American Idol Recap: Ooh Bay-bay Bay-bay! San Francisco Bay-bay!

A melancholy pixie, a model-pretty belter and the type of teenage boy so adorable, Paula Abdul would want to squish his head off and dangle him from her rear-view mirror. A bubbly teenage girl sporting a bowtie, multiple shots of Season 7 standout Carly “Bury Me Alive” Smithson ensuring J.Lo never comes within 20 feet of a deranged woman wearing an ill-advised frock from the Big Bird collection, and…  Harry Connick Jr. losing his damn mind to the tune of Sia’s “Chandelier”?

Yep, American Idol‘s final audition episode of Season 14 had something for everyone — maybe even two or three possible Top 10 contenders.

And that, members of the Idoloonie Nation, is happy news — even if the terrifyingly rapid passage of time has you clutching your temples and asking, “Didn’t I just vote for Jena Irene based on her wicked cover of ‘Creep’ like three weeks ago?”

Confront your mortality, folks — because next week, we’re goin’ back to Cali, to Cali, to Cali… we’re goin’ straight to Hell Week… yes, I know so.

Wait, how did I wind up infusing my recap with decades-old LL Cool J lyrics? On second thought, don’t ask! Let’s instead cut to my countdown of tonight’s seven Golden Ticket recipients, in order of least- to most-promising:

AI14_SanFran-Auditions_0230_hires17. Daniel Seavey, “Hallelujah”/”Straight Up” | Does this multi-instrumentalist cutie-pie possibly have a future in music? Sure! Is his rusted-trunk-in-the-attic vocal creak appealing? Yeah, even though it’ll probably only last him another three or four months ’til his voice finishes changing. Did I actually believe him as he delivered the lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” — let alone Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up”? No, I can’t say that I did. And that’s why the judges should’ve told him he had an automatic pass to Hollywood Week — in Season 16. What’s more, his post-audition zinger about hoping to score J.Lo’s number made me a little queasy. That’s the kind of thing you expect from a teenager hanging around with a homemade sign outside the Today show studio — not one booked to perform there.

6. Jaq Mackenzie, “You Waste My Time” [original song] | Like Harry, I appreciated the seriousness with which this 15-year-old approached her craft — and her original song wasn’t half bad — but there was something a tad strident, perhaps underformed, about her sing-speak vocal style. Even though J.Lo voted yes, her “you have the makings of a great artist — some day” rang truest.

5. Tyanna Jones, “Wings” | There was something truly captivating about this soulful 16-year-old, from the way she radiated light and positivity the moment she walked into the audition room to her quirky, bow-tied sense of style. Another plus? A big, booming, robust voice that was able to capture the upbeat message of Little Mix’s hit? Not so positive? I heard enough nervous quavering in her vocals to make me doubt her ability to handle a live-show situation. And if you think I’m being too harsh, let me offer you two words: Malaya Watson.

4. Adanna Duru, “You and I” | One-time Voice contestant has a springwater clear tone and no shortage of horsepower — I even heard a little bit of LaBelle-ian gusto when she hit the chorus — but Adanna lost just a tiny bit of control in the final moments of her Haley Reinhart Lady Gaga’s gorgeous ballad. Still, with a smidge of improvement, she could be a true contender.

AI14_SanFran-Auditions_0912_hires13. Rocky Peter, “Wrong Places” [original song] | I wish the show’s producers had told us what country Rocky’s dad abandoned him in — one of my pet peeves is when people say “Africa” like it’s not an entire continent — but that nagging detail went “poof” and disappeared when Rocky hit that long and stirring glory note that brought home all the angst and beauty of his mournful ditty. I don’t know why Keith was so concerned that Rocky’s artistry might not be compatible with the “Idol journey” — likability, a distinctive tone and an ability to communicate emotion aren’t enough? — but Hollywood Week will tell the tale, I suppose. (Watch, now that I’ve said that, Rocky will get axed in a 10-second montage with no explanation and join the ranks of Deanna Brown, Sarah Sellers, and Tami Gosnell and so many other “what the heck just happened?” hopefuls.)

2. Tara Honda, “I Feel the Earth Move” | I know we didn’t get ant backstory or interview time with Tara, but this husky-voiced soulstress delivered Carole King’s jam with a gruff sensuality that made me more intrigued than any shticky banter with Harry could ever achieve. Let’s label her an underdog to watch and hope she doesn’t wind up with her hands around some rival’s throat during group rounds, eh?

