Auditions were held in the Windy City -- the same town that gave us Jennifer Hudson, if this place could produce the Oscar-winning superstar, surely there must be others.
First up, look what the wind blew in -- little Mackenzie, who Keith Urban described as "Dolly Parton-esque." So we begin tonight with a little bit of country. The 17-year old, who has been singing all her life, blew us all away with a performance that made all of the judges use the word "star" -- a word we would soon find to be the most overused word of the evening. Mackenzie? This star is headed to Hollywood.
Then some bizarre dude with a blonde Mohawk butchers one of Mariah's songs. Minaj claims to have loved his rendition of the Carey hit and said that she could listen to HIM sing it every day, while rolling her eyes. What are we gonna do with these two ladies for an entire season?
Just as we get used to seeing and hearing real talent, there's a fight. In front of guests even. Never looking up, Nicki and Mariah fling insults and name call, perhaps even forgetting that there's a competition going on. Poor Keith Urban says, "I feel like a scratching post stuck in the middle, between these two." Back to your corners, ladies.
We meet Mrs. Bush, the massage therapy student, in a pink would-be super hero costume that met a fashion death at the hands of a glue gun and rhinestones. Did she sing? If she did, sorry, my brain was traumatized from looking directly into my television set at the shiny suit. If she sang, it was her last song. No Golden Ticket for Mrs. Bush (wiping my brow).
Yeah a rocker! I haven't seen or heard a rocker I loved since Chris Daughtry. Could it be? Another opportunity for some real rock on "Idol?" Negative. Gabe, from Iowa, yelled and yelled and was asked to do another song and yelled some more. "Give Me Shelter" and "We All Die Young" -- how very ironic, I was absolutely seeking shelter and yes, a part of me died, young.
Whoa -- he got a YES. I had three very distinctive moments last night where I went into clinical shock and Gabe's ticket to Hollywood was my first. Welcome to Hollywood dude, rock on. (Or off, preferably off.)
Contestant Kevin loves Ninja Turtles, flips, spinning sticks and dropping sticks. When asked if he were the next American Idol, he told us yes. (Do they all really think that they are really the next American Idol? Is there no practicing going on in the waiting area, can they not hear the person next to them that can actually sing well?)
Kevin sings so bad we need subtitles and sings so fast that Randy calls him a "bad auctioneer." Goodbye Kevin.
Isabelle, 15, is a high school student who came prepared to sing a duet and needed a partner. Keith Urban to the rescue. They sang "Baby It's Cold Outside" and boy did she sing and earn herself a Golden Ticket. Urban wasn't too shabby himself.
Urban needs to leave for a concert in Vegas and Randy is left to babysit the girls. Now play nice ladies until Keith returns.
And now, ladies, the moment we've all been waiting for: the American Idol "Hunk Tour." What a beautiful parade of blonde hair, blue eyes and six-pack abs we were privileged to, one right after another, one more beautiful than the one before. First up we meet Griffin, Griff, Grrrrrr, G. -- just a few of the names Nicky chose for him after asking was he single and letting the cute little white boy know that she does not "discriminate." Thanks for the info Nicki!
Griffin, Griff, Grrrrrr, G. was just average in the vocal department but this, folks, is where we are introduced to another "American Idol" winning formula: be cute = go to Hollywood. Be cute AND have a six-pack = go to Hollywood fast. Welcome to Hollywood, Griffin.
Don't know about anyone else, but I grabbed me a tambourine and put on a big Baptist church lady hat -- because Curtis Finch took us to "cheeeeerch" with his awesome gospel song. Welcome to Hollywood, when ya get there Curtis say a little prayer for Nicki and Mariah would ya?
America grab the Kleenexes, it's time for Mariah, another contestant sob story: Recovering from Anorexia, surviving high school on a slice of cheese a day (even I can't make that up), without music she would have died, a contestant sang The Beetles' "Let it Be." Most of us couldn't hear her singing -- we were still crying from the story, old pictures and footage shown. Why does "Idol" do that to us?
Sheesh, introduce someone, tell us what song they're singing and let us base our decisions on pure talent and stop tugging on our heartstrings. Ok, Ok, we sorta kinda like making the contestants real people and connecting with them on a human level, right? That's what you’re doing, right? Well it works and of course Mariah got a ticket to Hollywood.
Enter our adopted kid of the night. "American Idol," just cut it out. Brandy, abandoned by her parents and adopted by her paternal Aunt could sing her face off.
