In a cold open, we saw a woman crying and walking away from the auditions: "I thought I was going to be famous. How am I going to go home and tell my mom I didn't make it?" The camera person asked her if she had a message for the judges. "Just because somebody farts, let them finish singing, OK?" ROTFL [Woman crying over bad audition]
The judges claimed they planned to be tough in the final city, with Randy Jackson asserting that this time Steven Tyler would be the mean one.
They got a chance to try out their toughness with Inessa Lee, 22, from L.A, originally from the Ukraine. She looked a lot younger than 22, in hot pink leggings and a matching zippered jacket, with a very girly hair style of long, straight hair with bangs. She has several music videos on YouTube and claimed she's a blend of Shakira and early Madonna. "I'm just a unique creature," she bragged. Before her audition, she treated the judges to a little basic belly dancing. The she finally launched into a heavily accented rendition of "All Out of Love," which was all over the place as soon as she started dancing along. Steven told her, "You're so cute and precious" and remarked that his grandfather was from the Ukraine. However, he said, the pitch and melody were all over the place. Jennifer Lopez told her, "You have a young spirit. That's a beautiful thing." She called her cute as a button, "but the singing's not all the way there." Three nos didn't bring down her confidence. She announced, "You'll see me soon. I promise." [Inessa's audition: part one, part two]
After a montage of people who had been told no, along with others in the crowd who had been pooped on by the birds (there's some parallel here), we saw three brief auditions of hopefuls who received golden tickets: Brittany Mazur, 21; Lara Johnston, 20; and Matthew Nuss, 25. [Three auditioners]
The next full audition was Stefano Langone, 21, Kent, Washington. He told the story of how he recovered from a serious accident in May 2009, where doctors had predicted he wouldn't be able to walk. He fought to recover and got on his feet in four months. Wearing a piano belt buckle, a black T-shirt and distressed jeans, he performed Marvin Gaye's "Heard it Through the Grapevine." He had a strong voice, but the acoustics in the room were bad, and there was a serious echo that bothered the heck out of me! Randy complimented him: "Very nice." Steven said that he was howling, but he meant it in a good way. J. Lo, referring to his recovery from the accident, told him, "You're definitely here for a reason." She thought he had real star quality and "movie star good looks." Three yeses. [Stefano's audition: part one, part two]
A montage of people trying to stay warm in line was set to the Polyphonic Spree song, "Reach for the Sun," one of my personal favorites.
I honestly didn't expect a lot from Clint Jun "Junebug" Gamboa, 26, Long Beach, California, because his previous experience seemed to be primarily winning karaoke awards (not exactly known for producing great singers). He wore a white, gray and black cardigan over a black T-shirt and distressed jeans and had these unique round horn-rimmed glasses. He sang "Billionaire" and was a lot stronger than I'd predicted, with a soulful vibe. In response to a question from Steven, he told him that he grew up singing in gospel churches. Steven raved, "The way you sang that song was brilliant." J. Lo agreed that the "vocal was really beautiful." Three yeses. Randy called him "one of the best I've seen in San Francisco." [Clint's audition]
Then, a couple more bad auditions, including Kenneth Berba, who came in wearing some sort of anime costume with monkey ears and a tail and got an immediate no. Weston Lee Smith, 21, was really rough in his performance of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." The judges just stared at him afterward. He apologized and left. Hmm. Does anyone else think something was edited out there? Like maybe he insulted them or said something rude?
One of the more eye-grabbing wannabes was Drew Beaumier, 24, Fountain Valley, California, who was dressed as a Transformer in a costume he made himself, which allowed him to actually turn into a car and roll away with wheels he held in his hands. In a strange decision, he started "Born to be Wild" in the car position and stumbled over the lyrics before standing up with a lot of loud rustling at the end of the song to sing the last line. Steven thought the outfit was "slamming" and added that he liked his voice, too. When Randy said, "Really?" Steven said he'd been joking. It's a no. Stop toying with the contestants, Steven! I guess that's his version of mean. It's more impish, really. [Drew's audition]
A montage of "California girls" who can sing showed us glimpses of some unnamed singers who might stand out later in the competition. [California girls' auditions]
Julie Zorilla, 23, was born in Colombia. She wore a poufy party dress that had a black top with sleeveless sweetheart neckline and a patterned skirt, paired with sparkly high-heeled shoes that J. Lo complimented. She told her family's story, complete with footage of them in Colombia as well as stock footage of gun-toting guerillas. They escaped Columbia because the '90s were a time of violence in Colombia. She sang "Summertime" in a smoky, semi-sexy voice, which demonstrated nice range but made me wonder if she'd ever listened to the lyrics. Steven thought she had "great range and great star quality." He also liked the shoes. J. Lo liked "how you were planted in the ground." She complimented Julie's confidence and added, "You're a performer." Randy absolutely loved it. Three yeses. [Julie's audition: part one, part two]
Next were a few more deluded auditions, starting with a rocker dude, Dave Combs, 25, San Francisco, who seemed convinced his rendition of The Beatles song "Oh Darling" would put him through, but it was not to be. He asked to sing another song, and Steven told him abruptly no. Similarly, Steven didn't have patience for a lot of the worse auditions. [Dave's audition, Steven being mean]
With the second sad story of the night, we met Emily Anne Reed, 26, originally from Arlington, Virginia, but now living in San Francisco, Sadly, her house recently burnt down, which prompted her, she said, to rebuild a better life. She had brought her guitar with her but put it down before singing "You're Getting to be a Habit with Me," wearing a black sleeveless dress with red and yellow buttons on the shoulder. The outfit showed off the tattoos on her upper arms. She had a jazzy sort of delivery and reminded me a lot of Megan Joy Corkrey from season eight. Steven loved "your old-timey voice but your melody was a lot to be desired. Not yet." Randy liked her voice, because "it was so different." J. Lo told her, "You have more of a singer-songwriter vibe." She didn't know but decided to "give you one more chance and take a look at you again in Hollywood." Steven asked her to play her guitar, and she jammed out a little, making Steven rethink his no. [Emily's audition: part one, part two]
We saw one more montage, this one of disappointed people.
Finally, James Durbin, 21, Santa Cruz, got his chance. He had a sort of punk look, with a semi-Mohawk, a green T-shirt, black vest, dark jeans, and half gloves. In a package about his past, complete with family photos and b-roll of his daily life, he related that his father was a bass player, but he didn't really get to know him, because he died of a drug overdose when James was 9. Then, while seeking treatment for a sleep disorder, James was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome and Asberger's. These conditions, he said, led to him being teased and beat up in school. Then he met an "angel," Heidi, and the young lovers had a baby. "Having a son really changed me as a person," he related, but he doesn't have a job and sometimes they can't even afford diapers. He has a solid bluesy voice with a good higher range, but he was a little shouty. After his first piece, he asked Steven for permission to sing "Dream On." He's like a less-glam Glambert and was crying as he sang but still nailed it. J. Lo observed that "you go away when you sing," later clarifying that she means he sings from an emotional place. Randy liked his voice. Steven gushed, "That was over the top. So, so good." Three yeses. [James' audition: part one, part two]
After a shot of some of the golden ticket recipients riding on a street car (natch), we saw some highlights of the auditions so far and a teaser for Hollywood week, which begins tonight!
Steven being mean is sort of like a kitten attacking your foot under the blanket.