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The Buzz with CCX - Season 18 Episode 5


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On my way to work on Monday, I contemplated that this would be a fifth week of auditions and lamented that at the rate the ABC era is going, they might do away with live episodes entirely eventually. Then I got a text from my boss somewhere around lunchtime that corporate was suspending the program I'm part of indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the events of Black Thursday, I wouldn't be surprised if the live shows were cancelled this year. But that won't affect us for at least a few more weeks. I'm reprising the "orange piña colada" from last week. I missed the name of the first contestant, which is unfortunate because I feel like he's worth bringing to the, um...live shows. He's auditioning in honor of his dad, who passed away the previous January. He was a church boy, so he wasn't able to listen to other styles of music or to live his truth, being gay. So basically he's black Jeremiah. That's not a bad thing. Also, he gets a pimp piece, from which I'm able to deduce (Katy confirms it as I'm writing this sentence) that his name is Robert Taylor III. He's visibly emotional as he exits the audition room with a golden ticket. We get a teaser for them setting off on their "last round of auditions", which is of course misleading because literally every audition episode is a mash-up of footage from every audition site.


Jafar Hurambi is covering the Pussycat Dolls, "When I Grow Up". They say that if his singing was as good as his dancing, there'd be something worthwhile, but there wasn't. Grace Leer, 27, from Danville, CA (now living in Nashville) is an American Juniors alum...or perhaps "survivor" is a better word. She made Top 20, so that's something. Some jokes are made at Ryan Seacrest's expense. She's singing "Crowded Table" by the Highwomen. It's very good. Mom says that it's perhaps not the best song choice to show off her voice, but that's not really important at this stage. Katy asks her to sing something "sad country", and she does Patsy Cline's "Crazy", a capella. It's tough, but she still does well there. She goes through.


We get a brainiac montage. A couple of Harvard students in there. I'm not sure what the segue to our next contestant, 27-year-old Franklin Boone, was. Maybe that he's a music teacher? And in a college town, no less--I've already forgotten which one but it was one of the ACC schools in North Carolina. He's...interesting. I'm not a fan, but the judges definitely seem to like him. He gets a ticket, and after he leaves, Luke gives us our obligatory Alejandro reference.


Luke Stafford, 25, has a saxophone in the audition with him. The saxophone playing is good but the singing isn't. Which is a shame because I do enjoy some jazz. "No for right now" montage. Roselyn Carter is 26, from Watts, CA. He simultaneously looks much younger than that and much older. I think I'd say that he has a baby face, but it looks worn. Watts has a lot of gang violence, so maybe that's why he looks so aged despite his youth. I like his voice.


Megan Knight, 21, from Williamstown, NJ, is the next auditioner. Lionel says this is the first audition on a boat. I feel like the FOX era held one on a boat before? I could be getting confused, though. They make some tortured boat puns in passing her through. I'm not sure if that was the right choice? And then Katy makes them act out the famous scene from Titanic. ...And then we cut to the next auditioner, waiting for them to get back. Luke's the first one back in, and so we get a scene of the contestant in Lionel's seat, Luke in Katy's, Ryan in Luke's, Lionel in the contestants' spot, and Katy nowhere to be found. Hey, he needed to sit down; he looks like he could just as easily be auditioning for Kinky Boots. He does a pretty good job finishing out Lionel's "audition" with "Hello", but he's not as good on "Proud Mary". He's rushing too much after the tempo shift and he's got too much grit. Well, Gilberto is definitely unique. They feel like he'd be better suited for the theater, but he says he doesn't want to be in the theater; he's theatrical because he's used to singing on the trains where he has to be theatrical to catch people's attention. Katy says yes, Lionel says no, and Luke...puts him through to Hollywood! I'm happy. He's obviously not going to win, but he deserves the ticket. But Katy also wants him to wax his chest, and we get a scene of just that. They really missed an opportunity by not doing the 40-Year-Old-Virgin reference. ;)


