Idol Recap: Kansas City or Bus!

idol recap Ellen Petersen

A random thought crossed my mind tonight while watching American Idol‘s Season 14 audition episode from Kansas City: What if Goldilocks hadn’t found a single bowl of porridge that met her exacting standards? What if not one of the three bears’ beds had proven suitable for her afternoon respite?

Girl might’ve just wandered out of the woods, been admitted to her local hospital with a case of mild hypothermia, treated and released. Not much of a story, huh?

Similarly, I’d gander that Idol‘s latest hour is one of the least likely in show history to penetrate the pop-cultural consciousness. Too ridiculous! Too off-key! Too studiedly quirky! Too nervous! Too stinky! (No, I’m not projecting — Harry Connick Jr. himself described the episode’s last Golden Ticket recipient as “ripe.”)

In other words, as J.Lo so timidly put it, Kansas City (which played host to “best of the best” from the show’s bus tour auditions of small cities) is not going to be the launching pad for the Season 14 champ — unless, for some baffling reason, executive producer Per Blankens decided to shield our eyes from the city’s brightest Hollywood-bound contestants. (Goodness gracious, we certainly wouldn’t want to front-load the talent at a time that even the most loyal members of the Idoloonie Nation are questioning whether or not to invest two-to-four hours per week visiting The House That Houses J.Hud’s Oscar.)

With that said, let’s quickly rank tonight’s 11 Golden Ticket recipients in order from least- to most-promising.

11. Cedric, “Rumor Has It” | We didn’t see much of the handsome crooner’s audition — just a few seconds of aggressive belting and then a “will he or won’t he advance?” Twitter poll. For what it’s worth, I’d have said “Nope.” #IPreferNuance

10. “Big” Ron Wilson, “Let’s Get It On” | Last Thursday’s episode kicked off with borderline-joke contestant Andrew Annello scoring a Golden Ticket. So perhaps Big Ron’s clumsy attempt to seduce J.Lo — coupled with Harry and Keith’s irksome, in-no-way-funny “let’s talk BBQ” shtick — represents Mr. Blankens’ attempt to bridge Old Idol‘s point-and-jeer philosophy with a kinder approach to the folks who’ll never see the Live Rounds? Either way, I could live without it.

9. Ashley Lusk, “Boondocks” | An hour after the show, I can’t recall a single detail of her shown-in-snippet of her audition. Help a recapper out with some misty water-colored memories down in the comments, K?

8. Kholton Pascal, “Sittin’ Here Beside You” | Hitchhiking drifter showcased an ominous, gritty tone — but how did the judges advance him on the basis of an unmelodious original tune with no more than a three-note range? I’d have asked for a second (recognizable) song before I switched on the green light for Kholton.

7. Josh Sanders, “Washed by the Water” | Sounded pretty good on his Needtobreathe cover, but with only a few seconds of his actual singing shown on air, what are the chances he’ll ever appear on our screens again?

6. Joey Cook, “King of Spain” | Blue-haired accordion player served heaping amounts of quirk, but I thought her mastery of her instrument covered up instances where her voice thinned out in an almost alarming fashion. Taking a wait and see approach before I board the Oh Em Gee Adorbs Express.

5. Alexis Gomez, “Little White Church” | I dug this country gal’s energy and vibe perhaps a little more than her actual singing. But the vocals were solid, if not spectacular.

4. Anton Bushner, “Tonight I Wanna Cry” | Cowboy-hat-wearing Kansan looked so nervous about/overcome by his audition experience that tears actually welled up in his eyes. But while there were moments where nerves threw his pitch off just so slightly, there was an authenticity to his delivery that simply can’t be taught. A contender in Season 15, maybe?

3. Stephanie Gummelt, original song | This chick’s squeak of a speaking voice did little to tip off the lovely, lilting tone of her vocals — or the maturity in the lyrics of her original jam. Like Harry noted, though, she’s a singer who could probably use more life experience to inform her vocal performances. As with Anton, I’m kinda hoping she’ll be a Hollywood Week cut who returns next year.

