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'American Idol': Birmingham auditions

American Idol heads to Birmingham, Ala., home of Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard and Bo Bice, for the next round of auditions.

Erica Skye, a biological sciences major at Auburn University, sings "Unchained Melody." Sadly, she says it is by Leann Rimes. It's pretty flat and shaky and weird. Simon says it was horrible. She keeps singing, and they make her stop, a couple of times. Paula actually leaves. She is shocked they think it's bad. It's a no.

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Montage of crying.

Katie Bernard has a very (!) high pitched talking voice. Her singing voice, on the other hand, is lower and quite lovely, except for the overly growly thing. Randy says yes, Simon says no, Paula says she just got married and should hang with her husband. She runs to get her husband ("He's the man with the twitch," says Simon) so he will convince Paula to say yes. She finally does.

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Tatiana McConnico is a 17-year-old student at an Atlanta performing arts high school who says she was born to sing. She sings with a huge voice, and she is through basically immediately. Randy says she might be the best in Birmingham.

Diana Walker, also of Atlanta, is up next. She sings "Saving All My Love," or rather shouts her way through it. The judges just cackle. Simon asks what usually happens when she sings in public. She claims to usually get a standing ovation. Randy asks: "When they stand, do they exit really quickly?" It's a no.

Bernard Williams wants to be the next Birminghamian American Idol. He sings "Rock With Me." Simon loves it, 100 percent yes. Paula says she was going to say he has a great tone but is completely off key and that she is shocked Simon loved it. She says no. Randy says yes, solely because Bernard called him "dawg," it seems.

Margaret Fowler goes through the humiliation chamber next. She's dressed in a fuzzy yellow dress, so they feel the need to compare her to Big Bird and play the Sesame Street theme and do the old "record scratch" noise when she claims to be 26. However, the next footage of her in her "fashion show" outfit makes me think she is there for the attention so ... Anyway, she sings. Simon says she looks like "some nightmare Easter Bunny experiment" and that she isn't going to get through to the next round so she might as well own up. She claims 33, then finally 50.

Montage of good news. (For once.)

Jamie Lee Ward, who just turned 17, lives with her grandma and her dad, who is paralyzed because he shot himself. Wow. Yes, she has a Pickler vibe going on. She sings "Reflection." Paula says she has a nice voice when not "powering through it." Simon agrees, as does Randy. She makes it.

Chris Sligh says he most resembles Christina Aguilera. He's pretty funny. He says he is there because he wants to make David Hasselhoff cry, like he did on the finale last season. Ha! He sings "Kiss From a Rose on Grave." Paula is clearly enamored and gives him a standing O. Randy says he likes him, too. Simon says he is through. He says Paula crumbled in his chubby little hands.

Fifteen get through the first day.

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Day two, there's no Paula to be seen.

Victoria Watson, whose hair is 6 feet long, as is her mother's, is probably not thrilled that she is being compared with Cousin It (even though it might be apt). She says she's often told she sounds like a Disney princess character. Ryan goes to interview her and says, "What brings you hair?" She totally doesn't notice and answers as if he'd said "here." She goes in, and they ask her why she is there. She says to uplift people when they would need it the most, and Simon marvels at the fact that she is "genuinely a nice person." Simon asks to meet her mother, so they bring her in. She sings Josh Groban's "Raise Me Up." Simon says it was a "daughter to mum audition, that only your mother would really like it a lot." But he really doesn't say it meanly. It's a no. She cries, her dad hugs her, and she whispers, "I know, I know, it's OK, it's not meant to be." Aww, she really is a genuinely nice person! Too bad about all the evil Addams Family music in her intro, PRODUCERS!

Lakia Hill claims to be the "total package," but it's a shriek-fest. She blames nerves. Simon says it was a complete and utter mess. He tells her it was not good, possibly the worst voice they've heard in Birmingham. She says, "Thank you," and leaves.

Which introduces a montage of the Southern decorum that led to so many contestants saying thanks after being told some horrible, horrible things.

Next is Team Nichole. She says she realized she could sing when she did a pageant with a talent component and her mother told her not to because she had "no talent." But then, it turned out she could sing. (Backstory: This was in preschool.) In the audition room, she takes on "Something to Talk About." Simon says she is old fashioned and sings through her nose and it's a shame. Randy says she isn't ready but she should come back. It's a no.

Brandy Patterson says she is the next American Idol because she has "an extraordinary voice." She says she is going to sing "Like a Virgin," complete with snapping and choreography and flat and sharp notes. Oh, also, she is totally saying, "Like a Version." Simon: "Thank you, Brandy, for an absolutely rotten audition." She says the problem might be the floor. She goes to the carpet and tries again. "It's a massive difference! How anyone has sung on that floor is beyond me!" Simon says. (He is kidding.) She says, "You don't know talent anyway" and keeps going on and on. She finally leaves, but she is still talking to Ryan when Randy and Simon leave the room for a break. (And in a little bit of karma from all the locked doors of earlier auditions this season, he tries to go back in a locked door while still mocking her.)

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In the end, 20 folks make it through.


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