Have you heard the news about American Idol’s ratings for the Season 13 premiere?
They were down about 16 percent from last year, from 17.9 million to 15.2 million viewers.
And in the key age demographic — 18-49 — they were down 22 percent from last year’s premiere.
That’s despite rave reviews for new judges Harry Connick Jr. That’s despite showcasing about two dozen talented singers.
Here’s a link to what I think was missing from the season premiere.
But Idol will trudge on, introducing us to more singers from Austin and singers from San Francisco tonight.
And we head right into the auditions, with a guitar-carrying guy giving us a wonderfully sensitive version of “To Make You Feel My Love.” Then we cut to lots of hopefuls holding up signs revealing a little about themselves. Then to a stadium full of sign-carrying wannabe singers.
Very neat opening to tonight. Well done, producers.
Now, the auditions:
Jesse Roach: Jesse tells us a stranger stopped by the garage where she was practicing and started talking to her. Next thing you know, she’d signed Jesse up for American Idol and agreed to pay for the trip. Jesse, from Cypress, Texas, will sing “Do Ya.” She dressed all in black and carried a black guitar, and she’s got a rasp to match. She has a really nice tone. Jennifer says she loves Jesse. Keith and Harry are impressed by her voice as well. And it appears Jesse has a former stranger to thank.
Next, we quickly meet a trio of contestants who are Hollywood bound — Steven Curd, a clerk from San Antonio, Texas, who performs with his guitar, Anna Melvin, a 22-year-old blond waitress from Memphis, Tenn., who sings “Wrecking Ball,” and Ryan Clark, a 22-year-old bartender from San Marcos, Texas.
Jamiah Malik: He shows up with a young woman who befriended him when he moved to a new school. The 15-year-old from San Antonio decides to try an original on the judges. He raps while playing guitar, and the judges are immediately impressed. Quiandra Boston-Pearsall: She’s 17, a student from Adkins, Texas, and the aforementioned friend. She’ll sing “Go Down to the River.” The young lady gets three yes votes and is Hollywood bound. The young man doesn’t get a single yes and is not heading to Hollywood. Quiandra is obviously disappointed at that news.
Megan Miller: She’ll sing “Last Name” by Carrie Underwood. Is this young lady familiar, folks? Hint: Last year she showed up carrying crutches and saying her leg might fall off, but she wasn’t going to miss out on an Idol audition. Jennifer loves her rasp. Harry compliments Megan on her voice and her work ethic. And Megan is off to Hollywood again. Megan is 23 and identified on Idol as a media consultant from Ethel, La.
Grace Anne Field: Next up is a professional piano player who plays five to seven shows per week. Grace is 27, from Austin, and apparently does her piano playing in a restaurant. And she starts shrieking from the word go. If Harry was worried about Megan blowing out her voice … wow. And Harry quickly shoots her down.
Austin Alvarez, 26, a makeup artist from Austin, shows up dressed in black, with silver chains around his neck and pink spikes all along his shoulders. Eric Wood, 28, an oil field worker from Higginson, Ark., shows up with guitar in hand and turns in a soulful performance. Both wind up getting golden tickets to Hollywood.
Spencer Lloyd: He’s a 19-year-old worship leader from Bryant, Ark., who gets the tag “pretty boy” in a heartbeat from Jennifer. He opts to sing a Colton Dixon song. Not surprising since he’s a worship leader. The song is “Never Gone” and Spencer plays guitar — not very well — while he sings the song. The vocals, honestly, need lots of work. Jennifer thinks he shows lots of potential. Harry votes for him based on the “image thing.” Keith agrees and Spencer is off to Hollywood.
Marlon Lindsey: He’s a 27-year-old student from Beaumont, Texas, who has wanted to audition for eight or nine years, but spent six of those in the Army. He’ll sing “A Change is Gonna Come.” An oft-done song. But Marlon quickly shows vocal skills that could dance circles around the pretty boy we just saw. And the judges enthusiastically present him with a ticket to Hollywood.
Rick Rowling: This 28-year-old tells Ryan he plans to sing bad to promote his acting career. The guy from Austin is wearing suspenders with no shirt, starts cracking jokes that aren’t funny, then launches into a horrible rendition of — well, it doesn’t matter what he’s singing. Harry gives him crap for disrespecting the process. “How’s that for harsh Harry,” Harry says. Hey, Harry, a producer had to let the guy through.
T.K. Hash: The 28-year-old service manager from Charlotte, N.C., shows up ready to imitate the president. Because, after all, T.K. looks an awful lot like him. Harry loves the impersonation. Will he love the music? T.K. will sing “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.” He delivers a decent vocal, showing lots of range and power. Keith, Jennifer and Harry all like T.K. Harry says he’s got a nice combination of voice, charisma and likability.
Tristen Langley: And now we answer the question from the photo above. Tristen is the son of Nikki McKibben, who placed third on the very first season of American Idol. Tristen sings “Century.” Harry calls it the perfect story, but says if the story wasn’t there, it wouldn’t work for him. Tristen is 15. Jennifer gives him a yes. Harry votes no. Keith gives him a yes as well. And a second generation of Idol is off to Hollywood.
Another montage, this one featuring Taylor Stearns, 21, of Round Rock, Texas, a couple of singers who make it and a couple of singers who don’t. Taylor is the only name we’re given.