1. Hunter Larsen, “That’s Life” | I worried Per Blankens & Co. were setting up the tattooed, dancing nanny/hostess/flower shop worker as a marginal, mockable wannabe. But the minute Hunter opened her mouth and gave “That’s Life” an understated, melancholy twist, it felt like the first blast of air-conditioning radiating from an office lobby on a scorching summer day — cool, soothing and exactly what you were looking for (even if you weren’t necessarily looking for it).

On that note, let me pass the mic to you. Who were your faves from Night 2 of the Season 14 San Francisco auditions? Take our poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts!

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. Angela says:

    Tyanna. Dang. I liked her. She’s gonna do well, I think. I also particularly enjoyed Adanna, and Rocky was good, too (that note he held. Whoa). Jaq was good, too.
    I don’t think that I would’ve sent Daniel through, personally-give him a couple more years and yeah, he’d make it work. But I felt he wasn’t quite ready. But I’m willing to let him prove me wrong.
    Not too bad a night tonight. I always look forward to the Hell Week portion of the season, so I’m excited that we’re at that point now. Next week should get REALLY interesting.

    • Tom22 says:

      I think it makes sense to send some very talented performers(and some colorful ones) to Hollywood before they are at their most ready. They learn a lot about what it will take to make it and get reality checks about how good other performers are at some things that they can perhaps get even better than them at. Would Candice have won if she got put through to the finals after almots making it getting to Vegas? I’m not sure, but I am sure that after getting that far she had learned a lot and worked very hard at specific things over the following year. Haley Reinhart went to Hollywood the year before she made it onto the live shows. I know there are other contestants that made it to live shows after their second week to Hollywood .
      I don’t think we should look at “who got to go” as exclusively a “merit now’ sort of thing. The show has been on for 15 years now and knows a few things about grooming talent and vetting talent that might have a shot at some sort of entertainment career or another. On that subject, we know it is an entertainment reality show and putting through some colorful personalities makes for a different atmosphere in Hollywood. That isn’t only about giving them something to film but also creating a more vibrant circus that the more serious contestants must navigate and show that they don’t get lost in a crowd. Am I saying some contestants are colorful fodder? yes.. ..but they are fodder that feeds real contestants as well as a TV camera.

  2. This night was AWESOME!!! My top 3 were hunter, Tyanna, and Adanna!!! Shout out to rocky and Daniel as well!!! I hope that in Hollywood week powerhouse singers like Loren Lott and Clark Beckham Prove the judges wrong and shine!!! :)

  3. I never realized how powerful hunter was at all!!! I thought she was going to be one of those quirky girls, not that I have anything against them, but MAN did hunter suprise me!!! And she’s got a personality for days on end!!!

  4. Kate says:

    No, I’m not wondering if I was just voting for Jena’s “Creep” because I didn’t cast a single vote last year. Let’s never speak of that group again, mmkay?

  5. Andres says:

    I like Hunter he sounded amazing.
    Call me crazy but I think Adanna is the second contestant from the voice to try out on idol with the first being Mark Andrew. She sounded good to. Hunter and Adanna where my top two of the night.

  6. Scott says:

    CARLY SMITHSON!!!! I miss her, really loved that season.

  7. Didn’t like the episode tonight. A few too many contestants made it that probably shouldn’t. But I liked Adanna, Tyanna and Tara, though I am worried we only saw her for a few seconds. There were really way too many contestants that made Hollywood this season that probably shouldn’t. Can’t wait to narrow down the great contestants we have seen with the contestants that really needed either more time to grow and develop or just need to find another career.

  8. Angie_Overrated says:

    I don’t know what got into my tonight, but I literally cried when the girl who sang Wings got a ticket and broke down hugging her mother. I LOVE HER!!! I just want to be her friend and her mentor and her big sister. There’s something so special about that girl.
    This season is shaping up to be a really good one. I guess they’re making up for lost time after season 13.

  9. deedee says:

    No, it doesn’t feel like Jena Irene sang Creep 3 weeks ago at all. Normally, time whips by but for some reason, season 13 feels like 20 years ago to me.

  10. Ellen C. says:

    Rocky said he grew up in Nigeria. I think a lot of these high schoolers will be cut early, but the experience will help them in future seasons.

  11. Jen says:

    Rocky told the judges he grew up in Nigeria, so I’m guessing that’s where his dad abandoned them.

