Welcome to the live blog and recap for “Auditions #4″ of American Idol Season 12!
Here we go!
-We open on the bayou and its colorful inhabitants. It looks like Beasts of the Southern Wild up in this ho.
-Keith Urban arrives and declares that “all the good music is from the South”, while Randy declares “It’s good to be home!” to a cheering crowd of auditioners.
-Straight guy talk: Mariah looks fine as hell in those pumps. Randy, considerably less so, in the makeup chair.
-Up first is the current Miss Greater Baton Rouge, who recently got into an accident that caused an infection in her leg that requires surgery. She’s putting off surgery to be here today for her audition, declaring that she doesn’t care if her leg falls off, as long as she gets to audition. Gorgeous girl, although I don’t know how wise it is to be wearing heels while on crutches. But she’s getting surgery immediately after her audition, so she’ll be fine. (Oh, to have health insurance)
MEGAN MILLER, 22, is up first!
-She’s singing “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida, and for whatever reason I can’t hear that song without thinking of Carly Rose Sonenclar, even though that was arguably her weakest X Factor performance. Megan does a pretty good job with the song, however. It’s not a slam dunk, by any means, but it’s certainly encouraging. She definitely has a voice.
-Mariah finds her really endearing, while Keith jokes that he wished she would have moved around a bit more. (One of several jokes about Megan being on crutches, including Keith assuming she was going to sing “Lean On Me”)
-Megan gets four yesses on the spot, but not before inviting Keith Urban to the surgery (Keith holds up his wedding ring while making a painfully awkward face. This man is a national treasure)
MEGAN MILLER is going to Hollywood!
-And our next contestant is Charlie Askew, a painfully awkward kid with hair like top ramen. He explains how he couldn’t connect with other people socially or emotionally, and his mother explains that he was diagnosed with “Charlie Askew Syndrome”, since he fits no other known diagnosis. Charlie finally found a means of expression through music.
CHARLIE ASKEW, 17, is up next!
-Nicki asks him if he feels he’s the next American Idol, and he says he thinks so. Nicki asks him again, looking for more confidence, and he admits that he believes that he could be.
-Charlie sings the opening to “Breakthrough” by Queen, and he has a very rich, mellifluous tone. It’s raw and unpolished, but it totally works.
-He then sings “Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole, and it’s even better. The judges seem genuinely surprised by how unique and lovely his voice is, and Charlie mentions how his voice was the first thing to develop in him. Randy describes his voice as “dark” and “cool”, while Nicki concurs, with Keith adding that he absolutely loved Charlie’s tone.
-Mariah talks about Charlie’s shyness and his skill, with Charlie saying he can’t be anybody but himself. I really like this kid. Naturally, he gets four yesses.
CHARLIE ASKEW is going to Hollywood!
-His little sister gives him a big hug, and his dad lets him know how proud he is of Charlie.
-Ryan chats with Maddie Assel, nominated by her grandmother to participate in an audition. Randy (the designated ambush guy) surprises her while she’s performing on the streets with a brass band. She’s the first of the nominated contestants to cry upon receiving her audition ticket. She’s peculiarly adorable.
MADDIE ASSEL, 17, is up next!
-She sings “Oh Darling” by The Beatles, and her voice is really nuanced and different. She does some pretty interesting things with it, from traditional blues to a more modern pop style.
-Maddie explains that Adele, Beyonce, and HALEY REINHART are among her influences. Keith loves that though those artists have influenced her, she doesn’t actually sound anything like them. She has a style all her own.
-Maddie gets four yesses.
MADDIE ASSEL is going to Hollywood!
-You know, a one-hour format really suits these audition rounds well. Two hours leads to the show plodding along to fill time, meaning we get an unwieldy amount of novelty contestants, and people who are okay, but not good enough to advance. Granted, the number of novelty contestants isn’t nearly as high as in seasons past, so I can definitely appreciate that, in addition to the trend of grouping all the bad auditions into one tight, easily-ignored montage. But as it stands now, I’m really enjoying that we’re getting to see these contestants’ stories, with a minimal amount of jokesters or in-fighting among the judges. It’s genuinely refreshing.
-We’re back from break with “Bad Things” by Jace Everett, otherwise known as the theme song to True Blood, as Ryan explains that the auditions in Baton Rouge, after a stellar start, have begun to suck. Cue aforementioned montage of crummy contestants, including one furious blonde girl who rants and raves at the camera about how she can’t believe the judges didn’t put her through. Another contestant tells the camera “Ya’ll still suck as judges!” How can they STILL suck? Nicki, Mariah, and Keith are new! (Randy does still suck though. He sucks out loud)
PAUL JOLLEY, 22, is up next!
-Paul talks about losing his grandfather recently, a person with a formative effect on him as a person. He certainly has the look, and he seems like a sweet guy.
