Season 9’s third episode of American Idol took us to the Windy City of Chicago for a measly hour’s worth of audition coverage. Fox really loves to take advantage of Idol’s flexible episode length to figure out its spring TV schedule, pimping some shows out by putting them into the sweet after-Idol spot, thus hoping to catch the Idol viewers’ eyes before they change the channel, and putting some shows on hold.
Anyway. Our celebrity guest of the night, in complete contrast with gaunt and wearing-too-much-makeup look of last Tuesday’s judge, was the very lovely Shania Twain. Her comments mirrored those of the other guests thus far; they fit into the rest of the panel without adding any real substance.
The auditions kicked off with a staple of an Idol tactic – the Sob Story, meant to attach us emotionally to a contestant, 99% of the time assuring us that this person will get past the judges’ table. Fresh faced Katelyn Epperly,19, of Iowa, with her distinctive bushy blonde hair, went through her parents’ divorce recently. Not to play down the affect that divorce can have on children, but doesn’t this sort of pale in comparison with Justin Williams, Mr. Cancer Survivor from last week? I mean, she even tells the judges that she’s still on great terms with her dad, so the divorce couldn’t have even been that ugly. I absolutely despise the fact that Idol makes me compare these two vastly different situations in such a way.
The good news for Katelyn is that she’s adorable, and her sound is original. She sang “Syrup and Honey” by Duffy, and unlike a plethora of recent contestants (think Megan Joy of Season 8), she doesn’t have a fake, weird, throaty, overly stylized, copy cat sound. She sings with honesty and innocence, and is just plain talented. Kara and Simon thought Katelyn needed a bit more energy, but Shania told her, “You have a voice that could sing a hit song.” Katelyn got a Golden Ticket to Hollywood.
Another young lady who showed her bold individuality was Charity Vance, 16, of AK. This girl, who works in her parents’ salon, which is based out of her house, sang “Summertime,” throwing in some original runs and impressive note choices. Her voice is small, which the judges noticed, but it’s pleasant, ringing in her upper register. Besides, she’s adorable and highly marketable. Simon is the only judge who didn’t have a word of criticism for Charity, and he thought she’d sound great on a record. She walked out of the room with a Golden Ticket.
The judges also enjoyed Angela Martin on their first day in Chicago. Angela has been granted a trip to Hollywood twice before, but both times she encountered deterring circumstances. During Season 7, her father died just a week before the trip, leading her performances to be a bit shaky and getting her cut. Last year, Angela faced a court date for a traffic violation on one of the Hollywood performance days. Tough luck, Angela. Fortunately, she was given another chance by the judges, who really liked her funky R&B style. Simon even told Angela, “It’s people like you who are why I like doing this show.” This translates to the fact that Angela has raw talent and really needs the professional “in” into the business. I look forward to seeing more of her, as she seems determined and has a sense of who she is. (Please don’t lose yourself later in the competition like so many do, Angela!) Being that she’s reached the Idol age limit, this is Angela’s last chance. She’d better use it to impress…
…unlike Amy Lang, who the judges felt didn’t take her audition seriously enough. The Broadway Baby, as she has dubbed herself, was full of immature, annoying energy. She proudly announced that Ryan Seacrest was the first celebrity who she had an inappropriate dream about. Necessary information, I’m sure. The judges like her quirkiness at first, until it cascades over into her performance of “Dr. Feelgood.” She began by pretending to pass out on the floor, then jumped up sand sang her way decently, albeit a bit screachily, around the room. None of the judges were impressed, even when Amy popped her chest at them repeatedly in a signature move that Kara dubbed “boobboxing.”
Amy’s audition felt like a complete waste of time. She wasn’t awful, even though she was whackily over the top, and how dare the judges criticize anyone for not taking the auditions seriously after they let Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle get so far last year. However, though she was shown from that slightly insane angle that Idol is so fond of, she wasn’t bad enough to be funny. When you only have an hour, why waste time on something that’s so obviously filler?
Eight contestants received golden tickets on Day 1 of Chicago’s auditions.