  12. Brandy says:

    Thank you for the Paula/Archie reference. #neverforget

  13. lorie says:

    Rocky’s song was so insightful, so beautifully sung. He really impressed me, with or without his background. I think they mentioned the country was Nigeria, though.

  14. I think Daniel Seavey might be the “new” Sam! Remember Sam from last year? Sam Wolf? and the judges tried to sell his cuteness and made him perform surrounded by tween girls. That is what they are going to do with Daniel.

    • TD says:

      I thought the same thing, but I don’t think Daniel is going to make it out of Hollywood week. Even Sam was a bit more “ready for prime time” than Daniel seems to be.

  15. Syb says:

    The mention of the likes of Tami Gosnell is a primary reason I read this column

  16. Timmah says:

    I didn’t like Hunter at all. I thought she made the song completely unrecognizable, and not in an interesting way. And the young kid was just awful, he reminded me of that Aaron guy from a few years back, only worse. The only one I thought was decent was Adanna. This season is shaping up to be terrible, but at least we have Reality Check to look forward to.

  17. Alan Dvorkis says:

    Think we skipped the kid with the olympic friend. Or was that last night. They all seem the same.

  18. Ginger Snap says:

    Next up Hollywood .

    Thank God .

  19. Ben says:

    Why should Malaya convince me you are right? She got better and better last season, for the most part, as she matured. I wasn’t such a big fan of Hunter as to have her first. Overall, the 7 who got through were above average.

  20. Kiki says:

    Michael, I thought Rocky said he grew up in Nigeria.

  21. JMay says:

    Maybe they should’ve just put Carly Smithson through and saved themselves some time.

  22. Mary says:

    Didn’t watch last night was their anyone worth looking up? When does the one night a week start? Hopefully it will be on Wednesday because I am TGIT all the way on ABC.

  23. Keith says:

    Hunter looks very much like Amy Adams

  24. Jomarch says:

    Why the Hunter love? She sang for 10 seconds; can she sustain a pitch, breath, who knows; we don’t after 10 seconds. Tyanna only ranked #5; I would have put her at one. And that little boy…? Jeez, they voted down much better people than him, besides looked 12, not 16, are the producers going for the pre-pre-teen girl group now.

    • Well, The judges must like Daniel because i have seen the final 24 list. I think this is kind of a repeat of last year, putting through talent that is too young and not quite ready. I wont tell any other names but many young ones that I dont think are ready. But last year they were so “into” selling Sam Wolf! I think the idea of the “young cutie pie” for the young girls to go crazy over, is what the judges are going to do again. I really liked Shi even though not too many other people did. Did not like Lovey at all, and I am from Portland and probably should be standing by a Portland contestant,. Daniel Seavey from Portland too! But I like Kassim Middleton and several others who’s names I cant remember. One was black leather pants, great singer. Hunter was awesome also!

      • Also where are all of the Melinda Doolittles, David Cooks, Adam Lamberts and Haley Reinharts? Is it they are no longer looking for the really great talent, because now it seems to be 15 year olds (that should be in high school talent shows) not 0n AI, especially when they are not ready! That kid Daniel is cute as a bug, but there were many others that were passed up that were better. I wonder if they passed him through because he plays many instruments? That “checklist” of qualities that the judges keep talking about, could it be that looks are a bigger deal this year? Some of the older (if you want to call 26 or 28 old) lol contestants or heavier set in build, get told no and little teens get through? Very disappointing! If I wanted to go watch a high school talent show, I would go to the nearest high school. Not turn on my TV and see poor talent on AL. And that goes for Lovey too! She needs to be in a talent show somewhere! Lets see what happens Hollywood week. Should be interesting. Having young talent is great, but I think EVERYONE who is a great singer that comes before the judges, regardless of weight, age (28 is not too old) or looks shouid get to go to Hollywood!

        • Jill Moy says:

          How did you get so smart? Great comments! So becca, who did you like?

          • Hey Jill, Its Becca. I liked Kassim Middleton( funny great singer and dancer)Also look him up on u tube. He actually does hip hop dance competitions and his little brother and him are singing in all kinds of u tube videos. His little brothers name is Kahlil and he has the long braids too! He has an attitude which I love! I also thought Adam was pretty good. And the guy with black leather pants, cant ever remember his name. I dont like many of the girls. There are no Melindas or Haleys or Elise’s this year. The female voices all sound alike to me. Why cant there be an Alanis Morrisette? When she sings, I know its her! In other words, some STANDOUT female vocalist would be great. When Melinda sang, I knew it was her. Same with Haley because she had kind of a growl to her singing. The girls are all trying to sound like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, which I dont care for either of those artists.

