Charlotte North Carolina gave us Scotty McCreery. This season that part of the country has 37 hopefuls going to Hollywood. From what I heard, the talent is FIERCE! What I liked most about Charlotte was authentic, real contestants trying out–not musicians/singers trying to make it bigger.
Since we are in the south, country music played a big part in the auditions. Brian Rittenberry from Jasper Georgia and Jimmy Smith from Waynesboro Tennessee both fit the bill. Jimmy had a really good stage presence and if he makes it to the rounds where America votes, I can see him pulling in some of the female votes on looks alone, but he has a voice to match. Brian didn’t have that “star” refinement going on, but he has a good voice. I live in the south now–there are a TON of country singers with amazing voices. You have to find a way to stick out in the listener’s mind.
The gal country singers are in the same boat as the guys above. There are a lot of talented females in the south. The gal that makes it will have to have something that makes her stand out. One of my favorites, for selfish reasons was Isabelle Gonzalez. I loved her singing and I especially love that she lives in neighboring Alpharetta Georgia. This youngin’ was recommended by her aunt and surprised by Randy Jackson showing up at her school to tell her she would be trying out for Idol. She has a lot of poise for a 16 year-old, plus she should garner the support of the high schoolers that watch Idol. That is if she makes it that far!
Summer Cunningham’s innocent comment about “trying the country thing” started a conflict among the judges. Nicki was annoyed that Randy and Mariah were going on and on about what type of singer Summer should be. Nicki feels like the other two are trying to pigeon-hole contestants and frankly, I have to agree. Mariah and Randy defended themselves saying they are trying to provide coaching to the contestant. No matter who the judges are this happens season after season–the judges confuse the heck out of the contestants!
One of the big surprises of the night was the amazing talent of Ashley Smith. She was one of those “out there” contestants and usually they just can’t sing. This gal is both out there and extremely talented. I hope she goes far because she’s fun to watch.
The inspiration of the night was Rodney Barber. He’s a street singer from Charlotte. What I found endearing is when he said that he gives half of the money that he makes singing on the street away. He talked about how he used to be homeless and now he feels he has to help others. If only we had a whole country of people like Rodney Barber. If only the top 1% of our country were Rodney Barber’s. Can you imagine what this country would be like? In the meanwhile, Rodney Barber has an excellent voice and he puts all his past into his singing creating an awesome performance.
Candice Glover was on American Idol last season, but she was cut in the Las Vegas round. She came back last night with a vengeance. She received a standing ovation from the judges and heaps and heaps of praise.
The heart-wrenching story of the night was Seretha Gunn and her three-year-old daughter London. Seretha’s boyfriend was in a horrible accident a year or so ago. He’s undergone a number of surgeries and still has more to go. Seretha auditioned for Idol because she said that trauma made her realize that life is short and you have to go after your dreams. I hope Seretha gets far with hers.
As I mentioned last week, it’s hard to blog American Idol at this point since we see so little of the real talent and I refuse to concentrate on the sad talent. So many contestants are taken to Hollywood anymore, its hard to separate the good from the excellent. In fact, there is a LOT of excellent. All we can do is sit back and try to enjoy the ride.
As for the judges? I read that the American Idol audience lost a huge amount from night 1 to night 2. Most of what the judges say is the same over and over and over. Nicki is doing her part in trying to entertain with her nicknames of most contestants. I guess she’s taking the place of Steven Tyler on the panel. Her costumes are outrageous and her voice is grating, but at least she seems to genuinely care about the contestants. In fact, I do feel that all four judges seem to be exhibiting compassion this season.