Since its inception in 2002, “American Idol” has never lacked for interesting hopefuls vying to compete on the singing competition show. Some humble auditioners exhibit talent in the raw, other cockier types act as if they are God’s gift to karaoke and those with outsized personalities quickly reveal don’t know how to rein in their worst tendencies.
But one of the joys of “Idol” always has been the diversity of those who show up each season, whether it’s the genre they prefer or their own individual backgrounds. Even if they don’t make the Top 40, the hopefuls all contribute in some way to the musical melting pot that drives this long-running reality show.
That is why Sunday’s two-hour special “This Is Me,” focused on fan favorites as well as on 10 of the singers in the top 21. All proved to be highly entertaining and watchable even if they did not make the cut as finalists.
*Gilberto Rivera, 23, the New York City subway singer who exhibited fashion flair in the guise of a spangled rainbow tank top and shiny pleather red platform boots, did himself proud enough with his rendition of “Proud Mary” to get a Golden Ticket.
*Hunter Gibson, 23, aka The Comeback, a California native who exhibited a fondness for mosh moves, didn’t quite win over the judges with his semi-screechy version of the All-American Rejects’ song “Swing Swing.” No ticket for him.
*Eliza Catastrophe, 28, engaged host Ryan Seacrest in a pun-off before singing her original song “Sardines,” which resulted in 5 million views online. Alas, judge Katy Perry thought the Spokane native was the wrong kind of weird for “American Idol.”
*Lou Dawg, 23, a surfer dude from Hawaii, somehow didn’t know who the judges were. He guessed country superstar Luke Bryan was Justin Timberlake and that legendary Lionel Richie was somehow connected to “The Wheel of Fortune” game show. Lou sang an original song, “Feel My Loving” while playing a guitar, but failed to move on.
*Zack Dobbins, 18, of West Virginia drove to his audition in a mud-caked truck. He managed to draw 7 million views on Facebook with his original song, “Misuse.” The judges called him “a diamond in the rough” and put him through to the next round. He wore his dirt bike goggles on his cap for his audition as well as dusty boots. In an April 2020 update, he said that people have sending free merchandise like goggles and cowboy hats since his appearance.
Isaiah Grass, 28, from North Carolina is a social media influencer and model who took on A-ha’s “Take on Me” for his audition song. After he went a little overboard while hitting a high note, Lionel observed that there is a difference between show-stopping and showboating. His journey ended there.
Lovable underdog Douglas Kiker, 27, an Alabama garbage man who sang “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts while Luke accompanied him on the piano , earned 200 million views for his audition video. We got an April 2020 update on Doug, which included his 2-year-old daughter, Eliana. He is preparing to virtually sing for a birthday party and has been getting other gigs. Even better, he flashes a smile to show off his set of new teeth. The unseasoned performe at least managed to get a Golden Ticket and go to Hollywood. (Watch his audition above)
Check out which colorful characters were spotlighted during the first part of “This is Me” and pick your favorite in a poll below. And share whatever other thoughts you have about this varied group in the comments.
Be sure to make your Emmy nominations predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before the nominees are announced on July 28. And join in the thrilling debate over the 2020 Emmy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.