After having a succession of two-hour episodes so far, Thursday night saw American Idol trimmed down to one hour. And it was very noticeable — in the sense that there wasn’t as much time to showcase all the great singers like they’ve been able to up until now. And even though the good singers were heavily featured as usual, most of those we did see didn’t blow me away. I’m not sure if that’s because it was only one hour or because the talent level just wasn’t on the same level in Atlanta as in the previous cities.

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Looking back over the singers who advanced, I kept writing down in my notes the word ‘good,’ but not a whole lot else. I mean, you had 15-year-old Jordan Brisbane who forced his runs and maybe should’ve waited a year or two before trying out. There was Sam Burchfield singing the Jungle Book song, and while I was entertained, it was more on the joke-y side of the spectrum and I wonder if he will be up to snuff when he’s delivering a serious performance.

And just because someone has a powerful voice doesn’t mean they’re the best ever, which was evident last night, most notably in Bria Anai. (She’s the one with the bright, sparkly lipstick, in case you don’t recognize the name.) Bria closed out the show, and, wow, she has a strong set of pipes, but I think she needs to reign it in a bit. Don’t go overboard.

Out of the contestants I did like (outside of my One Singer to Watch), even they weren’t overly exceptional. Jesse Cline, who works at a gas station, was good; I found him to be a very subtle (and even laidback) singer, and he reminded me a bit of Chris Sligh from season 6, except not as much hair.

I also liked Lauren Ogburn, the country singer with the flag bandanna. She picked the perfect song (Reba McEntire’s “Fancy”) that suited her musical style just right. I wasn’t sure what to make of her at first, but as the performance went on, she kept getting better and I was on board by the end.

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My runner-up from the Atlanta auditions is Majesty Rose, who kicked off the hour singing Coldplay’s “Violet Hill.” Keith Urban noted how quiet of a singer she was and that rather than making us wonder why we can’t hear her, she instead pulled us in with that soft and beautiful tone, which I agree with wholeheartedly. When I rewatched her audition back, I found myself liking her voice (and the performance) even more.

The One Singer to Watch: Jessica Meuse

But as good as Majesty was, there’s really only one clear, far and away winner of the night, and that is Jessica Meuse, who sang an original song called “Blue Eyed Lie.” When FOX released previews for this week’s auditions, I noted that Jessica was by far my favorite from those videos, and after seeing the full episode, I still say the same.

There’s a lot to like here. Her voice is edgy (Harry Connick, Jr. made a comparison to Stevie Nicks, and I can see where he’s coming from) and she brought a lot of grit to the song. Speaking of which, I loved the feel of her song. It seems like this year more auditioners have come in with original songs than ever before. And that’s not a bad thing, as long as it’s good, which is the case for Jessica.

What did you think of the Atlanta auditions? Did anybody stand to you, or did you feel the good singers were just okay? And were you disappointed they cut out Larry “Pants on the Ground” Platt’s audition even though FOX featured him in one of the preview videos?

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.