American Idol heads to Salt Lake City for tonight's audition episode. That's David Archuleta's hometown, in case you had forgotten.

Ryan Seacrest tells us they were hoping to find the next generation of the Osmonds. Lo and behold, David Osmond is 29 and the son of Alan Osmond, "the oldest of the performing Osmonds." Then we learn that his father had to stop performing because he has multiple sclerosis, which is followed by the revelation that David is also fighting MS. He says that MS has a course of ups and downs -- at the lowest points, he needs to use a wheelchair and can't play guitar. He sings "Something Within Me" by Take 6. He's good, but Paula says it wasn't the best song choice because it's a group song and didn't showcase him as a frontman. They all give him very constructive criticism, which we are supposed to take as him possibly getting no votes. But he comes out of the door with a golden ticket, which is no surprise.


Oh goodness, next is Tara Mathews (pictured), who was introduced at the beginning of the show as "Salt Lake City's only goth." She, however, tells Ryan that, despite her black attire and overdone makeup, she is not trying to look depressed or be goth or whatever. In a separate interview, she says, "You can't judge people by the cover of their book." Yeah! Someone might be carrying around a copy of Atlas Shrugged, but maybe they have Confessions of a Shopaholic tucked inside. You never know. Do not judge. She also claims to have ESP about when people are going to die "in real life or on TV."  In the audition room, she sings "One Day I'll Fly Away" from Moulin Rouge. It is not good, but Randy gets kind of crazy rude, pretending to beat his head against a wall, looking at his watch. Simon tells her she sounded like a baby, so she says, "I'll just leave now since you obviously didn't like it." She stomps out flipping the bird at the camera, saying, "Blur it out, blur it out." Well, that was strange.

Montage of badness: Aleesha Turner bleats her way through a song, Katie Sullivan shouts, Rich  Kagel drives Simon to say, "You're never in a million-billion years going to win a show like this." "Can I sing somethin' else?" Rich asks.

Chris Kirkham brought Greg the Rabbit (his friend in a pink bunny suit) and wears a shirt with a distressing rendition of Simon's face on it, and another copy of it on a stick. He sings "Roll to Me" with Greg behind him, and Simon freaks out and makes him stop. He starts over with his rabbit-friend farther away and sings "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." He gets through three words, and they say it just isn't working and they make them both leave. Greg the Rabbit lifts Simon in the air before they go.

The next segment features Ryan saying that they expected everyone to be nice in Salt Lake since Archie is so sweet, which is followed by clips of people saying thank you as they get negative comments from the judges.

Frankie Jordan says she is the next American Idol. She's a stay-at-home mom and is ready to become an entertainer. She says she feels very confident about her chances and in the audition room sings Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good" in a very faithful rendition. The judges are down with it, though, and they all vote yes very quickly.

Megan Corkrey is also a stay-at-home mom. She, however, is in the midst of a divorce, which happened to coincide with her discovery that Idol was coming to town, which she took as a sign. She sings "Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine" for the judges. Her tone is interesting, which is the same word the judges choose. They decide that interesting means good, and she is through to Hollywood. Simon calls her one of his favorites, saying, "You are one of the few I'm going to remember."

Montage of golden-ticket-giving.

Andrew Gibson thinks he has old-school soul. Um, no. Simon says he has "a soul," but not soul.

Austin Sisneros is president of his senior class at his high school, which has some pretty ugly sweaters. Dunno if they are supposed to be like letterman jackets or what. He sings Train's "When I Look to the Sky." Randy says it was OK, but not the best song choice. He asks if he can sing his other song choice, Raffi's "It Takes a Village." He does, and it's better, but Randy says he has a voice though he is making weird song choices -- he votes yes nevertheless. Kara agrees that there is something there. Paula parrots Kara, saying that there is something going on there. Simon says yes, too, so he is through. I think he was OK, but I don't expect to see him get beyond Hollywood.

Montage of teary-eyed auditioners, followed by a hilarious mashup of bad auditions.

Taylor Vaifanua is 16 and recently moved back to Utah from Samoa. She talks about being tall (5'11" or so without heels and well over 6 feet with) and is pretty charming. Randy says she reminds him a bit of Jordin Sparks. She sings "Joyful Joyful." Kara says she is impressed with her because she heard her practicing in the bathroom a few times, which is one of the stranger comments we've heard tonight. Randy says she has a natural talent. Everyone votes yes, and it's golden-ticket time.

In case you thought David Osmond was the designated heart-wrenching audition of the evening, you were wrong. (It's OK; I was, too.) The last auditioner of the evening is 17-year-old Rose Flack. She is a hippie chick and is living with her best friend's family. Her father died when she was 13, and her mother was killed two years later in a car accident. She says that "this is the determination of the rest of my life," and that she doesn't know what she will do if she doesn't get a golden ticket. In the audition room, Simon asks her to tell them something about her, and she says that she is charming. They agree. She sings "I Feel the Earth Move," and they cut back and forth between her and Simon's expression, which is inscrutable. Paula says she is interesting, but she needs to work on her vocals. Simon says it wasn't the best song choice ever, but there is something he really likes about her. They vote yes, and she is headed to Hollywood.

Ryan then says that's 13 who made it to the next level, but it seems like we saw footage of more people than that getting tickets.

Tomorrow night, it's New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Ryan narrates that it's the "most dramatic episode ever." Next week, it's Hollywood time.


Call me crazy, but I felt like this was the best episode so far this season. We got good glimpses at some of the talent, one rather intriguing bad audition, and a new take on the montage of badness. Still, I'm looking forward to getting past tomorrow night and on to the expanded Hollywood round next week.

What do you think?


PHOTO: Tara Mathews auditions in Salt Lake City. Michael Becker/FOX