Carmen Delgina, 24, is simply not good enough to advance. You can see the disappointment in all three judges' eyes as they calculate, "But if we say no to her now, her dad Wonder Mike from the Sugar Hill Gang won't come in." Oof, it's a tough call. (NO IT'S NOT.) Hey, three yeses. "I really feel you need the practice," J. Lo says as she hands Carmen the ticket instead of a prescription for a different career. "Can I meet your dad?"
Kassandra Castaneda, 16, wins the judges over with her stronger than expected and clear-toned "Chasing Pavements" cover -- I say unexpected because before she starts singing, Kassandra trots up a nasty scrap of paper with her uncle's phone number on it, for J. Lo. As a result, Uncle Jay can expect a call or text from Harry Connick, Jr. Harry gives Kassandra a no, by the way -- but "It only takes two," J. Lo purrs. I can definitely see Kassandra "blossoming" in Hollywood, where a loud voice can very easily overshadow the quiet artistry that enchants in a smaller space.
Casey Thrasher, 22, is pure backstory with a bit of musical competence mixed in. He's the perfect end-of-show contestant, his abundance of drive and sheer desperation just gushing out of him during "Believe" by Brooks and Dunn. Mid-song, it appears he's about to break down from the crushing emotion at play. The judges recognize the real gem they have on their hands: This father of two will work harder than anyone else because he has more at stake. Hmm. It's true that you can tell this guy will work his ass off and come up with "practical things to get better" each week, like Harry suggests. But will such intense desperation be a turnoff?
Maybe. For now, let's bask in this Keith Urban fairytale.
Aside from the random act of kindness to a fan on the other side of chain-link fence ("I believe in you, brutha!" Casey remembered Keith telling him last year), Keith was especially "on" tonight, I thought, both in his critiques/advice and in his backstage confessionals. The life of a recording artist demands "a lot of mental energy, and emotional maturity, too," he said. "So I don't know how on earth I made it." He wasn't even slightly kidding. Keith Urban's honesty and thoughtfulness are hitting me hard, y'all.
Your thoughts on the Salt Lake City auditions? Discuss!