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> 'American Idol' premiere down on 2011, still slays opposition
20.58 And that's it for tonight! Join us again next week for more auditions!
20.54 After some people were finally sent home (and remain nameless), it's time for the last audition of the day. 24-year-old Hallie Day is a former girl group singer who hit rock bottom before bouncing back up with the love of her husband and now she's here to sing Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive'. How appropriate. She's got a great voice, can't deny that. Something strikes me as a bit off about her, but she's pretty great.
Jennifer can see her up on stage, "stealing the show" and having an album. Steven wants to see her sing again, but Randy shuts her down, deeming it unnecessary. She gets her ticket to Hollywood, with Jennifer claiming that she might even go on to win the show.
20.45 Steven's got a fart machine that he's showing off during lunch and they're handing out yellow tickets like hotcakes. No wonder this show's ratings are slipping. Anyway, a coal miner's up next - there's an uncomfortable montage of him singing to his coal miner buddies and I have to avert my gaze. Anyway, 19-year-old Shane Bruce wants to sing the "song from Shrek" - he means Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah', by the way.
Steven pretty much tells him to stick with his day job, while Randy says that he's got a lot of work to do but that he has something to build on if he keeps going. Jennifer also thinks he has a pretty voice but urges him to come back next year when he's put some more work into it. The first 'no' of the evening!
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20.38 On day two, Jennifer is running a bit late, so Steven and Randy put on a mini concert for the hopefuls before they're all ready to get started. First up is Erika Van Pelt, a mobile DJ and wedding singer. You go, girl. She takes on Carole King's 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' - there's a nice depth to her voice and it's a bit unique, plus she just seems really nice. I like her.
Randy loves that she's got a "low alto" and admires her turns and phrasing. Steven finds her sexy and sure of herself, while Jennifer loves that her voice matches her physical self completely. The vote goes quickly - she's through. Has anyone been turned away yet tonight?
20.31 Hey, look - Travis Orlando is back! He looks all grown up and he's singing Stevie Wonder's 'Isn't She Lovely?' His voice has definitely matured and I can't help but like him, but I can't say it's blown me away or anything. Jennifer thinks that his voice has gotten better from last year but that he's still "not coming out all the way". Steven also wonders why he sings with passion but isn't showing it. Randy asks what his deal is, and he admits that he dropped out of high school since singing is "all or nothing". Er... not the smartest decision, maybe.
They all think that he has a lot of room to grow and they think that he will - a characteristic which means that he gets three 'yes'es and a chance to prove himself in Hollywood.
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20.28 15-year-old Eben Franckenwitz tries out 'Ain't No Sunshine' and also proclaims himself a Justin Bieber lookalike - not so much. Jennifer thinks that he was born to sing and that he "has it", which Steven agrees with. Randy also likes him, saying that he has a God-given gift that's "amazing and spot-on" and now I'm waiting for the outrageously bad auditions. What's happening on this show?
20.19 New York City "starving artist" Creighton Fraker (what?) sings an original song that's part Jason Mraz, part Live, part Justin Timberlake. While it's a bit confusing to the judges, Randy admits that there's something about it that he likes. Steven thinks that it's beautiful that he was able to make up a song so quickly, but wants him to sing again.
He belts out 'Who's Loving You' and reminds Jennifer of someone that she can't put her finger on. Steven calls him a "beautiful" man, while Randy thinks he had a "weird, wild and crazy voice" - but he loves it! Blah blah, Michael Jackson comparisons, empty compliments, and a yellow ticket to Hollywood.
20.15 Samantha Novacek has brought her sister Patty, a famous Pittsburgh planker (I know, I know) along to her audition, where she sings a generic Faith Hill song. Her voice is all right, I suppose, but certainly nothing special. Still, Jennifer loved "the guts behind the voice", which Steven agrees with, calling her "sweet and clever". Randy also appreciates the vibe and it's another 'yes' for Hollywood.
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20.13 Aaron, Marcellus, Chase Likens and a number of others also get their golden tickets, showing Pittsburgh as a bit of a hot spot for talent.
20.09 Next up is 26-year-old Reed Grimm, who grew up singing on stage with his parents. He sings the theme song from Family Matters, which automatically makes him a winner in my book. He adds in some scatting and jazzy overtones and the judges love it.
Jennifer thinks that the mark of a great performer is not knowing what they'll do next, which she thinks Reed has. Randy is similarly impressed, admitting that he couldn't take his eyes of him the whole time. Steven starts reciting lines from The Sound of Music and it's another unanimous yes.
20.02 And we're off! First up is an interesting young fella by the name of Heejun Han, who refuses to stand next to Ryan Seacrest as he doesn't want his head to seem larger than it is. You already expect him to be terrible, don't you? I did, too - but he's not. He sings 'How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?', which, if I'm not mistaken, is my mother's favourite Michael Bolton song. And probably mine, too, truth be told.
Steven thinks he sings great, which Jennifer agrees with, telling him that he has a beautiful voice. Randy admits that he was shocked and is impressed. All the judges praise his tone and control and he gets a unanimous 'yes'.