Omaha, Nebraska is the final stop for American Idol’s hometown auditions. Of all the locales, this last one seemed to have the slimmest pickings, and it becomes obvious that the best was saved for earlier in the season. Despite that, the panel handed out 21 tickets to pop star hopefuls by the end of the episode.
To start the day, Idol judges, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban pile into their family van with host Ryan Seacrest behind the wheel.
Young, handsome Quaid Edwards is the son of frontwoman Jolie Edwards from Jolie & The Wanted. His backstory reveals that Jolie and Keith used to play concerts together back in the day. Hmm — it looks like it might have been back in Keith’s wilder days, to be more specific. As soon as Quaid reveals the identity of his mom, Keith smiles in recognition and probably barely restrains himself from asking exactly how old Quaid is before he sings. After Quaid’s version of Sam Cooke‘s “A Change is Gonna Come,” Keith and Harry remain unconvinced that the kid has enough passion. Still, he makes it through.
Cowboy Simon Hauck sings terribly, but we’re at least treated to Keith adorably mouthing all the words. From there, several duds parade through. Madisen Walker is a pretty Iowan teenager who likes brownies. She then does her best Carrie Underwood “Think Before He Cheats.” Keith calls it a good karaoke version of the song. After brief deliberations, she goes through, despite Harry’s reservations.
Alyssa Siebkan does “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame and it’s very cliché, but she manages to convince Keith and Jennifer (big shocker) to push her through. Tyler Gurwicz has a nose ring and sings “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele. The judges are very torn. Harry asks for a second song. Jennifer suggests “Happy Birthday,” which I can’t imagine Idol would be willing to pay the licensing for. He sings a second selection and chooses “Grace” by Jeff Buckley and makes it through.
Someone get Harry a doctor because he has jaundice of the hands. Oh, nevermind, it’s just a severe case of chronic self tanning.
Now, it’s time for some bad singers! If pretty pushover Jennifer is telling you your voice isn’t strong enough, well, ouch. Then we see more weirdos begging for a second chance.
Tyler Marshall belts “Proud Mary” and all three judges agree he should go to Hollywood. After him, C.J. Jones wears a white blazer and announces he will sing “Stand By Me,” and literal Harry decides to stand by him during his performance. I have the give the kid props for getting through it despite the teasing of Harry. And like that, C.J. gets his golden ticket.
DaJontae Lenear flirts with Jennifer and both he and Dylan Becker go through. 20-year-old Paula Hunt sings for the Heartland America Band in the U.S. Army and performs “All I Can Do Is Cry” by Etta James. Jennifer is the first to compliment her. Harry loves her style, citing her understated use of runs. She gets a golden ticket.
Andrina Brogden is from Fargo, North Dakota and cute as a button. She takes on Beyonce‘s “Halo.” Jennifer likes her voice but thinks she needs more confidence. Harry thinks she’s not ready for Idol. Keith wants to give her a chance, though and she gets her coveted ticket.
Singer and square dance caller, Christian Scholl, from South Dakota mangles Willie Nelson‘s “On the Road Again.” It leaves the judges speechless until Jennifer breaks the silence with a polite, “OK.” No ticket for Christian.
Case McQuillen sings Demi Lovato‘s “Skyscraper.” Jennifer and Keith love her. Harry agrees that she should have a chance. Tessa Kate sings “Folsom Prison” from Johnny Cash with a good, solid voice. And she is good enough to win the final golden ticket.
And just like that, a total of 212 contenders are on their way to Hollywood. Next week, we’ll join the second round hopefuls to see some dreams get decimated after a brief taste of the big time. Should be a gas!
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