AMERICAN IDOL - "205 (Auditions)" - "American Idol" travels to Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; Louisville, Kentucky; and Denver, Colorado, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on The ABC Television Network, MONDAY, MARCH 18 (8:00-10:00 p.m. EDT), streaming and on demand.. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal) JACKSON GILLIES
Photo: Kelsey McNeal/ABC
Photo: Kelsey McNeal/ABC

‘American Idol’ recap: season 17 final audition episode

Originally posted Monday, March 18, 2019 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

This is the final audition episode of the season and there was no shortage of good talent (although not at all diverse.)

I really liked country singers Zeb, Jade and Chloe and was pleasantly surprised by soulful Jorgie and bluesy Jared. 

We are onto Hollywood next week where the paring down begins. 

Overall, the audition season went by relatively pain free. The judges are tolerable at this stage. We’ll see if they can do better once we hit the live rounds in a month. And like many recent seasons, not that much Ryan Seacrest. 

Jade Flores – 22, Waxahachie TX. She comes in with so much enthusiasm, she is borderline annoying, like Catie Turner hepped up on caffeine. But once she starts singing, she sounds impressive, a hefty country sound that works for her. The judges have no problem putting her through.

Jakob O’Brien – 18, Alva, OK. This man wears the American Flag literally on his sleeve. He takes his patriotism seriously and even sings a song he wrote about it. Too bad his vocal skills don’t match his enthusiasm for the cause. Mediocre won’t cut on “American Idol,” son! And he won’t be going to Hollywood.

Christiaan Padavan – 19, Hampton Bays, NY.  I’m from Long Island so I am liking this fellow Long Islander’s cover of a relatively obscure Billy Joel song “Vienna.” He’s a little too “Glee” but I like his crooner-esque tone. He cajoles his shy girlfriend Victoria to do a duet of “Toxic” and she’s pretty good. He could make some waves in Hollywood. 

Ryan Hammond – 25, Modesto CA. He lost 170 pounds in the past year and is a pastor’s child. His parents probably knew Katy’s. He has a great big church voice but he doesn’t always his notes and his runs are a bit rough around the edges. Still, he has passion. Katy wants him to take some of the church out of him and smooth out some of his parts. 

We get Lionel Richie namedropping everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Cher. 

Chloe Channell – 16, Pace, FL. She has help from a pro country singer Billy Dean (“I’m good and washed up now.”) Chloe was found by Kenny Rogers, who bonded with Lionel Richie back in the way. Rogers co-wrote the No. 1 hit “Lady” with Richie. She is really impressive. She has a fine voice and a confident style that handles the big and small moments. I am expecting big things in Hollywood.

Emma Kleinberg – 21 – Bel Air, MD. Her brother had bipolar disorder and tried to take his own life. He survived but is now has mental issues. She is a socially conscious girl who wrote a song about “American Privilege.” Irrespective of the song, she has an interesting, layered voice. Luke: “You showed us everything.” Lionel: “You can’t teach confidence.” She’s another person I am looking forward to see in Hollywood. 

Zeb Spencer – 27, Dudley Shoals, NC. He was a clogger. He’s another decent country male singer. I like him. He sings with conviction. Luke likes his “country soul that doesn’t sound forced. I love your tone.” I’m a fan. 

Jorgie – 23, Los Angeles. He was born in Israel in a conservative family and said it was tough to be gay. “I didn’t want to hide so when I turned 18, I moved to L.A.” He is basically coming out to them on TV. He has all the makings of a joke singer but surprise! He’s not. He actually has a soulful, lovely voice in a Sam Smith sort of way. “You’re real!” Katy said. “You have a real emotional voice.” He’s going to have fun in Hollywood, which won’t involve any real traveling for him. 

Nick Merico – 22, Miami. He won the “American Idol” experience at Orlando when he was 14. Then his voice changed. He went into acting and was on “Every Which Way” for four seasons on Nickelodeon. But he wants to be a musician in his heart. He pulls off a nice, dramatic turn doing Amy Winehouse. He isn’t the best singer but he has style and personality and looks. If he can do well in Hollywood, he could go far. 

Lady Mapo – 20 – Omaha, NE. A dark, angsty figure arrives from “The Addams Family.” “Last year was boring, just too American,” she complained. Then she whips off our wig and it’s Maddie Poppe! She is clearly working on her acting skills. Others who pop in from last year: Dennis Lorenzo,Catie Turner, Noah Davis and Caleb Lee Hutchinson. 

Jared Sanders – 20 – Bremen. A good friend of Caleb’s is here and Caleb is there to support the firefighter. They were friends since he was 10. He looks about 10 years older than 20 and has a serious country accent. He doesn’t have much performing chops (a bit stiff) but his voice is passable. Lionel thinks he has character like Caleb and should have a shot. He says yes. (But he’s not quite as good as Caleb.) Katy and Luke say no.

Jackson Gillies – 19 – Santa Barbara, CA. He’s a type 1 diabetic, then got massive abscesses at age 14 that left massive scars. He has an auto-immune condition HS with no cure. Music was his escape. He is bluesy and soulful with lots of character well beyond his years. Katy wants him to dig in and make her hometown proud. He’s in, of course. 

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About the Author

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