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Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let’s get the party started!
A young man named Blake Patterson opens the show. Seated at a piano, he rips out a heartfelt and tearful rendition of “Smile”. We discover that he is emoting because he has just been rejected by our esteemed panel of judges, Steven Tyler, JLo and Randy Jackson.
What a welcome to the second audition city, New Orleans (or N’awlins). But, take a deep breath because after the opening credits roll, screaming multitudes (some in Mardi Gras dress complete with mask) let us know it is a time of hope, of dreams come true…oh, stop me now.
6500 show up with their party on and one of them (I’m sure) tried to sabotage Tyler’s chair – not really – but, he got some comedy out of it. Oh, oh, the backdrop color has changed from blue to pink. Is it because pink is more party-licious? Still in the opening package, Ryan informs us that this is the first time American Idol has been in New Orleans since Season 4. The last time he couldn’t get the good times rolling, but doesn’t share whether or not he has improved his French in the six years since.
Down to business: first up is Jordan Dorsey who is a musician from a small town where he teaches piano and vocals. He gets the first storyboard of the night so we know we can keep the cotton out of our ears for the moment; but keep it at the ready, because he is only the first to stand in judgment. His family waits outside the ominous door to the audition room, and his grandmother takes a moment to inform Ryan that he looks taller on television. Let the good times roll! Jordan sings “Over the Rainbow”, which gives JLo goosebumps. Randy counts down 1,2,3 and they all say YES to the first one through to Hollywood from New Orleans.
A flabbergasted Randy exclaims, “That’s what’s supposed to happen, that’s what you do in audition!” Ahem – didn’t he say that in New Jersey as well?
Um, I do believe that it is too good to be true, Randy. After the break Ryan takes us into the swamp which is used as a metaphor for a montage of crazies passing through the morning session. It is fun to watch the judges’ expressions; good for a chuckle or two, but then they bring back the yummy stuff; sort of like an appetizer of gag worthy ingredients followed by a scrumptious entree.
Sarah Sellers, a marketing person by day and a food and music blogger by night, enters and perks up Tyler with her large lip formation. Okay…he foams at the mouth, but after he calms down, her voice wins them over with a Bob Dylan song. She’ll be blogging from Hollywood.
More fun stuff along with the yummy stuff arrives in a package with sensual eyes. Jovany Barreto, 23, is a shipbuilder whose parents emigrated from Cuba. He thinks he has an IN with JLo because she will see her husband (and his Idol) Marc Anthony in his eyes. He sings in Spanish and woos them with compliments accompanied by soft Spanish guitar music. (Way to put a package together, producers.) After they compliment him in turn and grant him the golden ticket, he strips off his vest and shirt in a tribute to Marc’s abs. This is, of course, a male challenge that Tyler and Randy can’t resist and they join him on the platform in front of JLo for a display of their own attempts at abs, or stomach. Shall we call this segment pec-a-palooza?
JLo: What just happened? You know this would happen when you got us here, right?
They send it to commercial, mainly so the female viewers can fan themselves; then Ryan welcomes us back with another of his tours. This time it is through Louisiana state trivia where we learn that the state’s favorite dog is “The Dawg”. Yes, Randy is a native of Baton Rouge, and the next young lady to audition has the high school pictures and a tag-along football coach to prove it. After all the back slapping hoopla, Jacqueline Dupree has a chance to sing and they find her to be awesome, sending her along to Hollywood.
Ah, Brett Lowenstern, a 16 year old with well-conditioned, curly red hair, who considers himself a red apple in a pile of green apples, tells us that he likes to stand out. It was hard being different, though, and until he had an epiphany about being happy with himself, the school bullies got him down. Once inside the audition room he wows the judges with his voice, which is way bigger than his small frame suggests. They give him a shouted YES in unison.
Gabriel Franks is very confident and not nervous, but is shown having difficulty pulling the paper backing off of his audition number. Sneaky editors – get you every time. Reading from a cue card, Randy leads him into telling them that he won a radio station contest because he looks like Steven Tyler. Tyler takes a bit of exception to that saying that he looks more like Mick Jagger; but then, Tyler and Jagger are mistaken for one another now and again. In other words, I don’t think Tyler took it as a compliment, especially after Mr. Franks opened his mouth to sing Lady GaGa’s “Bad Romance.” It was bad, all right, and he received three resounding NOs.
With that as a cue, we slip and slide with Ryan as he wonders if old New Orleans voodoo has taken over. They back the montage of bad with song classic, “I Put a Spell on You,” and showcase all those Mardi Gras costumed contestants who waited so long to share their talent. The segment ends with a boat horn stopping hip hop in its tracks, and prompting JLo to mutter, “Awkward”.
Clips of people in preparation for their turn oddly bring us to a young man who prepared for this audition at Idol Camp when he was 15. Alex Attardo is now 18 and standing in front of our panel. He takes a deep breath and launches into “Proud Mary” accompanied by chuckles from the three judges. No.
Jacee Badeaux, 15, has not been to Idol Camp. This baby-faced young man enters with a twinkle in his eye to face a skeptical panel. One phrase into Otis Reddings’ “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” and they are skeptical no more. They praise him for his beautiful voice and award him his ticket. He is not a jumper, but his twinkle gets brighter when he joins his family on the other side of the door.
Darn you, Producers! We got through almost a whole hour and not one true sob story. Why, why, why now?
At age 18, Paris Tassin delivered a baby girl afflicted with Hydrocephalus. Five years later, she is proud of her little girl, despite problems associated with the condition, and likes to sing to her all the time. For the audition, she sings Carrie Underwood’s “Temporary Home”, which brings tears to JLo’s eyes. It is Paris’ dream to sing and they grant her a golden ticket. At the end of the auditions, when the building is clearing out, JLo stops by to hug mother and child.
For those who wish to learn more about this condition, here is a website:
The Producers close the second audition show with an emotional bang; but how many dreams did they actually fulfill in New Orleans? It turns out that 37 hopefuls are heading to Hollywood while we, of course, got to see and hear only a handful. Good luck to them all.
Next Wednesday we have two hours to learn all we can about Milwaukee, WI. Will I have to count the cheese-heads? Please say no.