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American Idol recap: Sweet Hope in Chicago

The Windy City singers inspire, while Keith Urban wants to crawl in a hole and die

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American Idol Lazaro Arbos

American Idol

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

Happy sigh! I went into “Auditions No. 2” bracing myself for an even worse display of Diva vs. Diva than Wednesday’s premiere — and don’t get me wrong, the Mariah-Nicki Get Up Out My Face 2013 feud is still annoying. But the Chicago auditions showcased so much talent — 16 featured golden ticketers! — that the warring egos simply weren’t awarded enough screen time to completely muck up the episode. Plus, the Adler Planetarium was the best possible venue from which to provide a sweeping backdrop of downtown Chicago –home of the meat wave, deep-dish pizza and during the ’80s and ’90s, me. Gotta love that lake effect!

Pricey Real Doll Nicki Minaj continued to bulldoze the judging panel and call all the shots, which, just — huh? How and why? This is not pleasant. Sherbet Head has had plenty of solid critiques so far, but how has no one stepped in to remind her she is not the director of American Idol? Where the eff is the babysitter?!

Breathe. Good contestants. Here they are.

First up: Tennesseean Mackenzie Wasner, a darling, sickly sweet blonde with major Christie Brinkley face and just about the purest singing voice y’all ever did hear. I loved her mild-mannered dad — a piano-playing singer-songwriter who’s performed with Vince Gill for years but seems like the most unassuming creature on the planet. Vince has even called 17-year-old Mackenzie onstage. Her cover of “Whenever You Come Around” was lovely and perfectly pitched, but Nicki Minaj overdid it a bit with the whole “someone like you comes in this room once every few years” bit.

Chicago native Kiara Lanier, 21, would have gushed about how much Mariah Carey had inspired her (a fellow multi-racial human) for much longer had Nicki Minaj not brutally Kiara her off with one of her Nanny-est “So what are you gonna SING for us today?”s to date.  the judges loved the way Kiara went in out of loud and soft with so much control on “The Prayer,” and Keith Urban mostly liked her sassy outfit (blue printed pants, cropped leather jacket). “You look great! This is the thing,” he announced. My, he learns quickly.

Lingerie sales associate Stephanie Schimel… do I even need to go on? She is through. I love when contestants audition with old-fashioned songs like “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” and the Milwaukee Dream Angel had a lovely tone, albeit one that could easily get drowned out by more powerful singers. Keith called Stephanie “a Carrie Underwood/Gwen Stefani blend,” and I guess he was talking about her voice but considering they’re all fluffy yellow-haired people, maybe not. Looks-wise, I was thinking The Bachelorette‘s Emily Maynard crossed with Playboy lifer Holly Madison. Nicki wasn’t wowed, which I actually understood.

“Doesn’t she look like a star?” wondered Keith. “I don’t think she feels like a star,” claimed the leopard-print DiscWoman, who then devolved into a RIDICULOUS motormouthed rant about how Stephanie was wearing the same ugly purple eye shadow as her, which meant they had a “rivalry,” but then Stephanie complimented Nicki so it was okay, and Mariah was like “Aw hell, this is what I have to put up with at my [AIR QUOTES] job,” and ugh seriously I can’t even go on, it’s all so meaningless and shouty.

“I feel like a scratching post,” Keith Urban softly admitted in a cry for help. No one could help him. Scratching posts don’t have the same rights as cats!

How about a nice “deep-tissue massage” from a delusional woman in an unidentifiable costume?

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Please don’t go “Downtown,” pleaded Ryan and, a few minutes later, millions of viewers. But she did. It was awful.

NEXT: Let’s get baked!