-He sings “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascall Flatts, and it’s an effortless audition with a lot of interesting choices in his vocal stylings. It’s not a traditionally country-sounding voice, which makes it all the more unique.
-Mariah loves him, and says his performance was effortless (stop stealing my verbiage, Mimi!), while Keith (the resident country pro) adds that he loves Paul’s voice. The judges put it to a vote, and Paul is unanimously going to Hollywood.
-His family explodes with joy, as Paul tearfully dedicates his Golden Ticket to his late grandfather, with his grandmother wiping tears from her eyes. Paul says he feels blessed (and hey, when you’ve been gifted with a voice like that, you pretty much are).
PAUL JOLLEY is going to Hollywood!
-Back from break with a self-described “crazy” person, who has an unnamed onstage alter ego.
CHRISTOPHER “MUSHROOM” BARTHEL is up next!
-He asks Nicki to give him a nickname for his alter ego, and she settles on “Mushroom” (possibly as a reference to his dome-shaped hairdo).
-Chris sings “If I Had You” by Adam Lambert, and it’s an absolute, unadulterated mess.
-Keith doesn’t think the music thing is for him, while Mariah feels she must concur with Keith, unfortunately. Nicki asks if she can run her fingers through his hair, believing that it would bless him forever. It’s a no from all four judges, but they praise him for being such a fun-loving guy.
DR. CALVIN PETERS, 27, is up next!
-This guy looks eerily like Marcus Canty from season one of The X Factor. He’s a rehabilitation doctor who put singing on hold to pursue medicine. He’s known as “The Singing Doctor” by patients and colleagues alike.
-The good doctor sings “Whenever Wherever Whatever” by Maxwell, and though it’s a little raspy when he hits his falsetto, it’s undeniably a good vocal.
-Mariah says he’s really handsome, and that it’s unique that he’s a singing doctor. Keith loves his voice, as does Nicki, who says he has better technique than some of the people they’ve actually put through. Randy’s agreement makes it four yesses for “The Singing Doctor.”
DR. CALVIN PETERS is going to Hollywood!
-We then launch into a brief montage featuring a trio of really interesting female singers who each received a Golden Ticket. They include:
MICHELLE MONTEZERI, 19 (singing a bluesy version of “Tainted Love” that I REALLY liked)
BREANNA STEER, 18 (inaugurating the return of the divas, maybe?)
BRANDY HOTARD, 26, (an ADULT country songstress?! What world is this?!)
-Back from break with a painfully dull audition from a woman butchering “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”. Four nos on the spot.
-And now, for some hot fireman action…
DUSTIN WATTS, 27, is up next!
-Dustin talks about what a rewarding profession firefighting is, and we get a brief look at him suiting up for the job. He definitely has a good look for a contemporary country star.
-Immediately, Nicki asks if he has a girlfriend. She certainly doesn’t waste time.
-Dustin sings “She’s Every Woman” by Garth Brooks, and the judges love it, even if I think it was a teensy bit overrated. His voice IS nice, but I just don’t think it was the right song for him.
-But hey, my opinion isn’t the one that matters, and after four yesses, Dustin takes his Golden Ticket and surprises his firehouse buddies with the news that he’s going to Hollywood.
DUSTIN WATTS is going to Hollywood!
-I’ve really enjoyed the brisk pace of this episode. In particular, I’m digging more of these contestants from tonight than just about any other episode so far.
-Back with a Katrina survivor who moved to Baton Rouge after his family lost everything in the Hurricane. He’s from a musical family, as his grandfather was in a band, and his mother is a singer. His mother, in particular, is proud of how he’s remained stronger throughout their hard times of adjusting to life, post-Katrina.
BURNELL TAYLOR, 19, is up next!
-The judges ask him if he plays any instruments like his grandfather, and he says that although he doesn’t, he’s going to learn.
-Burnell sings “I’m Here” from The Color Purple, and it’s an outstanding audition. His tone is velvety, and he has excellent control. He doesn’t hit a single bum note.
-Mariah says Burnell made her cry, while Nicki says he gave her goosebumps. The other judges agree with the nuance and skill of his voice, proclaiming him one of the best auditions of the day (with Randy going so far as to say “That’s the bar!” after Burnell leaves with his Golden Ticket).
BURNELL TAYLOR is going to Hollywood!
-Ryan congratulates Burnell, telling him that he may have just changed the judging panel forever.
-We get one last recap of the auditions, with Ryan stating that Baton Rouge produced 34 Golden Ticket recipients.
-One last moment: Keith addresses Nicki but accidentally calls her Mariah, creating an impossibly awkward moment of silence, before Keith admits that he might have to say a couple Hail Marys for that one.
-We get a preview of next week’s auditions, and while they aren’t hyping any real drama, there are a few contestants (both good and bad) who get some pimping for next week’s “double dose” of Idol.
I’ll be back then for another set of live blogs, as the audition rounds continue!
And check back in this thread and on Rickey.org for videos from tonight’s show!
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