American Idol Red Wine Recap: ‘Top 10’ highlights (and lowlights) of the auditions

American Idol Judges laugh during Auditions 2020
American Idol Judges like what they heard in last night’s auditions, and so did I. Pic credit: ABC

Monsters & Critics columnist Liz Long recaps American Idol Season 18 Episode 4, with a little help from a glass bottle of pinot Corona (or two) (or three)…

Welcome, my Idol-Addicts, to our weekly recap as we near the end of our 2020 auditions. Ain’t no Coronavirus gonna hold us down! Oh no. We got to keep on moving!

After all, Katy Perry is pregnant! And Uncle Richie and Uncle Luke are already planning for the new bambino’s arrival. So pop open those Corona bottles, folks. We got some recappin’ to do.

But first I gotta say. I came in like this:

person crossing arms
Pic credit: Giphy

By the end of the episode, I was pleased with most of what I saw. I say most because, once again, the judges handed out “Top 10s” like they were face masks.

Plus, well, I’m kinda sick of that beaded pearl, afghan-looking shirt Katy Perry has on.

American Idol judges 2020 laugh
Katy Perry’s beaded pearl, afghan-looking shirt. Pic credit: ABC

But who am I to critique?

I believe we saw some true “arteests” tonight, and that sits well with me. On the other hand, I might have just had one too many Coronas. Potatoes Po-tah-toes, folks.

Let’s run down the Top 10 highlights (or lowlights). And I choose 10 because it’s either the number of Coronas I’ve drunk or in honor of the fact that the judges are “Top 10” happy.

I’ll let that be a mystery.

1. Danny La Rota is our Modern-Day Eddie Vedder

Danny La Rota auditions for American Idol and sings.
American Idol contestant Danny La Rota gives us modern-day Eddie Vedder vibes. Pic credit: ABC

Now I don’t know if you guys know this, but I close my eyes whenever I hear someone sing for the first time.

Yeah, I know this isn’t The Voice. But try it. You’d be surprised at how many people you might actually want to weed out of your airwaves.

Danny La Rota, who wisely covered Lorde’s Royals, is NOT one of those weeds.

He had swag. He had a unique voice. He had a great song choice.

Luke compared him to Eddie Vedder while Uncle Richie likened him to Robert Plant. No matter how you slice him, I dug it. He has real artistry, and I’m excited to see what he can do.

2. Makayla Phillips and Devon Alexander Sing Nice and All, but Where’s the Originality?

American Idol contestant Makayla Phillips sings and auditions
Makayla Phillips auditions for American Idol 2020. Pic credit: ABC

WARNING:  I’m about to be way harsh, Tai.

Yeah, Makayla seems fresh in her pink rain jacket and white tennies, but, for me, she simply did a good karaoke. Sorry if I sound too Simon-ish right now (someone’s got to), but who is she?

I don’t think it’s too much to ask to know who these people are on their first audition.

And, oh, God, where is Simon when Katy declares her “Top 10.”  NOOOooooooo!!! Stop this, Judges!

Idol contestant Devon Alexander auditions for Idol 2020
Devon Alexander auditions for Idol and is somewhat forgettable. Pic credit: ABC

Likewise, used car salesman, Devon Alexander, is also forgettable. Yes, he can sing.

But like Makayla, who they packaged him with, I ask: Who is he?

Both of them get through, and I am interested to know what makes them stand out more than any other decent looking human being with nice vocals. Sorry, not sorry.

3. Mosean Wilson Comes in Hot with His Keyboard and Originality

Idol contestant Mosean Wilson auditions with his keyboard
Idol contestant Mosean Wilson comes in hot with his keyboard during auditions 2020. Pic credit: ABC

Mosean presents a nice segue from our previous two contestants because Mosean does have the originality.

I’ll admit, I wish he had more vocal range, but I’m glad the judges recognized his authenticity.  He’s strong.  He’s driven.  And he knows who he is.

Side Note: How amazing are the songs that play between contestant packages? After Mosean’s audition, we heard Leon Bridges’ Take Me to Your River, and later, we heard Bob Dylan’s Girl From The North Country.

Could we please promote the lovely person who chooses these songs to the person who also guides the winner’s song choices post-coronation? It’s a thought, Idol-record-deal-person.

Have a think on it. Love, Lizzie.

4. Jimmy Levy, You Could be a Bad Ass

American Idol contestant Jimmy auditions
Luke Bryan tells Idol contestant Jimmy Levy he could be a “Bad A**ss.” I agree. Pic credit: ABC

Though Jimmy Levy’s mom, the clairvoyant, in her 5-inch heel boots, scared me a bit, I loved this guy’s voice. Reminiscent of Kaleo, he had a deep soul and grit and could hit the high notes when needed.

Do you see ghosts, Jimmy?  Well, I see you in the Top 10. MAYBE not. But I think you could be a bada** if America will have you.

Oh, and if you quit channeling your invisible earpiece.

5. Kat Luna and Her Space Cowboy, Alejandro Alex Cortes Arrive

Idol couple Kat Luna and space cowboy Alex Cortes audition for Idol 2020
Beautiful couple Kat Luna and her Space Cowboy Alex Cortes arrives to Idol Auditions 2020. Pic credit: ABC

The most beautiful couple to ever embrace the American Idol audition stage has arrived, folks.

