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American Idol Red Wine Recap: Dream-chasers meet the dream-makers in final auditions

Grace Leer smiles after her Idol audition
Grace Leer has grown up since her Idol Juniors days, treating us to one of the best voices of the night for final auditions. Pic credit: ABC

Monsters & Critics columnist Liz Long recaps American Idol Season 18 Episode 5, with a little help from a glass of pinot (or two) …

Hello my lovely Idol-Addicts and welcome to the finest recap around of Idol 2020 final auditions!

Now I promised myself I’m not going to do it … nope, I’m not going to bring up the C-word.  Not gonna bring up that thing that is causing Americans to lose their ever-loving minds and buy out all the toilet paper in America …

Not gonna do it!!

man says no!
Pic credit: Giphy


There. I said it. It’s out the way. Now we can shift focus and talk about music. You know, that other thing that unites us all together?

I mean, come on, guys. We can enjoy our Idol at home, right? We have our TVs at home. Our comfy PJ’s at home. Wine at home…

We’re in this TOGETHER, right?

I mean, we’re KINDA together. We’re definitely at home… Our respective homes. Did I mention home? Because that’s where we’re gonna be. Home. Yep. Big fat ol’ home …

Where was I … ah, yes. The recap.

I hope you have wine, friends. I hope you have wine.

But first, anyone else wanna vote in Fred as a fourth judge?

Piano player Fred says "I could have used more energy from you"
Our beloved Idol piano player Yeezy, I mean, Fred, speaks! Pic credit: ABC

Yes, we finally learned, tonight, who our piano man is! He’s none other than the co-author of Bruno Mars’ Treasure! And not only did we learn his name tonight, but we also learned the sound of his voice!

And that voice spoke the truth!

Telling a contestant who gave an underwhelming performance of Treasure, “it was technically great, but I could have used more energy.”

And good on you Katy Perry for having that Simon Cowell-esque moment tonight: If a contestant sings a song Fred co-wrote, by golly, I want to hear from Fred.

Yaaaaaas, Ms. Bloom!

Now, onto the stand-out dreamers of the night who got a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Robert Taylor Touches Us All – Emotionally and at a Proper Distance, Mind You

Robert Taylor plays piano and sings on American Idol auditions
Robert Taylor owns his truth on Idol 2020. Pic credit: ABC

Robert Taylor is first up, and he brings with him a solo key earring that I’m extremely curious about — yet never explained. He also brings all the emotions.

He is the definition of “owning one’s truth” — an overly used phrase by The Bachelor women this season — but one that actually fits Robert.

Growing up as a gay man in the church was not easy for Robert, but thankfully, he had a supportive dad who provided an environment of unconditional love.

Unfortunately, Robert’s dad died due to drug addiction, and now Robert is here, just wanting to touch someone. And touch someone he did:

Katy Perry tears up over Robert Taylor's Idol audition
You had me at hello, Robert. You had me at hello. Pic credit: ABC

Just look at those pink eyes!

Nothing snarky about this portion of the recap, guys. I simply need to feel the love right now, and Robert brought just that.

America thanks you, Mr. Taylor.  Just make sure you properly hand-sanitize before you touch anyone else, mmmm-k? (Oh I couldn’t resist!)

Grace Leer Grows from American Juniors to American Idol

Grace Leer smiles after her Idol audition
Grace Leer has grown up since her Idol Juniors days, giving us one of the best voices of the night. Pic credit: ABC

I’m thinking, is there really a thing called American Juniors and is that really Ryan Seacrest?

It can’t be Brian Dunkelman (yeah, remember him?) because that is definitely Seacrest’s voice.

Grace Leer and Ryan Seacrest pose on American Juniors and American Idol
Ageless Ryan Seacrest, or his clone, poses with Idol hopeful, Grace Leer, 16 years since American Juniors.  Pic credit: ABC


Grace Leer has been chasing down a dream ever since American Juniors, and she, now, reunites with Ryan Seacrest 16 years later, and man, has she improved!

Bringing the Nashville vibes with her, Grace has a rich texture with an authentic country yodel that Katy describes as her “secret sauce.”

Luke’s just quietly sitting over there, like…

Luke Bryan acting silly
She’s the real country deal, guys!  Pic credit: Giphy

He calls her classic, and Grace is so touched by this, she instantly begins crying, which makes me like her even more.

Not to mention, she has a really cool guitar player who makes mustard yellow hats look way cooler than Curious George’s friend ever did.

Man in yellow hat and guitar on American Idol
Grace Leer’s guitar player is one cool dude. Pic credit: ABC

After belting out Patsy Cline’s Crazy, I’m baffled the usual Top-10 Happy Judges didn’t drop a Top 10 slot on her, which would have actually been warranted.

Ah well. I definitely see this girl through to America’s vote.

