Randy Jackson -- arbiter of good tidings, weaver of dreams -- visited 17-year-old Maddie Assel, who just happened to be performing in front of an audience in downtown New Orleans while on a family vacation. What are the chances? Right away I was drawn in by -- well, fine, first it was her oversize red glasses because I'm a sucker for ridiculous frames, but then and more importantly it was her twangy and unique vocal on "Oh Darlin."
Maddie, who idolizes Beyoncé, Adele, and Haley Reinhart (holla!), has the whole "add about six syllables to every vowel and enunciate maybe 40 percent of the consonants" singing style down pat. I'm personally a big fan of that style, though it can seem way too try-hard to me when people don't have the chops to pull it off. I think Maddie will at some point if not right away. Her voice itself is very compelling, and a good-natured confidence can get her far.
Maddie also was the proud relation of my new FAVORITE GRANDMA EVER -- this life-lovin' wackaloon who boasted about how much "magic dust" she'd consumed in her life. Oh mama. We believe it.
Ryan finally got his hug!
And that's how we lost Seacrest.
I didn't think Paul Jolley was that great at transitioning from louder to softer tones on his cover of "I Won't Let Go," but he's a severely smiley, non-threatening, attractive man with a killer work ethic and a tendency to take risks. The judges didn't find anything wrong with his vocal, so what do I know?
Oh, I do remember that I sprouted a tear for the second time here (first time was Charlie Askew's slow-motion guppy faced reaction to Keith comparing his gender-less voice to David Bowie's) -- when Paul strolled back outside in triumph and his grandma (another!), who'd just lost her husband/Paul's grandfather, hugged Seacrest while sobbing. "I'm glad you got some happiness here," he muttered in that super-suave life-affirming way of his. RYAN! Gah, when this show is firing on all emotional-heartstring cylinders, it is so on.
Best of all, late grandpa's first name was "Jewel"!
Hmmm. Dr. Calvin Peters. Good backstory, for sure, but that's about it. The "singing doctor," who'd put his passion on hold to focus on getting into med school, has returned to the fold, and neither patient nor colleague can escape his admittedly lovely voice. I can't see him going too far, though. Not with those pit stains! (KIDDING. He was adorable.) And kudos to Doc for taking on Maxwell's "Whenever Wherever Whatever" -- what Keith Urban called the equivalent of a triple-black-diamond ski run.
Quick hits! Michelle Montezeri on "Tainted Love", Breanna Steer on "I'm Goin' Down", and Brandy Hotard on "Hell on Heels." Are their 1.5 seconds of fame up, or shall we meet them again? Brandy seemed to be juggling a bunch of different trains of thought with that melody and I was intrigued, so for me that cut was the harshest. To be clear: None of these three were CUT. Just cheated a bit. Better than nothing.
NEXT: Here comes Sherbert Head's next sexual target, whether he likes it or not!