2. Casey Thrasher “Who I Am With You” | A last-minute evictee by the judges in Season 13, Casey got far less screen time this year, but sounded rock-solid in the few bars we heard. And because work ethic’s about as important as anything else in this competition, I’m kinda rooting for this guy in his second trip to the rodeo.

**** loooong gap to No. 2 *****

1. Ellen Petersen, “I Wanna Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” | Adorable 22-year-old closed the night by playing the Beverly Hillbillies theme on her banjo while Keith and Harry took over vocals. It was her sweet, airy tone (and classic yodel) on Patsy Montana’s old-school country jam, however, that pintpointed Ellen as the sole possible Top 10-er of the entire Wednesday episode.

On that note, I pass the mic to you. Who was your favorite from Night 3 Season 14 auditions? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jeff Marley says:

    Joey was my favorite of the night!!! She is so awesome!!! Check out her YouTube videos!!! I’m rooting for her loren, Sarina, savion, emily, piper, Naomi, and cody!!! 😃😃😃

  2. Larc says:

    I think one more choice is needed for this particular list: None of the Above!

  3. Runner says:

    I really wish they would let most of these people come back in a few years. 99% of the people let through will better with more experience. They were not ready. I’d name some, but remembering names at this point is pointless. Mostly they were ordinary or needed more time to hone their voice. The girl with the blue hair seemed listenable, at least – SANS the stinking squeezebox.

  4. Brandon says:

    Last episode it was so hard to pick just 3, and this week I struggled just to pick one! Joey was the standout for me, but the bar was scary low. Why would they end the episode with that?

  5. Timmah says:

    Liked Accordion Girl. The rest were yawners.

  6. Jill Moy says:

    Savion and Ellen Peterson so far are, to me the best so far! Wonder if they’re in the top 24?

  7. Angela says:

    I’m in complete agreement with your overall views on tonight’s auditions. Sharing the “wait and see” sentiment with Joey. I liked her voice, too, but yeah, the accordion kind of overshadowed things and she could run the risk of being a little too “cutesy”. Ditto on wanting a second tune for Kholton, and I’m glad the judges did remind him that he’ll have to figure out how he’s going to manage to keep his style of singing intact when stepping out of his comfort zone, and Cedric as well.
    As for “Big Ron”…guy had a good voice, and he’s just friendly enough to make the cockier moments tolerable, but if he keeps on that “Big Sexy” thing from here on out, that’s going to get really old really fast. Keith and Leo’s little back and forth amused me…but I agree that it would’ve been better to hold off on it until after Ron’s audition. If I were Ron I’d be a little irritated at seeing judges talking and joking to each other while I was auditioning.
    Yes to the top five picks. Loved Ellen, she was absolutely the best of the night. She was sweet, charming, and talented, and I loved Keith and Leo joining her on a performance of the “Beverly Hillbillies” theme song :D. And I too was pleasantly surprised by Stephanie’s singing voice compared to her speaking one. I do think there’s some nerves to work out with her, but I liked her, so I’m fine with her going. And Anton was lovely and charming, too.
    In other topics, I felt for the girl who brought her deaf parents with her, especially given the story of what they did for her father recently. But I did appreciate that the show didn’t go the usual route of letting her through just because of her touching story. There was a good voice within her, and my heart went out to her for not going through, but yeah, she needed a little more practice. She seemed sweet and handled the rejection well enough (with some understandable tears), so hopefully she can try again down the line and get another chance :).

  8. Jase says:

    J Lo is starring in The Boy Next Door where she plays a woman who is interested in a MUCH younger man. Kinda meta/on the nose isn’t it? It’s like J Lo’s Birdman.

