Tonight the Idol team headed to San Antonio, Texas and Long Beach, California. We kicked things off in Texas, home of big pageant hair, big oil, and big cows. And from the looks of Randy's jacket, there's one less Holstein hoofing about in San Antonio.
Twenty-nine year old, returning contestant, Vincent Powell kicked things off with his rendition of "Rock Me Baby." Vincent loves Mariah, and Mariah and the panel returned the favor with a unanimous Yes, and the powerful gospel Powell is back in the game!
Next we met a rare duo, hometown brothers, Derek and David Bacerott. They tried to sing “Let Me Love You” by Mario. They didn't harmonize, they murderized the song and it was a No Way, from note one. But the delusional dynamic duo would not hear it. How could they? They talked over the judges until Nicki laid down the law and shut them down. Bam! And she didn't even have one of her cop outfits on!
But from the D-rated duo, we moved on to twenty-four year old San Antonio home-girl Savannah Votion. The single mom brought her compelling story and even more compelling vocals to "At Last" by the late-great, Etta James. Randy said she was a "natural performer" and Keith was genuinely moved by the "life" and struggle he heard in her voice. All Savannah heard though was, "You're going to Hollywood!"
Next up, was hometown girl, and mother of three, twenty-nine year old Cristabel Clack. She sang "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys and she quickly had the judges ready to scream yes. This girl was on fire (get it?) and she was fired up big time about heading to Hollywood. Next we met our latest nominee, Ann DiFani, a twenty-three year old grad student from Arkansas. Loving hubby nominated her and the Dawg surprised her on the field of her beloved University of Arkansas Razorbacks.
Ann hit it out of the park with Faith Hill's "Stronger," and her home run performance earned her a ticket to Hollywood and the biggest hug ever captured on video from her man. Love was in the air, and Ann is heading to the next round!
After the break, Nicki was sporting a new cop hat, new hair, and we welcomed our newest Hollywood-bound singer, Mariachi master, Victoria Acosta. The twenty-year-old sang "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Fergie and “Fue in Placer Conocerte” by Rocio Durcal.
From Mariachi we went to musical massacre, as the judges suffered through a string of "singers" who brought their atonal assault to the Alamo and left our panel with some performances they will never forget. But then, things turned peachy for the panel.
Our next contestant needed no Nicki-name. Jackson, Mississippi native, Papa Peachez (yes, you heard me) sang an original, expletive-laced, song during his outing. Randy thought the Peach needed some ripening lessons before he was ready for Pop, but Nicki was a big fan. The panel split on PP's fate, but Randy changed his vote and broke the tie with a yes. Call it compassion. Call it fear of Nicki. Calling Papa Peachez! Get your fabulous self to Hollywood!
Then sixteen-year-old Sanni M'Mairura brought his Mini-Dawg self onto the stage. In an Idol first, Sanni spoke Swahilli he learned from his parents who are originally from Tanzania and Kenya and then he sang Michael Jackson's "Who's Loving You?" Pint size kid, big ol' talent, and the backwards-hat-wearing Sanni is going forward.... to the next round!
Our final San Antonio song slinger was nineteen-year-old Adam Sanders. Adam gushed over Mariah and gave us a big dose of soul with Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind.” Every judge's jaw dropped as Adam channeled the late great Etta and earned himself a San Antonio standing O! and a ticket to Hollywood.
After the break, we shipped out to So Cal, and boarded the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. The Idol auditions were so popular that the parking lots known as the LA freeways were more jammed than ever. Mariah was stuck in traffic, Nicki was at the American Music Awards, and the panel was pure testosterone as Keith and Randy held down the fort.
First they met seventeen-year-old Shubha Vedula from Michigan who sang Christina Aguilera's "Something's Got a Hold On Me.” While the Dawg and Keith struggled with pronouncing her name, they had no trouble saying yes to Shubha's singing and sending her on to the next round.
Mariah finally made it to the boat, and twenty-one year old Brian Martinez made it out of the Men's Room and onto the stage. He sang "You'll Be In My Heart" by Phil Collins. Sadly his time was a waste, the judges gave him the flush, and the one place Brian won't be doing his business is in Hollywood. The Insider dares you to come up with more irritating double-entendres.
After the bathroom disaster, twenty-six year old Tulsa native, Matt Farmer was a breath of fresh air. The Iraq War vet has battled severe brain trauma and finds his strength in song and his secret weapon, three-year-old daughter Cadence. Matt made the best of Sam Cooke's "Change is Gonna Come," crushed it for the judges, and Marich noted that his voice was "raw and real." You know what else is real? Matt! You're going to Hollywood!
From touching story and killer voice, we went to sixteen-year-old, purple-haired, Stephanie Sanson, who killed Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain"----literally. In some kind of weird, punk statement, Stephanie screamed, flipped off the judges, flailed about, and boy was she Johnny Come Rotten. Guess she thought the whole concept of Idol aboard the boat was full of ship.
Nicki arrived finally, but in the midst of sixteen-year-old, Jesaiah Baer's audition, everyone was treated to a fire drill and a nice shot of Executive Producer, Nigel Lythgoe's noggin' as he told everyone to temporarily abandon ship. If only this had come just one audition prior...
Ok. Crisis averted, Jesaiah and her Captain cap is back, and she's singing "Settle Down" by Kimbra. The judges loved her and Jesaiah is setting sail for Hollywood. But then the ghosts of the Queen Mary reared their ghoulish heads as a series of "singers" howled and moaned their way to a no.
Next, we met Micah Johnson, a twenty-four year old Georgian with a bad luck backstory of a surgery gone awry that left him with a speech impediment----uh, until he sings that is! This guy wailed on "Chicken Fried" by the Zac Brown Band, had Keith singing back-up, and the rest of the panel stunned as he sang without any hint of his problem. So, from bad luck, to Hollywood it is, for Micah!
Next another great kid, with a not so great past. Sixteen-year-old Briana Oakley spent years being bullied at school, but boy did she bring it! She sang "Up to the Mountain" by Patty Griffin, and this young star ain't no victim. She's a victor and heading to Hollywood.
And finally, we met twenty-one year old, Atlanta native, Matheus Fernandes. While he was born short in stature, this guy had the blessing of an extra dose of strength of character and talent. He sang, "Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke. Nicki said he was "special", he hit Mariah "in the heart", and was standing tall for the "most beautiful moment of his life"---his ticket to Hollywood!
So Matheus and forty-nine other hopefuls are heading to Hollywood, and the show heads back east to Oklahoma where more hope to grab their piece of Idol glory.