L.J. Hernandez: The cowboy-hat wearing guy is 23 and a farmer from Goliad, Texas, who says singing has been his dream since age 4. Some have supported him; some haven’t, including an ex-fiance who told him he didn’t have the charisma or talent to be a singer. Let’s find out. He’s going to sing “I’ll Be.” And I suspect the girlfriend was right. That audition was complete with cape, glow sticks and dancing. “That woke me up a little bit,” Jennifer says. And not in a good way. But L.J. vows to return.
John Fox: He’s a worship leader who lives with his mom and dad and apparently has been writing songs since age 6. He’s from Magnolia, Texas, and he’s the guy we saw at the start of the show, singing “To Make You Feel My Love.” Midway through the song, John hits his stride, finds his sweet spot and starts singing very well. Keith likes the fact that John’s voice was strong enough to overshadow his guitar. And John gets yes votes from Harry and Jennifer as well. One of the most impressive auditioners of the night, so far.
And, with that, we’re off to San Francisco
Rachel Rolleri: The 17-year-old student from Danville, Calif., loves music. She also loves Keith Urban and says she hopes she doesn’t have to wipe drool off her chin after entering the audition room. She’ll sing Sugarland’s “Stay.” Keith compliments her on having a great voice for 17. And Harry likes her understated confidence. And Rachel gets three yes votes and is off to Hollywood.
Athena Williford, 20, a student from Stockton, Calif.; Remi Wolf, 17, a student from Palo Alto, Calif.; M.K. Nobilette, 20, a student from San Francisco, Calif., also earn golden tickets in a montage package.
Emmanuel Zidor: The 24-year-old airline ramp agent from Miami enters the audition room singing, momentarily scaring Jennifer. No doubt he’s got a big voice. Then he shows off a softer side when asked to sing again by the judges. Jennifer says she believes him when he sings. That single compliment prompts Emmanuel to start crying. Maybe that’s because a seventh-grade teacher told him he’d never be on American Idol. But Emmanuel just got three yes votes from the judges. Hmm.
Samuel Ramsey: The 24-year-old student from Temple Hills, Md., promises Harry jazzy. To which he responds: “I love jazzy.” Harry isn’t impressed by Samuel’s jazzy.
Caitlin Johnson: She’s 15 — and looks much older. She’s also from North Plains, Oregon, where she lives on a 46-acre horse ranch. She says she loves living there, but also sings R&B and pop and hopes that surprises the judges. She sings “Something Got a Hold on Me.” Harry doesn’t think she’s ready. Keith says he really liked her voice and thinks she can figure it out really quickly. Jennifer has to cast the deciding vote and, with Kaitlyn tearing up, gives her the second yes she needed.
Ronald Reed: He’s 23, a cook from Southfield, Mich., and becoming the next American Idol is only the start for him. This guy is going to solve world hunger, war and everything else under the sun. He’s also smitten with Jennifer Lopez. He requests a stool so he can sing “For You.” Unfortunately, you can barely hear his voice over the guitar. And Ronald is devastated by getting a no from the judges.
David Luning: He’s 26 and identified as a musician from Forestville, Calif. And he’s another contestant brave enough to audition with an original. Perhaps called “In Hell I Am.” Jennifer says she can hear him on a record and “it’s super cool and moody.” But she says it’s interesting for American Idol. Jennifer votes yes. We don’t know how Keith and Harry voted, but he leaves the room with a golden ticket. David says he’s been working really hard at the singer-songwriter thing for a long time.
Next up, twins who say they’re wonderful as a singing duo, but not so good at anything else. But they predict someone had better call an ambulance, because they’re going to kill their audition. First up is Selena Moreno, 22, a hostess from Sacramento, singing “Try” by Janis Joplin. She is a very good singer. Next up: Sierra Moreno, 22, also a hostess from, guess where? If anything, Sierra might be an even better singer. Harry says he’s prepared to split them up, because he thinks one is the better singer. And Selena gets three yes votes. And Sierra doesn’t advance, a verdict which reduces Selena to tears.
Briana Oakley: Here’s a returning contestant, who was eliminated in Hollywood week last year but says she immediately decided to try out again. She’s decided to sing “Stay.” Briana is a 17-year-old student from Antioch, Calif. Briana is a strong singer, no doubt about that. Keith says he could keep her singing, but it would only be for his own enjoyment. And Briana is off to Hollywood in a flash.
Rico Perkins, 24, of Little Rock, Ark., and Aranesa Turner, 20, a student from Sacramento, Calif., are also off to Hollywood.
Gaddy Basil Foster: The 26-year-old server from Columbia, S.C., walks into the audition room dressed like and looking more like a weightlifter than a singer. Turns out he can’t sing. Gaddy chalks it up to nerves. Harry says he never heard a sound like that.
Adam Roth: This is a first. The 28-year-old says he’s a sound healer. And he’ll sing “Hallelujah,” which we’ve heard plenty of times on shows like this. And he doesn’t do too badly, until he comes to the chorus, where he screams more than sings. But he ends on a really nice note. Harry votes no. Jennifer votes yes. And Keith says yes, too. And Adam and his sound healing abilities are off to Hollywood.