We had big hopes for American Idol’s trip to the Windy City. Surely Chicago, the town that once gave us Jennifer Hudson, would have more talent to offer up, right? Not really. Twelve thousand people auditioned, but only thirteen—just thirteen!—contestants were handed tickets to Hollywood. Are they good enough to compete? And was Shania Twain’s return to the public eye worth the wait? Check out our full recap after the jump:
THAT DOES IMPRESS HER MUCH: Shania Twain devoted her visit to the Idol judges’ table to sharing fairly level-headed technical tips — until 20-year old student John Park walked into the room. Shania then turned into a combination Moulin Rouge burlesque dancer and cartoon wolf howling at a hot broad. You’d best just see it for yourself:
John is clearly embarrassed by Shania singling him out with her double entendres, but he doesn’t have to feel awkward for long—he’s off to Hollywood. And Shania is off to find a lovah.
YOU AND THE REST OF AMERICA’S PARENTS: Katelyn Epperly, a blonde in a pink dress, auditioned because her parents got divorced or something. That’s it? After nine seasons, you better bring your A+ depressing backstory game to get any sympathy out of the home audience and the judges. We’re talking crack addict, cancer patient, homeless… but just divorced parents? You’re reaching, Idol producers. Katelyn sings “Syrup and Honey” by Duffy, and she’s competent, but there are probably thousands just like her (cute blondes in cowboy boots), any of whom could replace her, and we’d never notice. But hey, it works: she’s off to Hollywood.
NOW THAT’S A SOB STORY: Paige Dechausse explains that she once suffered such a severe asthma attack that she had to be rushed to the hospital and had only a 30% chance of surviving. Luck was on her side, as she not only lived, she managed to land herself a spot auditioning. Paige sings a sultry version of Sam Cooke’s classic “Change Is Gonna Come”. Simon thinks it’s indulgent and writes her off, but Shania and Kara see potential in the kid. Randy takes his sweet time deciding what we already know, and he’s torturing the poor girl making her wait for the answer. Dude, the girl’s got asthma and you’re making her cry! Just let her through to Hollywood already! (He does.)
SHUT UP: THE MUSICAL!: Amy Lang, who says if her life story were a musical it would be called Amy Lang! Amy Lang! Amy Lang!: The Musical, proves that just because people say you have personality, it doesn’t necessarily mean a good personality. She freaks out Ryan by admitting he was “the first celebrity I ever had an inappropriate dream about,” then tops that by fainting during her audition… only to start singing Aretha Franklin’s “Dr. Feelgood” while still sprawled on the floor. Amy then proceeds to poke my eyes out with her breasts, popping toward the TV cameras in a move Kara and Randy call “boob boxing.” “They’re not going to go to Hollywood,” deadpans Simon. Hey, there’s always Broadway. Off- off- off- off-Broadway.
HERE WE GO AGAIN: Angela Martin auditions in front of the judges for a third time. She got cut from Hollywood in Season 7, then made it back to Hollywood in Season 8… only to bail out in order to make her traffic court date. She earns her third ticket to Hollywood by ably singing Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine.” But now we kind of worry for her. What’s next? A piano drops on her head? Her alarm clock fails to wake her up on time? Angela, honey, next time just pay the traffic ticket.
U.S. O. NO: Chicago was utterly lacking in General Larry Platts and Skii Bo Ski’s. Other than Amy Lang and her bouncing bosom, the only memorable memorable train-wreck performance came from Brian Krause, a former soldier who claims to have sung for fellow troops back in the service. Basically, just picture Vincent D’Onofrio in Full Metal Jacket and add a soprano voice and you’ve got Brian Krause singing Tiny Tim’s “Tip Toe Through the Tulips.”
This guy has to be a performance artist, right? I could not believe this audition was for real, and neither did the judges. He sort of reminds me of Normal Gentle from Season 8. (Sidenote: I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I sort of miss him. He was insane, but self-aware, and he lasted long enough in the competition that I got used to seeing him. I hope he’s happily making a living as a performer in a cabaret somewhere entertaining drunk people.)
Bring on Orlando, please.
POLITICS AS USUAL: After starting the show with a strange reference to President Obama, Idol’s Chicago episode fades out on a pseudo-hopeful note, with chants of “Yes we can! Yes we can!” (”Because American Idol is just like the presidential election! — MJ). Did we mention this show has a little bit of an ego?
Best Guy of the Night: John Park
Best Girl of the Night: Angela “Three Times Better Be the Charm” Martin
Best Quote of the Night: “I’m tired of eating microwaved dinners. I wanna eat steaks.”—auditioner Harold Davis, before singing a poor rendition of Usher’s “Nice and Slow” and then weeping in front of the judges when they don’t let him through.
Don’t be too sad, Harold. Not everyone can inspire multiple dance remixes.
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