American Idol's last hometown audition stop was in Denver, Colorado. Victoria Beckham was back to help Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardi in the search for the next Idol. Kara and Posh were on the scene first and looked stunning in flattering dresses. Simon and Randy strolled in next wearing t-shirts. Denver has turned up some past superstars such as Season 5's Chris Daughtry, so here's hoping that Season 9 will do the same!
Mark Labriola II admits that he looks like Jack Black. JB is the front man of Tenacious D, so would Mark be able to sing like Jack? His tie is tucked into his shirt. I wonder if it's his personal stylistic choice to tuck his tie in, if it's an accidental dressing mishap, or if he courteously tucked it in so the judges could read his audition tag number. Either way, it's a choice as unique as Mark himself. Mark isn't all comedy; from ages 4-10 mark was a bit of a fugitive on the run with his mother who was escaping his father. They made it to Hawaii and Alaska, which aren't easy places to get to. Would Mark have an easier time getting to Hollywood? He sang "Tempted" by Squeeze, a solid and interesting choice. This fugitive/computer programmer/Jack Black doppelganger can sing! Victoria said she thought this was going to be a joke audition, and was surprised that Mark has a good voice. Simon appreciates Mark's honesty and ability to withstand Simon grilling him about his fugitive mom. Mark makes it to Hollywood, which sounds like the one place where his mom doesn't currently reside. With his own kid in his arms, Mark shed a tear over the idea of keeping the dream alive at the ripe old age of 28.
Mario Galvan gets the nervous giggles. He can't stop laughing when he's in front of the judges. It's not the cute kind of uncontrollable laughter that becomes contagious; it's the awkward nervous laughter that makes an uncomfortable situation all the more uncomfortable. He attempted to sing Elvis' "Jailhouse Rock," and Kara nearly spit out her beverage. Now that kind of spit-out-your-drink laughter is enjoyable! Unfortunately, Mario will not be laughing all the way to Hollywood.
Kimberly Kerbow has a super sassy daughter who is flirting with the camera. Mom and daughter are practically dressed like twins. When Kim entered the judges' room, she flirts with the judges too. The apple didn't fall far from the tree! She took on the refreshing "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson. When Kimberly directed the lyrics "I'd buy you Rogaine when you start losing all your hair" at Simon, Randy stopped and a discussion about whether or not Simon needs Rogaine quite yet ensues. Ironically, it's fairly obvious that Kim is wearing a wig. The judges like Kim's voice, and Simon thinks she's funny (albeit "lippy") and she walks away with a golden ticket. No mention of the wig comes up until after Kim leaves, and Simon brought it up immediately. Randy was in disbelief, but style icons Victoria and Kara confirmed it. We'll see Kimberly, and possibly her wig, in Hollywood.
Danelle Hayes is a mom who hosts a live karaoke competition and sings in a cover band. I can just hear the karaoke comments coming from Simon already. She is very emotional when she greets the judges and talks about how pursuing a career in this industry can be quite a ride. She sang Melissa Etheridge's "I'm The Only One" and the judges loved her honesty and ability to move them through music. With four solid yeses, Danelle walks away with a ticket.
Casey James was in a motorcycle accident and broke many bones. Despite the pain he experiences from the crash, he worked through it all and learned to play the guitar again. Casey chose to sing the beautiful "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" for his audition. Simon didn't find his audition to be anything special, and Posh asked Casey to take his hair down from his ponytail. The ladies liked what they saw and Posh said Casey looks like a model, which is a wonderful compliment to receive from the woman who's married to David Beckham. The girls try to see what else they can get Casey to do, and they ask him to unbutton his shirt a little. Casey proceeds to take off his shirt entirely. Kara and Victoria don't hesitate to give Casey a "yes." Simon said no, and Randy pleased the girls by saying yes, but encourages Casey to "take some star-persona pills."
High school student Tori Kelly brought a fan club along. One of her pint-sized family friends, Hope, said that she's going to be on the show when she's 16 and she wants to meet the judges. Hope entered the audition room with Tori and handed self-drawn portraits of the judges to each respective panelist. Simon gets a good laugh and said that Hope's sketch of Randy is as accurate as a photograph. Posh greeted Tori in her usual way, by calling her and her dress gorgeous. While Tori sang "Gravity," Mama Posh sat Hope Starr on her lap. Kara and Victoria instantly liked Tori, but Simon didn't, saying he preferred Hope to Tori. While Posh vocalized that Tori has the whole package and is classy, Simon described Tori as "a human orange." Randy, Kara, and Victoria sent Tori through to Hollywood, ending day one on a high note.
