AMERICAN IDOL - "204 (Auditions)" - "American Idol" heads to Los Angeles, California; Louisville, Kentucky; New York, New York; and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, as the search for America's next superstar continues on The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, MARCH 17 (8:00 - 10:01 p.m. EDT), streaming and on demand. (ABC/Nicole Rivelli) ASHLEY HESS
Photo: Nicole Rivelli/ABC
Photo: Nicole Rivelli/ABC

‘American Idol’ recap, more auditions: season 17, episode 4

Originally posted Monday, March 17, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

This was a mostly disappointing night for talent. The only two that stood out to me were returnee Alyssa Raghu and pop singer Ashley Hess.

The two Georgians included a horrific beat boxer and a model/singer/actress who charmed Luke Bryan but doesn’t seem to have the voice to make it far in Hollywood. 

There were a couple of nice back stories: can’t beat the egg donor one!

Tomorrow is the final audition night, then it’s off to Hollywood. Of the spoiler 14, we have seen 13 so far

Jessica Whitley, 26, Cuyahoga Falls, OH, bartender. She auditioned - poorly and screechily - seven years earlier. Katie played it on her tablet and it was truly horrid. Can she redeem herself? She still over-sings in a grating way but not quite as badly as she did before. Still bad though. 

Jacob Moran, 24, Dansville, MIch., geriatric nurse. He has a decent falsetto. He really needs to open his eyes while singing. There is no way he is going to get far in Hollywood given his total lack of experience but I’m sure he’ll learn a lot there. 

They montage five former Hollywood-bound contestants who return: 

 Kay Kay 18, from Nashua NH, Tippy Balady, 17 from Dallas, Isaac Streetman, 18, Rockmart, GA and Payton Taylor, 22 from Nashville.

But it’s semifinalist Alyssa Raghu (16, Orlando) who gets the airtime. Over the past year, she did 200 shows and practiced dance to improve herself. Does she still have “the sauce”? Yes! “You’re really shining,” Lionel said. Katy provided a critique: “The guitar was still not on the level of your voice.” If she can keep it up, she could make it into the finals this time around. 

Colby Swift, 19, Midfield TX – Small town boy alert: he noted that his mom left to get ice cream nine years earlier and disappeared. Ouch! That is perfect for a country song. And he is pure country. “It needs a lot of work,” Katy said. “It’s not completely there yet.” Luke: “You’re so unpolished.” I agree. He needs work. But Luke and Lionel lets him through. I can’t see him getting very far this year in Hollywood. 

Evelyn Cormier 19, Claremont, NH. She was on TLC’s “90 Day Fiance” and I found her a bit annoying but I do recall she was a singer. She married her Spanish hubby at age 18. Naturally, “Idol” did not mention it. She is a bit overly stylized in her “Wicked Game” for my taste. But the judges are smitten. “One of my favorite voices in my life,” Katy said. She is off to Hollywood of course. 

Ashley Hess – 27, Fremont, CA. She got a late start but she clearly caught up quickly. She has the package: looks, sweet personality and a beautiful voice.  “You could win this whole thing,” Katy said. It should be fun to watch her in Hollywood. 

Elizabeth Gaba – 19, Los Angeles . The product of an egg donor! She met her donor mom with full support of her mom mom. And coincidentally, Elizabeth went to the same college (Felicity Huffman’s daughter’s soon-to-be-ex college) and is in the same a capella group! She has a very pretty voice. The donor mom comes in and they sing together, which is super sweet. The judges tear up. Luke said the voice is a bit too refined and needs to add some edge to it. 

Peach Martine – 16, Miami Beach. This is what you call a “bad edit.” The “Idol” folks ensure we know her as the 2019 version of Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon from “Election”) or Rachel from “Glee.” A little too overachieving to be human bragging about straight A’s and learning so many instruments. And she sings a political protest song (“Zombie” by the Cranberries) like she’s trying to win the Miss Teen Miami pageant. Ugh. Her original song does her no favors. It’s as if she spent way too much time listening to Taylor Swift. “It doesn’t seem like you’re having fun,” Katy said. “It seems like you’re trying to ace the test.” I give a C and no trip to Hollywood, as Katy said. Luke and Lionel both say yes. So we’ll probably watch the other contestants hate her guts in Hollywood!

Dalton Elliott – 26 – Chincoteague Island, VA. Once he had a kid, he left the music business and went into construction. He left Nashville to take care of his toddler. Luke likes his tone but likes his artistry more. Lionel loves his story telling. Katy says he needs to be more consistent. I don’t know if he’s that great. He’s okay. I don’t see him making it to the finals. 

Mize Well – 25, Chickamauga, GA. He is clearly the worst beatboxer in history. Blake Lewis is crying as he listens to this crap. 

Katie Belle – 19, Atlanta. She does a little acting and modeling and has “expensive taste.” I find her voice to be just a tad weak and breathy. She gets a little better as she goes along but this has to be a no right? Right? Luke is inexplicably into her. Lionel said her sound needs to be developed. I am shocked she would make it to Hollywood. She will get eaten alive there. 

Lauren Engle – 27, Redlands CA. This is the Danny Gokey story line. Her husband died in a car accident. He was a singer, too. She wrote a song for him and her brother in law accompanied her. She brought out a lot of emotion but her voice is just so so and she hit some really bad notes. I suspect she got through mostly  on back story. 

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About the Author

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