The Baton Rouge auditions brought a sexy firefighter, MIss Baton Rouge and a sining doctor, not to mention a Katrina victim who brought Mariah Carey to tears! Let’s hear it for the South, ya’ll!
As we head into the home stretch of the auditions for season 12 of American Idol, Ryan Seacrest and the gang ventured to see if the South had soul. There were some powerful voices, some downright strange people and obviously more Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey drama. Will the battle of the the big-haired divas ever end? Man, I hope not.
Who Was Completely Off
As a rule of thumb, I tend to avoid people who claim to have alter egos. So when Chris Barthel stepped in front of the judges claiming to have an alter ego, I was skeptical. After Nicki nicknamed Chris “Mushroom” for his blond bowl haircut, my suspicions were confirmed. The best part of the audition was when it was over, and Nicki said, “If you would let me run hands through your hair, you’d be blessed forever.” I think I speak for all of America when I say, “Um… OK?”
Now we all know that it’s almost impossible to sing “Natural Woman” as well as the great Aretha Franklin, but for Alissa Griffin, it was impossible to sing — at all. It didn’t take the judges two seconds to give her their answer: a resounding no.
But thankfully, Randy Jackson‘s hometown of Baton Rouge had more hits than misses. Let’s take a look!
Who Got It Right
Megan Miller, 22, turned heads not only because she’s the current Miss Baton Rouge, but also because she came in on crutches. After suffering from an accident three days before the auditions, Megan was determined not to let her leg, which was infected and required surgery literally that day, stop her from pursing her dream. “I will let it fall off before I miss my American Idol dreams,” she said. And boy I am I glad she didn’t let her wobbly leg hold her back from her audition. As Nicki said, she is “an undeniable superstar.”
Anyone who has the word “jolly” in their name is sure to be amazing, and country crooner Paul Jolley did not disappoint. The adorable, obvious talent sang a Rascal Flatts tune and got four yeses from the judges. When Paul shared his news of his golden ticket with his family, his grandmother was overjoyed, gave him a big hug and whispered, “This is for Jewel,” who as Paul explained was his grandfather, whom he just lost. If that doesn’t make you root for this kid, I don’t know what does!
I know I said it before, but I truly mean it this time: don’t judge a book by it’s cover. 17-year-old Charlie Askew of Little Rock, Arkansas seemed as socially awkward as they come. His goofy smile, strange sense of humor and overall oddness made me assume his audition would be a total flop. I was so thrilled to be proven wrong. He belted out Queen‘s “Breakthrough” and sounded astonishingly just like Freddie Mercury. Charlie admitted that he “finally found an outlet” and a way “to communicate” through his singing. All four judges loved him just as much as I did. We’ll see you in Hollywood, Charlie — goofy jokes and all.
They say laughter is the best medicine, but I think singing may actually be. The “singing doctor” Calvin Peters sings while doing his shifts and caring for the disabled patients he is treating. He impressed the judges with his smooth and velvety — yes, velvety — voice. I think it’s safe to say we may have found a long lost member of Boyz II Men. I’m not ashamed to admit that the younger version of me is cheering inside.
When 27-year-old firefighter Dustin Watts walked into the audition room, Nicki’s first question was “Got a girlfriend?” And I think it’s safe to say she was probably reading the minds of many women across America at that moment. Dustin wowed the judges with his powerful rendition of “She’s Every Woman” by Garth Brooks. It didn’t take two seconds to realize this is a voice to woo any woman — even Nicki Minaj.
The favorite of the night had to be hometown boy Burnell Taylor, 19. Burnell grew up in a musical house but realized he could sing after going through the trauma of Hurricane Katrina and losing everything. “You just got to live after that,” he explained. His amazing audition proved there was major soul in the South and almost put a trance on the judges. “That wasn’t an audition,” said Nicki. “That was entertainment.” Keith added, “Somewhere there’s a spotlight waiting for you to walk into it.” I agree, and that spotlight is in Hollywood, Burnell.
The Battle Of Nicki & Mariah
I’m not sure what Voo Doo magic Baton Rouge cast over Nicki and Mariah, but for once the two divas actually seemed to cool off. It was nice guy Keith Urban who caused the drama this time! After a contestant’s audition, Keith turned to Nicki accidentally calling her Mariah.
After a quick minute of realizing his mistake, he caught himself and said, “I think I’ll have to go and say some ‘Hail Marys’ for that!”
“A thousand ‘Hail Marys’,” Nicki responded.
“And then some,” Mariah clarified.
Get it straight, Keith. Nicki and Mariah ARE not the same, and don’t you forget it! Ever. Seriously, I’d hate to see the consequences.
At the end of the day, 34 American Idol hopefuls made it through to Hollywood. Looks like Randy’s hometown came to impress!
— Caitlin Miller
More American Idol on HollywoodLife.com: