We're heading to the hometown of Jenny from the block on tonight's round of American Idol Season 14 auditions! Welcome to New York!
Since Keith can't be there, Adam Lambert, American Idol Season 8 runner up, has graciously agreed to judge in the hot Aussie's stead.
Sal Valentinetti, who might be auditioning for the midlife crisis version of Jersey Shore, kicks off the night with "Fly Me To The Moon." (This guy is only 19. There's no way he's only 19. SOMEONE GET HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE!) He wins $100 off Harry for knowing the other title to the song and then gets a "this isn't the competition for you" from the crooner. Sal's retort? "No offense, but your albums sell..."
Adam and Jennifer send him to Hollywood.
J. None from Orlando, Florida brought along his friend "Mr. Crispy," a teddy bear. He got the bear when he was 3 and had to go into the hospital for asthma treatments. He goes with Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" and it's a fun little throwback. He even sticks it with Harry making Mr. Crispy dance all over Jennifer during the audition. J.None and Mr. Crispy get a ticket.
Hailing from East Brunswick, New Jersey, Jax has a father who was injured at the recovery site during 9/11. Her singing became therapeutic for him. She plays the piano and sings a Beatles number earning a little smile from Adam. But she sings with her eyes closed and plays with her hair sort of randomly. With high praise from all three judges, she's in.
Singing violinist Jonny Arco was once arrested for playing in the subway. He served 20 days with no bail. For playing violin in the subway. He's a pretty odd dude who auditions with Radiohead and makes it totally weird. Harry says he's super talented (NO!) but this isn't the competition for him. Jennifer and Adam agree and send him home.
Najah Lewis is another subway performer who will sometimes perform for up to two hours making around $300 a night. Singing "Payphone" by Maroon 5, she definitely makes a mark. She definitely makes the song her own, and while it doesn't always feel like her guitar playing matches her lyrical stylings, but her voice is captivating. Adam and Harry love how she pulled them into the song. Jennifer hands her a golden ticket.
Tion Phipps and James Killian Dunn are there to sing for one reason and one reason only: to win J.Lo's heart. They might not have left the room with her digits, but they did leave with tickets.
Shi Scott has great hair and is inexperienced singing in front of people. (Okay, so her name is Shayna.) She freaks out right before singing and Glambert tells her to relax and take a deep breath. Then she launches into "Valerie." Her voice is quirky, but it doesn't sound original. Harry calls her an Amy Winehouse impersonator. Jennifer tells her to tap into the emotions and sing it. Adam calls her cute but doesn't know if she's ready. Harry and Jennifer are the yes votes to Adam's no.
Apparently Adam Lambert's a bit of a hard nut to crack when it comes to auditioning. He's crushing dreams right and left. All the more reason to love him.
Eric Lopez walks into the room and sings "The Show Must Go On" by Queen. When he finishes, Adam and Jennifer giggle. Adam says he hit some great notes with some good tone and pitch but his performance was disjointed. Harry thought he had some nice moments but doesn't know how far he's going to go. Jennifer gives him a no and says she just doesn't know where he's going to fit in the landscape. Adam and Harry send him to Hollywood.
Maddie Walker auditioned last year and didn't make it. But she's back. (Duh?) Courtney Zahn hears that she's polished from Adam. Jackie Nese tries to go Gaga but she's too articulate for Gaga. They all get tickets to Hollywood. (I wouldn't have given the last one a ticket.)
Qaasim Middleton is 18 years old and from Brooklyn. His mom outs him as a virgin and keeps talking to the camera about his absent sex life before he can audition. (Could've been after. Either way, inappropriate. And hilarious.) He's fun. Jennifer loved it. Harry's impressed with everything about him. Adam's excited to see what's in store for Qaasim in Hollywood.
After they give a hopeful a no, Harry ponders what it must be like for Adam to be sitting on the opposite side of the table and asks Adam to audition again. So he does, singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" again. The producers splice together footage of his original audition with this one to show us just how far Adam's come in six years. (A long way. A long, long way.)
Another Adam comes into the room, Adam Ezegelian. He's in school but he designs toys. And he draws caricatures. He auditions with "Born To Be Wild" and even though he's sort of this larger than life personality who doesn't seem to be taking things seriously, he's talented. Adam asks him to sing another song just to get a different feel for him, and they fall in love with him over his Jason Mraz rendition. He's going to Hollywood.
Katherine Winston gets a golden ticket and her success plays while the failures of so many others roll on by. Their tears make a great backing track for her segment. (We know people cry when they don't make it. We don't need to see the tears or the slamming doors to know people are upset not to make it.)
Travis Findley is a 20 year old producer who was supposed to go to Berkeley. He had to give up his college dreams when the money to get there became an issue. He opts to have the piano back him up on "Stay," and while the song is a great choice, the piano isn't. He has serious talent and makes the song his own but the piano backing is...rigid. He gets an easy yes.
Yanni G (Arianna) and her boyfriend Nick Fradiani audition together. These things always have a way of going south. She sings the cup song and Jennifer's worried her voice isn't big enough for the competition even though it's great. Nick plays Peter Gabriel and it's clear that he has star potential. (Unless he's hiding a balding dome under that hat, he could be a model.) Nick's in an "extremely competitive" genre this year, and that genre would be the White Guy With Guitar genre. He makes it. She doesn't.
Hollywood Anderson is a busker in New York City. He's fun. Really fun. He sings an original number he wrote about a girl he fell in love with at college. With the first lines out of his mouth, Jennifer's covered in goosies. Harry calls him possibly the best audition of the four-city run. He only learned to play the guitar a year ago after being homeless and living on the subway. He gets his ticket and starts to cry.
There could not have been a better way to end the night. Hollywood Anderson is going somewhere.
Next week the judges are heading to Minneapolis and we'll be right here recapping it all.