Feb 6, 2012


It’s on to Portland, Oregon the 6th stop of the never ending audition season. The show has definitely lost its steam as the auditions and locations seem to blend together-  Portland was particularly bad.

There was absolutely no energy and the bulk of the show focused on contestants that judges felt “weren’t just quite ready”. In an earlier blog, I said that it now seemed normal not to have Simon Cowell on the show. I take that back, at least Simon is never boring.

Randy seemed disinterested and all Steven wants to do is check out the girls. Going forward, American Idol should take a long look at how they can make the audition process more interesting. Listed below is a recap of my favorite Portland auditions. There weren’t many and based on the show I was surprised to hear that the Portland auditions resulted in 45 “Golden Tickets”. Assuming that the American Idol producers were trying to show the best and most interesting auditions, I shudder to think about the quality of the singers that we didn’t see and the judges sent to Hollywood.

However, there was one singer that might have made this trip to Portland worthwhile. See if you can figure out which one it was!

Brittany Zika is a 21 year old Nanny from Portland, Oregon with a quirky personality and a terrible pair of glasses, more on that later. Brittany is a big Sara Bareilles fan who dreams of one day singing on stage with Sara. Leaving the dream sequence behind, Brittany goes to a sold out Sara Bareilles concert and holds up a cardboard sign asking Sara “Will You Sing Gravity With me?”. Amazingly enough, Sara says yes and invites her onstage to sing a duet. Brittany takes this as a sign and decides that she has to pursue her music career. In a surprise, Brittany doesn’t sing a Sara Bareilles song and instead sings an interesting version of Brandi Carlile’s, “The Story.” She has a lot of energy and a good voice. The judges seem to like her and Randy gets her to take off her hat, her nerdy glasses and shake her hair around and she looks like a different person. Randy comments with those changes, “The Sass Comes out.” In a unanimous vote, the judges led by Randy, send Brittany to Hollywood. If she leaves those glasses in Portland, with her personality and voice she could be worth watching.

Jermaine Jones is a 6’ 8” man from Pine Hill, New Jersey. This “Gentle Giant” sings an ok version of “Superstar”, by Luther Vandross. He has a seriously deep bass voice, but I wasn’t impressed with his range. In fact, when watching him I kind of expected him to break out a chorus of “Old Man River”. I might be wrong but I think is voice is better fitted to Broadway show tunes and I think his journey to Hollywood will be a short one.

Britnee Kellogg is an absolutely beautiful 27 year old mom with two small boys and a whole entourage of family members who have taken the trip to Portland with her for the audition. Britnee, who was married to a basketball player, gave up her dream as a singer to support her husband’s basketball career. Getting emotional, she says, “He held me back from what I wanted to do then he decided to go pursue other women,” so now I am pursuing a singing career. Fittingly, she sings a terrific version of Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good”, which gathers a healthy laugh from the judges. As Britnee sings, Jennifer Lopez joins in for part of the chorus. Wow, this girl can really sing and is easily the best audition of the day. Maybe this trip to Portland wasn’t a waste of time after all. In a unanimous vote, the judges send her to Hollywood. She better have a good babysitter, because she definitely has the potential to go very far.

Naomi Gillies, a 22 year old girl from Boston. Massachusetts starts off her audition by asking Steven Tyler if she can sing one of his songs. With Steven’s approval, she sings a decent version of Aerosmith’s, “Cryin”. While I liked her, I certainly didn’t like her as much as Jennifer Lopez and the other judges. I might be wrong, but in a group of 200 plus “Golden Ticket” performers she could be lost. Wasn’t sure why the producers decided to include this audition in the final cut, the only thing I could come up with was that she sang a Steven Tyler song.

Jessica Phillips a 25 year old dental hygienist from Brooklyn, New York (Go Brooklyn, my childhood home!!!) is the final audition and as usual her story is a real “tear jerker”. Even I felt like crying. Her boyfriend, Angelo suffered a major stroke on Easter Sunday and was hospitalized for more than a month. “When he woke up, he didn’t know who Jessica was. Jessica says her life and relationship has changed so much and now “I’m really a caretaker.” While Angelo can speak, his speech is slurred and it is very difficult to see a good looking young man like this struggle to communicate. Jessica sings an entertaining version of “Again”, by Faith Evans. I like her. She has a good voice and a great personality. In a unanimous vote the judges send her to Hollywood. Unfortunately she will need more than a good story to survive there. In an emotional ending, her boyfriend tells her he loves her as they hug and celebrate her “Golden Ticket.”

Thankfully, the Portland auditions have ended and we are now moving to St Louis for the final audition stop.