It’s Dua Lipa sound-alike, Kat Luna, and her handsome Space Cowboy, Alex Cortes! We have to call him Alex because Alejandro is his real name, and, well, that seat’s taken on that name around here, boy.

They sing Shallow, and I gotta say, I preferred Alex’s smokey voice over her looks. Nonetheless, their hands are glued together, so they must travel to Hollywood together, and that’s exactly where the judges send them.

6. Sophia Wackerman Star’s Name Precedes Her

Idol contestant Sophia Wackerman Star auditions for Idol 2020
A ‘Star’ is born in Idol hopeful Sophia Wackerman. Pic credit: ABC

Not only did Idol hopeful Sophia Wackerman receive a golden ticket on tonight’s Idol, but, by golly, she also got herself a brand new name.

Compliments of one Miss Katy Perry.

Yes, guys, a star was born tonight in Sophia Wackerman Star (“Star” comes from her late mother’s surname).

I’ll admit, at first I thought she might be annoying (no real reason for this sentiment — I just did). But she slowly grew on me once she moseyed her way on over to the keys and showed she can pick a good song (Water by Bishop Briggs).

The judges praised her “signature tone,” but I was more intrigued by her pairing of a basic beige jumper with an orange pleather blazer and black combat boots.

It worked.

Lionel threw out a Top 10 (shocker!). And, well, I didn’t exactly hate the fact that that we got to hear Belinda Carlisle’s Ooh, Heaven is a Place on Earth post-audition.

See you in Hollywood, Sophia Star!

7. Olivia Ximines Sings Tori Kelly and I’m not Hating on THAT

Idol contestant Olivia auditions
Olivia, our ‘young Brandy’ auditions with a great pair of false eyelashes. Pic credit: ABC

Is it just me, or do you guys love the fact that these contestants are auditioning with songs by Tori Kelly tonight? Did I even spy two of her songs?

It just shows that you don’t have to win the show to be a slow-creeping star.

Though she had some great fake eyelashes and a beautiful back-up squad, Olivia didn’t blow me away.

I thought the judges were on the same page as me, after critiquing her youth (16!) for quite some time, but rather than telling her to come back in five years, they deduced that this show might not be around that much longer, and put this young Brandy through.


8. Marna Michele Inspires with a Million Reasons

Idol hopeful Marna auditions for American Idol 2020
Marna and Ryan Seacrest pow-wow before her audition. Pic credit: ABC

Marna Michele’s audition gave me a million reasons to cry, not one of which was them playing This is Me as she strolled off with her golden ticket.

Ah, who am I kidding, guys? That song makes me tear up like a baby in a full-blown fetal position every damn time.

Particularly great about Marna’s audition was her interaction with Katy Perry. From Katy’s fist-bump, “I’m proud of you” moment, to a spot-on vocal lesson, to her telling Marna, “we’re not going to treat you differently” (because of her disability), I was proud of Katy.

Fist bumps all around!

9. Zack Dobbins is ‘Mericas Diamond in the ROUGH

Country boy Zach Dobbins auditions for American Idol 2020
Zach Dobbins is just makin’ good on his promise to audition for ‘Merican Idol 2020. Pic credit: ABC

This is what a promise gets you, folks. A golden ticket to Hollywood.

Fixin’ to get an education into a world he knows nothing about, Zach Dobbins comes to us from Clay West Virginia!

Now are those dirt bike goggles or ski goggles, Zach? Ah, what’s it matter. Zach promised a girl he’d audition and audition he did.

After a guitar tune-up from Luke, Zach belted out an original and was 100% authentic, and, well, that counts for somethin’.

10. Ren Patrick is a Free Bird Now, Dancing on Her Own

American Idol Ren Patrick smiles with her mom before auditioning
Ren Patrick and her mom share an Idol moment. Pic credit: ABC

Last, but definitely not least, Ren Patrick comes to us after saying peace out to an abusive relationship, proving that the best revenge is success.

With a little help from her mom (and Katy Perry, who apparently passed by her at a Hollywood party and said “ew, girl dump him!”), Ren auditions with Dancing on My Own and soars like the bird she is.

Now, guys, I know I said that The Greatest Showman song, This is Me, gets me every time. But damn. When Ren hit those higher notes, “I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her” … well, let’s just say that stank face of mine crept in.

Then, when she got to “I’ve given it my all” … chill bumps set in.

That song.  That voice.  Wow.  Yes, girl.  You’re in our little safe space now with Uncle Richie, Auntie Katy, Uncle Luke, and ah hell, let’s throw me in now too, Aunt Lizzie.

We’ve got you and are glad you’re here.

Well, guys, that will about do it for this week’s auditions. Next week we wrap them up, and I’m looking forward to recapping Hollywood Week!  Good times ahead.

In the meantime, I ask, who was your favorite of the night? And you better not say the Jack Johnson dude who didn’t know who any of the judges were.

Seriously, dude?

Til’ next week, my Idol-Addicts! And don’t forget to wash your hands!

American Idol airs Sunday, 8 pm EST, on ABC.

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