American Idol kicked off the final week of auditions Wednesday night with tryouts in San Antonio, Texas, and Long Beach, California, aboard the Queen Mary. Judges Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj were mostly cordial to each other during the auditions. Here's what happened:
Vince Powell was a huge Mariah fan, so he was thrilled to audition for her with the blues standard "Rock Me Baby." Keith howled with delight during Vince's performance. It turned out that Vince had made it to the end of Hollywood Week last season. Keith thought Vince could really find his voice on Idol, while Nicki said Vince's voice could give people chills. Mariah thought Vince sang like an angel. He's going back to Hollywood.
Savannah Votion looked a little ridiculous in her black, sparkly tube top, ripped jeans and a belly button piercing, but she was hoping for a big opportunity on Idol to help her support her young daughter. She tried out with Etta James' "At Last." Randy thought Savannah seemed like a natural performer, and Mariah called her a "big-voiced talent." Keith said she had a lot of life in her voice, and Nicki felt like Savannah was born to sing. She advanced.
Christabel Clack is 29 years old, so this is her last shot at Idol fame. Her spot-on audition with Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You" earned her a spot in Hollywood. Keith loved Christabel's vocal runs, and Mariah told her, "I know you. I get you. I love you." Nicki said she loved some parts of Christabel's version better than the original.
Ann Difani got the news she'd been nominated to audition for American Idol when Randy showed up to surprise her on the football field at the University of Arkansas. Ann auditioned with "Stronger" by Faith Hill, and Keith thought she had a pretty tone. Mariah liked that Ann seemed to be a country artist. She'll get her shot at stardom in Hollywood.
Victoria Acosta sings mariachi music in San Antonio, but she went modern singing Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry." Keith liked it, but he didn't think Victoria took it to a new level. Randy had her sing a mariachi song in Spanish, and the judges thought Victoria connected better with that tune. Victoria will bring her mariachi flair to Hollywood.
Papa Peachez said he was a big, black woman trapped in a skinny white boy's body. He declared that he loves to dance but doesn’t like to do covers. Papa tried out with a profanity-laced original song that confirmed his homosexuality. Nicki thought Papa was an absolute superstar, and she loved his song. Keith thought the performance was very theatrical, and Mariah thought Papa could be a quirky artist. Randy thought Papa Peachez needed to work on his vocals though. Randy and Keith said no, but Nicki and Mariah said yes. Randy was the tie-breaker, and he decided to give Papa a shot after all.
Sanni M'Mairura is a singer and a choreographer who went with the Jackson 5's "Who's Lovin' You" for his audition. Nicki said it reminded her of "rainbows, candy canes, whipped creams and sunny skies." She loved his vocal runs, and Randy loved that Sanni didn't try to sound just like Michael Jackson. Keith thought Sanni had a great balance of confidence and humility. He walked out with a golden ticket.
Adam Saunders tried out with Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind." He told the judges he wanted to go for a pop/R&B vibe in his music like Mariah, and Mariah noted that Etta James was way before her time in the spotlight. Adam was a revelation when he opened his mouth though, and Mariah actually threw her hands up and pushed away from the table when he started hitting the big notes. Randy said Adam shocked them all. Adam made it straight through to Hollywood.
Shubha Vedula auditioned for just Randy and Keith because Nicki was at the American Music Awards and Mariah was stuck in L.A. traffic. She tried out with Christina Aguilera's version of "Something's Got a Hold on Me" from Burlesque and showed off a real vocal command. The two guys gave her a pass to the next round.
Matt Farmer overcame a traumatic brain injury he sustained serving in the U.S. military overseas to become a dad and audition for Idol. He brought his daughter Cadence into the audition room with him and tried out with Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." Keith was all smiles during the audition, and Randy said Matt had strong pipes. Mariah thought his performance was raw and real in places. Matt is headed to Hollywood.
Jesaiah Baer wore her captain's hat, but Randy insisted he was the true captain on the Queen Mary that day. Jesaiah tried out with Kimbra's song "Settle Down" and showed off a really smoky tone. Unfortunately, some smoke in another part of the ship set off fire alarms during Jesaiah's audition, and everyone had to evacuate. Once they got the all-clear and started up again, Jesaiah impressed the judges with her audition. Keith loved it from the start, and Randy said she was really talented. Mariah called Jesaiah's performance interesting, and Nicki said she had a mature confidence. Jesaiah easily got four yeses.
Micah Johnson now talks with a speech impediment after a botched tonsillectomy. He hoped to be an inspiration to others by overcoming this obstacle on Idol. Micah tried out with "Chicken Fried" by Zac Brown Band, and the judges got a huge shock when he unleashed a masterful and commanding singing voice. Keith harmonized with Micah during the audition, and Nicki said he was ready for the competition. Mariah was moved by his vocal performance and his back story. Micah is going on to Hollywood.
Rachel Hale tried out with Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready," and Keith said her voice reminded him of country legend Wynonna Judd. Nicki loved Rachel's energy and good looks, and Mariah loved that Rachel already knew who she wanted to be as an artist. She's on her way to Hollywood.
Briana Oakley had experienced severe bullying from classmates after singing on the talk show Maury. The taunting got so bad, she eventually changed schools. Things have gotten better, and Briana is now 16 years old. She tried out with Patty Griffin's "Up to the Mountain." Keith loved everything about her audition, and Nicki said Briana was "poised and ready for this moment." Randy said this might be the start of something huge for her. Briana is on to Hollywood.
Matheus Fernandes was bullied in high school because he was much shorter than his peers. Now that he's 21 and in Los Angeles, Matheus says he feels stronger because of that adversity. He tried out with Sam Cooke's "Change Is Gonna Come," and Matheus quickly showed there was a huge voice inside that small body. Keith absolutely loved it, and Nicki said Matheus was just the kind of special, unique person they were looking for this season. Mariah was brought to tears, and Randy saw how much Matheus wanted to make it. He's going on to the next round.
Brian Martinez was encouraged to try out for Idol by a music producer who heard him singing in the bathroom. Brian was really nervous, but he won't have to worry about going on to Hollywood. Brian basically spoke his way through Phil Collins' "You'll Be in My Heart." Randy couldn't keep from laughing during the audition. Keith joked that the bathroom that producer heard Brian singing in must have had killer acoustics. His Idol dreams were ultimately flushed down the toilet.
Are You Kidding?
Brothers Derek and David Bacerott tried out together singing Mario's R&B hit "Let Me Love You," and boy was it cheesy and bad. Randy cracked up during the audition, and Nicki was speechless while trying to judge it. Mariah said they had no concept of harmony. It was a definite no, but the guys wouldn't take no for an answer. Randy added that guys they needed an attitude adjustment if they ever came back.
Stephanie Sanson sported purple hair in the audition room and put a death metal spin on Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain." Stephanie jumped around like a woman possessed while she violently screamed the lyrics. She even broke a piece of the set and flipped off the judges as Randy directed her out of the audition room. It was truly disturbing, and Mariah requested a phone to call her pastor after the performance was over. Keith joked that Stephanie was a little too reserved for his taste.
American Idol auditions wrap up in Oklahoma Thursday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time on Fox.
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