Idol Thoughts — 01.20.10

Rebound night. Coming off Tuesday’s lackluster episode, American Idol‘s was looking for a little redemption at the Orlando auditions. They found it.

Redemption in the form of reformed Matt Lawrence, who spent four years in the pokey after robbing a bank with a BB Gun at age 15. Let’s look past the stupidity of that for a second, and just acknowledge that you have to have some giant cajones to pull that off.

So with a bank heist as a backstory, it was fitting Matt chose to sing “Trouble” by Ray Lamontagne. He owned it and had no trouble winning over the judges. There’s an authenticity to Matt’s vocals–soulful and effortless as he reaches for those power notes. Look for this laid-back country boy to stick around for a while.

The other big notable last night was Jermaine Purifory. This guy’s got a lot going for him. If he can put it all together, he could be the singer from the Orlando auditions that goes the farthest. Got the looks. Ladies will love that. Entered the audition room with personality and a big smile. And sang a sweet, natural and effortless version of “Smile” (Jermaina apparently knows the Tony Bennett version–but it’s the classic written by Charlie Chaplin).

But it wasn’t all smiles last night. Especially not for Jarrod Norrell, who was removed in handcuffs after he refused to leave the audition room. His rendition of “Amazing Grace” made us all feel like wretches! It sounded like a billy goat getting the Gitmo treatment. Actually, Gitmo’s probably the right place for this guy after the sonic terror he inflicted.

At this stage of the show, there’s something I’m going to call “The Free Pass.” Hollywood Week is a whole lot more interesting to watch if there are some underdogs, screw-ups and other reality TV character types in attendance. Watching the undeserving go home, the undisciplined waste their opportunity, and the dramatics of the various hot messes always makes for good television.

Yes, a few of these Free Passes who given out last night. Benefiting were the Disimone Sisters, who were seemingly advanced to Hollywood by FOX central casting who wouldn’t mind a little “Jersey Shore” on Idol. Big-haired Bernadette (blue dress) and Amanda (yellow dress) will be back at their jobs in mom’s salon soon enough. Very average voices. Yes, blue dress was a little more passable than yellow dress.

I’d almost put Shelby Dressel into the Free Pass category. She’s the 18-year old who can’t move the right side of her face due to a birth defect. Who doesn’t want to see this underdog do well? I know I do. And based on her audition, she deserves another shot to impress (Simon Cowell liked her, not her singing so much). I did some checking around, and it looks like Shelby’s pretty serious about making it in music. She already has a band, and you can hear some of her country-leaning tunes on her website.

That’s all I have time write about today. So apologies to Kristin Chenoweth, who only had enough free time to guest judge one of the two audition days? And Seth Rollins (dad of autistic son) who auditioned nicely with a soulful “Someone To Watch Over Me.” And Jay Stone, really? No one on Idol‘s ever sang and done beat box (as you tried to claim)? Umm…Blake Lewis ring a bell? Jay, I’m just sweatin’ ya. Good luck in Hollywood. (The disclaimer is in case I bump into Jay, who lives here in Miami.)

Those are my thoughts. Let me know yours!

Greg Valentine
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