'American Idol' recap, fourth audition episode

Posted Monday, March 19, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Tonight was a multiple hankie night thanks to Brandon Elder (mom died of cancer) and Marcio Donaldson (who took his sister's baby because she was on drugs).

There was also a dog who clearly needed to take a potty break before the actual audition and lots of puppies for Katy Perry's birthday. A couple of folks got through who didn't really deserve it.

But besides Brandon and Marcio, who were tear inducing, I enjoyed Daniel Ethridge (the half Korean country singer), Payton Coccia (the sister who didn't even intend to audition), Dominique Posey (the legal secretary from Ruben Studdard's town) and Amalia Watty (the Angolan whose dad cut her off). In other words, this was a good night for talent.

And a third Georgian made the cut: Victorian McQueen of East Point!


Trevor McBane (23, Savanna, Okla, goat farmer) is a charming farmer type who channels a bit of Zac Brown in him with a bit more rawness. He also has a cool 81 year old granny who supports him. The judges give him a shot despite the fact he isn't on key all the time. "It's not the right note," Lionel Richie says. "It's the real note." He's real. And he gets a real ticket to Hollywood after three yesses. *

Adriana Bolton (20, Portland, Ore., college student): She goes "Natural Woman" that Kelly Clarkson made big season one. But she is a mess, growling her way through an over-stylized version. She claims she can do a "whistle tone" that Katy Perry can't do. But Adriana can. Unfortunately, Katy said she doesn't know who she is as an artist and she's a goner. Three no's.

Sure, "Idol" claimed there would be no joke contestants but there are plenty. These jokesters, who had largely disappeared during the J. Lo years of "Idol," are back! We see a montage of them. At one point, a dog poos and is thrilled. Then she pees. And more!

Luke Bryan after the break is thrilled to just be around Lionel Richie. I'd be, too!

Genavieve Linkowki (18) - She is the oldest of ten (!) children and when her mom got sick when she was 12, she had to take over. Her mom healed and she feels it's her daughter's time to chase her dreams. She is nowhere near ready given her rough rendering of "I Won't Give Up." She needs more time. Katy said she was impressed but hopes she can be molded and coached. "You have have magic in your voice," Luke said. "You're raw." Lionel said her high register reminds him of early Celine Dion. Three yesses.

Kenedee Rittenhouse (19, Checotah, Okla.) - She is from Carrie Underwood's hometown and nine years ago, she dueted with Carrie at her school. She looks way older than 19 with her make up. She does an (at best) okay version of "I Told You So" and hits a few bum notes. Lionel is clear he isn't totally sold on her. Katy likes her cool flowery dress but wants to hear more personality in her voice. Luke said her voice isn't knocking him out of the park. She tries "Firework" and I realize I simply don't like her tone. She is more grating than pleasant. But alas, she gets three yesses. I can't see her lasting very far in Hollywood. No way. There won't be TWO winners from Checotah, Oklahoma, unfortunately.

Brandon Elder (22, Arab, Ala., construction worker) - Sob story alert! He only started singing a year ago. Wow! Late bloomer!His bio mom was too young when she had him and traded him for a car. (What???) He was adopted at ten months by a single mom, who was suffering from cancer. He began playing music. She died in early 2016. He is grateful for what she did for him. He sings an original song called "Gone," a tribute song for her. For someone who is new at this, he is surprisingly good. I whipped out the tissues for this one. "You just slayed it, bud," Luke said. Lionel: "The first time you ever hear it, you get it. That was amazing. Songwriting is in your wheelhouse forever. You wear your heart on your sleeve." Three yesses. Sure, he has no real shot in Hollywood but in this case, the gift is getting there.

Then there's a surprise Katy's birthday party... with puppies! They got the dress that Kenedee wore and brought Katy's dog.

Then Cody Martin comes in singing happy birthday quite well, actually. And the 26-year-old Louisville server got his ticket just on that alone!

Ryan says the youngest person on the show had to be born by June 11, 2002, the day "Idol" officially debuted on Fox. They find someone who was actually born on that date: Victoria McQueen from East Point, GA. At first, you'd think she was placed on TV simply because of her birthday. But the 15 year old is super excited and not half bad. She goes for an "Idol" classic artist Stevie Wonder with "Don't You About a Thing." She is not quite an artist yet but the judges are impressed and give her a ticket. Three yesses.

