Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

My final 'American Idol' audition episode recap ever!

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Thursday, January 21, 2016

"In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take" - Lewis Carroll

Most years, my fatigue has set in when it comes to audition episodes by week three. But this year, the fact it's all about to end makes me more tolerant.

The good news: this very final episode showcased some impressive vocalists. What's shocking: only three from the Spoiler 24 were heard tonight. One of them I was truly not impressed with.

A lot of singers the judges raved about clearly wash out in Hollywood. But that happens every year. People hone amazing auditions from songs they've sung 1,000 times but given new material, under the pressure of a big stage, with a lack of sleep, some just fall apart or prove to be one-trick ponies.

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Recommended for you

Most read

  1. 1 Georgia gov race still uncertain as judges weigh legal challenges
  2. 2 UGA Football: Will Georgia-Florida continue to play in Jacksonville?
  3. 3 Police: Gwinnett man caught speeding, says he was testing parts

Next week: Hollywood! They brought 190 singers, which will be pared down in two weeks to a mere 24.

The talent we saw this year gives me hope we'll have a good season. But again, it's too soon to say how the final 24 will truly shake out.

Jessica Cabral, 21, Worcester, worship music director ("Brand New Me' Alicia Key) - She has an absolutely stunning voice, beautiful tones.. I'm smiling like an idiot listening to this like JLo and HCJ. JLo: "Thick lush low tones we don't get to hear all the time." Keith: "Your control of it was really good." HCJ: "You're absolutely beautiful .When you sing, you become more beautiful. A tremendous talent with a capital T." Three yesses. She'd have to really screw up in Hollywood for her not to make the top 24.

Cody Ostrenga, 23, El Paso, TX, executive assistant, horse rider shooter and belly dancer (Ike & Tina "Proud Mary") He's an amusing personality but horrific singer. Did he hit any right notes while doing some ridiculous dancing. Three easy no's.

Brian Dale Brown, 27, Bakersfield, Calif. cell phone salesman ("Unchained Melody" Righteous Brothers) He tried out 10 times and this is the first time he made it past the first round. Lee DeWyze put him through! You can see why Lee would see something about him. He would be fun at a karaoke bar given his incredible over-the-top rendition of this song. Keith: "It's powerful." JLo: "There's a sincere voice in there somewhere." HCJ: "You're a talented guy. Wow. The judges actually put this guy through? He will never make it far in Hollywood. Three yesses.

Gina Naomi Baez, 27, Rockville Centre, N.Y.  singing princess ("Lips Are Movin' " Meghan Trainor) - Adorable (and from the city I was born in!) but man, her voice is loud and aggravating. HCJ: "Cool thing about pop music. There's a lot of interesting personalities. Surface as that is interesting, this didn't take me anywhere." JLo: "It's theatrical or fun. It wasn't fun. It's just not right for 'American Idol.' " Keith: "I don't see a real artist." Three no's.

Melany Huber, 17, Livonia, Mich, student ("Talking to the Moon" Bruno Mars ) - She has a pretty husky voice in the vein of Melissa Etheridge. She emotes, as JLo says, quite well. Keith: "There's a good storytelling quality to your voice... You are singing like you are absolutely right here." HC found it "captivating." Three easy yesses. Indeed. We can only hope she can make it to the top 24. Can she handle it so soon after recovering from cancer?

We have a trio who each brought in musician family members:

Rachel Karryn, 20, Columbus, OH, musician ("Why I Haven't Heard From You" Reba) with grandad

Caroline Byrne, 25, Waldwick, NJ, pilates instructor ("Unaware" Allen Stone) with her brother

Bianca Espinal, 22, Harlem, busker ("Brave" Sara Bareilles) with her dad

All three get through but will we see much of any of them again?

Justin Sullivan, 22, Paramus, N.J., student ("Stronger" Kelly Clarkson) - He's obsessed with Kelly so why not sing one of her songs. He's an ordinary singer. Not bad but nothing to write home about. He is, sorry to say, no Kelly. The judges said he was okay but not good enough. Three no's.

