“American Idol” continues its first season on ABC and the March 19 episode of auditions promises more of the same hi-jinks that we saw on Sunday’s show. The three judges — pop princess Katy Perry, country superstar Luke Bryan and Oscar-winning singer/songwriter Lionel Richie — are certainly having fun with each other and the contestants. As always, Ryan Seacrest plays ringmaster, wrangling the judges while welcoming the would-be singers.
This reality-competition series has made stars out of some of the winners (like season 4 champ Carrie Underwood) and judges (Simon Cowell became a household name and producer of such hits as “America’s Got Talent”). Kelly Clarkson, the very first winner of “American Idol” way back in 2003, just started as a judge on NBC’s “The Voice.”
While Seacrest oversaw the 15 seasons of “American Idol” on FOX, the three judges are new to this ABC version. Perry ignited a controversy on night 2, which aired on March 12, when she tricked a contestant into giving her what turned out to be his first kiss.
Once the live playoffs of “American Idol” season 16 begin on April 22, you will be able to predict the outcome of each episode in our predictions center. You can already make forecasts for the outcomes on such reality TV shows as “Survivor,” plus the winners of the Academy of Country Music Awards and both the daytime and primetime Emmy Awards.
Below, follow along with all the action on the March 19 episode of “American Idol.”
8:05 p.m. – After trekking around the country, the judges are back in New Orleans to find America’s next superstar. The city is a hotbed for jazz and soul music, so I’m optimistic about Trevor McBane, a self-described spooky goat farmer who has an affinity for Johnny Cash. Dressed in all black, the judge’s are instantly intrigued as well. Trevor breaks out into “Colder Weather” by the Zac Brown Band and he’s got that husky, powerful voice you would expect in Creole country. I dig it! Luke said he’s not perfect, but he’s raw and believable. Lionel said he doesn’t hit the “right note” he hits the “real note,” whatever that means. Katy appeared to barely be awake as she noted he was “interesting,” but they have him a golden ticket to Hollywood! I think I like the old goat farmer more than they do. We’ll see how he progresses this season.
8:10 p.m. – The auditions change focus to Nashville, where singers are a dime a dozen. Hoping to stand out in the crowd is Adriana, who claims to be compared to Ariana Grande, Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera. I have a feeling she is going to crash and burn, but let’s find out. The blond bombshell is singing “Natural Woman” by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin and she’s just as horrible as I thought she would be. Lionel wasted all of our time by asking her questions about who her influences were instead of just having security escort her out. Because of that we we’ve been subjected to Ariadna’s whistle register. Finally they sent her home.
8:15 p.m. – In a more heartwarming audition, the next nameless contestant brought her defecating poodle who stunk up the studio every time any singing occurred. Literally, three times this woman sang and three times the dog used the set of American Idol to relieve itself. Needless to say, no ticket to Hollywood was handed out this time.
8:25 p.m. – The next singer is named Genavieve Linkowski, the oldest of 10 children. She practices singing in her bathroom because she likes the acoustics and it’s the only place she can be alone. Performing for the judges, she’s playing piano and belting out “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. Luke said she has magic in her voice. Lionel said she reminded him of Celine Dion. Calm down Lionel. Katy had a more measured approach, saying she has potential. Genevieve is headed to Hollywood!
8:33 p.m. – Back down in New Orleans, a young singer from Checotah, Oklahoma is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her hometown hero, Carrie Underwood. Kenedee Rittenhouse is performing “I Told You So,” a song Underwood recorded with Randy Travis. Kenedee is a beautiful girl with a good voice, but struggles a bit in her upper register. Lionel likes the quality of her voice, but thinks they will need to find a way to elevate her. Katy thinks she looks like a star, but needs to exude more personality in her voice. Luke said she looks like an American Idol, but Kenedee’s voice isn’t knocking him out of the park. To prove her worth, Kenedee broke into “Firework,” and frankly sounded worse. But the judges were impressed with her tenacity. They sent her to Hollywood, but my guess is her journey will end there.
8:45 p.m. – Up next is Brandon Elder, a 22-year old who just started singing a year ago. Of course his story is more complicated than that. When he was 10 months old his mother traded him in for a car. That seems illegal. Regardless, Brandon eventually landed in a loving home and turned to music when his adoptive mother was diagnosed with cancer. He is performing an original song “Gone,” in tribute to that adoptive mother, who recently passed away. He has a growl and bite to his voice that would pair well with rock music. This song is more like a lullaby and doesn’t push his voice. The raw emotion appears to reach the judges though. Luke said Brandon slayed it. Lionel said he is an amazing songwriter, but needs to think about his singing. After some thought, Brandon was sent to Hollywood!
