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The Buzz with CCX - Season 18 Episode 11


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Tonight we've got Ole Smoky Salty Caramel Tennessee whiskey. Ryan gives us an intro that's presumed to be live. And we learn that "tonight's" special is in fact a two-week event. But he also says that we'll soon be voting on our Top 20! Is...is this real? Are we actually going to get to vote on more than 14 contestants for the first time since Season 14? Up first to introduce us to her life is 16-year-old Lauren Spencer-Smith of Vancouver Island, BC. We get our first "unseen performance", looks like it was at the auditions and it seems to be the song that earned her such a viral following on social media in early 2019. Okay, this is still going so let's do some math...two weeks means 4 hours, for 20 contestants, so 5 contestants an hour, that's 12 minutes per contestant, minus commercial breaks. Okay, that seems like a decent amount! Everyone should get sufficient airtime. ...The producers must hate this. This is the second straight year we've had something like this, but last year it wasn't until we'd already reached the Top 10--actually, I think it was after the Top 10 show, so they only had to show the Top 8. Sorry, producers, all 20 of them are going to be "Promo" this year! Oh, wait, I forgot, they said right at the top that they'd also be checking in with "fan favorites" like garbage man Doug Kiker. So it's less than I'd previously come up with, and I'm presuming that 12 minus commercials comes out to at most 8.


I don't think this was nearly as much commercial as I expected. We check in with Gilberto Rivera for a bit before flipping over to another subway singer who's still here: Just Sam. She says she had some trouble fitting in, growing up, because she couldn't really easily be categorized as "girl" or "guy". Well, okay, glad I got that from her mouth; I did feel she seemed unfeminine even by tomboy standards. She still seems to have some self-esteem issues. Oh, right, but I'd forgotten, she did doll herself up a bit more for the Hawaii performance! Man, I remembered her rising up my favorites list recently, but I'd forgotten that that was why. Oh, and Ryan actually did say hi to Sam's grandma on air with Kelly! That's so cool.


Next up we get Margie and Jonny again. Man, Jonny's audition was cool! His "hip-hop name" in his early days was "Skinny Neutron", which is the nerdiest name imaginable and I love it. Though I'm reminded that he didn't have the best Hawaii performance. Or was that my opinion? I don't remember. I feel like I kind of like it now.


Oh, yeah, Hunter "The Comeback" Gibson! He was fun! Even if he wasn't that good. He says he'll be back next year, and then it's Olivia Ximines's turn to get her showcase. We get an unseen performance of her in the genre challenge and it was pretty good. Then we get her duet with Isa Pena, and her Hawaii performance (I still say that bright yellow tasseled thing was hideous).


Oh, no, we've got "Lou Dawg", the guy who didn't know any of the judges. I forgot about him and I'm wishing I wasn't reminded. But now we've got Sophia Wackerman. Her audition was beautiful, and we also get her father saying that a couple years ago, Sophia's lower range started sounding more like her mother's and he wasn't sure if Sophia even realized it. Well, she'll know now. I'm not sure if I remember this performance of hers we're seeing now; maybe it was an "unseen performance" and I missed the tag. She might be one of my favorites (especially after losing Shannon and Genavieve in Hawaii 😠). And she is changing her stage name...but not to Sophia Star. She's now going by "Sophia James", to honor her brother. Nice. She's definitely one of my favorites now.


Checking in with Zack Dobbins, who didn't make it all the way to the Top 20. Still, I like his attitude. "Views are views". He recognized that some of the people might have been making fun of him, but hey, they still came to see his page. Now it's Makayla Phillips's turn for a showcase. We're reminded that she went out to auditions in 2017 but was two weeks too young. She is also a self-professed nerd with hundreds of comic books at home. We're also reminded that she teamed up with another Top 20 contestant in the Duet round. Are they going to head right over to Cyniah now, or are they going to pad this thing out by putting her in next week's episode so they can show that performance again?


Franklin Boone is the next to get a showcase. He's got a good voice, but he's probably not going to go far; too many factors against him. For starters, he's a family man. We've only had one married winner and one winner with a child, and they weren't the same person. We get to see an original song that he performed for the judges at his audition at their request, which had originally gone unseen. But he's good. I like him. And he sang "Daughters" for Zoe at the Hawaii showcase. Also, if there was any doubt that they're finishing out this season, it's long gone. Due to the quarantine, they're not holding the usual audition tour: Season 19 auditions have already begun!


Seacrest will also be hosting the Disney Sing-Along on Thursday. We come back to Eliza Catastrophe, who sang a very silly original song and didn't get through. But she made a mark! Also she apparently won a pun competition at some point. Which brings us over to another person who auditioned with an original song: Julia Gargano. When we first saw her audition, I liked it, but last week when we saw the clip of it at Final Judgment, I didn't. Let's let today be the tiebreaker. ...I like it! I understand why I was critical of it last week, though; it wasn't perfect. Something in the lyrics reminded my mom of something I wrote when I was really little and they had framed, and I learn that she thinks that my sister was jealous of it for a while. I never knew that! It always makes me feel weird whenever I think of my sister being jealous of me. I'm a screw-up! I'm a bundle of wasted potential.


Social Media influencer Isaiah Grass is our next "memorable auditioner". Why did they not even put him through to Hollywood, again? He's got a beautiful voice and a beautiful face. And Lionel gave him the "it's a no for now", but that meant a no forever because he's already 29 (how'd that happen, anyway?) That leads into another cocky pretty-boy, Nick Merico, who I still feel doesn't belong in the Top 20. Wait, why did I feel that way? His showcase performance was just fine.


Yeah, here's our catch-up with Douglas. It really is amazing that someone who didn't have any experience besides singing on the back of a garbage truck was that good. Oh, and checking up on him, he's got a proper set of teeth now! And now we get a showcase for Nepal's Dibesh Pokharel, bka Wichita's Arthur Gunn. The American dream at its finest. And he's been covering mostly classics, which means he might actually be a contender? Yeah, let's go with that! Last year I was skeptical about Alejandro lasting very long because of his race, and he ended up as a runner-up. So why can't a South (Central?) Asian win it, especially when he fits a similar musical profile to the last two winners? Though his parents' portion of the interview has to be subtitled. And here's the part where Ryan announces that online auditions have already opened, via segue from Arthur's online audition. We still don't get to find out who won the Lauren-Grace duel, even though voting closed roughly 5.5 days ago.

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