Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Katelyn Epperly

Girls’ Night at American Idol (2/24): Dull, Dreary, Depressing

american-idol-judges22Thinking back over Wednesday night’s “American Idol” girls-only show from Hollywood, my overall impression? Dull. Dreary. Mostly boring.

That doesn’t mean that there weren’t some strong voices on display, but the ones that were strong chose songs that the judges almost universally pronounced to be “the wrong song” and the entire energy of the show just felt washed-out, dried up, blown away.


The singers who impressed me this night were Siobhan Magnus, who sang “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak. She began the song in a nice, very low register and soared to the “I don’t wanna’ fall in love” refrain with a lilting voice that was great. Ellen DeGeneres probably echoed my thoughts the best when she said, “I loved it. I really liked it a lot.” Simon followed up saying, “You really are a funny little thing, aren’t you?” He asked her why she had chosen that particular song, and she responded that she found it “haunting” and “memorable” and “I have a softer side, too.” Simon called it “a very, very dark song,” while Randy encouraged her to “reach for bigger things, but the short snippet that showed her being whispered about as “ a dark horse” were interesting, because Siobhan said, quite disingenuously, “What’s a dark horse?” as though she had never heard the term.

Another singer who has consistently impressed me was the multi-talented Crystal Bowersox, age 24, from Elston, Ohio, who auditioned in Chicago. Crystal sang a song by Alanis Morissette, accompanying herself on guitar and harmonica. The best summation of her performance was, “You were good tonight, but you have greatness in you.” Ellen DeGeneres said: “We are lucky that you auditioned for ‘American Idol.’ You add something fresh to the show.” This on the heels of Crystal’s admission that she had not been a big fan of the show in prior years. Other comments: “Originality. I loved the honesty. I like what you do. I like that honesty. I’m a fan,” from Randy. Crystal, A.I. watchers will recall, is the mother of a young son and got his name tattooed on her back after winning. Her back-story is interesting, too. The only negative remarks were, as usual, from Simon, who, while saying, “I really, really like you. I think you’re refreshing,” urged her to try a song by someone like David Bowie, to present herself in a different light.

Another standout performance was that of Littleton, Colorado’s Lilly Scott, who said, “It means so much to be here right now.  Everything I’ve done musically has led up to now.” Lilly has the gray hair and the look of a vampire bride, but she sang, quirkily, with her guitar “Fixin’ a Hole” by the Beatles. She wears eye shadow that makes her resemble a raccoon, but she has a very different quality. Ellen said, “I think that’s what we’re talkin’ about. You sounded great.” She praised Lilly’s “random song choice” but other less positive comments were: “I’m still not feeling much Star Power.” Both Simon and Randy commented on Lilly’s honesty and believability. Simon: “Best so far. Well done. You’re believable.  You come from your heart.” “ I could feel you were comfortable in your performance,” said Kara and Randy chimed in with, “I love the honesty.  I thought it was great.”


Worst of the night, for me, was final contestant Katie Stevens, singing Michael Buble’s “Feelin’ Good.” Katie was way sharp when she went up for the high notes. When she sang, “Birds feelin’ high”,that was the sharpest off-key note of all of the many. She was pitchy and off-key throughout the song, (Grandmother with Alzheimer’s or not, she seemed to be channeling Granny this night in her performance and her appearance). She  looked “old.” Her hair was done in an old-fashioned way, her dress, her demeanor: antique. Ellen DeGeneres said, “I want to see you be 17. The song was a little old for you.” Simon agreed, saying, “I totally agree with Ellen. So much so that it started to become annoying. Very pageant-y.” Kara finally pointed out the elephant on the dining room table, saying, “You were all over the place” on the pitch, and Randy finished up the same critique I would have given her singing saying, “You were pushing so hard that all the notes were going sharp.” Another comment: “Wow! That was not on key.” (Kara) This is never good in the finals of an “American Idol” competition.

Others that were not good: Lacey Brown (Dull. Bad outfit.) Simon said, “It was quite depressing. After about 15 seconds I wondered how much longer we’d have to listen to this. It was just boring. Sorry.”  The Dixie Chicks need fear nothing here.

