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Glimpses of Sun in Portland

The next audition city for Season 11 of "American Idol" was Portland, Oregon. The typically overcast city was bright with talent, some of the best so far.



1) Brittany Zika, 21, Portland, Oregon, sang "The Story" by Brandi Carlisle. Brittany told the cameras an interesting story: she'd had a dream she was onstage with Sara Bareilles singing a duet. So for her birthday, she got tickets to her concert and held up a cardboard sign that said, "Will you sing 'Gravity with Me?'" The singer invited her onstage to sing. Brittany wore a yellow-and-gray-striped sweater with black suspenders and black leggings, along with horn-rimmed glasses and a gray fedora. She called herself "Tripster the Hipster," but surprisingly, her voice had a melodic quality. Jennifer Lopez told her, "You've got one of the prettiest voices I've heard." Randy Jackson told her she didn't sound at all like she looked, and so she took her glasses and hat off and shook out her blonde hair. Three yeses.

2) Ben Purdom, 18, Philadelphia, sang "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga. A guy who sells cable TV on the street (promoting a cable company at a table), he was sick, and there was footage of him blowing his nose in the waiting room. A ruddy-faced guy with unkempt curly hair, he wore a yellow T-shirt and a blue short-sleeved plaid shirt. He pretty much murdered his audition piece and offered to sing a different song, "Super Bass" by Nicki Minaj, but that was only slightly better. Randy said, "In the craziest, weirdest way, that was actually good." Jennifer told him, "You're cute." Steven Tyler told him it was not his best audition. Three nos.

3) Jermaine Jones, 24, Pinehill, New Jersey, sang "Superstar" by Leon Russell. Jermaine, who is 6'8 1/2" tall, grew up singing in church and came from a musical family. He sang a Luther song and also has a deep, resonant voice. His voice broke at one point, but otherwise, he was fairly controlled. Randy liked his use of dynamics. Jennifer said he has a natural gift. Steven said he had a really spiritual voice, and though Jermaine was nervous, Steven "heard the song through the nerves." Jennifer advised him to loosen up. He got three yeses and was through to Hollywood.

4) Britnee Kellogg, 27, Vancouver, Washington, sang "You're No Good" by Linda Ronstadt. A mother of two little boys, the beautiful blonde Britney Spears look-alike said that her ex-husband had held her back from singing and later compounded the hurt by cheating on her and leaving her. She wore a black, one-shoulder shirt and jeans, with beaded necklaces. The song was a little slow to get started but very soulful on the chorus, and Jennifer sang along. Randy liked her attitude and her vibe. Jennifer liked the rasp and the tone. Three yeses. Britnee asked Jennifer for advice about having a singing career and being a mom. Jennifer said, "You have to be happy so they're happy... When you have dreams, you make it happen."

5) Sam Gershman, 21, Clarksville, Maryland, sang "I'm a Woman" by Peggy Lee. She wore a tight pink scoop-neck top and black leggings with stilettos. She had a lot of attitude and a voice to match, and she really turned on the cheese factor while performing with a million-watt smile, with some mannerisms and strange phrasing. Randy called her "Sam, the one-act show." Steven told her, "You're going to make a good Easter bunny," because she's so perky (despite the fact that she's Jewish). But he thought it was "a little too Broadway." Randy didn't think she was ready, and neither did Steven. Jennifer also told her to keep working on it. Three nos.

6) David Weed, 22, Mountain Home, Idaho, sang "Tom Sawyer" by Rush. A very geeky looking guy with a button-down shirt, argyle sweater, horn-rimmed glasses and short curly hair, he's a worker in the fast food industry and dies a little bit inside each time he asks, "You want fries with that?" He sang the Rush song like it was opera and kind of half talked it. Randy said, "In your mind, is that the way Geddy Lee from the band sounds to you?" He asked him what his dream is other than singing. Turns out he also likes stand-up comedy, and based on the joke he told them, he's not ready for that either. Nice guy, but it was three nos.

7) Romeo Diahn, 22, Portland, Oregon, sang "Is This Love" by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Romeo survived the civil war in Liberia in the '90s by living in a refugee camp in Ghana, where his family hoped to be able to come to the U.S. Around him, people were dying, and he was relieved when he finally got a chance to come to America. For the audition, he wore a white T-shirt and a black and white bowling shirt. In addition to his great story, he had a very unique but beautiful voice that sounded a lot like Bob Marley. Jennifer said, "I love your vibe and your flavor." She said she was a little worried about what songs he could sing in the competition. Steven said yes, Jennifer said, "A little tiny yes," and Randy also said yes.

8) Naomi Gillies, 22, Boston, Massachusetts, sang "Crying" by Aerosmith. She wore a white V-neck shirt and a black blazer. The first part of the performance sounded a little loungey, but on the chorus, she sounded more like a rocker. Steven praised her for "belting it out." Randy told her, "You got it, you got it, you got it." Three yeses.

Then there was a montage of some people who were turned away, including one who did a cartwheel on her way in, and a bunch of people who got angry at the camera afterward.

9) Ben Harrison, 28, Eugene, Oregon, sang "Somebody to Love" by Queen. A baby-faced guy with really light blonde hair, he wore a mauve T-shirt and a black jacket with jeans and boots. He's been in a lot number of rock bands and been kicked out, but he claimed that was because "they were jealous" of his babyface. His voice was different: a really high falsetto, and he threw in a kiss at the end, which made Jennifer sneer. It was a no. He had a good attitude about it as he left, joking, "I didn't throw up or pee my pants, which I was worried about."

After the commercial break, there was another short montage of rejected singers walking out of the audition room.

10) Jessica Phillips, 25, Brooklyn, New York, sang "Again" by Faith Evans. Jessica has a boyfriend, Angelo, who had a massive stroke last Easter. He was in the hospital for a month and a half, and when he woke up, he didn't know who she was. Now, she's a caretaker for him. Video showed her working with him on speech therapy. For her audition, she wore a gray sweater and faded, distressed jeans with hoop earrings. The lyrics, about struggling, were perfect for her. She didn't over sing it but definitely had a diva vibe. Jennifer said, "You did that really well even though you ran out of breath at the end there." Three yeses.

The episode ended with a montage of other Golden Ticket recipients. In all, 42 advanced to Hollywood.

Tomorrow night, auditions finish at the Gateway to the West, St. Louis.

Moral:
There can be bright spots even in a gray city.


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