Chynna Sherrod, 16, Bridgeport, Conn., student ("One Last Time" Ariana Grande) - She sings with heart. There's a little bit of Tracy Chapman in her. Keith: "You sing like you are. Laid back, chill." HCJ: "Fantastic." JLo: "Awesome. Amazing." Three yesses.

After the break, HCJ gets his dream pet for his birthday: a finger monkey. He's in Atlanta when this happens.

Lillian Glanton, 15, Athens, Ala., student ("Country boyfriend"). She's the requisite farmer. In her case, it's all about poultry. (Do they do this every episode now?) She's charming in that Kellie Pickler vein. And she sings an original song. Keith: "Adorable." HCJ: "You look like the type of person who'd be fun to hang out with. But your voice isn't quite on the level of what you're looking for." JLo: "I really like you and I liked your song. Well written." Keith: "I like your voice. It's legit and you write about what you know." Keith and JLo say yes. HCJ says no. So she's through.

They show the judges showing some differences in opinion with unnamed contestants we'll likely never see again.

Kayce Haynes, 23, Talladega, AL, musician (NeedtoBreathe "Brother"). He's in recovery and brings that experience into his version of this song. He brings an urgency that works well. JLo: "I like everything that is going on. I felt like you were singing from experience." Keith: "It was lacking the power." HCJ is the tie breaker. He loves his voice and says yes. Two yesses equal a ticket to Hollywood!

Zack Person, 18, Houston, blues/rock singer ("Next Door Neighbor Blues" Gary Clark Jr.) - He really has the blues down. Take that Lenny Kravitz! This dude is fun to listen to and watch. Keith: "You have your own style." Jlo: "Nobody sounds like you." HCJ: "It's refreshing to hear somenone who is not so caught up in other people." Three yesses. I would love to see more of him in Hollywood!

Collette Lush, 19, Orange County, nanny, ("Who's Loving You" Jackson 5) She's a peppy natural redhead. She has a pretty voice though I'm not sure it's distinctive. HCJ: "You just gave hope to all redheads. That was terrific." JLo: "There are people born to sing and they don't even have to try. I felt like when Carrie Underwood walked in." Keith: "You don't sound like anyone." They clearly liked her more than me. Three yesses.

Avalon Young, 21,  San Diego, server (Beyonce "XO") - She has no fashion sense but her vocal style is readily apparent. She is confident and together and the song flows well. HCJ: "You have a very different voice. I think you're great." JLo: "I love the way you sing." Three yesses with a bullet!

Usen Isong, 23, Queens, background actor ("I'm Not the Only One' Sam Smith) - He overdoes the vibratto but he has a strong voice. And he has personality and dance moves. HCJ: "You are trouble man. If you walk on stage, the person behind me will say oh crap!" Three yesses.

Jaci Butler, 19, Rowlette, Tex. alternative rock band singer ("It Will Rain" Bruno Mars) - This mannered type of singing is not my thing even with the "rock" edge. JLo: "You have a really strong voice and you sing in your voice." HCJ: "I kept pulling against me. Halfway through, it felt like you." Three emphatic yesses. I wasn't as blown away.

Stephany Negrete, 21, San Diego, Student ("Who's Lovin' You" Jackson 5) - It's another overly mannered singer. It was a bit much for me. As JLo said, she seemed to be overthinking every note. And her last note was off key. HCJ and Keith both like her vibe. Three yesses.

They spent the past hour in San Franciso and there is a final final audition ever for "Idol."

Manny Torres, 20, from Flushing, MI, worship leader ("This Love" Maroon 5) - He brings oodles of personality and pure joy. JLo: "Digging you." HCJ said he knew he was great within milliseconds. Keith: "You have so much energy but it was focused." Three lovely yesses. The last ticket!


About the Author

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

More from AJC