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"American Idol" Recap: Last of the Auditions

The final audition episode of "American Idol," Season 15, aired Thursday night, with emotions high amongst contestants and the judges. These were, after all, the last open auditions of the show's run.

• The first few auditions were in San Francisco. Jessica Cabral, 21, has been in music her whole life, with her parents, both born in Brazil. Her hair was dark at the roots and honey blonde towards the end, and she wore a blue scoop-neck knee-length dress with black leggings as she sang "Brand New Me" by Alicia Keys in warm, rich tones. Jennifer Lopez called her voice "lush," and Keith Urban praised her control. Harry Connick Jr. said she has tremendous talent. She got three yeses to move onto the Hollywood rounds.
• Cody Ostrenga, 23, competes in contests where he has to shoot targets from a moving horse. He also bellydances, a talent he claimed he got from watching Jennifer (though she thought he must have meant Shakira). He demonstrated for them while he sang "Proud Mary." Sadly, once more, his personality was better than his voice. Harry told him he had a unique collection of talents, but singing is the third out of the three. Keith said everything was good except the singing. Jennifer agreed, and it was the end.
• Brian Dale Brown, 27, a big, heavyset guy in a black sweater with stripes across the chest, entertained the judges by doing impressions of Keith Urban (just OK) and Scooby Doo (not bad). He had auditoned 10 times before. As he sang "Unchained Melody," he had a very scratchy, somewhat bluesy delivery, and Keith stood up and applauded. Jennifer said it was a bit all over the place. Harry called him a smart guy with a good voice who needs to tone down his performance. Despite Jennifer's criticism, he got three yeses.
• Gina Naomi Baez brought her adorable little dog, Tinkerbell, wearing a matching blue dress with sparkly yellow stars. She sang "Lips Are Moving," a capella, showing off a powerful voice but without much dimension. Harry said that her voice was strong but "didn't take me anywhere." Jennifer thought it was theatrical and fun but wasn't "perfect" and was "not right for 'American Idol.'" Keith said he hadn't seen a real artist and voted no, and so did Harry. She begged to sing another song, but Jennifer said her hands were tied because she'd already received two nos.
• Next was a montage of the judges saying no to contestants, who were heartbroken because this time there is no next year.
• The next auditions took place in Philadelphia, starring with Melany Huber, 17, who had been diagnosed a few months ago with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and was now cancer-free and growing back her hair. Wearing a floral dress with a white sleeveless denim vest, she accompanied herself on guitar for a heartfelt rendition of "Talking to the Moon" by Bruno Mars. Jennifer liked how she emotes. Keith also found it special, praising her effortless ability to emote. Harry found her captivating. Three yeses.
• Then was a montage of hopefuls who had brought a family member (grandfather, brother, father) to accompany them on guitar: Rachel Karryn, 20; Carolyn Byrne, 25; and Bianca Espinal, 22.
• Justin Sullivan, 22, is obsessed with Kelly Clarkson and wears T-shirts that say "Mr. Clarkson." For Justin's audition, Harry brought the stand-up image of her over behind him while he performed. Naturally, he sang one of her songs, "Stronger," making it sort of slow and sweet, wearing a black V-neck shirt and black jeans. He had some problems, though, with pitch. Harry said there were some moments he really enjoyed but wasn't sure it was enough. Jennifer agreed, and so did Keith. Nos from all.
• Chynna Sherrod, 16, sang "One Last Time" by Ariana Grande, accompanying herself on guitar and wearing a gray scoop-neck top, black cardigan and denim cropped jeans. Her voice was deeply resonant. Keith said, "You sing like you are, which is laid back, chill." Harry thought she was fantastic, and Jennifer called her awesome. Three yeses.
• Back in Atlanta, then, with video of the crew and judges celebrating Harry's birthday. Instead of a cake, they had a cake stand filled with beignets. The crew also got him a real live finger monkey for his birthday.
