Ahhhh, Pittsburgh! Can you believe this is the first time they've held Idol auditions here? The audacity of location scouts to diss a city with so much to offer. The Steelers! A rap song! And a native language, apparently, that sounds a lot like another language I know called "trash."
And here in Pittsburgh is where we meet Heejun Han, a nervous, arms-flailing Korean man who says he drank plenty of tea to calm his nerves when really he should have invested in a Beta-blocker before showing his face at this audition. "You guys look so unreal!" he tells the judges. "Like those wax-museum dolls." At which point we realize that our beloved judges are wax figures, imported directly from the fantastical world of Madame Tussauds in New York City. I mean, did you see the sheen on Randy's forehead? Of course we assume this ball of nerves is going to be a mess... but no! He's fantastic! Tear-inducing almost. If only he could get past the anxious energy...
Next is Reed Grimm, whose parents got drunk, formed a band, popped out a boat-load of kids, and added them to said band. Like a white, Wisconsin-based version of The Jackson 5. An odd song choice, Reed makes — a jazzy version of the Family Matters theme song? But two points for creativity. I guess it works for him. He goes to Hollywood.
We meet Samantha Novacek and her planking sister Patty, still stuck on a meme that took the Internets by storm in early 2011. No need to remember her, though, because she won't be around for much longer after Hollywood.
And then there was Creighton Fraker. Sure, we're only halfway through our second audition city, but I may go out on a limb and say this guy is the one to watch. He sings an original jingle, and when the judges can't get enough... he sings another one. He'll be American Idol's answer to The X Factor's Chris Rene, but with talent to back-up his original songs.
Eben Franckewtiz, the sad little boy whose parents have convinced him that he looks like Justin Bieber (when really he looks nothing remotely like Justin Bieber), sings "Ain't No Sunshine." It's ok, but no promise here.
Travis Orlando from the Bronx is giving auditions a second go this year, and for all that is good and holy in this world... let's hope the judges give him the golden ticket of sympathy. His family got evicted from their apartment, his mom broke his ailing father's heart by running away with another man — and oh, Lord — now they're playing "Hometown Glory" by Adele in the background while telling his story, and anyone with feelings begins to cry. Luckily, off Travis goes to Hollywood. Whew!
"Mobile DJ" and wedding singer (she's quick to point out she is nothing like Adam Sandler's mulleted version on the big screen), Erika Van Pelt rocks a confident "low alto" sound and nails Carole King. But Van Pelt becomes a distant memory when we meet the beautiful waitress/high school drop-out/former addict/former girl-group member/suicide survivor Hallie Day. She sings "I Will Survive," which is totally unexpected for someone who survived a lot of stuff. But she's good, she's got a story to tell, and she has a great famous-sounding name. We'll see you in Hollywood, Hallie!
Who did you love tonight? Are you sad to leave Pittsburgh? Weigh in below!
Ahhhh, Pittsburgh! Can you believe this is the first time they've held Idol auditions here? The audacity of location scouts to diss a city with so much to offer.