Before American Idol got down to wild and wacky business in Austin, the producers decided to start the show with a somber moment. Responding to some recent outrage over Steven Tyler's outlandish (and sometimes vulgar) outbursts and his inappropriate come-ons toward some of the younger female singers, the producers apologized for his "outrageous behavior." So did the Aerosmith rocker straighten up? Let's find out.
After the title card offered the apology, we see Steven questioning an auditioner whose last name is Muck. "You know what rhymes with Muck, don't you?" Tyler asked. "Read my lips," he answered before the opening credits cut the scene short. Obviously, the Idol producers are enjoying Tyler's loopy dialogue as much as we are. (Though, seriously, the sexy eyes he's making at the teenagers needs to stop.)
In any case, the show is really about the singing, and although there were several montages of awful and sometimes silly auditions, most of the ones we were served in Wednesday's blissfully hourlong episode were positive. In total, 50 golden tickets were handed out, though some of those choices might have been questionable Quick thoughts on some of the ones that stood out:
Corey Levoy, "I Can't Make You Love Me"
Idol kicked off the night with Corey's sad story. Despite unknowingly living 15 minutes from his sister, Brooks, he had never met her until recently because of their parents' falling out. She's pretty much his biggest fan and harshest critic, so she is invited to join the judges' panel for his audition. He has a high-pitched speaking voice, which has always caused him to be teased, but his singing voice is very smooth and he effortlessly flows through some complicate vocal runs. J. Lo says he's gifted and Steven tells him he's not going to get teased anymore. Corey's sister gives him a big "heck, yeah!" and the other judges follow. Four "heck, yeahs" equal a trip to Hollywood.
Hollie Cavanaugh, "At Last" and "The Climb"
This Brit was deathly nervous, and as such, almost killed the Etta James classic. The melody was almost unrecognizable at times, and, as Randy noted, she changed keys a few times. But even so, you could hear that there was some talent in that voice somewhere. When Randy passed, Hollie burst into tears, and J. Lo sensed that her bad audition was just nerves. She composed herself, and then sang Miley Cyrus' megahit. Though it was still a little spotty, it was a marked improvement, especially when she belted the chorus. Steven and Jennifer say yes, as does a re-convinced Randy. We'll see which of the two versions of Hollie shows up in Hollywood.
John Wayne Schulz, "Believe"
John's parents named him after Hollywood's greatest cowboy because his father wanted a tough son. "It really would have sucked if I was your son, huh?" Ryan joked with his father. "You wouldn't be the way you are now," John's father fired back. Ha. But John's a little bit of a mama's (cow)boy, because he auditioned only because his mother asked him to when she had breast cancer. He sings a Brooks & Dunn song quite well, and though his voice will fit right in on country radio, he didn't show that he had much range. But, he gets the votes to move on and Ryan even gets to wear a cowboy hat. Everybody wins!
Courtney Penry, "Stay"
The focus stays on Ryan, as Courtney is obsessed with him She calls him the sexiest man alive and bursts into tears when he walks by her for the first time. She gets a hug or two, and tells the camera that he will be hers someday because she loves him and has loved him forever. From stalker to stand-up comic, Courtney opens her audition with an impression of a chicken. It's silly and somewhat accurate. Oh, yeah, she sings, too. She's not perfect, but the judges think she has potential. Steven says they can improve her weaknesses because she has star quality. J. Lo agrees, but Randy says no, because she has bad singing habits she needs to break. In any case, two votes is enough for her to advance — and keep her close to Ryan.
Nick Fink, "Sunday Morning" and Jacqueline Dunford, "Mercy"
Ah, puppy love. These two are so cute you could puke, but they decide to audition together. Jacqueline says Nick is her in boy form (they have so much in common), but she clarifies that it's not because she is in love with herself. (Not so sure.) Nick says they want to be the first power couple of American Idol. They each sing separately, and as J. Lo notes, they each sing popular audition songs, but they both deliver interesting arrangements. I didn't just love either one of them, but their voices were solid. Steven said it was beautiful, and they both earn unanimous golden tickets.
Janelle Arthur, "Syrup & Honey" "No One Needs to Know Right Now"
She's a Tennessee girl who just wants to prove that Southerners have teeth and wear shoes. (As a native Tennessean, I thank her for her efforts.) And I am also proud to say she was one of the best of the night. She sang Duffy and killed it (in the good way). Steven asked for something up-tempo and she got even better with the Shania Twain ditty, especially when she got to the falsetto in the chorus. The judges didn't even deliberate. She's an easy pass to Hollywood.
Casey Abrams, "I Don't Need No Doctor"
Idol breaks its streak of ending the shows on a borderline depressing note, highlighting this curly-haired singer who had all the makings of a disaster audition. (He even played a melodica — a wind-powered instrument that's sort of a mix between a harmonica and a keyboard. His goofiness turns to raw energy as he soulfully wails through the Ray Charles tune. He had the entire judges' table rocking, even though he was the last audition of a long day. Steven said he was "sick good" and the judges were happy to put him through.
Who were your favorite auditions?
Before American Idol got down to wild and wacky business in Austin, the producers decided to start the show with a somber moment. Responding to some recent outrage over Steven Tyler's outlandish (and sometimes vulgar) outbursts and his inappropriate come-ons toward some of the younger female singers, the producers apologized for his "outrageous behavior." So did the Aerosmith rocker straighten up? Let's find out...