Orlando is a city of magic, as it is home to so many theme parks, including Walt Disney World, where everyone who goes feels like a perpetual five year old, but in a good way. I was excited about the amount of talent that would be available in the city. Being that there are so many parks, there is a lot of aspiring young talent working towards making their dreams come true.
Guest judge Kristin Chenoweth helped the panel in Florida, adding her bubbly personality and general adorableness to the table. Kristin really hit it off with Kara, and the two became so girly and giggly that they tried Simon’s patience, though that’s not exactly difficult to do. In fact, Ryan Seacrest even asserted that they “annoyed the s**t out of Simon.” Cursing personalities other than pissed off contestants is a rarity on the show. Congrats on getting over that hump, Ryan.
Personally, Kristin was my favorite judge so far, but as I love, love, LOVED her in Wicked, I’m a little biased. Also, out of any of the guests so far, I would be most honored if Kristin told me I could sing. Seriously. Just listen to the video at the bottom and you’ll understand why.
A good quota of crazy was gotten out of the way in the first audition, that of Theo Glinton, 22, of FL. Theo wore a whole lot of body glitter and had plastered a few circular mirrors onto his face, as well as a feather or three. He wore a black scarf that echoed the mirror pattern, and he twirled it around in an exotic dancer fashion while waiting outside in the holding room. He screamed with a growly rock voice and wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever heard (which isn’t saying much after watching years of bad Idol auditions), but he had put a bad taste in the judges’ mouths by walking in looking the way he did. A lesson to those of you who want to audition for Idol: Don’t dress like too much of a crazy person. Kara shook his hand as a consolation prize and told him he smelled nice. I guess that’s something.
Though we didn’t see the next girl in a loud pink dress and huge hat audition, we did get a classic Simon line out of it. “You walked in like a cocktail stick,” he told her, “and then sang as if you sat on the cat.” The wit and wisdom of Simon is one of the highlights of the audition process. I hope whoever they get to replace him can come up with equally wonderful things to say.
One of the preview segments showed that we were in for a slew of Sob Stories, and the first of the night popped up with 28 year old Seth Rollins. Seth has a five year old son who is autistic, and unfortunately the family can’t afford all of the medication they should have for him. This Sob Story was a little bit different in that it wasn’t all, “Look at me, I survived a terminal illness!” but it was about a father wanting to succeed to help his family out. And how adorable was it when his son screamed because he wanted to go into the audition with his father? Seth sang “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and he had a pleasant voice, but it wasn’t anything overly special. I was kind of bored by the end, honestly. Kristin, Kara, and Simon loved him, and while Randy was complimentary, he seemed to agree with me that Seth needed more energy. Reguardless, Seth got through to Hollywood. I’m ambivalent about how well he’ll fare in this competition.
The next singer, Jermaine Purifoy, had a similarly pleasant voice, but his big, infectious smile made all the difference. Jermaine had auditioned for Idol before, though he admitted that it had been kind of a joke for him before and that he didn’t deserve to get through. This time, he definitely did, with his seamless, strainless performance. The judges all loved him, and Randy said that he was the best he had seen throughout the audition season. I wouldn’t go that far, but I will be interested to see some more of him in Hollywood.
The final audition of day 1 was Shelby Dressel, 18, of FL, who was another Sob Story. However, like Seth Rollins, Shelby’s condition is different from some in that it’s not as serious, but it is immediately noticeable when you see her. She has a condition that has left the right side of her face paralyzed, and has left her a tiny bit self conscious, understandably. What I liked most about Shelby wasn’t her voice, which was pretty good, but the fact that she was subdued and honest due to her nerves, as opposed to some contestantly who get giddily over the top. She reminded me of what I think I would be like in the same situation. She is also the raw talent that Idol claims it’s out to find – undiscovered, full of potential, and in need of some training. Luckily, the judges all loved her (except for Simon, who liked her but wasn’t blown away by her voice and accentuated the fact that his yes had a small “y” at the front of it), and Shelby will be seen again in Hollywood.