“American Idol” begins its farewell season

Who will join this impeccable group of people in the "American Idol" pantheon? (Graphic property of FOX & 19 Entertainment)

Who will join this impeccable group of people in the “American Idol” pantheon? (Graphic property of FOX & 19 Entertainment)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

After 14 years of introducing us to the best undiscovered talent in the country, the long running American Idol begins its swan song tonight.

Tonight, the judges (Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban) began looking for the final American Idol. Their journey took them to Denver and Atlanta.  To assist them, Idol turned to old friends to assist them with the audition process: Season Two winner Ruben Studdard, Season Two fan favorite and runner up Clay Aiken, Season Five winner Taylor Hicks and Season Eight winner Kris Allen.

Which singers impressed both the alumni and the judges the most? Who received the final batch of golden tickets to Hollywood? Read on to find out…

American Idol kicked off the evening by returning to Atlanta! Up first was uber fan Michelle Marie. She always wanted to audition for Idol ever since she was 4-years-old. She auditioned with “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes. For a girl who is 15-years-old, she has the pipes and poise to match.  Jennifer was impressed with her natural ability, while Harry added that fans would go nuts when she performed on the stage. Michelle’s family rushed in to congratulate her when she received the first “Yes” of the season.

Season Two winner Ruben Studdard had the opportunity to meet 18-year-old Josiah Siska before he faced the judges. He wanted to bring classic country back to Idol. His cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ghost Riders In the Sky” made my jaw drop and I have not heard anything like that in the past few seasons. Harry admired his commitment and gave him his best Mickey Mouse impression when he gave Josiah his Golden Ticket.

Another strong performer was personal trainer Lindita. The 26-year-old powerhouse received my standing ovation of the season when she nailed James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World.” While the judges were impressed by her voice, they cautioned her to be careful with her overuse of vocal runs. I hope she takes their advice when she heads to Hollywood!

As all three judges got antsy and laid around the set, it was time for 25-year-old Billy Bob Evett to audition. I thought that Billy Bob was a definite character, but he received a “No” from the judges. While Billy Bob left the audition room with a heavy heart, 15-year-old Lee Jean dedicated his audition to his late brother, DJ, who passed away from an automobile accident. While I thought that Lee Jean has a pleasant voice and a bright potential, I thought that he rushed Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire.” I hope that he listens to both Keith and Harry on working with his pitch while preparing for Hollywood.

The show left Atlanta and returned to the Mile High City. Joining the search was Season Five winner Taylor Hicks. He advised Jeneve Rose Mitchell to pick up the harmonica if she got tired of playing cello. The Elk Wilderness native gave the judges an interesting take on The Band Perry’s “Chainsaw.” Keith admired her originality, while Harry liked her crazy funk and called her a work in progress. Ryan invited her family in after the judges gave her a Golden Ticket.

As Jeneve partied with her family and Taylor Hicks, Martha’s Vineyard native daughter Sonika Vaid delivered a superb take on Carrie Underwood’s “Look at Me.” I loved her vocal delivery and I agreed with Harry that it was a perfect performance. I hope that she brings her A-game to Hollywood Week.

16-year-old Joseph Kohlruss seemed a little overconfident and cocky when he walked into the judges’ room. If he stuck to one style music, he would have nailed Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” I am glad that Jennifer called out the inconsistency in his vocals, if he works on his voice…he would blow away several coaches on The Voice (probably Christina or Usher would work with him.)

After Kory Wheeler and Laurel Wright returned to audition for their one final chance to make it to Hollywood (Spoiler Alert: they are going back to Hollywood), the judges did their first group performance of the season: their rendition of the Laverne & Shirley Theme Song.

Before the auditions continued, Scott Borchetta and last season’s winner Nick Fradiani gave viewers an update about Nick’s debut album. After that quick update, 25-year-old dad-to-be Joshua Wicker tackled Rihanna’s “Stay.” Joshua was the first guy of the night that I connected with musically. His storytelling ability and superb vocals enticed me throughout his audition. If he plays his cards right, I think he could be in the same position that Nick Fradiani was last year.

As Joshua walked out with a Golden Ticket, husband-and-wife Jordan and Alex Sasser became the first husband-and-wife to audition for the show. Alex auditioned with a sunny Bruno Mars’ “Count on Me.” Harry was brutally honest and said it was “too bright” and unfortunately, the judges said “No.” Jordan had better luck with his audition of Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” Jennifer stated that he was into the song and kicked off the voting with three “Yeses.”  As for Alex, it is Idol’s loss, I hope she auditions for America’s Got Talent or The Voice, because I believe that the judges or coaches would have appreciated her talent a little more than these guys.  (Hint: future member of either Team Adam, Team Gwen, Team Christina or Team Blake)

After experiencing “Six Degrees of Keith Urban,” I screamed with delight when I saw my favorite Team Blake alum, Shelbie Z, walk into the room! I loved her on The Voice and I thought that she delivered a fiery cover of “Last Name” that took me to church. Harry loved her performance and predicted that she would be a force to be reckoned with throughout the competition.

For the final audition of the night, one of the biggest stars in the music industry paid them a surprise visit. Rapper Kanye West shocked the judges when he walked into the room. He wanted to do something “original” with his cover of “Gold Digger.” He received the last Golden Ticket of the night.

Tomorrow night, the show heads to Little Rock and San Francisco to find the next batch of contestants that are worthy to carry on “Idol’s” legacy.


  1. Cooper McMann says

    I thought Michelle Marie was the worst! She looks like a Meme – a joke. She wears a prom dress and tacky boots seemingly every day; smiles a fake, too-big smile and acts like she’s 11, not 15. Her hair is terrible. Nice bangs. 1984 called and wants you to return. When they showed the clip of her skipping, I thought she was mentally challenged. I prayed that she wouldn’t be able to sing. Then, when she could, I found myself hoping that they’ll change the format and we’ll be able to vote people OFF.

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