American Idol rolled into Baton Rouge, Louisiana tonight, home state of Randy Jackson and last year's top three finalist, Joshua Ledet.
Before the judging can begin, Mariah has to show off one of her many talents and fix Randy's makeup. And The Dog wears a lot of makeup, guys. Mariah says that everyone needs a fall-back plan and she's a beauty school drop-out. Judging by all the makeup, Randy's fall-back plan is filling in for his statue at Madame Tussaud's.
Now that they're primped and preened, let's get down to business...
Miss Baton Rouge is here to audition and she brought her crutches with her. Megan Miller had a car accident three days before Idol rolled into town, but since her dreams are at stake, she told the doctors the surgery to fix her leg would have to wait. She walked into the room and wowed the judges into compliments and a unanimous yes. It's an easy golden ticket for the pageant queen.
Charlie Askew describes himself as socially awkward and as a child he was unable to connect with others. He found his outlet and way of communicating with others in music. Randy calls him "seemingly dark, strange, but cool" and Keith says his voice is unique. Mariah says she identifies with his use of music for escapism and thinks he'll bring something different to the competition. They send him to Hollywood and this is the first time so far during the audition that I've disagreed with the judges.
Audition nominee Maddie Assel was surprised by Randy outside Cafe du Monde. She sings "Oh Darling" by The Beatles. While she fills it with riffs, she's got some talent. Keith says she has her own style and Nicki says she's got some power. Mariah loved it. And they welcome her to Hollywood.
Paul Jolley believes singing is his calling in life and dedicates his audition to his late grandfather. Nicki and Mariah love him. So do half the ladies at home probably. Keith says his voice is "honest." He gets 4 easy yes votes. He was great so that was a no-brainer.
Med student Calvin Peters is in his residency, but he's recently rediscovered his passion for singing and has decided to go after a different dream. He sings Maxwell's "Whenever, Wherever, Whatever" and Mariah calls him "very handsome." Keith likes his vibe. Nicki says he's attempted things in his audition that others haven't dared. He gets a golden ticket for his golden voice.
Firefighter Dustin Watts perks up the judges' afternoon with a Garth Brooks number. He's got an ease about him that I like. The judges like it too. Four yes votes and he's going to Hollywood.
Katrina survivor Burnell Taylor is from a musical family. He and his family lost everything in the hurricane and moved to Baton Rouge to rebuild and it was after that devastation that he realized he knew how to sing. He gets a standing ovation and brings Mariah to tears. Nicki says he's what they're looking for. Welcome to Hollywood, Burnell. He's one to watch!
In all, 34 golden tickets were passed out in Baton Rouge, and while it's still very, very early, Burnell Taylor has some chops. His audition gave me chills.
I'm noticing two things during the audition episodes:
- Randy Jackson isn't critiquing the contestants and is playing moderator for the panel. It's strange.
- We're seeing a higher than usual number of contestants who make it through to Hollywood compared to those who are trainwrecks. I like it.
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.