American Idol Recap: Philly Vanilli

And the award for worst American Idol episode ever goes to…

OK, OK, it’s still Season 9’s Top 12 announcement night — where Katelyn Epperly, Lilly Scott, Todrick Hall and Alex Lambert got axed in favor of Paige Miles, Katie Stevens, Andrew Garcia and High-School Student Aaron Kelly — but Season 15’s Philadelphia Auditions is definitely in contention for first runner-up.

Perhaps a rip in the space-time continuum swallowed up every talented vocalist in a 100-mile radius of the City of Brotherly Love and deposited them on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike. Or maybe the show’s producers chose to focus on marginally talented teenagers who’ll meet an even grimmer fate come Hollywood Week.

Whatever the case, when the episode’s high point (pun intended) involves a Brooklyn songbird whose speaking voice/demeanor have you tweeting the word “Quaaludes?” into the bitter January air, it’s hard not to let one’s inner conspiracy theorist run rampant.

Maybe the four-plus minutes of botched audio that plagued many East Coast viewers was a silent gift from EP Trish Kinane to the Idoloonie Nation? Maybe Fox asked Kinane to deliver an entertainment-free hour so the premiere of the ludicrous Second Chanceread my review here — would seem scintillating by comparison? Or perhaps we can blame everything on cattle-call guest judge Clay Aiken and his bubbling cauldron of bad vibes and fading relevancy? (More on Clay’s beef with The House That Kelly Clarkson Built here.)

Wherever you assign the blame, let me run down the half-dozen Golden Ticket recipients we got to see from the spectacularly poor Philly auditions in order from least- to most-promising:

6. Isaac Cole, “Love Like Crazy” | Fifteen-year-old with a dubious talk-sing style and a manufactured twang duped the judges with his Bieber-y locks and “I’m a fast learner” pleas. If he advances to the voting rounds, heaven help us all.

5. Gianna Isabella, “House of the Rising Sun” | Her mom is the legendary Brenda K. Starr, which — since it gave Jenny From the Block a chance to share a little tidbit from her past — is likely the only reason Gianna got through (despite questionable breath control and more than a few clipped notes).

4. Sara Sturm, “Lips Are Moving” | Eh.

3. John Arthur Greene, “Somebody Like You” | No doubt, it was a heartbreak to hear his backstory about accidentally killing his brother with a loaded gun while playing cops and robbers as kids. But while clearly not untalented, the Broadway actor’s affected enunciation and hiccupy inflections had me siding with Harry’s “no” vote.

2. Harrison Cohen, “No Time” (original track) | His Spanish guitar-tinged original track was fairly catchy. But the teenager’s lothario shtick proved tiresome after 10 seconds, and his actual vocals didn’t sound muscular enough to carry him through the live voting rounds.

1. Jenn Blosil, “Radioactive” | Brooklyn chick whose self-admitted glassy-eyed demeanor made me wonder if she was a joke contestant turned out to be the surprise of the night. She brought color and shading to Imagine Dragons’ ubiquitous hit and her work at the piano was rock-solid, too. I’m intrigued to see if she’s got the mental toughness to survive the grueling Idol process.

On that note, I pass the mic to you! What did you think of Night 3 of the American Idol Season 15 tryouts? Would it rank in your Top 5 worst Idol episode ever? Sound off below!

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. Mike says:

    :( :( :(

  2. Johnny pardanni says:

    Alex lambert should have won his season. As good as he was then he’s even better now. Have hope that he makes it in music. Ridiculous talent

  3. Alan Dvorkis says:

    Harrison Cohen, who I so much did not want to like, definitely won the hour of ho hum singers. I think he is excellent.

    • Tender Puppy! says:

      Huh? He’s terrible! I think he’d make a terrific songwriter, but he needs voice lessons.

      I do hope that he becomes successful though, at least as a songwriter. Seems like a good kid.

    • HTGR says:

      Yeah I was surprised he pulled it off since he came off so ridiculous to begin.

  4. I hate that Jenn and Harrison were wasted on such an average episode. I actually really liked both

  5. Ginger Snap says:

    A completely underwhelming episode. Yes, we got introduced to Jenn Blosil, and Gianna Isabella, but I only cared for one and it wasn’t Jenn.

  6. Norkir says:

    Most def Harrison Cohen! Can I buy his original song on iTunes, like NOW! Crazy talented in more than just singing.

  7. Tom says:

    Harrison Cohen is a no for personality and performance but a yes for his voice and his original song. I really enjoyed that song so maybe he should stick to songwriting and he can be a contestant on the Kara DioGuardi Bravo songwriting competition show, Platinum Hit*!

    *It will never get a season two but here’s hoping, Kara!

  8. DarkDefender says:

    The devil’s lettuce aside, Jenn was the most promising tonight.

  9. Ben says:

    Adam Lambert! Lily Scott!

    On the other hand, I found Katelyn Epperly fake. Perhaps it was nerves, but she just didn’t connect on a genuine level to me. Katie Stevens turned in to a trainwreck, but at that point in time I was happy to see her get through ahead of Katelyn. But Lily Scott :(

  10. chadcronin says:

    Emma Stone + Drew Barrymore = Jenn Blosil

  11. Florence+TheMachineRULEZ!!! #TeamMariah says:

    Brenda Starr is a true genius!!! She was also one of the big reasons why Mariah Carey got signed!!! Also Mariah paid tribute to her by covering her song I still believe!!! Her version was just utter PERFECTION!!! Mariah is INCREDIBLE!!! Anyways, really liked jenn and Gianna the most.

