The judging cabal sent her to Hollywood, ladies and gentlemen. Congrats, beautiful blonde girl with an angel voice and the boldness to bring a guitar into the audition (believe me, that's not always a good idea for these youngins'): Indy's Margot and the Nuclear So and So's helped you unlock your golden ticket. Look at Keith Urban watch her so lovingly. Look at JLo wondering where to get the album this classic Hoosier jam is on. Jeez, American Idol, between this and Kanye's surprisingly sincere little celeb appearance last night, you're almost makin' a girl want to relive her days of periodically flipping through the channels and settling on you.
The vid above is thanks to dedicated citizen Joe Lawrie.
click to enlarge
(Psst, read Margot's Richard Edwards recollect all the heady moments from recording each of his band's albums in celebration of Joyful Noise Recording's rarities collection box set here. Also my basis for calling out the dads watching American Idol here. Hint: It involves my own dad.)
UPDATE: Mystery blonde is named Kayla Mickelsen, and she's a "weird, energetic, fun-loving vegan" from Geneva, Illinois. Kayla, you're the best. If you promise to sing more Indiana artists, I promise to watch American Idol again.
UPDATE: Kayla answered a couple questions via email for us last night, on what was surely a big night full of lots of hugs for her. She also sent a full video of herself playing "Broad Ripple is Burning at the talent show she mentioned.
NUVO: When did you first hear Margot? What drew you to their music?
Kayla Mickelson: I first heard Margot when I was a freshman in high school. I remember being drawn to the honest story-telling of their music which was incredibly different from the mainstream music that was out during my freshman year. I love the raw honesty and the musical risks they continue to take. It's inspiring.
NUVO: How did you settle on "Broad Ripple Is Burning" for your audition song?
Mickelson: I had played "Broad Ripple is Burning" at a talent show in Illinois this past August. I began to really play the song when the guy I liked at the time would always have me sing it with him. Anyways, a woman at the show really pushed me to do American Idol, and my best friend told me, "This song is you. Be yourself. This is the song that got you here." That's how I settled on "Broad Ripple."
NUVO: Where are you in the audition process?
Mickelson: After three yesses, I'm off to Hollywood! I'm trying to come up with a unique arrangement of something totally out of the blue.
NUVO: How amazing is JLo up close? Does she smell like a thousand golden doves?
Mickelson: Jennifer Lopez is the most beautiful creature up close- and yes, I said creature. I don't even think she is human she is so perfect. She is a painting that smells like a thousand golden doves, no doubt.
What happened last night is what I call a "Jeff Buckley" moment which is when an artist starts playing a song, everything drops dead silent, heads turn and every single person pays attention mesmerized.Playing an instrument takes a lot more than just hitting the right notes or doing something technical and difficult to impress people. It's also about delivery and feel.This is something I've been talking about a lot with my more advanced students lately using Jeff Buckley's rendition of "Hallelujah" as an example.Just singing the words and playing the right notes isn't enough, you have to feel the song and deliver it as if you wrote it yourself.When you perform a song to the audience you are telling them your story and pouring your heart and soul out, and when you do that you connect with the audience and they listen.As Kayla's guitar teacher I can't take credit for her talent. We've been working on her guitar playing and have had talks about what I have shared in this post. It is my absolute honor to have been her guitar teacher up until this point and will continue to support her talent as long as she needs me around or until I even tell her "I've got nothing else to teach you!"So here is Kayla's top 10 finalist performance from last night. It's iPhone audio and quality and in many ways does not do justice to her performance but you get the idea. Kayla delivered. Amazing.