On Thursday night's American Idol we watched as the judges descended from the highs of Aspen to the lows of Houston. Considering there were more golden tickets given out in Texas, one has to wonder what talent must have ended up on the cutting room floor since the first five minutes are dedicated to the uncomfortable audition by Phong Yu.
Fortunately, there was still some talent in the Great State of Texas that made the final edit. 17-year-old Skylar Laine with her down-home country girl story and sound, likely had legions of country fans fantasizing about Idol's next great addition to the genre. Then there was Baylie Brown, who after being eliminated during Hollywood Week in Season Six, grew up and returned armed with not only a vengeance, but greater vocal ability (and really blue shoes). Her audition of Bon Jovi's "Bed of Roses." was rich, mature, and controlled. The judges gladly offered both girls golden tickets to Hollywood.
As pleasant as both Skylar and Baylie were to listen to, they were just the opening acts to American Idol's next heavy hitter Kristine Osorio whose back story tugged at women's heart strings across the country. Kristine, a woman who had dreams of being a singer, postponed her dreams to become a wife and mother to three young children. Now, at 28, she faces the reality of becoming a divorced, single mother whose last chance at American Idol stardom will pass her by when the clock strikes twelve on her 29th birthday. Hasn't anyone told her about the X-Factor? They even have an over-30 category; of course they ended up having Nicole Scherzinger as a mentor, which just proves how ageist our society really is.
When Kristine admitted that she borrowed money to hire a divorce attorney but spent it on airfare to the audition, how could anyone not be rooting for her? The voice couldn't really compete with the story, but Kristine has a free ride to Hollywood, at least.
Then, out of nowhere, the harmony of the judges fractured. Contestant after contestant drove yet another chasm between JLo and her fellow judges. Poor Jennifer, looked as though she was expecting Candid Camera to show up as Randy and Steven refused tickets to good contestants but granted them to others who were at best, a "little pitchy, dawg.." Could you blame Jennifer when she told 17-year-old Cheyenne James that she would have said yes and had her co-judges been hearing correctly they would have as well?
OK, how about when JLo further crushed the young hopeful by telling her that she not only would have gone on to Hollywood, but could have made it far in the competition?
It's getting easier, isn't it? Shame on JLo for failing to recognize that as frustrated as she may have been, to her Cheyenne is just one face in a sea of contestants, whereas this was likely a defining moment in this young girl's life. The last thing she needed was Jennifer reminder her how differently it all could have turned out.
Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson then added insult to injury and voted Linda Williams and her screechy rendition of Alicia Keys's "Fallin" through to Hollywood. Something was definitely rotten in the state of Texas. Jennifer was in such a tizzy she could barely even allow her makeup, hair and wardrobe team to further enhance her on-screen radiance. Such turmoil at the judging table made viewers long for the days when the only disagreement between the judges was whether a contestant earned a "million" or a "gazillion percent yes."
But fear not viewers, harmony was soon restored by Ramiro Garcia and his incredible story of being born without ears. Yes, without ears. Seriously, even bloggers can't make this stuff up. Ramiro's doctors predicted he would be both deaf and mute for life. And while Ramiro's voice and story about beating the odds filled the hearts of viewers, it was Ryan Seacrest and his warm, genuine interactions with the Garcia family that really enchanted. Thus proving what a shrewd businessman American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe was when he insisted that he would pay Ryan Seacrest out of his own pocket if it meant keeping him on the show after his contract expires at the end of this season.
But viewers have ages before they need to worry about Ryan being replaced. Three more audition rounds and Idol is bringing its hopefuls to Hollywood. Are you holding out for that special one or have you already found your idol?