Haeley Vaughn: I have not been a fan of Haeley’s since the would-be black C&W singer made it through to the Final 24 over the far superior (vocally) Angela Martin. I found her song, her voice, her rendition of the Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to be just a little too chipper. I made the note, “Painful” at one point, and then Simon started in saying, “I’m being honest.  For me, it was verging on terrible. A complete and utter mess. It wasn’t very good.” (Don’t hold back, Simon. Tell us how you really feel.) Ellen DeGeneres countered, “If it was a mess, it was a hot mess,” as she had previously praised Haeley, the person, saying, “Sixteen and so much presence.  You just shine.”

Ashley Rodriguez, who was so promising initially, disappointed with a Leona Lewis song. Kara pointed out “Moments that weren’t great. I couldn’t really see you take a risk.” Simon called her performance “clumsy” and said he “didn’t like the arrangement.” He accurately said, “I think you are going backwards from the first time we met you Just someone who sings other people’s songs not that well” was how he characterized the Chelsea, Massachusetts college student’s performance (Ouch!). Ashley had said in previous clips, “This is the dream. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.” The dream may have to be deferred to another year if Ashley doesn’t step up her game.

Paige Miles, 24, from Naples, Florida had the dubious honor of going first.  It wasn’t a memorable performance and telling us that she was sewed into her black dress with the white sash and had been “waiting 5 hours to pee” was a little bit TMI for me. She sang “All Right Now” and, although she was told she “had the best voice out of all the girls” by Simon, and told “You’ve got a ridiculous voice, girl” by Kara, the consensus seemed to be “It’s about self-belief.  You have to believe you’re a star.” Paige was not a star this night, but, in all fairness, she had to sing first (always a disadvantage, I feel).


Janell Wheeler, 24, of Orlando, the wine representative who is supposed to be quarterback Tim Teabow’s girlfriend tried a “Heart” song while wearing skin-tight black leggings of some sort. Randy felt that “the song choice didn’t work for you. I like your voice.” Ellen said, “I like that song. I thought you sang it well and I like you.” Simon brought some reality to the bleating of “What about love?” by saying, “You gave it 100% effort and delivered 65%. (Leave it to Simon to articulate the thoughts of the masses.)  He did say there were “moments in the song when I did like your voice,” while telling her she had gone off-key at times.  He advised Janell, a fairly attractive (but not stunning) blonde, to “try to do something that makes you original” and both Simon and Kara warned her that taking on an Ann Wilson song was “too big” for her voice.

Katelyn Epperly, age 19, from West Des Moines, Iowa is a personal favorite (as an Iowa native). I put her in the “okay” category tonight, because she adopted a black strapless dress with a chanteuse look, a thing in her hair (feather, I think), big earrings, and a much “dirtier girl” look. I liked her better when she first auditioned with her wild fly-away “Witches of Eastwick” hair, and so did Kara, who commented on her look. Simon said, “I actually like you. You’re quirky, interesting, brave. I like you a lot.” Kara said, “You know your voice very, very well, you switched it up in a way,” but Kara was the judge who (also) pined for Katelyn’s fresh-faced look. Katelyn defended the many facts of her personality to Kara’s desire that she be “a little bit more natural.” Randy said, “Here’s the thing I really, really like about you. You concentrate on tone, not runs. I think you can go places and do stuff.” Ellen found her performance “interesting,” but said, “I felt like it was pushed, but you have an amazing voice.” Has the potential to be in THE GOOD category next time out. I think she will stay around.

For me, Didi Benami was also “okay.” She sang in a terrible outfit…a multi-colored vest-like garment, but the judges did not find her memorable, as she wanted the audience to “Take Me the Way I Am.” Her performance was pronounced, “Dreary. Missing a spark. In the real world, I think that would be totally forgettable. You’re just so sleepy for me.” Ellen probably phrased it the most diplomatically, saying, “First impression: A little low key.” I definitely liked her better than the judges seemed to like her.

