Back when American Idol started, Chicago was one of the show’s first audition cities. Season five saw another stop in the Windy City, so it seemed only fitting for a return visit this past summer when guest judge Shania Twain joined regulars Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi to audition what would be the largest number of hopefuls so far. Despite 12000 wannabe Idols hoping to prove Yes We Can isn’t just for political candidates, the show got off to a rather foul start.
To begin Tuesday’s episode of what is perceived as a family show, the producers decided to kick things off with a bleep-heavy clipfest of disappointed auditioners. As part of the intro to this week’s guest judge, Shania Twain, Kara DioGuardi said, “She’s penned some of the best pop songs.” seemingly unaware of Twain‘s initial success as a country artist.
WIthout any more delay, the auditions began. First up was Katelyn Epperly, a 19 year old girl who revealed much more about her family’s home life than would make any good divorce lawyer comfortable. With hair like Shakira and a wardrobe like Taylor Swift, Katelyn took on Duffy‘s Syrup and Honey and garnered the night’s first golden ticket.
Up next was 26 year old waitress Amy Lang. Idol once again went PG-13 when Lang described the first time she met Idol host Seacrest. Seems she met him in a particularly provocative dream, in which he seemed bigger–funny how that works. Lang received the night’s first resounding round of no’s after continuing her bawdy audition by injecting some inappropriate boob-popping into her version of Dr. Feelgood by Aretha Franklin. Let’s just hope Heidi Montag wasn’t watching, cause with her newly acquired double-D’s she could knock Spencer Pratt out cold—oh wait, on second thought.
Up next was Charity Vance, who at 16, according to her mom, has been watching since she was 8. The Little Rock native had a very sweet demeanor and when she performed Summertime, she reminded me of a modern-day Blossom Dearie–if you don’t know who Blossom Dearie is, Google her, she’s fabulous. Needless to say, Charity was a go.
After a commercial break viewers were treated to the night’s first parade of crazies. Surprisingly that parade contained the night’s only quick glimpse of the much-promo’d Scooter Rocket, so much for all the hype.
As the judges took a break, Simon was confronted by an angry mom. No worries, he stood his own ground and she wisely backed down.
Then it was back to the auditions. They say third time’s a charm and lets hope that’s true for 28-year-old Angela Martin. Loyal Idol viewers will remember Angela from her two previous Idol auditions. She’s the single mom of a handicapped daughter who first auditioned for season 7. She tried again in season 8, and made it to the Top 50, but because of an unpaid speeding ticket, she had to drop out to appear in court. She proved to the judges that she had listened to previous criticism as she nailed Mary J. Blige‘s Just Fine, securing her yet another golden ticket.
WIth a montage of only seven who received yes votes in Chicago, day 1 came to a close. As always, a new day brought new hope, unfortunately, 26 year old Curly Newburn was all hope and no talent as he squeaked his way through Maxwell‘s A Woman’s Work. Just because Curly sings in a falsetto voice doesn’t make it sexy…a perfect example, The Seville Brothers, aka Alvin, Simon and Theodore. Hey, there’s an idea–maybe Newburn could record vocals for the next Chipmunks movie. It would sure save the producers a ton of money and studio time converting Justin Long, Matthew Gary Gubler and Jesse McCartney‘s vocal tracks.
The sea of no’s continued with an army of high pitched singers including Alannah Halbert‘s wretched butchering of I Will Always Love You. There were so many squealers that they got their own black and white montage. Brian Krause was so bad, his full audition was featured. Doing a very nice impression of Tiny Tim—Yes, that’s called irony--he Tip Toed right out the door.
It’s usually right about this time that Idol‘s editors pull the ole switcheroo and showcase someone with real potential. Harold Davis seemed up to the task, according to his intro package–with his stylized look, confident attitude and the ability to hold a virtually unending note. Seemed being the operative word. His take on Usher‘s Nice & Slow couldn’t end soon enough.
Surely Chantell Graczkowski, a decidedly non-Idol appearing 23-year-old would finally break the talentless spell. No such luck. But she was a nice lead-in for Kara to reference Shania‘s hit, That Don’t Impress Me Much. Cue the obligatory music royalties as yet another freak parade marches by while Shania‘s song is thankfully substituted for the actual auditions.
Late in the day it was finally time for another golden ticket when John Park, a 20-year-old Chicago native. For his choice, he picked one of my all-time favorites, Donny Hathaway‘s I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know. It was Shania who spoke up first, complimenting him on his vocal tone by saying he had a nice bottom end. Simon, with mind firmly in the gutter, took Shania‘s technical reference into a decidedly cougar-like place by making it sound dirty. Shania played along and dug herself a deeper hole. After all the silliness, John was a yes.
Having covered the rediculous–pretty much every Chicago hopeful--and the sublime--namely Angela Martin and John Park, the night was still a bit short on the ever-present hard-luck story.
I guess I’m just jaded, either that or I know from personal experience that everyone has obstacles in their life, because the night’s big sob story, while touching, didn’t really get to me. Enter Page DeChausse, a young girl who suffered asthma as a child that resulted in anaphylactic shock. With her hand-held bronchial dilator firmly in hand, she fittingly chose Sam Cooke‘s A Change Is Gonna Come. Simon said no. Shania and Kara saw potential and thought she was pretty, but Randy wasn’t convinced. The ladies then laid it on thick for Randy and he surrendered his vote, giving Page the go ahead for Hollywood Week.
Following Page‘s audition was a rapid succession of three male hopefuls, Justin Ray–-with a jheri curl that rivals Rick James, Keith Semple, who possess a decidedly Keith Urban vibe and 18 year-old Gary, Indiana singer Marcus Jones. With yeses all around, Chicago auditions ended with a baker’s dozen receiving golden tickets.
Wednesday’s auditions feature those lucky contestants who first auditioned in Orlando, Florida on July 9. They returned to The Sunshine State for callbacks on August 28, where the judges were joined by one of my favorite actress, the effervescent Kristen Chenoweth. Chenoweth has enjoyed a fantastic career in the past decade, having won the Tony for her role in the revival of You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, wowing audiences as Glenda in Wicked and earning an Emmy for her work on Pushing Daisies. Fans of FOX‘s other singing show, Glee will no doubt recognize her from her recent appearance as April Rhodes, a former glee-clubber-turned-boozehound, who returns to school and to the glee club at the insistence of her onetime classmate and current glee club faculty advisor, Mr. Shuester, played by Matthew Morrison.
Wanna be sure you are in the loop on the latest Idol news? Be sure and click the SUBSCRIBE tab (located between this article’s headline and the article itself) It’s free and simple…just by entering your email address, you will receive emails alerting you to my latest articles. You won’t get any junk emails, just my articles If you’ve read my column before, you probably know I worked on the show during the audition process during the first two years and have been a fan since. I’ll be watching tonight and will post my wrap up of the Orlando auditions following the show.
Speaking of following, to see what I have to say while the show is airing live, be sure and follow me on Twitter, by clicking the icon below.