Justin Oliver, 21, from Tuscaloosa, AL, is singing Bruno Mars's "Treasure". He says it's a dream come true, as apparently the American Idol house pianist co-wrote the song and frequently plays it with Bruno. Katy asks for his opinion, and he says that Justin had it from a technical standpoint but it's missing the energy. The judges agree and pass on him. He asks if he can sing one more song and Lionel says he wished they had all night long. Katy doesn't let that one go unlampshaded. A few other "nice, but just not good enough" contestants. The next contestant, 18-year-old Aliana Jester, of Tampa, FL, is accompanied into the audition room by Nova, an emotional support dog in training. Her parents split when she was little, and her father was in the Army so she didn't see him much, but then she and her mother clashed over her mother's new religion, and Aliana fell into depression, so she contacted her father and he got her out of that situation. She's what the good folks at WNTS would dub an "Epoch One contestant"--someone who would've thrived in the early seasons but is out of place in the later ones. She goes through to Hollywood, of course, but she won't win. ...There I go again, talking like we're actually going to have a competition. Unless, of course, the Top 24 or 20 or however many people they have have already been kept together since they were selected. Then maybe they can just, like, hold the shows from the Idol House or wherever, with no live audiences save for the eliminated contestants and any legal guardians who are required to be there with the younger ones.


18-year-old Jahzan is originally from Kingston, Jamaica, but she and her mother moved to New York City for a better life, for "safety". For reasons she can't discuss on television, they feared for their lives. They're still homeless, so yeah, it's got to be pretty bad for that to qualify as a better life. This will be the first time most of her classmates in school learn of her situation, because she doesn't talk about it. She's singing "Rockabye Baby" by Clean Bandit. Her mother sings backup for her. She's good. She deserves a ticket, and hearing her story, I hope she's still there as of the "live" point because homeless in NYC is no place to be right now. Oh, she's singing another song solo. "Warrior" by Demi Lovato. It's not as good as the Clean Bandit song but it's still plenty good enough. Luke hits the nail on the head: She's plenty good, but she's going to need to be coached up. She goes through. Hmm, come to think of it, the West Coast isn't much of a great place to be right now either.


We cut right into Jordan Moyes, 25, of Provo, UT, who will no doubt be going to Hollywood because his voice is beautiful. He does. Demi Rae is 26 years old from San Jose, CA. She's known she wanted to audition since...I guess pretty much since the show debuted? She has it in writing from age 9. Her father was in and out of jail throughout her childhood. Honestly, she doesn't look 26, and her father, who "got clean" when she was 15, doesn't really look old enough to have a 26-year-old daughter, especially given that if he was a junkie, he should theoretically look older than he really is. I guess maybe if you take that factor out, it might work, if he was a teenager. She's singing "Mad At You" by Noah Cyrus. They're surprised she's never tried to do this professionally before, and she says that she doesn't have the confidence because she "doesn't look like other girls". Well, okay, yeah, she's evidently mixed-race, because looking at her, looking at her father, they don't look to be the same race. She goes through.


We cut back to the judges making novelty-sized s'mores, and 18-year-old Nash (no last name) shows up to audition with "Should've Been a Cowboy", with a mullet but without a shirt. He doesn't make it through, but the "joke" auditions are far more tolerable than they were in the Simon Cowell era. Makayla Brownleigh, 17, is from Wilmington, KS, the wheat capital of America. In addition to singing, she enjoys snake hunting. She's starstruck. She's singing something by the Dixie Chicks, I missed the song title. It's a no from me, but a yes from the judges. Katy does give some constructive criticism, however, that seems to address the problems I had with her. Enunciation problems. I also noticed that Lipton is now the sponsor that Coke used to be.


The next auditioner makes balloon animals. But can he sing? We won't find out, because this is just the intro to Katy wearing a balloon viking helmet and Luke whacking it with a balloon sword. And next is Amber Fiedler, 23, from Couer d'Alene, ID, 38 weeks pregnant at the time of the audition and...ah, that's why she's an episode-ender. Her mother was a user, so she grew up with a hard life and frequently doesn't even have $20 to her name. That's why the baby girl she's carrying during the audition is going to be adopted. She's already met the adoptive parents and believes they'll give her a better life, and it's an open adoption so the baby will know her birth mother. She's singing "Trust In Me" by Etta James. And of course since this is the end of the episode, she sings beautifully. The last auditioner of an episode is always a very strong singer with a very strong story. Oh, this must be a very late audition; they said Hollywood Week is only a week from her due date! Amber, why didn't you get to an earlier audition! ...Oh, right, because there's an audition in Idaho, and that definitely appears to be the one she was in. I guess Sun River was the last audition.

Edited by ScarletDevilCCX
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