“American Idol” auditions continued with the second episode of Season 20 on Sunday, March 6. Nine talented artists earned golden tickets to Hollywood, with Kenedi Anderson securing the second coveted Platinum Ticket (Huntergirl received the first in Episode 1). But was Kenedi the best of the night? And did these aspiring stars choose the right songs? Below I rank each hopeful from the least impressive (but with room to grow) to a Season 20 frontrunner. I also throw in a song suggestion or artist I’d love to hear them cover.
But first, I want to give props to that Nashville tour Luke Bryan gave host Ryan Seacrest and his fellow judges Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. What a fun moment! And even more kudos for the cheese song by Luke and Katy. Sounds like a hit to me! Both were big episode highlights outside of actual auditions. But enough about the judges, let’s get to this week’s audition rankings.
SEE ‘American Idol’ Winners: Where Are They Now?
Below are my rankings for all 10 Hollywood-bound singers from worst to best:
10. Luke Taylor: After the initial shock of Luke’s speaking voice wore off, I was immediately taken back to the iconic audition of Scotty McCreery. I would be remiss to discount Luke like I did Scotty then. His classic and deep county voice is unique. He will have no problem standing out from the crowd. Tackling a classic song from Johnny Cash was a bold move that showed he is there to compete. That being said, Luke lacks the confidence of McCreery and this group of judges might not take the chance to bring him to the live rounds if he has an off performance in Hollywood Week. If he were to advance further, I would absolutely recommend utilizing Josh Turner’s “Long Black Train” or even Scotty’s “Damn Strait”, even though the latter is relatively new and might not click with voters or judges.
9. Leah Marlene: To start with the positive, this contestant has no shortage of personality and energy, which is always a plus. This unique take on a One Direction classic was solid and showed that Leah encompasses the skills to succeed in Hollywood week and beyond. Her original song did not wow me, but it seems to have taken off with fans. My only concern for Leah would be her ability to do more upbeat songs with a band and not just by herself. As far as song choice recommendations go, I would love to hear her interpretation of “Wonderwall” by Oasis.
8. Aaron Westbury: In another case of déjà vu, I was brought back to the audition of Idol alum Daniel Seavey. With such a limited vocal ability, as the judges noted, this audition could have been a mess. Instead we received an audition that I found a tad dull, but it took off on social media. Aaron has a solid voice but needs to push himself even further in terms of vocals and has to nail song choices if he is to succeed further down the line. Kudos for not being a bit nervous though. In terms of song recommendations, I would hope that he goes for Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” at some point.
7. Mike Parker: Music runs in this particular contestant’s blood, which his intro package emphasized, so Mike had to really deliver a solid vocal. Luckily, Mike did just that. Furthermore, as a person, he already won me over. I have seen my mother battle cancer not once but twice so I understood the emotions immediately. Was it a memorable audition? Yes and no. I had to watch it a second time to remember that it happened. Yet, something about that voice is so calming and enchanting that I cannot help but hope for a John Legend cover at some point. My gut tells me he is one to watch out for.
6. Kelsie Dolin: Every once in a while there is a contestant that stops me in my tracks and captivates me by not knowing how good they actually are. That is Kelsie this season for me. I was blown away by how at ease she seemed right off the bat. Does she have the strongest voice in the competition? No, but she has that special X Factor that is unexplainable. Maybe it is her sincerity or genuine shock at being so well received? Saying that, song choice is very important in her case since it will make her or break her in Hollywood Week. I would recommend Katy Perry’s “Firework” with a coffeehouse and stripped down vibe.
SEE Everything to know about ‘American Idol’ Season 20
5. Allegra Miles: In what I believe (correct me if I am wrong) is our first contestant from another show this season, we have Allegra Miles. Allegra previously had made it to the top 9 on NBC’s “The Voice” so the pressure is nothing new to her, as she exhibited in her audition. I personally loved her song choice but want her to revisit Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” since she sounds better now than she did on “The Voice.” Definitely one to watch out for.
4. Betty Maxwell: Another contestant that is no stranger to hard work and being in the public eye is Betty Maxwell, who just happens to be Miss America 2016. Basically, we have American royalty on this season, which is really cool. Opting for Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment like This” was a great choice but her Carrie Underwood cover was even better. While I personally recognized her immediately, I appreciate the genuine shock from many that did not whatsoever. My gut says that Hollywood Week should be her time to really show the judges that she has even more in the tank. In regards to song choice, any song could potentially be a weapon in her hands but I am hoping for a cover of “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. She is absolutely one to watch out for.
3. Kenedi Anderson: The episode’s coveted Platinum Ticket went to Kenedi Anderson and a star has been born. With her Lady Gaga cover, Anderson deserved all the applause and then some more. She will more than likely be the contestant that is able to adapt the easiest to any theme or challenge the show throws at her. I would love to hear her cover Frank Sinatra’s “My Funny Valentine.”
2. Christian Guardino: I watch a decent amount of reality TV competitions and recognized Christian right away. As soon as he appeared on screen, the “America’s Got Talent” alum made me very excited since it has been a minute since we have seen him on television. Luckily, he has not missed a beat and nailed his audition with ease. I would personally love to see him reprise his performance of Ed Sheeran’s “Make It Rain” but I would also love to see a cover of Bruno Mars’ “Grenade.”
1. Lady K: With one audition, a contestant’s life can change immensely. Some auditions are just so great that one cannot help but know that the individual will be in the live rounds. That was my gut feeling after Lady K wowed the judges and became a frontrunner to win this season with one song. Magical would be an understatement. Lady K’s cover of “Wide Awake”, which is a Katy Perry song (no pressure there), surpassed the original in my opinion. Can you imagine what she can do with a song from Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, or Alicia Keys?
In short, the second episode of auditions was even better than the first. If I were to venture a guess, it will supply us with at least four contestants in the live rounds.
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