with her husband who didn’t make it through. I think Hannah could last a bit, but I worry about whether, emotionally, she is ready for something like this. 8/10 See you next time! NGH
  4. The NGH Report - American Idol 18’s Auditions Pt. 1 - “I go by the stage name, Arthur Gunn.” We are back for another year! Season 18. Can you believe it? 18 mother@#$%ing years. I’m happy to see that all three judges have come back. I’ve been vocal about my support for this group of professionals. They seem to really enjoy what they do and their chemistry together is probably the strongest since the original trio. It’s comfortable to watch them do their jobs and I don’t feel anxious watching them interact. The audition rounds start in this episode and the Idol intro package is well-done. The ABC editing team seems superior to the FOX group. They are really able to manipulate me emotionally and while I hate that as a human being, I love it as a viewer. It’s refined enough that it is effective, but not subtle enough that I don’t know what they are doing. Ah, the sweet spot. Here we go! Doug Kiker 27 years old AL “God Bless the Broken Road” The producers must have been pinching themselves when a rough and tumble garbage man, with not a shred of experience, showed up with missing teeth and a think southern drawl, who could actually sing. Well, let’s not go crazy. He has no technical experience, but he has an instrument and the vocal ability to do something with it. More than anything, this is about the story. The idea that anyone can become a star on this show which is what Idol has going for it over the other clones. It’s a reminder that this trio of judges has no problem calming the nerves of these contestants in order to coax the best audition out of them. It’s a strategy that is good for the singers and for the audience. We want to see the diamonds in the rough molded and shaped. 7.5/10 Camryn Leigh Smith 16 years old GA “Big White Room” Camryn is really pulling off the new style trend hitting the country. It’s called, “What You Wore To Sunday School At Age Six.” She’s got a great natural tone and a very strong control of the melisma in her voice. She should have no problem scaling up in Hollywood with her vocal ability and ability to connect to the material. She is instantly compared to Katy Perry as a young teenager and, honestly, I can see it. So, that makes me a little worried about what the stylists will try to do to her in order to embrace that story arc. 8.5/10 Francisco Martin 18 years old CA “Alaska” This poor guy is literally the most nervous human being I have ever seen. He’s like an abused chihuahua that you picked up from the local pound. He’s a split second away from shaking so quickly he’s going to phase through the floor below him and fall into the molten core of the earth. The judges, who are, I’ll remind you, FAMOUS PERFORMERS, decide the best way to calm his nerves is to approach him and embrace him while the cameras roll. Strong choice, boys. He starts singing and the nerves begin to melt away. He is assured and he knows who he is as a singer. Very impressive contemporary vibe. 8/10 Nick Merico 23 years old CA “You Say” I’m sorry. It’s never a good start to an audition where you literally create the new American Psycho serial killer meme. “How much do I want to win? I don’t know… how much do you want to breathe?” Jesus. His voice is fine. It’s nothing special. I’m in total agreement with the judges here. He’s incredibly unsettling and his arrogance makes me want to actively root against him. What a profoundly bad first impression. 7.5/10 Arthur Gunn 21 years old Nepal “Girl from the North Country” What an incredible palate cleanser after Mr. Merico. Arthur is everything Nick is not. He’s earnest, honest, passionate about his art, and is just very very special. The idea of a kid from Nepal moving to Kansas and falling in love with American folk music is such an incredibly backstory that will resonate with Idol viewers. Add to that the fact that he is just a really great folk singer and musician and I think you have an instant frontrunner here. It’s just magic. 9/10 Louis Knight 19 years old London “Change” Louis has a touching story about the loss of a friend and how it led him to write a single called “Change.” The song is assured and the voice is solid. It’s not blowing me away, but maybe it’s just hard to hear the variety in his vocals since the song doesn’t show a heck of a lot of range. 8/10 Meghan Fitton 23 years old MA “Love Where You’re At” Oh, the synergy gods at ABC are loving the ability to cross promote The Bachelor on American Idol. I think Meghan’s voice is very good, but I don’t hear a lot of uniqueness in the tone. Also, I’m going to say this: I think she should have put a bit more effort into her outfit. She looks like she rolled out of bed and it all comes across as very lazy. I, personally, don’t care, but the whole point of this article is to analyze the contestant’s ability to win this contest. Many voters will be incredibly turned off by her ability to present herself on television. I’m sure the Idol stylists are drooling. 7.5/10 Samanta Diaz 20 years old NY “Rise Up” The show bookends tonight with another uplifting “rags to riches” hopeful. Samanta (I’m not calling her “Just Sam” because that’s ridiculous) has a great attitude and is dying for a shot. She’s the type of contestant we love to see go far. Vocally, I’m honestly not sure yet. There’s something special there, but it is unrefined and I really need to hear her upper register more to see whether or not she can scale up to bigger Idol moments in the future. 7.5/10 See you next time! NGH
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