Amid all the cornfields and comforting Midwestern vistas, who knew Nebraska would be a hotbed for some of the freakiest freaks we've seen on
American Idol yet this year? And I don't mean necessarily the freaks with costumes and gimmicks - though there were a few of those, as well - I'm talking bona fide weirdos, folks who are just plain
odd. Like Sarah Whitaker, the goth former pro wrestler with the creepy laugh who sang something akin to Tiny Tim's version of "Living in the Sunlight, Loving in the Moonlight" - only her voice was even more twangy than a ukulele. Or how about Johnny Escamilla, who said, "Pretty much I'm one of the weirdest guys you'd ever meet," then proceeded to sing and sort of flop around to "Shout" while
Paula hiccupped and looked a little, shall we say, out of it?
Maybe the best reaction of the night came, oddly enough, from another reject, namely super-
Kelly Clarkson fan Chris Bernheisel, whose lackluster "Since You've Been Gone" really was beside the point. You couldn't fault the kid - who reminded me a little of charming serial killer Dexter - for his performance values, which included some crazy choreography and a handstand. The best part, though, was his big bag of gifts, including a stuffed shaggy dawg for
Randy, something that may have been a stuffed cat for Paula and a sweatshirt for
Simon (who was eager for a "bribe," but said, "Can't we just have money?") It was a no, clearly, on the singing, but Simon positively made Chris' day by saying that he wanted to see him reporting from the red carpet for his local stations, Fox 42, at the
AI finale. Chris was ecstatic: "I feel like I just won the lottery!" Now imagine if the judges had actually sent him through to Hollywood - he would probably have just passed out on the spot.
On the flipside, tonight's episode let us see and hear more of the "yes"es than we're usually privy to, even if they were just in passing - folks like Elizabeth Erkert, whose "Heard It Through the Grapevine" apparently impressed Ryan and Paula enough to put her through, but not so Simon. She was psyched to go to Hollywood, she said, because she couldn't wait to prove him wrong - by golly, "I
am America's Next Top Model." (See what I mean about the weirdness? OK, so maybe that was an honest mistake.... but still.)
Other "yes"es went to:
Jason Rich, who sang "When You Say Nothing at All" - the farmer from Stout, Iowa, couldn't quite get past the first line or two of his song, prompting Simon to say that he'd blown his chance. Despite his nerves, he made it through, because what he could manage to get out sounded awfully good.
Rachael Wicker, who sang "Don't Tell Me to Stop Loving You" - the championship arm-wrestler did sound a bit yodely, but she sure looks like a country singer, and there's no denying that she can carry a tune.
Samantha Sidley, who sang "Don't Know Why" - the poor dear was stuck in the middle of a Ryan-Simon power play, as Ryan sat in for Paula as a judge, while she did a perfunctory job of acting as host. Despite all the shenanigans, Samantha got her golden ticket.
Angelica Puente, who sang "The Power of Love" - I didn't entirely follow the ins and outs of her sad story with her father, but it was touching when she told him that she was going on to Hollywood.
David Cook, who sang "Livin' on a Prayer" - he said he was inspired by
Chris Daughtry, but David's main attribute seemed to be his nifty hairdo (thought that at least clearly wasn't inspired by Daughtry).
Leo Marlowe, who sang "A Song for You" - Mom may have raised him as a perfect homecoming queen, but he was clearly one of the night's biggest studs. He definitely warranted Paula's "touchdown!" and I'm hoping we'll see big things from him come Hollywood week.
Best Ryan-bashing of the night:
Randy, on hearing a high-pitched sound after Jason Rich's departure from the audition room: "There's a squeak as he walks out the door." Simon: "He just stood on someone. He just stood on Ryan."
What do you think? Was Omaha weirder than you would have expected it to be? Any favorites from tonight's auditions? And do you think Chris Bernheisel will get to live out his dream of being a red-carpet correspondent for the
American Idol clips, visit our
Online Video Guide.
Amid all the cornfields and comforting Midwestern vistas who knew Nebraska would be a hotbed for some of the freakiest freaks weve seen on American Idol yet this year And I dont mean necessarily the freaks with costumes and gimmicks though there were a few of those as well Im talking bona fide weirdos folks who are just plain odd Like Sarah Whitaker the goth former pro wrestler with the creepy laugh who sang something akin to Tiny Tims version of Living in the Sunlight Loving in the Moonlight only her voice was even more twangy than a ukulele Or how about Johnny Escamilla who said Pretty much Im one of the weirdest guys youd ever meet then proceeded to sing and sort of flop around to Shout while Paula hiccupped and looked a little shall we say out of itMaybe the best reaction of the night came oddly enough from another reject namely super-Kelly Clarkson fan Chris Bernheisel whose lackluster Since Youve Been Gone really was bes