Following Tuesday’s dreadful results in Chicago, where only 13 out of 12,000 auditioners got their Golden Tickets to Hollywood Week, the folks at American Idol HAD to have something more upbeat planned for Wednesday’s Orlando auditions, and for the most part, they didn’t disappoint.
The evening didn’t get off to a promising start, with 22-year-old cosmetologist Theo Glinton looking like Mike Tyson in a half-assed peacock costume at Mardi Gras. Typical of so many Idol hopefuls, Theo was absolutely convinced he had the pipes to win it all and, just as typically, was crushed when the judges, including guest, Broadway star Kristin Chenowith, told him the truth.
And while a distraught Theo had difficulty finding the exit, at least producers didn’t have to call the cops on him. No, that honor was for the creep-tastic Jarrod Norrell, whose version of “Amazing Grace” was an astounding disgrace. “You sounded like a lawnmower,” judge Kara DioGuardi tried to tell the 28-year-old from Georgia as he just kept muttering, “I’m trippin’… I’m trippin'” and refusing to leave the room. And if you watched the show, you know how this one ended — with Jarrod on the ground being cuffed by the police, prompting the season’s funniest moment so far: Simon asking a stunned Kara and Randy, “So, is it a yes or no?”
But Orlando is home to the Magic Kingdom and the AI folks did their best to make a handful of dreams come true. Married father of two Seth Rollins brought along his autistic son to the audition and walked away with that coveted piece of gold-colored paper. “I wanna keep hearing you,” said Kara about the tone of Seth’s singing voice.
And then there was recent high-school graduate Shelby Dressel, whose face was left partially paralyzed as an infant, but who managed to win over the judges with her talent.
Getting a second chance at Idol glory was Jermain Purefoy from Tennessee. On a lark, he’d auditioned unsuccessfully in Season 7, but returned two years later to show that he’d put in the work and improved his voice. And his hard work paid off, with Randy calling him “the best I’ve heard this whole audition season” and Simon admitting, “the chicks are gonna like you.”
And when it comes to turning your life around, no one had a story to beat Matt Lawrence, the burly Floridian who’d spent four years behind bars after robbing a bank with a BB gun at the age of 15. “I wanna do something that will put a smile on their face ten times more than I made them cry,” he said about wanting to make his family proud. And it worked — his heartrending version of “Trouble” had Simon exclaiming, “Brilliant… the easiest ‘yes’ I’ve said all day.”
Some Orlando yesses didn’t come so easily and were more like pulling teeth from Randy and Simon. Unfortunately, it looks like Kara and Kristin’s infectious enthusiasm for some auditioners might have been a bit too generous, with some hopefuls getting tickets that didn’t deserve them.
Sisters Bernadette and Amanda DeSimone from New Jersey were cute and eager to please, but there’s no way either — let alone both — would have gotten through to Hollywood had they tried out individually.
Cornelius Edwards got a pity pass after splitting his pants while attempting a split. It’s hard to say if he deserved it because we barely got to hear him before the wardrobe malfunction.
And then there’s Jay Stone, a beat-boxing Blake Lewis clone whose vocal bleeps and blurps won’t get him through the first round of eliminations in Hollywood. Think about it this way — Blake got all the way to runner-up with his beat box schtick, and Randy couldn’t even remember his name.
Okay, so that’s it for this week. Next week, it’s on to L.A. with guest judges Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne.