Alabama successfully floods the bracket – at least on ‘American Idol’


Alabama, as a state, successfully flooded the bracket over the weekend. At least if we’re talking about the “American Idol” bracket.

We knew going in that the season’s final episode of auditions would feature appearances by four Alabama singers. We just didn’t know how many of them would sing well enough to get a Golden Ticket and join the three other Alabama singers already headed for the Hollywood Round.

Turns out, there was room for all of them in this tournament.

Brant McCollough is shown during his "American Idol" audition. The segment will be aired on March 24, 2024. (Disney/Eric McCandless)

Brant McCollough is shown during his “American Idol” audition. The segment will be aired on March 24, 2024. (Disney/Eric McCandless)Disney

The first of the four to appear was Brant McCollough, a high schooler from Samson, Ala., who identified himself as being 16 at the time of the audition. McCollough didn’t get a lot of screen time: He was one of several singers featured in a segment focusing on some of the more youthful competitors. Said judge Lionel Richie: “I think the biggest surprise to me is, they’re getting younger, more confident, and they keep showing up.”

McCollough certainly had the confidence. When judge Luke Bryan said McCollough’s haircut reminded him of his son, McCollough shot back, “You must have a good-looking son.” Viewers got a snippet of him singing Chris Stapleton’s “Fire Away,” and that was about it. He got his ticket, and a compliment from Bryan to boot: “You’ve really got something. And you’re going to really have something.”

Next up were sisters Jacy and Mia Matthews of Centre, joined at their audition by their mother, Tara Matthews. They’d previously competed as a trio on “The Voice,” but now it was time for the sisters to step out on their own – and the judges did their best to make it seem like one of them might fail while the other passed her “Idol” audition.

After a heavenly helping of three-part harmony, courtesy of a warm-up with mom, Jacy, 17, sang Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” while Mia, 18, went with the Sara Evans hit “No Place That Far.”

The judges drew it out. There were concerns in some quarters that the sisters’ talent was undercut by timidity. “I don’t know if it’s time for y’all to get in this mix of voices yet,” said Bryan. It was a cliffhanger comment tailor made for a commercial break, and one duly followed. Only after a few words from various sponsors was the verdict revealed: Jacy and Mia both would advance. Katy Perry voted “yes” on both. Jacy got a “no” from Bryan and a “yes” from Richie; Mia got the opposite.

American Idol

Ty’esha Lashae auditions on “American Idol” on Sunday, March 24, 2024, on ABC.Disney

The fourth Alabama singer, like the first, didn’t get a lot of time in the episode. Scenes of Ty’esha Lashae’s audition were intercut with another performance, and all viewers heard the Monroeville native sing was a partial chorus to Allen Stone’s “Unaware.” But when you heard Lionel Richie exclaim “That’s what I’m talking about!” you knew it was enough.

Richie went on to tell Lashae, “That sound is solid. And you know what you’re doing.”

We’ll find out soon enough: Auditions are done, now it’s time for the Hollywood Round. It’s also time for the show to double up its pace to two shows a week. Starting March 31, new episodes will air at 7 p.m. Sundays and Mondays on ABC. In Hollywood, the competitors will face a new competitive “arena” format.

The four Alabama singers featured on Sunday enter the whirlwind with three others who were shown earlier in the season: Triston Harper, a 15-year-old from McIntosh in Washington County; 17-year-old Dawson Slade, who’s from Moulton and divides his time between Tennessee and north Alabama; and Justice Murphy, an Arkansas native who’s a student at Alabama State University.

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