  12. JMay says:

    I wasn’t sure what to make of Jenn Blosil. Was she just really laid back, was she suffering from a cognitive disorder? I don’t know, but I was prepared to not like hearing Radioactive for the umpteenth time. She did a great job on it, though. Harrison Cohen’s original song was very good, even if he couldn’t quite get there with some of the notes. As long as we’re being nostalgic, I wish Jesse Langseth and Ju’not Joyner had gotten further than they did.

  13. Helen grimse says:

    Jenn Blosil sounds like SIA with her raspy voice. . .hope she wins it!

  14. does american Idol Drug Test?

    • Julie B says:

      Idk, but I think they need to make an exception in Jenn’s case, lol. Seriously though, she could be a liability during a live show if she has a drug or alcohol problem & accidentally curses or even passes out on camera. I’ve known many addicts in my former using days before recovery, & she was definitely on something. It’s not a cognitive disorder…or else she wouldn’t be able to flip the switch that quickly.

  15. Hamish says:

    Sadly I think all 6 are destined to be cannon fodder in Hollywood week… :-(

  16. Ben says:

    Such an average episode.. really disappointing (ala Clay Aiken style :P).

    Jenn was the top of the night no doubt!… but she doesn’t seem to be the whole pack (a way too odd to win AI). Sara was really sweet and make me smile but she seem to be green for the competition… and the rest was just not memorable at all (excepting for Mr. Greene, but for all the wrong reasons. It was sad, depressing, uncomfortable a not vocally exceptional.. it felt more like a statement ticket).

  17. marie says:

    No voting poll!
    That says all you need to know about last night’s dismal show. Let’s hope tonight’s is back on track.

  18. ChrissieK says:

    What a lazy column Michael! Could put a bit more pep into it! This time next year you won’t have Idol to write about…remember that.

  19. david7118 says:

    Someone hire Harrison Cohen as their songwriter (I’m looking at you Ms. I Luh Ya Papi) as his song was quite catchy but his vocals left a lot to be desired.

  20. Liz says:

    they passed John Arthur Greene b/c of his sob story.. no talent there. And I’m even more confused since he is a long time Broadway actor- I thought American Idol was about amateurs?? The Philly Vanillie was good but nothing we haven’t already seen with Jax and Joey last year. Agreed- major contender for worst episode ever. So disappointing- did American dry up on talent in the last 15 years or what?!

    • Puchinsmom says:

      John Greene’s story should NOT have been taken advantage of. That was sick. His parents are to blame for trusting children around guns. He should be furious with them. I agree about his being passed through for that. I doubt he’ll last. But there have been many contestants on the show “in the business.” Melinda was a successful backup singer.
      I would be very surprised if Jenn has a substance abuse problem. She might have been laying on the quirk more than usual, but we’ve had many contestants with “interesting “personalities. Often they clean up surprisingly well. But there is talent there, for sure. I just hope the snarky witchy contestants in Hollywood don’t eat her alive! But there’s hope. Joey made it out of Hollywood alive. Maybe Jenn is another Kiwi!!

    • S. says:

      Adam Lambert was on Broadway. It’s not ‘find someone with no professional experience,’ it’s find someone who’s basically unknown and help them become a superstar through the platform of the show. If you’ve been pursuing a dream, you’re gonna have some credits of some sort–singing at a ballgame, bars, or *something.* It’s a rare bird that’s only sung in their shower or high school choir that’s good enough and ready to be a star. Now, being on Broadway doesn’t mean that you’re a star outside of your community of fellow performers. There are a ton of people in minor roles or part of the ensemble. I don’t wanna insult the guy by calling him a nobody because he’s obviously had people like his vocal quality to the point of casting him in a Broadway show and that’s a huge deal, but seriously, as far as name recognition who’d ever heard of him? Even if you had he was also singing in the context of acting, it was hardly a pop career so he technically hadn’t established a career just as a musician which a lot of musical theater performers of great renown can even fail at doing. I still find it ridiculous that Christina Grimmie and Cassadee Pope were allowed anywhere near The Voice. Christina had all those subscribers and was touring with Selena Gomez I believe. No one was on the fence about signing these ladies. They just wanted to generate some free PR.

  21. Allie says:

    thanks for the review. Going to erase it from DVR and not waste time. Hopefully tonight will be better!

  22. Joey says:

    Slezak don’t go up against Melinda when it comes to the technical issues of music. You are in over you head.

  23. John says:

    Pretty forgettable episode. I thought Gianna was OK…probably won’t go too far, but it was worth it to get a quick “Where Are They Now” with Brenda K Starr. Harrison is the only one that I’ll remember when Hollywood comes around.

  24. Scout says:

    I care more that it’s the last season of Reality Check, to be honest. Yes, what about the children?

  25. MrFantastic says:

    I guess I am glad I didnt watch last night’s episode then. I watched a few that was posted on American Idol’s Youtube channel and I was so disappointed at how “eh” these contestants were this week. Especially ending on such a high note from night 2. There’s still hope for tonight’s episode, right? One can hope. lol

  26. danin says:

    Wtf!!! Why would they do this to Philly??!! Philly?? One of the soul,r&b & not to mention music capital’s of the world! If I were Philadelphia I would sue American Idol for robbery.

  27. Betsy says:

    So glad to read that others felt the way I did about the show……boring and lacking talent. Even the judges wondered where the talent was hiding. Tonight’s episode will be totally opposite to keep “fans” interested in tuning in next week.

  28. Jim says:

    I love the judes as performers and folks, BUT they have to be the worse ever !!!!!

  29. David says:

    Definitely enjoyed Jenn Blosil the most.

  30. HTGR says:

    sums up the night:
    “I’m gonna do the a cappella version with my guitar as accompaniment.”