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American Idol judges stay positive in Pittsburgh

Hallie Day shared an intimate story before belting it out in Pittsburgh.
Hallie Day shared an intimate story before belting it out in Pittsburgh.
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American Idol Season 11

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Tonight’s episode of American Idol seemed to turn out more potential talent than last night’s, but overall, it wasn’t that entertaining. There were a few contestant to cheer for, but some of them were more because of their unfortunate situations than their voices.

Heejun Han was portrayed as bored and uncaring, so I was incredibly pleased when he was actually good. Heejun was better than anyone we saw in Savannah with a voice that broke my heart a little bit. He was also a likeable guy, humble and unassuming. Finally, someone I can be excited about!

Reed Grimm brought us the “Family Matters” theme song and almost made me hope that Idol would decide to have a TV show theme song night. Yes, Reed really threw his body into his audition in an almost comical way, but the kid was having a good time, and his fun was infectious. His voice was pretty great, too.

Samantha Novacek brought along her sister, Patty the Pittsburg Planker, to plank for her. Patty literally just planked (re: layed in a straight yoga position) in front of her sister the whole time she sang. This was completely unnecessary, as Samantha had a nice voice with just enough country lilt to not be overwhelming and peg her in that particular genre.

Creighton Fraker was bored on the bus ride from NY to Pittsburgh, so he wrote a song about the judges to sing at the audition. There’s something very Justin Timberlake about him – perhaps the nasal tone in his voice? I couldn’t stand the sound, to be honest, but this kid can BELT IT OUT. There have been Idol winners in the past about whom I could say the same thing, so don’t rule him out quickly.

Evan Franckewitz is a 15 year old Beiber look-a-like. His parents support him 100%. How cute. His voice is technically good, but he has absolutely no soul or feeling or passion when he sings. He needs a whole lot more experience before he can be truly great, but the judges are entranced by his adorableness, and they sent him to Hollywood.

Travis Orlando, a sob story from last year’s auditions, showed up to tell us that his life has only gotten worse. Yikes. His mom ran away with a new boyfriend, and his dad is now on dialysis. He delivered a good performance, but his voice stayed soft throughout. J. Lo told him that he never “came all the way out with it,” and she really wanted him to. Travis got sent through on three yesses, but all of the judges warned that he’d better improve. It always boggles my mind when they do this, considering how many contestants they don’t let through due to need for enhancement.

Erika Van Pelt, a wedding singer, impressed the judges with her smoky alto voice. It made her different than most contestants, but that was the only difference I saw in her. Much like almost everyone last night, there was nothing terribly special about this girl.

Young Shane Bruce works in a coal mine, and some footage showed him singing underground to his coworkers, so we already knew this kid could sing when he started. He sang “that song from Shrek,” Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah” with soft ease, but he went flat at the end. The refreshing thing was that Shane made a face to show he recognized the fact that he went out of tune. However, refreshing as this may have been to me, this seemed to be the only reason that the judges didn’t take him. They agreed that he has a pretty voice, but Steven thought his forte might be singing in the mines. They took way worse than this kid – why the sudden mean streak, judges?

Similar to last night, there was “after-the-break” hype for the last contestant of the night. Hallie Day dropped out of school at 15 to join a girl group then moved out of New York when it got to be too much for her. She bravely shared a story of attempted suicide with the audience. When she finally sang, she demonstrated that she has a good belt voice but was nothing overly unique. J. Lo, however, thought that Hallie could take the whole thing.

By the end of their stint in Pittsburg, the judges had given out 38 golden tickets. Funny that they showed no horrific auditions and only one negative one but that they took fewer singers than they did in Savannah.

For a change of pace, the next episode of American Idol will air on Sunday night, when the judges take San Diego. Hope everyone remembers to watch!

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