On its penultimate night of Season 13 auditions Wednesday,
Yes, friends. We've almost made it to Hollywood -- and not a moment too soon. There are only so many more times we can hear someone sing
Here are some of the singers who gave Keith Urban,
Austin Wolfe, 16, whose take on (sigh) Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" prompted Lopez to declare she had the "whole package going on" and Urban to label her a "force to be reckoned with."
Kylee Adamson, a pretty 18-year-old lumberjack (!), who didn't get the chop even though Connick called what she did for a living "intimidating."
Alex Preston, 20, a self-described "band geek" who is taking a year off from college to pursue music. He performed an original tune that impressed all three judges. Lopez dubbed him a "supercomfortable" performer and gushed, "I love you and everything about you right now."
Samantha Calmes, 25, who intrigued the judges by a) displaying the contents of the fannypack she was wearing and b) singing "The Jeffersons" theme song. Urban applauded her "originality" and "range."
Lebryant Crew, 24, an Arkansas preacher and real estate appraiser whose showmanship appealed to Connick, and Laurel Wright, who sang a lilting original Lopez called "pretty."
D.J. Bradley, 20, whose tousle-haired look reminded the judges of
Julie Awful – or perhaps it's Offal? – who suffered the twin indignities of having her name made fun of (though never spelled out onscreen) and being the subject of one of those did-she-make-it real-time Twitter votes. She was rewarded for her suffering with a ticket to Hollywood.
Kenzie Hall, a 16-year-old cutie who sang John Mayer's "I'm Gonna Find Another You" and earned a spot as one of Lopez's "faves."
Paisley Van Patten, 25, who had early success in Nashville, but then saw it all slip away when she spiraled into alcoholism. Now sober for two and a half years, she said she's "still chasing my dream." "I can relate," Urban reassured her. Her controlled, confident take on "When the Lights Go Down," by
CJ Harris, from Jasper, Ala., who dedicated his performance to his recently deceased dad. He seemed to be channeling all his grief into his song, and though the performance itself was somewhat flawed, the emotion made an impression on the judges. They declared his overall appeal to be "greater than the sum of the parts."
Tiquila Wilson, 24, a big girl with a big voice who performs at funerals and sang to wake the dead with Adele's "Someone Like You." She gave Lopez top-to-bottom goosies, but before the judges put her through, Connick quizzed her about how her church community will respond to her singing secular music. "I really don't care what they think," she said, displaying a winning candor.
Jessica Bassett, a 22-year-old singer with a haunting voice who should have gotten through, but for some reason (two, actually: Connick and Urban) did not. "You guys are crazy … I think you let a good one slip away," Lopez chided.
Emily Rottler, 17, who wore fetching mustard-colored tights that Connick very much admired and mercifully escaped the unfair fate that befell Bassett. "The real thing … natural," Lopez said. "When I'm listening to you, I'm thinking, 'This is going to be a really good year on "American Idol," ' " Connick said.
Dexter Roberts, 22, a farmhand from Alabama who is apparently no friend to ducks (he trains dogs to hunt them at a kennel called "Bang, Bang, Flop, Flop"). Connick was impressed with Roberts' "very authentic" sound, if not his passion for the hunt.
Briston Maroney, 15, who played the guitar his great-grandfather (he couldn't remember his actual name) played as a Nashville recording artist way back when. He sang a stomping "You Can't Always Get What You Want," and got what he wanted: a golden ticket.
Doe-eyed 16-year-old Johnny Newcomb, whose rendition of Pearl Jam's "Last Kiss" the judges found too derivative. A second song, though, convinced Lopez and Urban to let him through.
Carmen Delgina, 24, whose dad, she announced, is Wonder Mike from the Sugarhill Gang. Delgina was handed a golden ticket probably for that reason alone. Lopez, in particular, seemed excited to meet the man behind the seminal "Rapper's Delight."
Kassandra Castaneda, 16, whose Uncle Jay really wants J.Lo to call him, made it through with Adele's "Chasing Pavements." Connick doesn't like half-baked runs, but Lopez and Urban teamed up to put her through.
And Casey Thrasher, a 22-year-old father of two adorable children, ages 2 1/2 and six months, who is struggling to make it as a musician. He's not fabulously talented, but the judges were affected by his backstory and passion. "Your drive is extremely strong," Connick said. "You're going to be the kind of guy that thinks about every single performance, goes home and does practical things to get better every week."
Several of the singers who got through at the Salt Lake City auditions have room to improve. Do you have any favorites?