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The first night of Hollywood week introduced us to Ellen DeGeneres as a judge. We found her to be both firm and funny.
She made us laugh out loud multiple times, most notably when she had contestants stepping back, forth and to the left before telling the entire group they were through to the next day. But she's no Paula Abdul. We also heard snippets of her telling singers they "scared" her with their routine and other straightforward criticisms. It was a great debut for her all around.
As for the singers? We heard from some we remember from the earlier audition episodes and we met some new, impressive crooners. A sampling below of those we liked best:
Didi Benami: We hate to sound like Kara too much, but she has the whole package going. She reminds of of Brooke White in terms of singing/songwriting material, replete with a nice tone and seemingly very polished. We loved how emotional she got during her performance.
It hard not to root for Haeley Vaughn. She's unique, as an African-American country artist and mature beyond her 16 years. With this personality and chutzpah, we'd expect to see Vaughn in the semifinals.
On the guys' side, Michael Lynche stood out. He learned his wife was in labor moments before taking the stage and let everyone know that. He said he had to move on to make it worthwhile to miss the birth. Equipped with a guitar, he went with “Waiting on the World to Change” and Simon simply said: “I thought that was good. So did we.
Casey James? He's more than just a nice body (remember he removed his shirt during his initial audition). He goes with a bluesy number and strums his guitar. Randy refers to him a “real singer/songwriter.”
Finally, keep an eye on Andrew Garcia. After acoustic version of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up," Kara said he's a genius. A bit heavy on the praise, but the guy is soulful and the real deal. Kara compared him to Adam Lambert. We'd go with Kris Allen.
Who was your favorite on the night?