AMERICAN IDOL - "202 (Auditions)" - "American Idol" heads to Coeur dÕAlene, Idaho; Louisville, Kentucky; and Los Angeles, California, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on The ABC Television Network, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6 (8:00Ð10:00 p.m. EST), streaming and on demand. (ABC/Josh Vertucci) COURTNEY PENRY, RYAN SEACREST Josh Vertucci/ABC
Photo: Josh Vertucci/ABC
Photo: Josh Vertucci/ABC

‘American Idol’ second auditions recap season 17 

Originally posted Wednesday, March 6, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

“American Idol” returns for a second episode on an odd day: Wednesday? Actually on Fox, that used to be a standard day for the show but on ABC, it’s been primarily Sunday/Monday. But “The Bachelor” is currently in the way.

Again, the show is choosing to highlight fewer contestants who are given more time. Over two hours, we saw only 12 contestants that go to Hollywood and three of them were quickies. 

I enjoyed a few of them, including Logan, Eddie, Juan Pablo and even the hyped Alejandro. 

First up: Courtney Penry, 25, Houston, bride-to-be. She tried out seven years earlier and made it to group rounds. She had a big crush on Ryan Seacrest in 2011 but now has a fiance. She is, as Luke Bryan says, “is a little too much” but I like her. First “Parachute” by Chris Stapleton, then Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush.” She is ready now and gigs every weekend, she said. She’s in. Hopefully, we’ll see more of her in Hollywood.

Logan Johnson, 20, Boise, Idaho. Sadness alert: he and his brother both had addictions. He was a teen with an opioid addiction. He now has been eight months sober and singers Demi Levato’s “Sober.” He sounds a bit like Ed Sheeran. The judges bring his family in and says yes.

Eddie Island, 25, Nashville, rideshare driver who goes by “unofficial Nashville mayor.” He moved to Nashville after a Paramore band. He has a great smile. He sings an original song and has an interesting trill in his voice. I should be annoyed but I’m more intrigued and charmed. “You have to be in our life,” Luke Bryan said. I’m certain the cameras will follow him around in Hollywood. “Welcome to the Island!” 

Kason Lester, 28, Lebanon, Tenn., strawberry farmer. “Idol” loves the small-town farmer types. He is unusually old. Not many 28 year olds get featured on the show anymore. He sings a country song. He’s good looking and he’s earnest and likable. Lionel likes the “story-telling voice.” Katy says top 10 but thinks he’s nervous . Luke wasn’t impressed by the guitar but liked the vocal. Easy Hollywood ticket. Is he really that special? Not sure. 

Other quickie yesses, all who sound pretty good: Jake Durkin, 25, Cohassat, Mass.; Cory Young, 21, Temecula, Calif.; Betsy Jo, 21, Miami. 

Karli Ryan, 17, Milton, Fl. - Her mom tried out 15 years earlier and didn’t make it to the judges. Her daughter did. She sings a decent original song with a country lilt. Luke: “I really love your voice. It’s perfectly understated.” Katy compares it to Kacey Musgraves and has a few more gears. “”With that sweet voice, you need a few more gears.” Lionel doesn’t think she’s ready. Katy agrees. So they say no. Luke says yes. 

Hour two:

Juan Pablo, 26, North Hollywood, Calif., ride-share driver. He is sexy and Hispanic and sings a classic Mexican song “Besame Mucho.” The man does a seductive soapy moment with Katy. “It’s the passion and the drama and that feel you can’t teach,” Lionel said. He’s definitely the type of singer “Idol” has not seen enough for me. 

Shayy Winn, 17, Midlothian, VA . Sob story alert: she had a tumor in her brain that caused her to go legally blind. She had to return to school to serious bullying. Fortunately, she had friends who helped her and she can sing. While her blindness limits ability to emote physically, her voice shines. “You wrecked me,” Lionel said tearfully. “You deliver your spirit.” “Idol” had season 8’s Scott McIntyre excel on the show so she could certainly make it far if she can handle Hollywood. 

Malea, 7, viral sensation. Without enough “joke” contestants, they imported a young viral National Anthem singer instead. Maybe she’ll be back in eight years for Idol season 23. 

Landen Knowlton – 23 – Tupelo, MS, Army sergeant. He has a family of military folks. He may be tough when training but he has an easy-going style as a singer. Lionel said he hopes there’s more in there. Katy says he may have been working too hard at the end. Luke: “You have a real voice. It’s not perfect from start to finish. You have a soul that is natural and real.” There is perhaps something in there that might take him far in Hollywood. Maybe. 

Ethan Payne, 15, Macon. This is the first 15 year old we’ve seen so far this season. He’s also the very first Georgia contestant of the year!  He has cystic fibrosis, a respiratory disease. “I never saw singing in my future.” He did a Make a Wish at 13 in which he met Luke Bryan and he got to perform at a massive concert and Luke gave him his guitar. “My life has been different ever since that night,” he said. He brought Luke up to duet. Ethan holds up well with the pro. His voice hasn’t quite hit that level of maturity but as the judges say, he’s confident. He probably won’t make it to the finals but he will learn a lot in Hollywood. 

Kimberly Gatski & Bernie Gonzalez – (26 and 27, respectively) – Fort Lauderdale FL – Leading into this couple, there’s an infomercial for Disney featuring Katie Turner, Maddie Poppe and Catie Lee Hutchinson. Kimberly and Bernie got married at a Walt Disney World, which is clearly why they’re even getting airtime. They apparently are perfectly okay singers but this is simply part of the ABC/Disney Synergy Moment. It’s sweet but neither of them are going to Hollywood. 

Alejandro Aranda – 24 – Pomona, CA – Out Loud (Original Song) –He just started singing at age 20, a late bloomer and is insecure about how he sings. This was the super-hyped audition. Will this live up to the hype? It actually sort of does. He definitely has some skills vocally and with the guitar. His voice creeps up on you and embeds itself inside you. Lionel even requests a second song on the piano. “I feel like I’m in the presence of greatness,” Luke said. Given his confidence issues, though, will he actually thrive in Hollywood or stumble? 

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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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