We're up to the second week of "American Idol" auditions and, due to my embarkation for Sundance, recaps will probably be touch-and-go for tomorrow night and for next week. I'll do my best to brave the snow, sleet and independent film to also keep up with "AI" auditions.
Until then, we'll always have Tuesday (Jan. 19) night's auditions from Chicago.
8:00 p.m. ET Special thanks to Frank Sinatra for reminding us that his kind of town, Chicago is. This is the third time in Chicago for "American Idol." Will the third time be the charm? And, if not, can we at least stop by Lou Malnati's for the butter crust? Yum.
8:02 p.m. Really? Barack Obama? Oh come on, "American Idol." Yes we can? Yes we can? Yes we can?
8:03 p.m. Kara DioGuardi loves tonight's "American Idol" guest just, Shania Twain. And, really, who doesn't love Shania Twain? I mean, she admits that she once relieved her bladder during an audition. Let's hope that wasn't foreshadowing.
8:04 p.m. Tonight's first contestant is a 19-year-old cutie whose father recently abandoned the family. The music in the background suggests she's going to be a good one, breaking the form from the first two episodes. She's Katelyn Epperly and she's singing "Syrup and Honey." And, as the music and backstory warned us, she's impressive. Shania says her voice has unique and interesting qualities. Kara sees potential in her, but wants her to be perkier. Simon says that the lights are off, but he's still not negative, per se. She's got four yeses and she's going to Hollywood.
8:11 p.m. Ah, the history of Chicago's variable nomenclature. Nothing in the city's history could warn us about Amy Lang, who loves Ryan Seacrest so much that she's having inappropriate dreams about him. It also turns out that Amy Lang has a special gift involving her breasts. She's singing the Aretha Franklin "Dr. Feelgood," but only after she fakes passing out in a heap on the floor. Kara describes her mammarian gifts as "boob-boxing." For all of that, though, Amy's sent home.
8:14 p.m. Up next is Charity Vance, an Arkansas native who seems more like a Disney Channel half-hour comedy star waiting to happen than an "American Idol" star. I'm instantly a bit annoyed by her starry eyes and perkiness. Then she sings. Her voice sounds ABSOLUTELY nothing like the way I'd have expected it to. If you just close your eyes, she's almost remarkable. The disconnect between her looks and her vocals is massive and intriguing. She gets four yeses and she seems Top 24-ready if she has any range beyond what we just heard. And if that doesn't work, there's always Disney.
8:22 p.m. So much for all of those good feelings stemming from Charity's performance. It's a strange assortment of accordion players, boob-boxers, jugglers, shrieking monkeys and other people wasting Simon's time and my time as well.
8:23 p.m. Only four Golden Tickets have been given out and the losers are crying, swearing and slipping off the camera. One angry mother accosts Simon in the hallway.
8:24 p.m. Angela Martin! I remember Angela Martin from last season in Hollywood. And much more vividly from a lengthy clip package in Season Seven. She's had a string of tragedies, legal problems and other tsouris. I'll say that the first time I saw Angela audition, two years ago, I predicted she'd make it to the Top 5. She's 28 now, so this is pretty much it for her. But she's still great. I have been an Angela Martin fan and I continue to be an Angela Martin fan. Is there any chance she makes it to the Top 24 this time? Or will something awful happen again? She deserves a break.
8:27 p.m. Several other singers follow Angela to Hollywood from Day One in Chicago.
8:33 p.m. There were 12,000 auditioners in Chicago, many of them obese, if the "Idol" cameramen are capturing a representative crowd.
8:33 p.m. The day's first singer is Curley Newbern. I enjoy his all-white ensemble and the speed with which Simon is unable to contain his laughter. He has a high, squealing voice. He's not going to Hollywood, but he walks out before the votes are tabulated. Alannah Halbert, up next, is also incapable of singing, even taking notes from the judges, who try to help her. "I really had no idea what I was doing," The spacey Alannah admits.
8:37 p.m. Brian Krouse, who used to sing for the troops isn't going to be talented, but he may be psychologically challenged. But, if nothing else, he does sing Tiny Tim. It's grotesque, but he swears that not only was that not a joke, but it was an accurate representation of how he actually tip-toes through the tulips. Brian heads home to a bubble bath and happy thoughts of Tiny Tim.
8:43 p.m. Somehow, Chicago made it to midday without giving out a single single Golden Ticket. Looking to change that is Harold Davis, who's tired of eating microwave dinner and ready to eat steak. Other than the accompanying "Rocky" theme, Harold's claim to fame is a vow to hold notes longer than any notes anybody has ever heard before. Harold kinda sings Usher. It's not hilariously bad, just hammy and mediocre. Then he blames allergies and exits the room bawling. So much for Harold.
8:46 p.m. Ryan tells us this is the longest Gold Ticket drought of the season and the freaks are set to a montage of "That Don't Impress Me Much."
8:47 p.m. Will John Park snag that first Ticket? He's the next Paul Kim! Maybe he won't sing barefoot if he makes the Top 24! Shania was very impressed, praising his "bottom end" and his "nice lips" and "a nice tone down there" and a "good head." Thanks for contributing, Shania. John gets four yeses and he's through to Hollywood. Chicago is saved! The Curse of Bartman is over! The Goat can be put out to pasture! No? Oh well.
8:54 p.m. Have we seen more than a half-dozen auditions tonight? What has filled this flipping episode?
8:54 p.m. Paige Dechausse is looking to save things for Chicago. She has serious asthma and nearly died after one particularly bad attack. She's surrounded by family, including Grandma Roxie, who chartered a limo. Clutching her red inhaler, she sings "Change Is Gonna Come." Simon thought the vocals were all about her. Randy thought she was pitchy. Shania and Kara both say "Yes." Simon says "No." That puts the decision on Randy and the two ladies attempt to cajole him. This is a concern. Don't put pressure on the girl with series asthma! Randy sides with the women and Paige goes to Hollywood. And we can all breathe again. And this is only the second Golden Ticket of the game.
8:58 p.m. Jason Ray has a great voice. Keith Semple has interesting tone. But neither of them survived near-deadly asthma, so they don't get clip packages, even though they make it to Hollywood.
8:59 p.m. There were 13 Golden Tickets from Chicago. I really hope they got pizza at least.
9:00 p.m. Shania Twain contributed just as little as the first two guest judges. So far, this is a gambit that hasn't paid off. How soon can Neil Patrick Harris come in to save the guest judge format?
9:00 p.m. Then again, as thin as that show was, Katelyn Eppery, Charity Vance and Angela Martin all seem capable of being around for a while, so if that happens, The Windy City was worth it.
Who'd you like from the Chicago auditions?