Is James Durbin the new Adam Lambert?
That was one of the biggest questions from Wednesday's episode of "American Idol." The show, which featured San Francisco auditions, was the final episode in this season's early audition phase.
Durbin closed the show and delivered a big vocal range similar to Adam Lambert's style. Translation: "Singing" sometimes equals "screaming." The judges loved his rendition of "Dream On" and unanimously gave him a "yes" for Hollywood.
To some extent, Durbin is also an "Idol" producer's dream. He has a compelling back story. His dad died of a drug overdose. He's been diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and Asperger syndrome. He and his girlfriend have a kid and they're poor. So many elements.
Watch his audition:
Are you rooting for Durbin? I think I am. My other favorite singer of the night was Emily Anne Reed.
The Hollywood round begins Thursday. Here's a full recap of Wednesday's show:
Welcome to San Francisco! The "American Idol" episode kicks off with a teary rejected contestant. Her problem? "Just because somebody farts...let them finish singing, OK?" Haha.
The first singer immediately seems like a joke audition. Inessa Lee is originally from Ukraine. She dresses head-to-toe in pink, brags about her music videos and describes herself as a unique creation. She showcases some belly-dancing for the judges. I don't like the new belly-dancing trend on "Idol."
The judges think she's cute, but they're not too keen on her version of Air Supply's "All Out Of Love." Honestly, it's not as bad as I imagined. That doesn't mean it's good, though. She gets a unanimous "no" for Hollywood, then tells the judges they're missing out on the biggest celebrity in Hollywood. Sure.
Then, we get rapid-fire footage of successful contestants: Brittany Mazur, Lara Johnston and Matthew Nuss. Note: Lara's father is an original member of The Doobie Brothers. Learn more here.
Stefano Langone says he's been through some crazy stuff. He was in an accident that changed his life. Medics initially thought he was dead. Then, they thought he'd never walk. He's OK now, but he says the experience made him hungrier for success.
He sings a decent version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." It seems a little over-the-top at times, but the judges love it. J-Lo thinks he has movie star qualities. He unanimously advances to Hollywood.
Clint Jun Gamboa is a karaoke host at a dive bar. He sings "Millionaire" and it's pretty good. The judges love his vocal tone. He sails through to Hollywood. (Side note: Clint apparently recorded some music for "The Room.")
Cue the inevitable bad singer montage.
Drew Beaumier approaches the judges dressed as a Transformer. His homemade costume is pretty awesome. It lets him transform into a car with moving wheels. His voice isn't so amazing, though. After he botches "Born to be Wild," he gets a unanimous "no" for Hollywood.
Then, we get a montage of a bunch of successful women. No names, though.
Julie Zorrilla is originally from Columbia. Unfortunately, the country had a lot of violence in the '90s. Her parents moved to the U.S. with two kids and no jobs. They've inspired Julie.
She sings "Summertime." She has a nice voice, but she gets a little dramatic at times. The judges love it. She gets a unanimous "yes" for Hollywood. J-Lo even thinks she could win the competition. Really?!? Added bonus: She gets the ticket to Hollywood on her birthday.
Dave Combs is a Bo Bice wannabe. His version of "Oh! Darling" needs some help, though. Steven especially hates it. He gets a "no" for Hollywood.
Emily Anne Reed originally hails from Virginia. Her home in San Francisco burned down. "American Idol could change my life by giving me what I always wanted, which is a music career," she says.
She sports tattoos and quickly reminds me of Megan Joy. Her music style is similar, too. She sings "You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me." She has a very different voice. It's definitely a singer/songwriter vibe. Steven says no, Randy says yes, Jennifer says yes. Steven asks her to play her guitar after getting the ticket to Hollywood, and he's impressed.
Time for the last singer of the night.
Meet James Durbin. His mom raised him and his siblings. His dad was a musician and spent lots of time away. His dad died of a drug overdose. "I didn't get a chance to know him," James says. Wait, things get worse. Later, James was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and Asperger syndrome.
People made fun of him. Fortunately, he met his girlfriend -- "an angel" -- at a bar. Then, his girlfriend had a surprise pregnancy. They have a kid and they're poor. Wow, so many elements.
James is best summarized with two words: Adam Lambert. He boasts a similarly amazing range and big voice. He performs an emotional rendition of Aerosmith's "Dream On." If you like Adam, you'll like James. He seems like a potentially divisive contestant.
Either way, the judges love him. He unanimously advances to Hollywood.
Thursday, the Hollywood phase begins. I can't wait!