'American Idol' 2014 recap: Detroit auditions deal best talent so far
on January 23, 2014 at 1:56 AM, updated January 23, 2014 at 2:01 AM
The heavy hitters were hiding in Motown.
After a strong showing in its first episodes last week, “American Idol” turned up the talent in its Detroit show Wednesday night, handing out 40 golden tickets to some of the best voices we’ve heard so far.
The top two male vocals of the 2014 season rang out last night, along with a few great ladies near the Great Lakes.
Let’s discuss this all a little further.
HIGHLIGHTS (from best to worst)
Maurice Townsend, 26, from Grand Rapids, Mich.
Maurice, a father of four and minister of music at his church is one of those guys who brings a smile to your face with both his personality and incredible voice. If Maurice doesn’t make at least the top 24, I would be stunned. Singing “So High” by John Legend, Maurice was in complete control every second. It’s hard to believe it was an audition. This dude is a pro. And J-Lo held his baby!
Ryan Nisbett, 24, from Deckerville, Mich.
Ryan, a high-haired, hipster-looking art student has a voice that J-Lo said was “one of a kind.” And she was right — good lord, the voice on this guy. With high, pitch-perfect tones and fantastic control, Ryan belted out Sarah Mclachlan’s “Angel” and was incredible. And he says he had a cold, and he wouldn’t share Keith’s hand because he coughed into it. He’s polite, too! This guy’s the whole package.
Keri Lynn Roche, 24, from Detroit
Starting the day off with a golden ticket was Keri Lynn, a waitress who said her home city brethren are born with “grit” in their voices. Her voice had more of a rasp, and a beautifully controlled tone as she sang Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” and without her guitar, a clip of “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James. Both were stellar, with very nice vibrato. Keri was one of the cooler female auditions we’ve seen so far. “I love your style,” J-Lo said. “It’s not typical.”
Jade Lathan, 20, from Monroe, Mich.
Jade sports a unique name with an even more unusual voice. With flowers in her hair and light, almost whistly catch at the end of some of her phrases, Jade sang an awesome version of Amy Winehouse’s “You know I'm No Good.” Her control and poise were both spot-on and the judges couldn’t say enough. “The whole package is right, it feels really good,” J-Lo said. Jade is one to watch.
David Oliver Willis, 22, Mount Dora, Fla.
David, who was cut in Las Vegas last year, had an audition that I didn’t want to end. His acoustic version of Alex Clare’s “Too Close” had great “tone and presence” to it, as J-Lo said, and was a reminder why he made it fairly far last year. It all seemed to come very easy to him — a natural talent.
Bryan Watt, 29, from Thomasville, Ga.
Bryan’s hair makes him look like James Vanderbeek — in a bad way — but with his voice and guitar playing, the guy is a star. Bryan gave an effortless, polished performance of Carrie Underwood’s “So Small” that left J-Lo speechless. “It was confident, patient and easy performance,” Harry said. Afterward, J-Lo said “I needed him to sing that song, that way, right now.”
Malaya Watson, 15, from Southfield, Mich.
Malaya, a precocious, metal-mouthed teen who plays the tuba in her marching band has been “blessed,” J-Lo said, with a pure, powerful voice. Singing, “Ain't No Way” by Aretha Franklin, it was clear that Malaya has a great gift, and the judges ate it up. “Thank you for doing so well,” Harry said.
Jena Asciutto, 17, from Farmington Hills, Mich
It wasn’t perfect, and Harry called Jena out on “doing something weird” with her tongue which she was singing, but Jena, whose been singing in a band since she was 12, has a big voice. The judges liked her overall, and with the right songs, she could blow people away. But Harry was right, with her tongue closing off certain sounds and giving her a sort of speech impediment. Jena will need to work on that.
Ethan Harris, 20, from Garrettsville, N.Y.
Ethan looks like an Osmond brother and is massive Keith Urban fan, which all would have been pretty weird if he didn’t have such a nice, natural singing voice. “You’ll Think of Me” by the only judge with an Australian accent was a nice cover for Ethan and the judges thought it was great.
• We are three episodes in, and each show has been better than the last. And with the male auditions thus far, particularly Maurice and Ryan tonight, I have faith that the guys will not roll over and die like they did last season, leaving five girls in the Top 5 for the first time ever. Go dudes!• The whole bit with Harry pretending to audition with a horrible version of “Star-Spangled Banner” and Keith judging, then signing an autograph on his angle was great. Where has Harry been all this time? We needed this comedy years ago!
• Did “Idol” really ask the trivia question: Which Detroit-based film did Jennifer Hudson win an Oscar for? “Dreamgirls” or “8 Mile”? Really, guys? Eminem is great and all, but that was a ridiculous question.