|Contestants celebrate after making the first cut (Michael Becker / FOX)|
Ryan tells us this year is doubly tough because there's twice the number of people, and he feels, twice the talent. In fact, 327 of the "nation's best singers" have come from around the country to chase their dreams. The judges arrive. JLo quotes me (men from boys, etc.). Steven hopes they did their homework. The judges huddle.
Randy tells the assembled masses that they get one shot, and it's make it or break it. The first group comes out in a line of ten. Each sings individually with no feedback. It's sudden death.
Brett Loewenstern says he's shaking in his pants. We get a quick recap of his tortured childhood in Florida and see him in the hall at school playing his guitar. He sings "Let it Be." I dig his hair. The audience cheers. The rest of the line sings and it's decision time. Brett makes the cut. He tells the camera, "No negativity." He's done being a victim and is appreciative that he has a great opportunity. Go get 'em Brett.
We hear Rachel Zevita, Thia Megia, and Casey Abrams, all of whom make the cut. Casey was particularly good.
Victoria Huggins is still annoying. She says she's ready as she can be and is the next American Idol. She's brought 11 bags and plans to stay a while. Victoria gets a lot of camera time. She works the stage while her mother claps along in the audience. The crowd loves her, but will the judges? She steps forward, but her row doesn't make it through. Awww. Cheer up, Victoria, you've got ten more years to do this.
Now for some sob stories. James Durbin and Paris Tassin both have kids and struggle. They're in the same group. Paris sings "My Heart Will Go On." Sucky song, but she sings it well. James is next. He sings "Oh Darlin'" and again, I am reminded of Glambert. The audience loves him. Lauren Alaina and Stormi (Miss Teen USA) Henley are also in this group. Stormi's voice is thin. Lauren sings Simon's favorite song ("Unchained Melody"). James, Lauren, and Paris step forward. They've made it. Stormi does not.
Chris Medina is up. Steven asks about Juliana. Chris says she's getting better every day. We revisit her appearance on the auditions. Chris tells us Juli is his inspiration. He wants this for his entire family, especially Juliana. He sings well enough to make the cut. It's emotional, no doubt. I'm telling you right now, Chris' story is going to take him to the Top 12. Women will flock to him like lemmings. It's gonna happen. You watch!
It's 5 p.m. and we're nearing the end of the first day's auditions. Nerves double once they hit the stage. We see an assortment of people who blow it totally. Steven tells them it hurts their hearts to see them fail.
Hollie Cavanaugh was nervous enough during her first audition. Jacee Badeaux and Robbie Rosen are also in this group. Jacee sings beautifully. The judges tap their cups. Robbie does well also ("Moody's Mood"). Hollie controls her nerves and does okay. All three get through. Robbie says this is the coolest thing he's ever done in his life.
Accountant Steve Beguhn sings for the judges. Steven Tyler mumbles how hard this is. But Steve doesn't make it. He takes it well enough. We say goodbye to a lot of familiar faces. Girls weep. Casey Abrams tells us how bad he feels. Of course, he's in, so it's easy for him to say, I suppose.
Ryan tells us 160 people sang the first day, with 163 left for Day 2. All the contestants arrive in Ford Focuses. A little montage of people who forget their lyrics, freeze up, and generally sing horribly. Contestants back stage are watching on a monitor.
Rob Bolin and Chelsea Oaks, the ex-couple, still haven't gotten back together. Rob is still hurting. What makes it worse is that they are rooming with Nick Fink and Jacqueline Dunford, the "Idol" couple. It's not working, though. Rob sing/talks "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Chelsee is great. They both make the cut.
Nick and Jacqueline audition. Nick is better than Jacqueline. Nick steps forward, but Jacqueline is in the back row. We go to break, wondering how this one will play out. Ohhhh, the drama.
Back from the break. Jacqueline makes the cut and Nick doesn't. Nick begs. Randy says you get one shot and you gotta leave it all on the stage. "It didn't quite happen," he says. Jennifer says she is sorry. Nick continues to sing. Pathetic loser. Steven Tyler is heard to say, "Man, it's not easy." Nick wonders if Ryan is hurt by all this! Sure, Nick, he's devastated.
The auditions continue. Scotty McCreery (dude with the deep bass voice) sings the same song he did in his first audition. Where did that voice come from? Wow. Miss Jackie Wilson (with the old boyfriend) and Jerome Bell are also in this group. And they all make the cut!
Tiffany Rios is back without the stars on her bosom. She says she's tired of seeing people try to do what she knows she can. She oversings it ridiculously. Travis Orlando, the former homeless shelter resident, is also in this group. His breathing is terrible. Neither of these two should make it. Travis steps forward and his line is gone. Stupid Tiffany makes the cut. That's just wrong. Travis is hurt as well he should be.
We don't get to hear them sing, but are told Clint Gamboa (karaoke host), Julie Zierilla (Columbian refugee), Naima Adedapo, the Gutierrez brothers (Mark and Aaron), Mollie De Wolf (White House intern), Emily Anne Reed (house burned down), Stefano Langone (bad car wreck), and Ashley Sullivan (whackadoodle) all make the cut.
Next week is the "dreaded group round." Favorites will fall and new stars will emerge!