Day one in Denver proved to be the most successful audition day yet, with 14 contestants sent through to Hollywood (that's one more than Chicago sent in two days!). Would day two be as promising?
Austin Paul is equally confident about his football and singing skills. Number 42 on his list of things to accomplish before he dies is to make it to Hollywood. That's either a lofty list or he's really amazing. Singing the third John Mayer song in a row, Austin's performance of "Bigger Than My Body" left something to be desired. Kara immediately noticed Austin's cockiness, and Simon called him annoying. Meanwhile, Posh has jumped on the "Car-a" train. It must be a British way to say her name. The judges gave him a unanimous no. Perhaps he should stick with his Music Composition major and not pick up a minor in Vocal Performance.
When confidence was at an all-time high in the Mile High City, in walked Kenny Everett, a young man who considers his singing "a public service to others." After dancing the running man and performing high kicks, Kenny enters the auditions room to sing Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You" and stripped out of his flannel. The best part of his performance was when he held an air microphone while dancing the box step. Simon described his agonizing voice as sounding like he's been punched. Kenny clearly thinks he's the greatest and cannot believe he's hearing "no." In order to perform a public service for the judges, he busts out another Blige song, "No More Drama," and I only know that was the song he squealed because I have the official song list in my hands. Not totally defeated, Kenny leaves the room and performs his civic duty by singing throughout the hotel lobby.
Nicci Nix is currently living in Florence, Italy, and flew 14 hours to make this audition. Hopefully she makes it to Hollywood since that will be a long, sad flight back to Florence if it's bad news. Nicci has a very interesting voice, which prompts Simon to try and get Posh to ask if Nicci has consumed any helium. Of course Victoria greets her by commenting on her beautiful looks and skin. Singing "Something Kinda Oooh" by Girls Aloud, Nicci shows a more mature tone to her voice. Simon calls her "a funny little thing," Randy gave her "a million percent yes," Kara only gave her "one thousand percent yes," and Posh asked for her skin care regimen. Well, not quite, but she said yes. Nicci calls her mom and gives her the good news, and her mom screamed so loud, Nicci's roommates in Florence could hear her!
Haeley Vaughn is a happy young girl with a guitar strapped to her body. She was born 6/5/1993 which is notable because she was born in 1993! That's nuts because a) she makes me feel old b) she made the cut-off to audition by a handful of days. Haeley's birthday came two months early, and she entered this world at just two pounds. Her hardships didn't end there; her father passed away when Haeley was only 10 years old. Her mom has wanted Haeley to audition for this show since it started, which was when Haeley was 8! Haeley takes the trip to the Denver audition room in an elevator crowded with spunky young girls and family members. With a desire to be the first black mainstream pop country singer, Haeley auditions with a tough song -- Carrie Underwood's "Last Name." Also, that song has a mature message that Haeley won't learn about until she's older. Simon calls her "a cute little thing" and notices the slight lisp she has when she sings. A lisp could be annoying on some singers, but since Haeley is so darn cute, it's endearing. The judges like that she's a black country singer, and Randy and Kara suggest that Haeley lowers her register. Haeley mentions that her sister and mom are huge Idol fans, so the judges invite them in. Momma and Sister Vaughn are so happy to see the judges, they can't believe they're there in person. They also get to witness great news first handedly: Randy gives his highest percentage of the day, "100 million percent yes," and the other judges concur. Haeley is off to Hollywood, and so is Momma Vaughn since Haeley's only 16!
At the end of day two 11 tickets were handed out, for a grand total of 26 successful auditions in Denver.
But the show's not over yet. First we got to meet the answer to last year's Bikini Girl -- enter Bikini Boy! Kara and Simon immediately object. Bikini boy, a.k.a. Tyler Hemmerling, attempts to sing Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart," and the room clears out instantly. On Kara's way out the door she offers some great advice, "Don't move your hips like that honey." Ty is left alone, and stands there scratching his behind.
As I head out to take a shower after watching that last scene, remember that next up is "The Road to Hollywood" with all new footage.