8:52 p.m. – Cody Martin waltzed into his audition trying to earn brownie points by singing “Happy Birthday” to Katy. He actually sounded good enough for the judges to send him straight through to Hollywood! That’s a first.
8:55 p.m. – A real “American Idol” baby is up next! Victoria McQueen was born on June 11, 2002, the day the series first premiered on television. She’s singing “Don’t You Worry About a Thing” by Stevie Wonder. She’s a cute girl and full of energy, but her voice sounds totally average. The judges disagree with me and Lionel said she couldn’t have done it any better. Katy said she lights up a room when she walks in. Victoria is off to Hollywood!
9:05 p.m. – The competition is fierce back in Nashville, and the next hopeful is hoping to make the cut. Britney Holmes is a vocal coach who is inspired by her father and 90’s-era singers like Whitney Houston. She’s taking on “I Have Nothing,” a song that has humiliated countless singing competition castoffs. Britney’s version was just okay. The judges said it was good, but Katy didn’t get chills. She was missing emotion. Luke gave her a “no.” Katy said “yes.” Lionel questioned whether they had enough time to prepare her for the competition and decided now was not her time. Britney was sent home in tears.
9:10 p.m. – Hoping to stir the judges emotions is Dominique Posey, a legal secretary inspired by Lionel, Whitney and Donny Hathaway. Naturally, he’s singing “A Song for You.” Dominique knows how to inject the necessary soul of this song without running it into the ground as so many singers do. He’s got a great tone and a ferocious beard. This charming guy is heading off to Hollywood!
9:20 p.m. – Back in New York, Amalia Watty is next to perform for the judges. She grew up in Angola and moved to the Big Apple when she was 17 to begin her musical endeavor. She’s using the pain of her father abandoning her to fuel her success. Singing “Make You Feel My Love,” her voice is not what I was expecting. In her favor, I’ve never heard anything like it and that’s refreshing. She’s definitely got her own style and is one of the most interesting artists I’ve seen this season. Amalia is off to Hollywood! Keep an eye on her.
9:30 p.m. – Down in Nashville, Daniel Ethridge is hoping to make it as a country music star. Singing “Fire Away,” he’s hoping to prove the haters wrong by showing everyone a chubby half-Korean kid can make it in country music. His cover of Chris Stapleton was underwhelming, but he won the judges over with an original song. Lionel loves singer-songwriters and said he doesn’t need a big, booming voice to make it. Daniel is heading to Hollywood.
9:45 p.m. – The next singer brought her sister along to accompany on guitar. At just 17 years old, Taryn Coccia works as a singer in the Nashville airport. Performing “Masterpiece” by Jessie J, the judges look impressed but are also intrigued to hear her sister sing. The older sister, Payton Taylor (20) reluctantly stepped up and blew her sister out of the water with a country song. Taryn smiles through the pain of watching this. Big sisters ruin everything! Katy asked Payton if she would like to be in the running, and she admits that she does. The judges send Payton, the sister who didn’t plan on auditioning, straight to Hollywood! Katy isn’t sure Taryn is as much of an artist as Payton and gives her a “no.” Ouch! Lionel gives Taryn a “yes” and Luke agrees to send both sisters to Hollywood!
9:50 p.m. – Up next is Samothias, who seems more focused on his hair than his singing. Apparently if he is having a bad hair day, everything goes wrong. He’s ridiculous. If he can’t sing, there will be nothing redeeming about this segment. He sits at the piano to sing “Tennessee Whiskey” which is no easy task. He sounds like he should be in a boy band. I’m bored. Luke seemed to be as well, and asked if Sam could actually hit the high note in full voice. He tried and failed. Judging off potential and not reality, the judges sent Samothias to Hollywood.
9:59 p.m. – Tonight’s final audition is coming from Los Angeles. Marcio Donaldson grew up in a roach-infested apartment and was put into the foster system as a child. His sister continued the family cycle of drug addiction that has riddled their family and when they took her child away from her, Marcio decided to raise him as his own. He now wants to show his son what a man can really do. Singing “Jealous” by Labrynth, Marcio starts things off softly and I wonder if he has any more in the tank. Eventually, his performance modulates into a more powerful chorus. His emotion is there, but I can’t be sure he has what it takes to win “American Idol.” Marcio bursts into tears from the emotion of it all. Luke said he’s not technically perfect, but he has a real voice. Katy loves his sensitive, vulnerable soul. Lionel enjoyed his delivery. Marcio is on his way to Hollywood and that’s a wrap for Night 4 of “American Idol.”