"You're Cheating Heart is Gonna Tell on You!" Welcome to Hollywood, Brandy! Now when you win your Grammy and star in movies don't be surprised if a mom or dad or some couple claiming to be your mom and dad give you a call -- it always happens like that in the Lifetime movies. Good luck with that, Brandy.
"American Idol" is filling all of the roles pretty quickly this season. We were even introduced to a little white boy that sings big black dude songs just as good as a big black dude. We got the R&B soulful sounds of Josh -- who belted out a Brian McKnight song and nailed it! Golden Ticket.
Next: Courtney. "Who’s Loving You." Hollywood.
And Andrew, singing "Knock On Wood." I'm a little torn with Andrew, as I know for a fact that if there wasn't the storyline that accompanied his audition, he'd still be singing in the shower in Illinois and not headed to Hollywood.
Andrew shows up with his parents. Andrew has been singing his entire life. Andrew's parents have never heard him sing, ever. Ever? Andrew sings Mom's favorite song. Mom cries. Mariah Carey cries. Andrew gets Golden Ticket. I, my friends, am gravely disappointed. We all know how I feel about the sympathy votes. No. No. No.
We meet Alliyah. I'm not certain why we met Alliyah, but meet her we did. We meet her bad "professional" dancing. We met her bad singing, however she did not meet a Golden Ticket to Hollywood -- there is a God. Amen.
Hottie alert: Johnny offered us all an opportunity to "Try a Little Tenderness." Thank you Johnny. For that, dear, take this Golden Ticket to Hollywood.
Apparently we missed the bell that summoned Nicki and Mariah out of their corners with their gloves on. It's fight time, again. This time it's because Mariah thought that Nicki wasn't going to give her an opportunity to critique the hottie, go ahead Mariah, judge Johnny, we're sorry.
Our weirdo of the night award goes to Kezbon, the fire throwing, animal balloon making, guitar player hailing all the way from "North Carolina, planet Earth" that could sing.
What a nice person Kezbon is too -- her only aspiration was to make it to Hollywood, she'd rather a "cute little 17-year-old girl win that has dreamed of being the next Idol. How very, very nice of you Kezbon. However, I'm thinking you have a pretty good chance of taking it -- one of my early favorites. Team Kezbon here.
Kezbon chose to sing Pinocchio's "I've Got No Strings," not a typo, that's what the weirdo of the night sang and did a good darn job. Asked to play her guitar, she played and sang, guess what? An original song she wrote and because she had the chops it was a win! Off to Hollywood Kezbon, but not before holding us up complaining about the three-hours of paper work she didn't feel like doing to get to Hollywood because it was "getting late." Shame on you -- fill out the paperwork and get to Hollywood already, flame thrower!
The first lesson I taught you guys was parental support = can't sing. Well tonight we add a new equation to this formula, parental support + twin sibling support = really can't sing.
19-year old Ashley, with her blood-curdling voice, sang, was asked to stop, sang again was asked to stop and (you guessed it) sang again, right up to the point where she was escorted out by security. She met her mom and twin sister in the hall, told them that the judges unanimously told her that singing was not for her and yes, mom and sis told her that the judges were absolutely wrong and that she should keep singing.
Let's pause here folks. If you have a family member that cannot sing at all, not even a little, stop lying to your family member and tell them the cold hard truth. Trust me, they can handle the truth. Now where were we? Oh yeah, goodbye Ashley.
Everyone will be talking about Lazaro Arbos, the phenomenal singer with the ability to silence his nearly debilitating stutter and sing flawlessly. This 21-year-old ice cream scooper stole the show. We watch him stumble over each syllable as he tried to tell us about his condition and it was heartbreaking to watch and wait for him to with much difficulty finish a sentence, but boy when it was time to sing, it all just went away and the lyrics melted out of his mouth without hesitation, perfectly in tune, giving us the chills.
Lazaro, we all chip in and collectively hand you your Golden Ticket to Hollywood. What a way to end the show. How fitting for Lazaro to sing for us "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." I'd sure love to see Lazaro sing the Idol anthem of the year during the finale.
Not only did he entertain us, but Lazaro showed the world that if you believe in a dream and not allow an obstacle to define you, you’ve got a pretty good chance of seeing your dreams come true. Bravo, Lazaro, see you in Hollywood.
47 guys and gals got their Golden Tickets in Chi-Town. Next week we meet the fast and the furious of Charlotte. Can't wait -- you know where to find me. It's "Idol" Baby!