Brittany Holmes (28, Frisco, Tex.) - The vocal coach doesn't make it but she ended taking part in a contest later on where viewers chose her to go to Hollywood after all. She chose one of the most tired "Idol" song of all time: "I Have Nothing." It's been sung NINE times on the show, including Trenyce, Vonzell Solomon, Jennifer Hudson, Lakisha Jones and Jessica Sanchez. She does a good job, but I can't say she's as good as any of the aforementioned ladies. Katy likes her style but she wants a connection. Lionel says she lacks "the trigger." "Idol" features lots of great singers but not great stars. She is missing that "X" factor. Luke and Lionel say no. Katy says yes. (But there is a happy ending thanks to said contest.)

There's a montage of "almost made it" but have the same problem as Brittany: lack of that ability to grab the listener. Apparently one of them made it to battle rounds on "The Voice."

Dominique Posey (26, Birmingham, legal secretary) - He goes for the tried-and-true Donny Hathaway version of "A Song For You." He's rock solid with this song. "Alabama in the house!" Lionel said. "You handled it with care and ease." Luke: "You see all of us getting goosebumps." Katy: "Your purpose is to deliver some beautiful music to the world." Three hallelujah YESSES. *

Amalia Watty (28, Brooklyn, babysitter) - The Angola native never really knew her dad, a musician. She fantasized meeting him and moved to America at age 17. But she only met him once and it wasn't what she had hoped it would be. She wanted to start fresh but apparently, he didn't. Sad.  She goes for Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love" and her hair is Justin Guarini big. She has a bit of Macy Gray in her voice. I find her captivating. I'm all for hearing more from her. "Your range, your sound, your uniqueness, are all what we're looking for," Lionel said. Katy: "I heard some moments but I think there needs to be more dynamics, more threads to weave into the tapestry of your voice." Luke liked her soulfulness. Three yesses.

Daniel Ethridge (22, Austin, retail associate) - A chubby Asian child who is half Korean and sings country. He goes for Chris Stapleton and he can actually pull it off. He then does a sweet original song for his sister. He does a little Elvis sneer while he sings. It's cute. Luke likes his approach. Lionel: "Jim Croce never heard anybody... It's about storytelling in your case. I believe you can go places." Katy: "You have a little grit in that first song you played." Three YESSES.

Taryn (17, Nashville, airport singer) and sister Payton Coccia (20, Nashville, airport singer) - Payton can sing but she defers to Taryn and just plays guitar - at first. Taryn does "Masterpiece" by Jessie J with a lot of attitude but she's not very warm or inviting. Lionel is clearly charmed. Katy wonders if the guitarist sings. Tayrn spontaneously does some John Prine. She's, um, better than her sister. "This could be a family affair," Lionel said. "You have two unique voices." The judges offer Payton a chance to go to Hollywood. Katy really believes in her and all three judges give her a yes. Tayrn looks a little perturbed. Katy likes Taryn's presence but wonders what artist she will be. "I see more of an artist in you Payton." She thinks Tayrn needs two more years. Lionel and Luke give her a yes. (How can you separate the sisters?)

Samothias (20, Wheaton, Ill., college student) - He really loves his hair. "If my hair is off, I'm off," he said. "I hope my hair gets me a ticket to Hollywood." (The audition got cut off by a "severe weather" announcement on WSB-TV but you can watch it below.) He has all the makings of a "joke" contestant but he actually can gives Chris Stapleton's "Tennessee Whiskey" a lovely R&B twist. "We've got a great performer," Luke said. Katy says he needs to "stretch it." He could go far in Hollywood. Three YESSES.

Another sob story alert to end the night!

Marcio Donaldson (28, Compton, Calif.) finished up the night (though WSB-TV viewers missed it). He has a cute little baby boy Rashad, who is actually his sister's. He grew up in a roach-infested apartment in a nasty neighborhood. He found refuge in his music. Drugs played a factor in his mom and his sister not able to keep their kids. So he is watching Rashad. His "Jealous" is subtle, touching and sweet. He breaks down in tears when he's done. This was a super simple three YESSES.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.