It’s the final week of auditions for American Idol season 14 — after these final two nights, will San Francisco deliver with strong talent? After seeing part one, it’s not as strong as I would have hoped, but there were still a couple fantastic singers, one of whom I can’t wait to see perform again.

Outside of the top two, there were still some good singers scattered throughout the hour, but I’m not convinced yet that they’ll be memorable going forward.

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During one of the montages, we got a glimpse of Chandler Leighton, who sounded really good on “New York State of Mind” — I wanted to hear more, actually. Kellyeanne Rogers was technically very good, but forgettable (maybe that’s because they didn’t feature her for very long). Reno Anoa’i was one of the better singers of the night, but I don’t think he’s quite there yet. Playing the ukulele was a nice touch, though it didn’t sound all that good against his voice.

If I had to give an honorable mention to any of them, it might be Reno, but frankly, nobody compares to the two best of the night…

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The Runner-Up

Idol saved the two best for last. (We’ll just forget that twins Ezekiel and Jeremiah Cardenas auditioned in between them.) Rayvon Owen received the second to last golden ticket of the episode. His rendition of Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” was quite fantastic. He brought an intimate feel to the performance, and his voice was soft (on a faster song, I hope his voice still holds up) and very controlled throughout. There’s something about his voice that sounds just different enough than many of the other male singers to come into the audition room that he’s able to stand out.

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The One Singer to Watch: Maddy Hudson

My previous two ‘singers to watch,’ while good, weren’t able to match some of my earlier choices like Emily Brooke and Jax. But Maddy Hudson broke through and is right up there with some of the best audition performances of the season.

When we’re first introduced to her, we see that she has such a fun personality (joking that being cheerful is a full-time job, and saying Harry is like Clark Kent when he says he’s got J-Lo’s Maid in Manhattan dress underneath his clothes, among other things). She’s 16 and doesn’t act way older than she actually is.

But then she opened her mouth and started singing Beyonce’s “Resentment” — and I was blown away. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are; talent is talent. And I have to say, it’s rare to see someone her age come in and sing with a ton of natural emotion and depth. It didn’t feel forced either, which tells me she’s been through some things (she mentioned in her intro video that “middle school was the worst”). I felt the emotion she was exuding during the song. (I wonder if she has any original songs because I’d be interesting in hearing those.)

What did you think of the first part of the San Francisco auditions? Do you agree that Maddy and Rayvon are the two standouts? Are any of them on your list of favorite season 14 auditions? Take our poll below and share your thoughts in the comments section.

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

(Image and videos courtesy of FOX)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.