At the top of the show, there was a graphic that said American Idol would like to apologize for last week's outrageous behavior by Steven Tyler and assured people it would not happen again. Of course, then they showed a contestant, last name of Muck, with Steven saying to him, "You know what Muck rhymes with, right?"
The first real audition was Corey Levoy, 21. He hadn't known his sister, Brooks (ph), for much of his life but became great friends with her once he did, calling her his best friend. Judge Jennifer Lopez urged him to bring his sister in, and they added her to the panel. Corey sang "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt, wearing a gray and white striped shirt and jeans. He has a nice voice, but the higher notes were a little weak. Predictably, his sister said, "I think it was amazing." Judge Randy Jackson told him, "I think you've got a good voice," which he found surprising given his high-pitched speaking voice. J. Lo liked the runs. Steven remarked, "Something tells me you're not going to get teased any more." When it came time to vote, his sister said heck yea, which Steven and J. Lo agreed to, as well. Randy said, "Y'all heck yeah." What? Before leaving, Corey turned around and announced, "I've been told I have a J. Lo bootie." J. Lo seemed a little shocked but then laughed. [Corey's audition: part one, part two]
Hollie Cavanagh, 17, was next, wearing a pink striped sleeveless minidress. She sang "At Last" by Etta James and had a good tone but seemed nervous. Steven told her, "You were all over the place with the melody." Randy said she'd "changed keys about five times." J. Lo told her she needs to get more comfortable on stage. Randy added, "You're not quite ready yet." She started to cry, and J. Lo asked her to sing one more song. After the commercial break, Hollie sang again, going with "The Climb." Despite kind of breaking down during the middle, she was much stronger. J. Lo and Steven gave her a yes, and Randy, who had previously given her a no, changed his mind and gave her a yes. [Hollie's audition: part one, part two]
Then came a montage of nos, with other contestants crying, to no avail.
Rodolfo Ochoa, 17, sang "The Circle of Life," his greenish hair with faux hawk, contrasting to a blue polo shirt and black and blue plaid pants. His high note was very off, prompting Randy to declare, "This is not good... The singing is terrible." It's a no. [Rodolfo's audition]
Because it was Austin, we saw a montage of guys in cowboy hats. One declared he is "completely and utterly heterosexual." Um... what?
Next was John Wayne Schulz, 23, Kansas City, Texas. Looking every bit the cowboy in a black cowboy hat, lime button-down shirt, jeans, and brown belt, he spoke to the cameras with his family in the lobby. Apparently, they'd named him John Wayne because his father wanted "a rough and tumble son." Host Ryan Seacrest joked that it "would suck if I were your son." The dad countered, "You wouldn't be the way you are now." In a package showing John working on the family farm, he opined that "being an authentic cowboy is not how you dress; it's how you are inside." He also shared a story about his mother being diagnosed with breast cancer and urging him to try out for American Idol. Although her current condition was not mentioned, she was at the audition with him. He went with, naturally, a country song: "I Believe" by Brooks and Dunn. He has a pleasant country baritone, prompting J. Lo to state, "I believe that you believe. You have the strength of faith... it comes out in your singing." Steven found it "beautiful" and "great." Randy remarked, "I feel you, man." The judges asked John to bring his parents in to hear the good news that he was going to Hollywood. Afterward, Steven said the audition had "taken Texas up a notch for me." [John's audition: part one, part two]
On day two, Courtney Penry, 17, of Missouri City, Texas, led off the auditions. She admitted she's in love with Ryan and teared up when she got to meet him. For the judge, she started off by doing a chicken impression, which was actually really funny. She was cute, in a gray and purple minidress with cowboy boots, with long, dark wavy hair. She did "Stay" by Sugarland, giving it a country lilt. Although her singing was a little harsh at times, and she paired it with awkward pointing, she has potential. J. Lo said, "As a total package I love you." She advised her to work on her weaknesses. Steven thought she had "star quality." And Randy found it a "pretty good voice with a couple bad habits." Still, she got through with yeses from J. Lo and Steven. She faked out with her family, pretending to cry. [Coutrney's audition]
Kicking off a montage of yeses, we got short glimpses of Shauntel Campos, with J. Lo telling her "You're awesome." We also saw Alex Carr and Caleb Johnson, whom Randy called "just a natural." [Montage of yeses]
Next up we met a boyfriend and girlfriend who had met in the choir at their community college. Wacky shots of them in a field, playing mini golf, running and holding hands, really hamming it up. So fake! They say they want to be American Idol's first "power couple." Barf. The girl was Jacqueline Dunford, 21, who sang Duffy's "Mercy" in a really tight white shirt with roses, her long, blonde hair curly and loose. She was harsh on the upper register and had a good voice but didn't blow me away. The guy, Nick Fink, 19, wore a blue striped shirt, dark blue jacket, and jeans as he sang "Sunday Morning." He's a real crooner and was much more controlled. With his tousled hair and squinty eyes, he will probably appeal to young female voters. J. Lo liked that they both had interesting takes on the songs. Steven loved the song and the passion of Jacqueline and found them both good looking. Because it's just about the singing, right? Randy called them "a breath of fresh air." Three yeses for both. [Jacqueline & Nick's auditions: part one, part two]
Janelle Arthur, 20, Oliver Springs, Tennessee, had been urged by her family to audition for five years. The package included some home video of her playing guitar for her family on the porch and eating dinner. (Hmm? The second unit couldn't shoot it this time?) With long, blonde wavy hair, a white tank-top dress with brown skirt, and cowboy boots, Janelle had the look down. Her audition was mellow until the end, where she started almost yodeling. There's a definite country flavor to many of these Austin auditions, which I'm sure is no coincidence. Randy had heard enough to make a decision right away. Steven agreed: "Great. So good." Three yeses. [Janelle's audition]
A montage of weird/bad auditions kicked off with a girl dressed as an armadillo with a cowboy hat. Randy was trying to be mean, asking a girl in an anime costume, "What kind of audition is this?" Of another contestant he asked, "Is there a song called 'Watch Me Leave'?"
This was followed by a montage of people getting mad at the camera men, with some singing the blues afterwards, with musical accompaniment on the melodica by Casey Abrams, 19, Idyllwild, California. He's been told he looks like Seth Rogen, but the camera guy told him he looks like Junior Gorg from Fraggle Rock. The last of the day, Casey was unassuming, with his fuzzy beard, long hair, black T-shirt, and brown cargo pants. He launched into "I Don't Need No Doctor" by Ray Charles, starting out by scatting. Dude had lots of energy and a soulful voice, and it was a fun audition. He reminded me a little of season five winner Taylor Hicks but put a little Stevie Wonder in there, too. Randy asked for an immediate responses from the judges: "Altogether now... yes!" Casey left the room playing his melodica and holding his golden ticket. [Casey's audition]
All told, 50 contestants got through to Hollywood. Tomorrow night, the judges go to the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles.
Austin's got cowboys, crooners, and even some soul.