American Idol recap: Southern Proper
The Baton Rouge auditions focus on the contestants for a change; Keith Urban reveals more heavage
Tonight’s auditions road trip deposited us in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — a rich source of Idol talent, or “YO, MY HOME SLICE TOWN!” if you ask Randy Jackson. I feel like no one asks Randy Jackson questions anymore. What would be the point?
Let’s quickly blaze through the singers who made it through during this one-hour adventure, which blew by so effortlessly that it now makes even less sense that most audition eps are a whopping two hours. How did we ever survive before this cosmic shift? The quicker hit of crazy on a Thursday night was just the (golden) ticket.
Megan Miller, 22, claimed to be “Miss Baton Rouge” and then the chyron below her as she started singing “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” said “Miss GREATER Baton Rouge.” Quit underselling yourself, girl! This is Idol; you need all the help you can get. Except Megan didn’t because she had a busted leg, imminent surgery following her audition, and a big ol’ cast. Megan’s a beautiful girl with a big voice, but would she stand (or wobble) out without crutches as props? I have doubts. She’s cute, though, and funny. I’m just glad she didn’t scream “pageant girl”. Well, at least her understated Pocahontas sack dress didn’t. (I need that.)
Megan courteously invited Keith Urban to her surgery later that day. Just Keith. No one else. It was sexual. And as he helplessly pointed at his wedding ring, it was awkward.
Okay, now the good vibes really kicked in: Curly-haired redhead Charlie Askew, 17, spoke up right away to the judges and the camera about being incredibly socially awkward, since every hopeful needs a shtick. He really didn’t — this is just one of those rare oddballs with the most beautiful soul and non-cloyingly angelic demeanor. He reminded me of Brett Loewenstern from season 10, but at least 2.5 times more angelic. If that’s even possible! At first he launched into Queen’s “Breakthru” and though the quality of his voice is undeniable, the judges (and I) visibly cringed as Charlie’s volume increased so he could really ROCK IT OUT. Not necessary, but I was grinning so hard at the song choice, so there’s that.
“Nature Boy” was a much more fitting choice for this “strange and enchanted boy” who had “wandered very far” from home to visit a brightly hued wasteland overrun by the tyranny of Chanel Castro. (If anyone has a better #nickiname for that white-on-white mindf— of a costume I’m all ears).
Poor Ryan so desperately wanted a hug. DENIED.
NEXT: Let’s hear it for the grandmas Randy Jackson — arbiter of good tidings, weaver of dreams — visited 17-year-old Maddie Assel, who just happened to be performing in front of an audience in downtown New Orleans while on a family vacation. What are the chances? Right away I was drawn in by — well, fine, first it was her oversize red glasses because I’m a sucker for ridiculous frames, but then and more importantly it was her twangy and unique vocal on “Oh Darlin.”
Maddie, who idolizes Beyoncé, Adele, and Haley Reinhart (holla!), has the whole “add about six syllables to every vowel and enunciate maybe 40 percent of the consonants” singing style down pat. I’m personally a big fan of that style, though it can seem way too try-hard to me when people don’t have the chops to pull it off. I think Maddie will at some point if not right away. Her voice itself is very compelling, and a good-natured confidence can get her far.
Maddie also was the proud relation of my new FAVORITE GRANDMA EVER — this life-lovin’ wackaloon who boasted about how much “magic dust” she’d consumed in her life. Oh mama. We believe it.
Ryan finally got his hug!
And that’s how we lost Seacrest.
I didn’t think Paul Jolley was that great at transitioning from louder to softer tones on his cover of “I Won’t Let Go,” but he’s a severely smiley, non-threatening, attractive man with a killer work ethic and a tendency to take risks. The judges didn’t find anything wrong with his vocal, so what do I know?
Oh, I do remember that I sprouted a tear for the second time here (first time was Charlie Askew’s slow-motion guppy faced reaction to Keith comparing his gender-less voice to David Bowie’s) — when Paul strolled back outside in triumph and his grandma (another!), who’d just lost her husband/Paul’s grandfather, hugged Seacrest while sobbing. “I’m glad you got some happiness here,” he muttered in that super-suave life-affirming way of his. RYAN! Gah, when this show is firing on all emotional-heartstring cylinders, it is so on.
Best of all, late grandpa’s first name was “Jewel”!
Hmmm. Dr. Calvin Peters. Good backstory, for sure, but that’s about it. The “singing doctor,” who’d put his passion on hold to focus on getting into med school, has returned to the fold, and neither patient nor colleague can escape his admittedly lovely voice. I can’t see him going too far, though. Not with those pit stains! (KIDDING. He was adorable.) And kudos to Doc for taking on Maxwell’s “Whenever Wherever Whatever” — what Keith Urban called the equivalent of a triple-black-diamond ski run.
Quick hits! Michelle Montezeri on “Tainted Love”, Breanna Steer on “I’m Goin’ Down”, and Brandy Hotard on “Hell on Heels.” Are their 1.5 seconds of fame up, or shall we meet them again? Brandy seemed to be juggling a bunch of different trains of thought with that melody and I was intrigued, so for me that cut was the harshest. To be clear: None of these three were CUT. Just cheated a bit. Better than nothing.
NEXT: Here comes Sherbert Head’s next sexual target, whether he likes it or not! Dustin Watts, 27, is a sexy fireman who can sing. What’s with all these consummate professionals who are also musically talented? Season 12 is bananas so far. And he does country? Dustin’s easy-breezy-beautiful cover of Garth Brooks’ “She’s Every Woman” had me convinced that with the right advancement track and judges’ backing, he could win this thing. I can’t see them putting him through based on that scary truth alone, though — Idol wants a lady winner this year. Doesn’t this sexy fireman have a flame to extinguish somewhere? THE FLAME OF HIS DREAMS.
Either way, Dustin should cover George Strait’s song “The Fireman,” as Keith suggested. I’d listen, especially if it came with a complimentary calendar. Of Keith Urban chest tat shots. You did it to yourself, Keith! You dirty tease.
Burnell Taylor, 19, appeared to spend his entire segment juuuuuust waking up from a nap. This inexplicably bothered me, despite his general perfection — but I think I was just jealous he seemed so well-rested. Burnell realized he knew how to sing after Hurricane Katrina — his mom, sister and he had to pack up anything that wasn’t destroyed (nothing, really) and move to Baton Rouge, where he learned to appreciate the few intangible things he does have. “I’m Here” from The Color Purple was a fashionable choice, unlike Burnell’s sky blue board shorts and sweatshirt-as-belt. Keith “Heavage” Urban, who can’t bother to finish dressing himself either, shouldn’t talk….
…..but he warned Burnell to “dress for the occasion” once he gets to Hollywood.
The judges generally over-salivated over Burnell’s admittedly goose bumpy performance — Mariah “felt every single word you sang” through her tears, Nicki declared “We’ve been flying all around this country for that,” and Keith, who’d already shown his approval through a series of seated “HELL YEAH!” dance moves, predicted that “Somewhere there’s a spotlight right now, just waiting for you to walk in it.” The most advanced computer in the world could not auto-generate a more perfect smattering of The Same Old S—.
But what a wonderful moment for Burnell and his family. I hope he makes it really far if only so that his many older female relatives can continue to welcome Ryan Seacrest into their exclusive circle.
BONUS SHOT OF KEITH URBAN AGGRESSIVELY LOVING SOMETHING
I sure do hope this becomes a regular thing.
That’s pretty much it for the hour!
See you next week, and be sure to vote in today’s Bitchery Update Poll….
Who threw better shade in Baton Rouge: Nicki or Mariah?
Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.