Nashville auditions kicked off on a high note--literally. THIS is American Idol, in Nashville!
It was only American Idol's second time in Music City, and they were hoping to find the next Carrie Underwood there. Over 17,000 people completely took over Broadway, Nashville's main street, and filled Bridgestone Arena. The judges were at the Grand Ole Opry's historic Ryman Auditorium to listen to the Season 10 hopefuls. First up, Christine McCaffrey, a dental assistant who loves her job and speaks with crazy intonation. I think she may have inhaled too much of that nitrous oxide. Randy asked her if she does voiceovers for cartoons, and Christine said she didn't know. How do you not know if you do voiceovers or not? She sang one of Jennifer's favorite songs, "I Hope You Dance," or as Christine called it, "I Hope You Can Dance." Sounds like a new reality dance competition. Unfortunately for Christine, she wasn't one of those contestants with a weird speaking voice and a huge, sultry singing voice. Although Christine received three nopes, she was very chipper and told Ryan that Steven said yes and liked her. Stay away from the gas mask.
A girl and guy entered the audition venue together. Chelsee Oaks and Rob Bolin are 23 and from Nashville. They're exes who have been singing together since the very start of their relationship. You'd think they'd avoid auditioning together, but Chelsee and Rob still lived together after they called it quits. When they took the Ryman stage, romantic comedy star Jennifer Lopez tried to give them some therapy and encouraged them to get back together. Steven picked up on Rob's love for Chelsee. The ex-couple sang together and they harmonized really well, even though they were singing a love song while facing each other. This could become a movie! Each contestant then sang separately, and the parts were as good as the sum. Both Chelsee and Rob are off to Hollywood, where Jennifer hopes--like in a Hollywood movie--they get back together. Steven said, "The deepest passion comes from friction," which was a lot more eye opening than "Slap the baby on the [butt] and call it Christmas!"
A streak of weirdness arrived in Nashvegas: a girl in her underwear and a girl who can touch her tongue to her nose (so can I!) which amazed Steven. Enter Allen Lewis, a tattoo artist with long straggly hair and a Bret Michaels bandana. He auditioned with Skynyrd's "Simple Man," and was doubled over as he belted out the song. Jennifer liked his laugh, and before the judges voted, Allen gave a speech about criticism and after inspiring the judges, he walked out of the room. I guess it's a no-go for Hollywood.
Stormi Henley is gorgeous. She's Miss Teen USA whose boss is Donald Trump. I'm not sure if auditioning for Idol is grounds for getting fired by Trump, but pageants have given Stormi the confidence to audition for Idol. She sang "Father Can You Hear Me," and Steven said, "You have a beautiful little tight [where is this going] squeaky little voice." Jennifer said no to Stormi, but the male judges couldn't resist giving her a yes. Miss Teen Tennessee is off to California.
After a string of rejections for a variety of singers, we met Adrienne Beasley from Kentucky. She works on a farm and was adopted by white parents (Adrienne's black) at the age of 2. Her super sweet parents talk about how well Adrienne fits into the family and how they gave her their blessing to audition for Idol. When Adrienne sang for the judges, they found something really special in her voice, and she nearly moved Steven to tears. With tears rolling down her face, Adrienne is off to Hollywood, and shared the news with her "tickled" father.
Kameela Merricks, a junior regional soloist, is a bubbly lady. She auditioned with a Chaka Khan song, and although her title as junior regional soloist is questionable, I could see her as Miss Congeniality. This gave way to more bad auditions. A man--I assume it was a man--covered in a blue spandex suit sang Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This," Polina Kozhikoza attempted to sing for the judges, and Patrick Counts was turned away and became inconsolable.
When a nervous contestant named Jackie Wilson auditioned for the judges, she was moved by the feeling of belting out her song on the Ryman stage. The judges were blown away too, and gave Jackie Wilson a ticket to Hollywood. When Jackie burst out of the auditorium she celebrated with what we assumed to be her parents, until she locked lips with the guy, and Ryan drew the conclusion that he was Jackie's boyfriend. Her love keeps lifting him higher! (Get it? Jackie Wilson?!)
LaToya "Younique" Moore is a pageant queen in her own heart and mind. She brought one album for the judges to share and sang "When I Close My Eyes." It was evident at this moment why she had to force her CD onto people. Although this unique singer was turned away, she stopped and sang at the doorway before leaving. What was the reason, in her mind, that she didn't make it through? She sang too slowly. A quick Ryan replied, "I think the judges were fine with the pace."
Solid auditions came from Paul McDonald who sang "Maggie May," Jimmie Allen with "Sunday Morning," and Danny Pate who nearly forgot his lyrics, but the judges joined him for a sing-a-long. All three young men are off to Hollywood, and their friends and loved ones lifted them into the air.
An overall-wearing, cowboy hat-sporting country boy name Matt Dillard comes from a home that takes in foster children with special needs. It was cute seeing this big, tattooed guy interacting with his siblings. His parents have taken in over 700 foster children. What saints! The country boy sang a Josh Groban song, "You Raise Me Up," and though the judges thought he might get eat up in the competition, they're giving him a second chance in Hollywood. Matt is going from the woods to the 'wood.
The night ended with Lauren Alaina, a 15-year-old from Rossville, GA. Her cousin Holly was a singer before she had a brain tumor, and Holly inspired Lauren to pursue singing. The judges had Holly join Lauren for her audition, and Lauren belted out her song, showing the reason why American Idol lowered the age limit. The judges were blown away by her talent, and Jennifer was even moved to tears, as was Lauren. The teen said that her super young-looking parents were dying to meet the judges, and since it was the end of the day, the whole family took the Ryman stage. Her parents' song is Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing," so she began singing it and encouraged Steven to join in with her. She's got a great voice and a great personality, and she reminds me of a younger Kelly-Carrie hybrid. Not too shabby!
Next, we're off to Austin where we meet a girl who clucks and walks like a chicken. Only on American Idol...Insider, out!