Michelle DelaMor described herself as “a corporate singer” prior to her selection by “American Idol.” She is tall, dark and sexy. She is 23, from Miami and works at a clothing store.” I’m so excited because I know my family will be there in the audience, and I just hope to make them proud.” She sang Alicia Keys’ “Fallin.” She wore a cute black top and gray pants, but was criticized for mainly doing a cover version of the song that was not unusual or original. (I, in fact, couldn’t remember her at all and had to go back on my TVO and watch her performance for a second time, which means that she wasn’t very memorable.) She has “the look” and is a beautiful girl. Ellen said, “That was fantastic. I feel like it was safe and it seemed so easy for you. I feel like you have more in you. I think that you were great, but I know that you can do better than that. I thought it was amazing.” Simon said, “It sounded close to the original. Not as good as the original. There wasn’t one moment in the performance that I went, ‘Wow!’ I think you’ve done enough to get through to the next round, and you look fantastic by the way.” Kara said, “There were moments that it wasn’t great.” She urged Michelle to be technically immaculate every time she stepped on the stage and she felt that Michelle lacked believability but could “get there.’ Randy said, “You actually did a pretty good job doing it. You’ve got a great voice and a great look. All that is hot and dope and cool. But take some risks. Show me something nobody has showed me yet.”

I think that Simon’s comment about things being “a mess” (countered by Ellen DeGeneres’ saying, “But a hot mess,” followed by Simon’s saying, “Seems to be the way it’s going tonight”) was accurate for the entire program. The girls—who seem stronger than the boys this year— (even Simon was quoted this way in the New York Post) didn’t deliver. It may have been nerves, as the talent is definitely there. My top 3 for the evening may soon be joined by the likes of Katelyn Epperly or Michelle DeLaMor, but, overall, the evening was disappointing, and, without Simon’s caustic honesty, the comments of the other judges would have been fairly insipid.

Predictions for Top 24 in “American Idol” (2/17/10)

american-idol-judges2Tuesday, February 16, 2010, “American Idol” from the Kodak Theater in Hollywood and there are 71 contestants still standing. In the 2-hour Tuesday show, the 71 were to be pared down to 24 Finalists.

While we, at home, are, no doubt, being denied complete exposure to every single “comer” (i.e., all the good singers are not revealed early on; it took a while for “American Idol” to let us get a good look at Adam Lambert last season, for example), sometimes we get a quick glimpse of a contestant who will possibly be one of the Final 24, like Genesis Moore or Ashley Rodriguez.

One Orlando contestant (male) was booted from the show when his father couldn’t keep his mouth shut and blabbed it around town that his son had made it through to the Final 12. The contestant (Nicci Nix) who claimed to have flown 14 hours from Florence is no longer seen onscreen. Danielle Hay, who was really a very good singer, was booted for failing to reveal some troubles with the law. There was also a contestant in Chicago (male) whose visa or green card from Northern Ireland posed problems for the show, so he was out.

To try to make a prediction of the Final 24—12 male contestants and 12 female contestants—is, therefore, almost impossible at this point in the competition, but it’s fun to try.  The Final 24—-or, I should say, the remaining 17, since we already know 7 of them after Tuesday night’s show— are going to be announced Wednesday, February 16th’s show.  I am going to make predictions right now, much as is done prior to the announcement of the Oscar nominees.

Please bear with me as I scour my notes and my not-always-that-great memory. Please forgive me my spelling errors of names, early on. Most of the last three weeks’ worth of auditions I watched without benefit of TVO, as we were moving around in Florida (see previous AC articles).

Let me go out on a limb and we can all saw it off tomorrow night when I am way off the mark. If you’d like to make your own predictions, see if you can do better. And let’s not forget: by the end of Tuesday night’s show, we knew the names of 2 of the female final twelve and 5 of the male final twelve.

Who will the remaining Finalists be, following on the heels of the 7 announced tonight?

By show’s end, the male contestants who had made it through were:

1)      Michael Lynche, the 26-year-old personal trainer from Astoria, New York, whose wife just had a new baby girl (“Big Daddy”).

2)      Casey James – I like to call Casey “Mr. Shirtless.” (If you’ve been following the auditions, you’ll know what I’m referring to.)

3)      Aaron Kelly – Aaron’s continued presence surprised me, since he forgot his words at one point, but his back story (Aunt and Uncle had to raise him) and likeability made him a finalist.

4)      Lee Dewyze – [Do you remember him?]

5)      Todrick Hall – Todrick has danced and sung on Broadway with Fantasia in “The Color Purple.”

