Last night on American Idol, the judges rolled up to Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. They say that everything’s bigger in Texas—and clearly that includes Ryan Seacrest’s cheeseball dialog while he’s in the Lone Star State (”It’s the second biggest state in the U.S., but its Pride is second to none!”). Urgh. All in all, 31 hopeful contestants were ushered off to Hollywood with the help of guest judges Neil Patrick Harris and Joe Jonas. But only one was carrying a whip!
PLAY NICE, FELLAS: While Tuesday night offered up some pretty snippy catfight action between Kara and her fellow “I Do Not Hook Up” co-writer Katy Perry, it’s Simon’s turn to get the claws out for a guest judge in Dallas. Tension between the two seems to run high on day one in “Big D,” and it all comes to a head when they disagree over the audition by jazzy Kimberly Carver from Denton, TX, who belts out an original number. Simon doesn’t see anything current or interesting about her, while Neil snipes back, “I disagree with you, Simon. I thought it was really quite great.” Cut to a slow-mo eyeroll from Mr. Nasty with a little snippet of the score from The Good, The Bad And The Ugly thrown in, to boot. In the end, Simon is the only “no,” and so 26-year-old Kimberly is off to Hollywood. As for the bad vibes between our guest judge and Simon? They stay right in there in the room.
I LOVE YOU, YOU WHIP ME: So let’s just cut to the chase—Erica Rhodes is by far the most memorable contestant of the night. Something about a former Barney & Friends child star who grows up to wear leather and carry a whip into an American Idol audition just screams “Yes to Hollywood.” The best line of the night comes when Simon sees Erica’s dominatrix-with-a-heart-of-gold routine: “What’s the big dream here,” he asks, before mumbling, “I know what mine is.”
Barney Dominatrix, here’s a great big hug and a kiss from us to you!
WAIT, ISN’T THAT…? Why, yes it is! Julie Kevelighan, who originally auditioned with (read: murdered) “Lady Marmalade” in Season 1, returns to give it another shot. Why? “I’m a Leo,” she explains. Well, okay. Astrology aside, she still strikes out with the judges, who remain as unimpressed with her this time around as they were eight seasons ago.
THE CRYING GAME: Plenty of contestants are sent away from the auditions in tears, including the flamboyant Dexter Ward. Despite his “good attitude and good smile,” he butchers “If I Ever Fall In Love Again” and is sent packing. Idol producers later try to get viewers choked up with 27-year-old David Pittman’s back story. It turns out he has tourettes, which none of the other judges catch but Neil Patrick Harris. “I think you’re crazy brave,” the guest judge says after David gives, in our opinion, a ho-hum take on Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home.” But, hey—what do we know? It’s a yes all the way around, and David is off to Hollywood.
BEST IN SHOW: On day two, Neil Patrick Harris is swapped out with Joe Jonas, who points out that Dallas is his hometown. Contestant Todrick Hall rolls in and viewers learn that he performed alongside Fantasia in The Color Purple on Broadway. Of course, savvy readers will recall that we already pointed this out in our American Idol preview earlier this month, when we highlighted Todrick as one of the contestants to keep an eye on—which you’ll certainly be able to do, since he earns a golden ticket after singing one of his own songs. Randy gushes, “Dude, I think you are the best I’ve seen this season.” Foreshadowing? We shall see.
DARE TO SCREAM: How best to follow up a super lame montage of Ryan wheeling a cart of dishes around and flirting with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders? Why, with perky, pink-clad Vanessa Johnston, who declares, “I am the next American Idoooooollllll!!” Happy-go-lucky Vanessa screams out a rendition of Etta James’ “At Last,” and Simon informs her “if anyone in my life ever asks what my nightmares look and sound like, I’m going to refer to that.” Sadly, it’s a no for the chipper 22-year-old, the girl does sure knows how to turn lemons into lemonade. “It’s okay if you say I’m your worst nightmare,” she says in her exit interview. “At least you’re dreaming about me!”
TKTKT: Etta James gets some redemption “at last” (ouch!), when 16-year-old Christian Spears—who is the final contestant of the Dallas auditions—tears through an impressive rendition of “All I Can Do Is Cry.” Her back story reveals that she was diagnosed with leukemia on her fourth birthday, and that she’s been in remission for eight years now. “I think you’re an incredibly brave person and I like you a lot,” Simon tells Christian, before all four judges send her off to Hollywood. And so Idol’s trek to Dallas ends on an emotional, up note.
Next Tuesday Idol goes hunting for the best the Denver has to offer.
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