  25. Karla says:

    Did you see Carly Smithson as one of the table judges? It was for the guy doing an original anthem. Kinda cool!

  26. Lyn Jensen says:

    Deep in the Rocky Peter backstory, we heard he and his mother lived in Nigeria.

  27. Shaun says:

    One of the saddest things this season is that Kenzi Hall didn’t try out again.

    • Timmah says:

      The way she was treated last season, I don’t blame her.

    • Kenz was one of my favorites. Also Jillian Jenson. Last season so many good ones were let go!

      • Jill Moy says:


        Last year we were left with some strange ones! I thought this weeks #4 on Mike’s list was pretty good and was decent looking as well as good in the showmanship (she seemed like she was a natural)! Time will tell. I mentioned my top 4 earlier. The young 15 year old kid looked about 10…LOL! I haven’t seen top 24 but I guess you said he made it. That is crazy! Oh well. Hope all is ok with you. No need for wire hangers this year…LOL! Where is Michael Johns?

  28. Joyce says:

    hunter is incredible

  29. James says:

    Hunter Laresen…as beautiful as they get and as lovely to sound as well!

  30. Jill Moy says:

    Savion and Maddie, on previous episodes and #4 and #5 are my favs and I feel they have a shot to win! That 15 yr. old kid who sang 2 songs should not have gone through (shades of last year, when these idiots put through worst singer ever, BRISTON MARONEY through to top 15 boys)! At least he has SOME talent! Putting hunter #1 is ridiculous! She was average!e

    • Jill Moy says:

      I meant at least the kid this Thursday had some talent and didn’t stink like BRISTON MARONEY who could sing in a group of basset hounds!

      • BASSETT HOUNDS! Jill thats exactly right.Its howling that Briston Maroney performed! I think they put Daniel through because he plays so many instruments and also maybe they are hoping his voice will finally break. He is so small for his age, I kind of feel sorry for him. Hollywood week might eat him up. I think he is the smallest and youngest we have seen yet. Poor Kid.

        • Jill Moy says:

          Yea Becca, a group of hound dogs,. Group name, Briston and the Hounds! This year is ok. At least there are not a bunch of goofy performers! I didn’t check out the top 24. I will wait. I hope the 4 I picked made it! So far, no Mommy Dearest commenting and bashing me (bring out the wire hangers and ckeanser)! Anyway at least there isn’t diaper girl, moose or performers looking like they have to use the toilet while singing (forgot his name akready). Renenber the ug mug who needed the toilet when he sang….terrible thing….LOL!

          • Jill Moy says:

            It’s funny, last year, hundreds of comments when the seasonwas the worst! This year there are a handful of comments (57, including all mine), which is terrible! This isn’t a great seasonbut surely, deserves more than this amount of comments! Next year if Harry is still a judge, I’m gonna not watch the show! Enough is enough! His act grows thin! He needs to be transported back to the fiftys where he belongs! He’s an idiot!

          • Pee Pants from last year was Alex! You said you forgot his name! Get the cleanser ready! Its time to clean house and Joan Crawford said ” CLEAN UP THIS MEESSSSSS!

          • I like Adam who is kinda big and goofy, but he is a really good singer! He has crazy, all over the place hair too! LOL

        • Jill Moy says:


          He could always be a midget in the circus…POOR KID!

  31. ss says:

    The most memorable thing about Hunter was the way her boobs kept bouncing up and down so much in her intro package and when she lifted up her shirt to show Ryan her tattoo. Her voice sounded good but she only sang half of the chorus one time and then just stopped singing. It really wasn’t enough to judge her by.

    • Jill Moy says:


      Oh yeah….Alex. I forgot his name he is so unforgettable. Is he in the circus in Vegas? Well, yes, the wild hair guy was good! We will see what happens. But, if you already know top 24, that kinda ruins the surprise of it all! I don’t know why they already let people know the top 24 in advance. I guess I’ll just wait!

  32. Jill Moy says:


    Oh yeah….Alex. I forgot his name he is so unforgettable. Is he in the circus in Vegas? Well, yes, the wild hair guy was good! We will see what happens. But, if you already know top 24, that kinda ruins the surprise of it all! I don’t know why they already let people know the top 24 in advance. I guess I’ll just wait!

  33. Jill Moy says:

    First comments didn’t go through, now it’s on twice….SORRY! I think Mommy Dearest is at work!