Ryan introduced us to the city of Pittsburgh tonight, telling us that the trip was so successful they all wondered why they'd never been there before. “Everything we do, we do it big,” said one hopeful. (Texas called. It wants its slogan back.)
Without the pomp and circumstance of the season 11 premiere - and without the need for bloating the show to fit a two-hour time slot - we jumped right into the auditions.
First up was Heejun Han. When he hit the screen I thought “is this guy high?” And then I thought “No, just socially awkward.” And then I thought “No. Definitely high. This is going to be awful.” Then he sang. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that 1) no one has EVER heard him sing before, and 2) he had no idea he could sing in the first place. I'm completely confused by this guy. Hopefully I'll figure it out by the time we see him again.
Reed Grimm, a nanny from Wiscahnsen, has been performing since he was two and auditioned to the theme song from 90’s sitcom Family Matters. Complete with the horns. He’s what Blake Lewis would’ve been if Blake Lewis had done Jazz. He was sent to Hollywood.
Then there was Patty the Pittsburgh Planker and her sister, Samantha Novacek. Samantha feels like she sings best when her sister follows her around and “planks” on the floor in front of her while she performs. I smell a ploy to guarantee some screen time, which isn’t necessarily bad. What’s weird is that the judges gave Patty the Planker a Golden Ticket. JUST FOR PLANKING.
Self-described "starving artist" Creighton Fraker was mediocre at best and made some terrific (read: HORRIBLE) faces while singing and scatting the song he wrote on his bus ride to Pittsburgh. There were entirely too many runs in his audition piece, but Steven and Co. were impressed with his decision to come in there and sing a song he made up on the way over, so we'll be hearing more of them in Hollywood.
Travis Orlando, a hopeful from last year, came back to audition and revealed that in the year since he last auditioned, his mom ran out on his family, he and his brother and their father were evicted and had to move into a shelter, and he dropped out of high school. How do you NOT give the kid a Golden Ticket after that? He's practically the Charlie of the American Idol Chocolate Factory.
There was the gem "A mobile DJ is a DJ that moves around from place to place," courtesy of Erika Van Pelt, wedding singer and, um, mobile DJ. Well, Erika, thanks for clearing that whole definition of "mobile DJ" thing up. She got a ticket to Hollywood.
Going once again where Idol has never gone before, we met Shane Bruce who graduated from high school and went into the "family business." Coal mining. (I cannot be the only person who wanted to crack a Zoolander joke, right? coughBlackLungcough) He didn't make it to Hollywood citing nerves for his poor performance. According to Steven, maybe his "forte" is "singing to them down there." Ouch, Steven.
Closing out the night was Hallie Day. Not to be confused with Howie Day. Hallie was great. Really great. So great Steven asked her to sing again just so he could watch her sing.
She's got a story and everybody loves a good underdog story. We'll see her again and if J. Lo has her way, she'll be singing Blondie songs.
This episode was surprisingly short on tearful rejectees, which was kind of refreshing. All in all, 38 more Golden Tickets were given out bringing our Hollywood hopeful count to 80. We'll add more to that pool on Sunday when the judges stop in San Diego.
What did you think of tonight's hopefuls? Could Hallie be our next Idol? What are your thoughts on Patty the Planker getting a ticket?
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.