• Lillian Glanton, 15, sang her original song, "Country Boyfriend," which had some clever, amusing lyrics. With long blonde hair and an American flag vest, she accompanied herself on guitar. Harry said that her voice wasn't on the level of what he was looking for. Jennifer liked her song but couldn't find the melody in the beginning and was concerned that she was singing her own song off-key. Keith, however, liked the whole package and voted yes. Jennifer gave it some thought before deciding to put her through, based on the strength of her songwriting. The judges agreed to take a selfie with her. This was followed by other examples of the judges splitting the vote.
• Kacye Haynes, 27, has been sober for a year, after being a musician got him into drugs/alcohol. He wore bright blue jeans and a gray sweater with white stripes on the shoulders. Accompanying himself on guitar, he laid it down with very listenable vocals, very emotional. Jennifer liked that it sounded like he was singing about real experience. Keith said he lacked power as a solo performer. Keith said no, and Jennifer said yes. Commercial break while we waited for Harry's decision. And... he compared Kacye to Jon Bon Jovi and Bono, voting yes to put Kacye through.
• Auditioning in Philadelphia, Zach Person, 18, sang "Next Door Neighbor Blues" by Gary Clark and accompanied himself on guitar, wearing a blue denim shirt with a white pattern, along with faded jeans. He scatted through some of it. Keith observed he had his own sound. Jennifer said there's no one who sounds like him. Harry liked that he did his own thing and was confident. He got three yeses.
• Colette Lush, 19, auditioned in San Francisco, singing "Who's Loving You" by the Jackson Five, wearing straight-legged white and black striped pants and a black top. She had long red hair. She gave the song a torch song quality. Harry liked the subtlety. Jennifer said she made it seem easy: "I feel like Carrie Underwood walked in." Keith liked her tone and the fact that she didn't sound like anyone. Three enthusiastic yeses.
• Avalon Young, 21, a self-professed tomboy, wore an oversized striped t-shirt and jeans. She has some Keith Urban lyrics tattooed on her bicep. She sang a Beyonce song, "XO," making good use of runs as she accompanied herself on guitar. Harry said the competition would be great for her in order to cause her to raise her game (which was already terrific). Jennifer loved the way she sang. Three yeses.
• Usen Isong, 23, whose parents are from Nigeria, is a background singer. He sang "Not the Only One" by Sam Smith, wearing a green and yellow loose-fitting shirt over black pants, with a slouchy black hat that blended into his natural hair. Harry said that the person behind him onstage would say "oh, crap." (Not sure what that means.) Jennifer said he was serious. Three yeses, and Jennifer made him dance for his Golden Ticket. They seemed to love his personality, as well.
• Jackie Butler has bright green hair and wore makeup in green and black streaks over her right eye, along with a black lacey dress and long black motorcycle jacket. She's a member of a group that only wears black and green. They all live together in her Mom's house. She sang, "It'll Rain" by Bruno Mars. They all felt that by the middle of the song she'd found her own voice, outside of the band, and that she was talented. Three yeses.
• There was a montage of other "yeses," including one guy who had to wait for a P.A. to deliver more Golden Tickets.
• Stephany Negrete, 21, sang "Who's Loving You" by the Jackson 5, wearing a short black dress with glittery bodice and silky skirt, an outfit which won compliments from the judges. She threw in a lot of runs, and her audition dragged a bit. Jennifer told her she should have thought more about what she was singing and less about all the notes she wanted to throw in. Harry said she was in a group of talented singers and needed confidence. Keith liked her energy and could see her singing other songs. Still, she got three yeses.
• Finally, it was the last audition, Manny Torres, 20, a Puerto Rican with a beard and moustache. He's a fan of Jennifer Lopez. He accompanied himself on guitar as he performed "This Love" by Maroon 5. Jennifer found him "present" and "joyous." Harry said that the way he plays, stands and sings are strong. Keith said he was focused, that he stays in the zone. Three yeses, and he received the last Golden Ticket.
• Final montage of contestants who are moving on, over a large group of hopefuls singing "You're the One That I Want" from "Grease."
• Next, 190 contestants will be tested in the Hollywood rounds.
Tags: american idol, music, television

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