Female Contestants Named on Tuesday, Feb. 16:

1)      Didi Benami – The Nashville songstress’ story is primarily how the death of her best friend is motivating her.

2)      Katelyn Epperly – I’m pulling for the West Des Moines native with the “Witches of Eastwick” wild blonde hair. Her backstory is less compelling: Dad left Mom and she wants to prove that there is life after divorce.

So, those are the 7 contestants (out of 24) that have been announced as I write this.  I’m going to predict some sure things for tomorrow night, and some strong possibles.

Female Contestants (in no particular order, but bold-faced are the stronger bets) to be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 17: (#3 through #12):

#3 – Angela Martin

#4 – Lilly Scott

#5 – Crystal Bowersax

#6 – Haeley Vaughan

#7 – Charity Vance

#8 – Ashley Rodriguez

#9- Janell Wheeler

#10- Genesis Moore

#10-Lacey Brown

#11-Christian Spear

For #12, some whose names were dropped (after which they disappeared) are; Tory Kelly, Kimberly Carver, Dawntoya Thomasen and a girl whose first name was Megan (did not get her last name). There are some fine male singers this year, but there seems to be more female talent this year.

Male Contestants: (#6 through #12):

#6 – John Park

#7 – Jermaine Purefory

#8 – Lloyd Thomas

#9 – Andrew Garcia

#10-Thaddeus Johnson

#11-Chris Golightly

#12-Dave Pittman

What? You say you don’t remember these names. Let me give you a quick refresher course on the Best Female Bets so you’re ahead of the game on Wednesday night.

#3) Angela Martin:  Angela made it to the Top 40 in Season 8. She said, “I’ve seen a lot of dreams die. I can’t give up until I touch my dream.” Angela sang a Mary J. Blige song. The 28-year-old native of Chicago lost her father just before being cut in Season 7 and, in Season 8, missed out because she had a traffic court citation. She was described as “really talented” and the phrase “try and try again” was used. Get the picture? If you watched on Tuesday, Angela was wearing a fake leopard-skin one-shouldered dress and looked great. She ended up in Room 3, and Room 2 was the room where contestants went to die.

#4) Lilly Scott – Lilly was described as “a sandwich-maker from Denver.” She has distinctive gray-white hair and wore long peacock earrings. Kara said, “Everything about you is refreshing.” Would seem to be a shoo-in.

#5 – Crystal Bowersax – If Crystal, a 24-year-old from Chicago, doesn’t get in, there is no justice. From Chicago, she both played guitar and harmonica while singing, totally charming the judges. Crystal describes herself as a musician and a mother. Simon said of her, “You’re infectious. People will like you,” That, plus she is a very good bluesy chanteuse Sheryl Crow-like singer.

#6) Haely Vaughan– Haeley is the would-be black C&W singer. I honestly don’t think she’s that good, but Randy, in particular, really seems to like her.

#7) Charity Vance – Charity got the second gold ticket in Chicago singing “Summertime” and talking about her mother and father’s beauty shop. A pretty blonde, she had a small, soprano voice with a nicely lilting vibrato. Charity was a member of the female trio “Faith” during group week, along with Ashley Rodriguez, and all 3 of the members of this trio made it through.

#8) Janell Wheeler – Janell sang “House of the Rising Sun” and is rumored to be Tim Teebow’s girlfriend. Look for her to make it through to the top 24 for that reason, alone.

#9) Ashley Rodriguez – One of the trio called “Faith” during group week, Ashley has a video online under the name Ashley Makailah (“Gravity”, by Sara Bareilles), which is worth checking out. She is a true beauty who can really sing and Simon has said she has “it.” A lot of the videos of Ashley have been “pulled,” so she is one they’re keeping under wraps to spring on us.

#10) Genesis Moore – There is video of young Genesis at age 13 blowing the judges away in a talent competition singing “Summertime.” We hardly saw her at all during the auditions. This black chanteuse is one who can blow.

The last 2 spots may well go to any one of these names: Christian Spear, Tory Kelly, Kimberly Carver, Dawntoya Thomasen, Megan ?. I think the “best of the best” (i.e., the best of the female talent) is already listed above.

Since the girls are the strength area this year, I’ll remind you about the male contestants after they are announced on Fox tomorrow night, Wednesday, February 17th, 2010.

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