Three cheers, America! The moment that viewers wait for every season of American Idol has finally arrived! No, we’re not ready to crown our 14th champion. In fact, we’re not even naming our top five, top 12 or top 24. We’re not even going to Hollywood… yet.

After one seemingly endless month, the auditions are coming to an end. Now I know they can be fun, the good and the bad, but suffice it to say that 10 hours is plenty of time to hear brief snippets of the hopeful, only a handful of whom will be remembered.

American Idol Recap: A San Francisco Letdown>>>

We live for the drama of Hollywood week, the terrors of the group round and the gut-wrenching separate-the-weak-from-the-strong live shows. That’s where the money is at, when we connect with and root for the singers we like and growl at the Sanjayas and Kevin Covaises that we don’t. 

It’s where Grammy and Oscar-winning stars are made. Now let’s get through this last hour of golden ticket giveaways.

Escape from Alcatraz

The first show from San Francisco mimicked the letdowns that were Minneapolis and New Orleans, with only a handful of combined memorable performances from all three locations combined. Are they saving the best for last? Or ending on a low note? 

Here’s the “good” from the final audition show of season 14.

Adanna Duru is a 17-year-old college freshman who has been performing at middle school talent shows since she was in middle school. During her childhood, she would always try to belt out the highest notes possible, and it appears that hasn’t changed much. Her rendition of Lady Gaga’s “You and I” starts off polished and professional, but then she opens it up and gets super screechy. It’s three yeses, with a note from Harry Connick, Jr., to pay attention to the meaning of the words in the songs she chooses. Like I need to pay attention to overuse of prepositional phrases. 

Hunter Larsen is a crop top-wearing, multiple job-having free spirit, and her Frank Sinatra is just plain good. Not perfect, but good. She’s also got a side tat of Willy Wonka’s umbrella, as all free spirits do. 

Tara Honda, 22, easily moves on with her rendition of Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move.” 

Daniel Seavey is 15, but he looks like he’s about six or seven. He’s a musical prodigy who plays like 47 different instruments, but can he sing? He’s got a guitar around his neck, but he’s playing piano and singing “Hallelujah.” Because no one has ever done that song before. He sounds like he has a frog in this throat, and his voice cracks several times. His guitar playing is equally impressive on “Straight Up,” but the vocals are only a teensie bit better. The judges all agree he isn’t even close to being ready, but they put him through anyway. It’s just a joke at this point.

Rocky Peter had a rough childhood in Nigeria, even though he was born in the US. But then his dad abandoned Rocky, his mom and his siblings by sending them all back to Africa. They had no money, so they ate out of the trash and drank from leaky pipes. Music was always there to offer him hope, which he has a shot at solely because he’s an American citizen, and he knows his life will change someday. His original song is called “Wrong Places,” and it delivers instant goosebumps. He’s raw, but definitely someone you want to root for.

Jaq Mackenzie is a 15-year-old high school student who wears a leather jacket, a short skirt and Doc Martens, and her voice is intriguing if not irritating. It’s very nasally, and I find myself wrinkling my nose while I listen. J-Lo thinks she has the potential to someday be a really great artist, and Harry wonders if sending her to Hollywood would help or hurt her. All three of them are on the fence, which means she’s through with three yeses. 

The last contestant of the audition round is 16-year-old Tyanna Jones, who tells the initial judge that he would love her before she left. I can’t imagine she’ll disappoint, but she’s got the emotional backstory to back it up. She’s the middle child in a family of 11 kids, and she grew up homeless for several years spent living in the church or with her pastor. She’s from Florida, but the only audition city left by the time her mom raised money was in San Fran. She’s got a great voice, but it’s a bit all over the place. The potential is there, but she needs work. At least she recognizes that she has pitch issues when she’s nervous. Either way, we’ll see her again.

Keep ‘Em Locked Up

Before the opening credits even roll, J-Lo rejects some bald guy with a pretty good voice who sings a song about booty. #IdolBooty

Christopher Michael plays his acoustic guitar like it’s an electric guitar, and he beats on it like he’s going to smash it at the end. He’s really, really, really angry. Like for real. His original rage song is terrible, and Harry gets fired up enough to flip his chair afterwards. Keith loves the passion, but that’s it.

The “Hollywood or Home” performer is a pretty girl named some variation of Sofia. She’s at least 100 billion times better than Daniel Seavey, but J-Lo’s yes isn’t enough to get her through. I think we need to see what liquor company is sponsoring the beverages now that Coke is out of the mix. 

Outside of a montage of rejection leading up to Daniel Seavey and several singers butchering Sia’s “Chandelier,” that’s it for the “bad” acts. Of course, I’d include Daniel Seavey in that group, but whatevs. I’m sure I’ll get another chance to talk crap about a 15-year-old boy. Just livin’ the dream, I am.

[Video] American Idol One Singer to Watch: Maddy Hudson Performs a Beyonce Song with Emotion>>>

Westward Ho!

It would appear that American Idol is limping into Hollywood week, and I’m left wondering if they used up all the great talents early and this was the best they were left with. Either that, or the producers and editors need to have a chat. But I have to admit, it makes me even happier that they shortened these episodes to one hour for the final two shows. I can’t imagine sitting through two more hours of this.

There wasn’t a single singer who excited me this time around, who I would tell my fiance she just has to listen to, though I am rooting for Rocky and Tyanna. What about you? Is there anyone you loved or thought has a real chance to go to the finals? All I know is that if things don’t pick up, which they should, it might finally be time to stick a fork in this thing. But I’m still optimistic. 

American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.

(Image and video courtesy of FOX)

Bill King

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Emmy-winning news producer & former BuddyTV blogger. Lover of Philly sports, Ned, Zoe, Liam and Delaine…not in that order