'American Idol' recap: final audition episode #5: not such a drag

Posted Sunday, March 25, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

During the early years, "American Idol" wouldn't show all the contestants who made it to the semifinal shows, placing those left out at a major disadvantage during live voting.

Kris Allen was a classic exception who managed to overcome the lack of such early exposure to win season 8. They only showed his audition later. In later years, producers were more cognizant of this and made sure everyone (or nearly everyone) was seen.

In the end, "Idol" featured 22 of the 24 who are supposedly in the top 24 during the five audition episodes. I feel bad for the two who didn't make the cut for some reason.

Anyway, there wasn't anybody tonight who truly blew me away but I did like the drag queen (Ada Vox), the Katy Perry fan (Caitlin Lucia), the "Stand By Me" gal (Mylon Shamble), the turban guy (Samuel Swanson) and the girl with the super big family (Brielle Rathbun).

No Georgians were featured tonight.

Now onto Hollywood tomorrow!

AMERICAN IDOL - "105 (Auditions)" -  SUNDAY, MARCH 25 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT). (ABC/Mark Levine) GABBY BARRETT (PITTSBURGH, PA)

Gabby Barrett (17, Pittsburgh) - A daddy's girl, she drove with her father from Pittsburgh to Nashville. Her "Good Girl" sounds a bit too karaoke for Katy's taste and asks her to try something else. When she offers up "Church Bells," also by Carrie Underwood, Katy asks her to please try something NOT Carrie. Luke thinks she's too gimmicky. "When you sound country, you don't sound country," Luke said. So she hits a gospel song and they like it. "Your personality came out with the church song," Lionel said. Three yesses! *

AMERICAN IDOL - "105 (Auditions)" SUNDAY, MARCH 25 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT). (ABC/Mark Levine) CAITLIN LUCIA (ORANGE COUNTY, CA)

Caitlin Lucia, (22, Orange County, waitress) - She is a huge Katy Perry fan who even performed in the same hotel as she has. So she does a Perry hit "I Kissed a Girl" via acoustic guitar which is quite pretty. Katy said she might have sung it better than Katy herself. "You've got a bigger motor than you're showing us," Katy added. Lionel feels there's more there. Luke likes her vibrato and the way she interweaves her falsetto. She is promising. Three easy YESSES.

After the break, we hear some Elvis fans, including Amelia Presley who claims to be a sixth cousin of Elvis. She isn't bad doing "Heartbreak Hotel." Billy Crunk? A passable imitation. Bailey Eubanks does a wonderful version.

This leads to Drake Milligan (Fort Worth, Tex.), another Elvis acolyte who became an Elvis impersonator. He gets a long back-drop story. But he isn't singing Elvis. He opts for a George Strait song and sounds very very country. He is super good looking, which doesn't hurt. "I was praying you didn't sound like Elvis," Luke said. "You crushed it because you didn't do that... You're cowboy cool." Lionel like how comfortable he is. Katy thinks he's a "star in the making." Three YESSES.

There's a comical interlude of Katy Perry eating, eating and eating some more. But all those calories have made it difficult for her to get into her Spanx.

Mylon Shamble (24, Brandenton, Fla.) - She does a super fun version of "Stand by Me" that the judges loooove. Three YESSES.

Lee Vasi (20, Fayetteville, N.C., retail associate) - A Lionel Richie fan, she sings "Zoom' with Lionel and is tickled pink. She hits some bad notes but she does it with passion. "Your pitch went out a lot," Lionel said. "You're not altogether." Luke said she started strong but went off the rails. Katy thinks she's a good performer but she still needs more to learn. They feel she still has potential and blamed her pitch issues on nerves. Three YESSES.

After the break, we see three "joke" contestants, including someone who does the actual F-You version of Cee Lo Green's song plus an acoustic version of "Baby Got Back" in honor of Luke's (not very big) badonkaonk.

Michael Woodward (20, Philadelphia, bowling alley attendant) After a nervous false start, he calmly does a super soulful version of Ed Sheeran's "Make it Rain." The vibrato is a bit much. Lionel: "You have absolutely no experience and nobody cares." Katy: "You have this soft, subtle tone." Luke: "Beautiful soul." Luke notes that he rocks way too much for a static mic. Three YESSES. *

Brielle Rathbun (18, Johnson City TN , choreographer) - She has a big family: five biological kids and four African adoptees. But sadly, the mom left. So his dad runs this huge operation. She sings with real emotion and depth. Lionel: "I really like what you're doing. At 18, you're so in control, your body language." Luke said it looks natural. Katy likes her smoky raspy voice that still has power. She could go far. Three YESSES.

Carly Moffa (25, Williamstown, N.J., musician) - Her mom has MS and is her biggest cheerleader. She goes for an original about her mother. She has that enunciation a lot of singer songwriters use but not in a good way. The song is a mess, too. She is committed, at least and she performing chops. Lionel loves everything about her. Luke thinks her voice has a lot of quirkiness. Katy says a lot of people use this sound and she thinks it works, like Florence Welch. She gets three YESSES.

Ayana Rose Lawson (22, Harvey, Ill, guest services) - Sob story alert! Her family has been homeless for many years. "It's tough but you get used to it," she says, tearfully. She has a decent but not exceptional voice as she covers the super sad Bonnie Raitt song "I Can't Make You Love Me." But for some reason, she fails to touch me emotionally. Katy: "You have an incredibly lovely voice but people you're competing with have more expertise and range. You should develop more." Three No's.

Samuel Swanson (28, Pine Level, Ala. now in Harlem, personal assistant)  - He is your classic super small town boy who has moved to the big city. He wears a turban. His "Let's Stay Together" is one of the better auditions I've heard today. Luke is psyched when he is not nervous: "Velvet, velvet and layered with silky velvet I think your voice is." Katy: "You need to let go and do some work and think about control." Lionel name drops Luther Vandross, complimenting him for his "effortless quality." Three YESSES.

Damiano Scarfi (19, Middleton CT, unemployed) - A heavy metal rocker! I'm sure "Idol" doesn't get many of those in the auditions. With the hair and leather jacket, he has the look. Too bad he is horrific vocally. Three big fat NO's.

Jurnee Siani (18, Denver, hostess) - Her wife is a soldier in the Army. She opts for Andra Day's "Rise Up." She is very hesitant from a performing perspective but vocally, she is pretty good despite obvious nerves. Katy likes how effortless she sings and calls her "wildly talented." Lionel likes her vocal command. Three YESSES. *

Ada Vox/Adam Sanders (San Antonio, server/drag race) closes out the auditions. He made it to the top 50 season 12 but was cut before the live shows. "I was just a chubby little Latino boy," he said. He disappeared from the world for awhile and was suicidal. Now he's decided to come in drag. He is fabulous vocally and he shows off his range. Lionel: "You are owning your talent and who you are." Three YESSES *

Here was his audition from season 12 shown in 2013:

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Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
I cover local radio and TV for both the print and online editions. I write a blog on the same topics.Rodney Ho's Radio & TV Talk blog (new) | Recent archiveSports...