Honestly, American Idol, stop playing with my heart. This is episode three, and we have yet another specialized opening. Does anything stay the same? When this show started, kids, iPods were bigger than a shoebox. Ryan Seacrest was 4-years-old. And we had the decency to choose one opening and run with it. But shows change, and people always leave. Everyone except for Idol favorite and politician, Clay Aiken, that is. Clay is joining the judges in Philadelphia for judging, and he’s just as quirky and lovable as he was in season 2. I’m still sorry (2004) that you lost, champ. But we’re in Philly and it’s time to start.
Gianna Isabella, 15, shows up first to audition, and her mom is Brenda K. Starr, who recorded some songs in the ’80s/really revolutionized what a leather skirt can do for the right figure. Her daughter chooses “House of the Rising Sun,” which causes me to choke on my frozen pizza because this is hollowed Idol ground. Remember Haley Reinhart? Of course you do because she made that song a 21st century Idol crown jewel. Anyway, Gianna nails the song, save a sharp note or two, but I don’t mind because her voice is just magical. J. Lo and Brenda K. Starr have a reunion in the judging room and reminisce about their time in the Bronx (DA BRONX!). She goes through, and her mom cries, and I cry, and Demi Lovato plays in the background, and I’ve never had such an intimate moment with frozen pizza. I hope you guys had frozen pizza, too.
After the commercial break, Brenda K. Starr and I have calmed down, and we’re back with Clay Aiken, who is hanging out with contestants and giving them Clay Aiken trivia. Derek Huffman, 21, waltzes into the judging room in jorts with a boombox. He works at a Dollar Store, and I want him to be good because those jorts are rich, man. Alas, he’s not, but I bet he pulls some serious game at the Dollar Store. Anyway, the judges think he’s fun, but he gets three thumbs down. He walks out with his shirt on his head, and I don’t feel bad because he has abs, and again… I have frozen pizza.
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But then Isaac Cole, 15, rolls up as Philly’s resident country boy. He four-wheels and loves Keith Urban, which is super convenient because he’s a judge here! He says he’s going to do a song a cappella with a guitar, which is not a cappella, but he’s only 15, so we have to pick our battles. He sings just like a country singer, which depending on your opinion of today’s country music, could be positive or problematic. My opinion is more of the latter. Harry and I agree that his twang just isn’t genuine, but he says he’s a fast learner, and I melt a little bit. He goes through to Hollywood.
We flash back to Jennifer’s first season, and she hated crushing people’s dreams, but now it seems like she’s super chill with it. She’s seasoned at this point, draped in at least two different shades of blue tonight. Honestly, Jennifer is next level. Guess who else is next level? Sara Sturm, 17, who is a tiny little muffin from Virginia. She works at a breakfast restaurant and chooses “Lips Are Movin.” No offense to Meghan Trainor, but Sara is way more endearing and sings it just as well. The judges like her, but they don’t love her. She moves forward.
NEXT: A janitor as fierce as the wind