  9. Angela says:

    Completely agreed with your overview of the night. Would’ve also said no to Cedric, and I share your thoughts on Kholton, and the “wait and see” attitude towards Joey. She wasn’t bad, no, but the accordion did overshadow her a little, and she could run the risk of coming off a bit too…”cutesy”, or “quirky”?…over time. But like stated, we’ll see.
    In regards to “Big Ron”, he had a good voice, and he’s just friendly enough to make his cockiness tolerable, but if he keeps on the “Big Sexy” attitude and whatnot, that’s going to get really old really fast, I think. And I thought Keith and Leo’s little thing they did during his audition was funny…but it would’ve been a better joke to have after he left. ‘Cause if I were auditioning and two of the judges were yapping at each other and not paying attention to me, I’d be a wee bit irritated.
    As for the good, yes to your top 5. Particularly Anton, Stephanie (I too was surprised by her singing voice), and Ellen. Especially Ellen. She was charming, and I loved Keith and Leo singing the “Beverly Hillbillies” theme while she played :D.
    I also liked the story about the girl whose father had made it so he could finally hear his daughter sing for the first time-very sweet. I feel for her not going through after such a sweet story, and think there’s a good voice lurking within her…but ultimately I think the judges were right not to let her through, and not let her story sway them. I hope she does try again in a year or two, though, it’d be nice to give her another chance someday :).

  10. Michael H. says:

    I adored Ellen, not much contest for the rest of them though. If you made me pick a second, I would pick Stephanie for her original song.

  11. JM says:

    Kholton reminded me of a poorly copied version of Tom Waits. I’m also rooting for Casey, but I sincerely hope he used the past year to improve (i.e. strengthen) his vocals, or else he will be out again. Joey, Ellen and Stephanie stood out for me.

  12. david7118 says:

    Ashley Lusk was the one who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, her father died in a harvester accident, her mother made meth to support the family, the fumes caused nodules on Ashley’s vocal cords which required an operation, the operation was botched and she never thought she’d sing again but with the love of her boyfriend who is working three jobs, she has regained her voice and is here to sing. At least that’s how I remember it.

  13. Steve F. says:

    First of all, J. Lo has NEVER heard of “The Beverly Hillbillies”? Seriously, I’m sure the Bronx had it in syndication somewhere!

    That said, a mixed bag in Kansas City – highlights for me were Anton Bushner (the humble farmhand), Alexis Gomez (the hippie country girl), and Ellen Petersen (banjo girl!). Kholton Pascal is a little too growly… plus I don’t think he’ll fit in with the Idol crowd. Loved his job description of “Travelin’ Man,” though.

    And those ribs… man, did those look good! Hope Harry left some for Keith (I don’t think J. Lo tried them, though she looked tempted)!

  14. Jim says:

    All of the contestants are trying the best as amateurs but the judges, Jlo and the rest who have experiences need to be replaced, why do you think the ratings are down? Maybe we should ask Coke Cola & AT&T, one of the major sponsors who pull out of sponsorship after season 13, they knew that season 14 ratings were going to be worst in Idol history.

  15. Puchinsmom says:

    It just occured to me that all ( some??) of the contestants without instruments are being accompanied on the piano, off camera. I noticed it, but it just penitrated my consciousness! I think it helps. I remember Melinda commenting last year that contestants with instruments had an advantage, and it would be nice for the others to have an accompanist. Seems like they do this year.
    I really liked Joey. Ellen was good, but unfortunately for me and others,I suspect, I am not a country music person. Crossover is ok, but not pure real country voices. For both Joey and Ellen I think their instruments were a bit distracting. But both young women played real well.I just thought Joey had a real different singing voice and great personality. I’d like to see more. And for what it’s worth, that last dude’s voice was intriguing as well. We shall see how they get through Hollywood week!

  16. Jasmine Porter says:

    What is wrong with posting comments on here?!? I try to post a comment and it never shows. The shorter comments have a better chance of making it on here, but even then, sometimes they aren’t shown.
    What’s the problem?

    • Jasmine Porter says:

      ^ I knew that comment was going to be shown.
      My much LONGER comment still has yet to be shown. And I just wanted to talk about how amazing Ellen Peterson is! Well, I commented on everyone else too, but Ellen is the only one I see having the biggest chance at being one of the TOP 24. She was amazing!

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