'American Idol' recap: Houston auditions

Oh, Phong Vu. We know you tried.
Oh, Phong Vu. We know you tried. (Fox)

Tonight's episode kicked off with a special greeting from Commander Burbank at the space station, "currently flying 250 miles above the earth." The video quality's so crisp and sharp for something so far away. Ain't technology grand?

THIS! Is "American Idol."

"Idol" comes back to Texas, the state where a certain Ms. Kelly Clarkson auditioned back in Season 1. Remember her? I think she did pretty well in the competition.

Let's take a look at the highlights and the lowlights from this episode, which include J.Lo vs the boys club, and awful, awful auditions.

Skylar Laine, a deer-killing 17-year-old, sang Pistol Annies' "Hell on Heels." I see her in the pop-country category. Hopefully, she will gain enough exposure to help save her family's store, which is going through some troubling times. (Verdict: Hollywood!)

A string of bad auditions that included Lamounte Hall singing "I'm So Excited" ("I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I knowknowknowknow ... I want you.") and some country boys trying to mimic Scotty McCreery's audition from last year. No. Lock them Hollywood doors.

Cortez Shaw, a warehouse worker and college student who had a tough childhood that included homelessness. He sang an upbeat version of Adele's "Someone Like You" (Gah! Stop changing this song's tempo, people!), and Randy tried to stop him early on. He's got the charm, the looks and the voice, so why not? A unanimous "yes." (Verdict: Hollywood!)

J.Lo against Randy and Steven. J.Lo liked three auditioners that Randy and Steven didn't put through. "Anybody else in here think that (Randy and Steven are) freakin' crazy right now?" *Slowly raises hand.* Then one girl who basically stomped all over Alicia Keys' masterpiece "Fallin'" was put through by the two male judges, while J.Lo just shook her head in disbelief. "That was awful," J.Lo declared as she and Steven get re-touched by Idol's makeup team.

Bailey Brown from season six is back. I don't remember her, but OK. She had a tough time in Hollywood but she said she's more mature now. OK. Bailey sang a countrified "Bed of Roses" and I actually like her voice. Have fun with your second chance. (Verdict: Hollywood!)

Phong Vu from Houston: "Today my spirit will come alive!" Oh, goodness. Another one of them. He showed his "iconic moves" which looked as if they were ripped out of a Janet Jackson dance move. Before that he sang a horrible version of "Unbreak My Heart," the most perfect song to showcase a bad singer. "I definitely have more songs coming." Yikes. I think I should stop talking about him because I'm Asian, too, and I'd like to protect my people from further humiliation. (Verdict: Go home)

Kristine Osorio is taking her last chance of making it big. At 28 years old, she's a mom of three and going through a divorce. Instead of paying her lawyer, she used the money to buy a plane ticket to an "American Idol" audition — which may have proved to be worth it because the judges all gave her a "Yes" after a decent audition that showcased her rock voice. Rarrr.

Alejandro Cazares, who appeared to have been picking food from his teeth using his fingers while waiting to be called, soon declared, "The revolution is here! I am the revolution!" He tried to rouse up the auditioners in the waiting room with a "Revolution" rant. They, in turn, politely clapped. When J.Lo asked what kind of revolution he wanted, he replied, "Where the underdog can win once in a while. A world where unique people like Lady Gaga become platinum sellers. A world where a man like Barack Obama can become president." But ... that's the world that we live in? Anyway, it was obvious from the start that he wouldn't be going to Hollywood, so moving on ...

Lastly we have Ramiro Garcia, a worship leader from Houston. What's different about Ramiro is that he was born without ears (!), and the doctors told his parents that he wouldn't be able to hear and speak. After so many surgeries, Ramiro can not only hear and speak, he can sang. Ramiro's audition was of Chris Tomlin's version of "Amazing Grace," which worked out for him as he burst out of the door yelling "I'm going to Hollywood!" Ramiro's parents teared up: "I remember when the doctors say, 'He no speak. He's not well. He no hear.' Guess what? I'm happy now." Hey what's this liquid stuff coming out of my eye?

Fifty-four golden tickets were given away (sure didn't feel like it with the bad auditions taking up most of the episode), and next week "Idol" takes us to Portland, where Ryan promises us an "inspirational evening."

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