Franklin Boone Schools Us in Rock

Franklin Boone plays guitar and auditions for Idol
Franklin Boone brings The School of Rock to Idol auditions. Pic credit: ABC

Franklin Boone sports Lennon glasses and teaches at, get this, The School of Rock.

Like seriously? Is that a real place? With little kid dreamers in a band and everything?

What’s more, Franklin chooses a Fleetwood Mac song.

Now, if this doesn’t immediately spring to your mind the following image, well …. shame on you. (I tried to find one where Jack was dancing by the jukebox, but, alas, there were no Gifs to be had.

But you get my point.)

Jack Black dancing in the movie The School of Rock
Pic credit: Giphy

Anyway, Franklin’s voice is like butter, with hints of John Legend, and his stripped-down rendition of Dreams is one I could listen to on repeat.

So let me get this straight. Franklin teaches kids and is humble. AND he brings style in one cool package? What’s not to love?

Perhaps those two pesky dreadlocks that keep falling in front of his face, but I’ll deal. Onto Hollywood, I say, where it’s time to shine!

Roselyn Carter is Bringing it Home for the People of Watts!

Roselyn Carter auditions for Idol
Roselyn Carter embodies everything that American Idol is about. Pic credit: ABC

Where is Watts? I don’t know, but I love how Roselyn “Rozzo” Carter describes it: Watts is home if you let it be home.

Rozzo talks with a cadence that is like a constant spoken word, and I kinda dig it. Katy wants Roselyn to take us away from church, which she certainly does.

And how adorable was it when Roselyn went back to her house in Watts (I just want to keep saying it), to her huge excited family?

I love that she is leading by example to prove it doesn’t matter if you come from Watts. You, too, can get a golden ticket.

But, it doesn’t stop there, Watts. I mean, Rozzo! Dream even bigger, and go get em’ past Hollywood!!

Jahzan from Jamaica and Her Adorable Mom

Jahzan from Jamaica auditions for American Idol 2020
Jahzan from Jamaica auditions for Idol with quite a unique voice. Pic credit: ABC

If Toni Braxton, Cher, and Shakira had a baby, it would be Jahzan — just Jahzan — from Jamaica. Raised by a single mom, Jahzan is a subway performer and certainly comes with a unique voice.

She is undeniably interesting to watch and memorable, I’m just thinking perhaps the extreme novelty of her voice will wear off mid-Hollywood Week.

Normally, an instantly identifiable voice is good on Idol. I’m just not totally sold on Jahzan’s.

Jahzan and mom dance together
Jahzan and her mom give us a vibe, right there, tonight on Idol. Pic credit: ABC

But, hey, she’s likable, and you can’t help but love her mom who not only does her outfit changes but also prays (hardcore no less) in the corner.

One question: Can mom be there to dance every time Jahzan sings? Pretty please?

Jordan Moyes is on Fire

Idol contestant Jordan Moyes sings
Idol hopeful Jordan Moyes sings a gorgeous version of The Boss’s I’m on Fire.

We don’t learn a lot about Jordan Moyes tonight, except that he knows how to pick a song and strip it down! Luke even whispered to Katy, “I want to sign him. Now.”

And had it not been for the amazing little inflections I spied in his voice, I wouldn’t have plopped him into his recap.

But he did. And I look forward to learning about this plaid-shirt-wonder. Sometimes, less is more.

Demi Rae is Not Typical

Demi Rae sings on Idol auditions
Demi Rae finally gets past her insecurities and pursues her Idol dreams. Pic credit: ABC

I hate hearing that Demi has held off on singing professionally because she doesn’t look like all the other girls out there. Be you! Bedazzled eyelids and all!

Demi is like a more modern Adele. I can see her getting down to the final slots at the end of Hollywood Week and just miss the cut. I don’t know. Call it a hunch.

So what did you think of tonight’s Idol? Could you have done without the whole audition on a boat thing, like me? Stop trying to make auditions outside a thing, okay, Idol producers?

It’s not going to happen.

clip from movie Mean Girls
Pic credit: Giphy

Although I must admit. I did like the Katy/Luke/Lionel Titanic impression. Sometimes those kids can be pretty cute.

And with that, I ask: Who are you looking forward to seeing the most as we go into Hollywood Week?  I have to say, mine might be Shannon Gibbons or Arthur Gunn (Dibesh) … remember him from Night One?

Don’t forget!  Bachelor is over, and so we have our first night of Hollywood Week tomorrow! And you better believe I will be there.

Not in Hollywood, of course. I’ll be on my couch. At home. Where I will be burning a hole with my butt, oh for I don’t know, the next month or so. Dios mio.

Til’ tomorrow night my Idol-Addicts! And don’t forget to practice good social distancing!

American Idol airs Sunday & Monday, 8/7 c, on ABC.

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