If tonight’s installment of American Idol had to be turned into a movie trailer, the voice-over would go a little something like this: ”Super-polite contestants! Pink bunny rabbits! And Ryan Seacrest in [insert sound of needle scratching across record] — flannel! If you thought Idol was the meanest show on television, then you haven’t been to Utah. The sob stories are sweeter. The producers only emotionally abuse one contestant (but don’t worry, she’s a Goth!) And — you’re not gonna believe this — but you might need both hands to count the number of memorable contestants scoring Golden Tickets. Yes, Idoloonies, you’ve seen the rest (five middling episodes so far this season, to be exact), now it’s time for the best: This…is American Idol‘s Salt Lake City audition round!”
Okay, yeah, so it wasn’t the all-time greatest audition episode in Idol history. But in a season where the show’s producers have consistently emphasized pretty much everything but water-cooler-worthy singers, what a thrill it was to see and hear the likes of Megan Corkrey, Rose Flack, Frankie Jordan, Taylor Vaifanua, Jarrett Burns, Austin Sisneros, and David Osmond — each of whom possessed some combination of fine vocals, personal magnetism, good looks, and personality (in some cases charming, and in others polarizing) — in the course of a single hour.
And if that wasn’t enough to make you feel like (finally!) the competition is on, the episode ended with a sneak peek at the emotional meltdowns and musical collapses of Hollywood Week (coming next Tuesday to a TV near you). That’s right. Don’t start queuing up ”Shiny Happy People” just yet, because the smart money says that not all of the Salt Lake City 7 will survive to the top 36. So let’s run down tonight’s featured contestants
Most Likely to Succeed: Megan Corkrey As Simon Cowell told Megan after her terrific take on ”Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine”: ”You’re different. You are one of the few I’m gonna remember.” And indeed, I can still hear in my head the way Megan used her whiskey-soaked pipes to effortlessly twist the tempo and cadence of the jazz standard into a flirty midtempo romp. In fact, Megan’s vocals were so memorable, it kind of makes me wonder why Fox felt it needed to maximize viewer tear-duct activity by focusing on her decision to get a divorce and become a single mother to her toddler son, Ryder. Don’t those cats know by now that when the vocals are on point, there’s no back story required?
It also didn’t hurt that Megan possesses a quirky beauty — complete with mammoth arm tattoo and jaunty gray skirt with yellow-ribbon trim — and a quiet confidence that never seemed to veer toward arrogance. The same cannot be said of the woman whom the producers seemed to be setting up as Megan’s main competition in the battle of the ”young, talented moms” division. Which brings me to…
NEXT: Ramblin’ Rose