Actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth was the Paula Abdul of the first day of the city’s auditions, and her bubbly personality seemed to affect even the grinchiest of “Idol” judges. In total, 31 singers earned tickets to Hollywood, more than twice the number that advanced out of Chicago. Then again, as host Ryan Seacrest pointed out many times, Orlando is the place where dreams come true.
Not today, I have a headache
Chenoweth has both an Emmy and a Tony, and is one of the perkiest entertainers around. That made her a great guest judge. But perky probably isn't what the men of the show were looking for, having just come off a night on the town in Miami. The show ran many shots of Simon looking as if he were searching for a mute button.
What I learned in the joint
“American Idol” has come a long way from the days when risqué pictures could get a contestant booted off the show. Matthew Lawrence robbed a bank with a BB gun when he was 15 and spent four years behind bars, but a decade later earned nothing but applause from the “Idol” judges. “Brilliant. Brilliant. You can really sing,” Simon said after Lawrence’s performance. “It felt authentic.” It should have — the song was “Trouble.”
One to watch
Jermaine Purifoy tried out for “Idol” two years ago and didn’t make it, but had much better luck the second time around. He easily advanced to Hollywood, getting a ton of praise from all four judges. “The best I’ve heard this audition season,” Randy Jackson said, adding that Purifoy was “my favorite dude.” Next step: getting into the coveted Dawg Pound.
Song and a haircut
Theo Glinton had no shot as soon as he showed up looking like a glitter machine and practically blew Chenoweth off the stage with his shouting. Then again, he’s also the first person looking to parlay his “Idol” experience into a career in hair care, telling the judges that if he won, “In 10 years time I can see myself running a salon.” He’s the first “Idol” contestant with that as a dream. Except maybe for Sanjaya.
Jarrod Norrell introduced his version of “Amazing Grace” by saying, “Gotta give it up for God.” But the Lord would not be pleased at Norrell’s reaction to getting turned down in his attempt at glory, as he refused to leave the area until he was dragged out by security. “That’s the way it’s gotta be, you gotta take me out in cuffs,” he said. How unsweet the sound.
Watching over the family
Seth Rollins’ hook for the cameras was a son with autism, and the “Idol” cameras always go crazy for cute kids. But once he took the stage, Rollins was quiet but effective in singing “Someone to Watch Over Me,” winning over all four judges. Of course, since his son wailed “I wanna go with Daddy!” when Rollins went in to audition, the little boy may find himself getting to tag along on the trip to Hollywood.
The Jersey-Hollywood shore
Sisters Bernadette and Amanda Desimone auditioned together and both earned golden tickets. “Hollywood needs us, right?” Amanda said. Probably not, but if things don’t work out on the West Coast, there’s a little show on MTV about the Jersey Shore that they could try next.
The world needs more Blake Lewises
Even without Chenoweth on day two, the judges were incredibly generous in who they allowed to advance to the next round. Exhibit A: Jay Stone showed some fine beatboxing skills with his version of “Come Together,” then pleaded his case by saying, “I’m bringing something new and different to the competition that it’s never seen before.” Oh, how quickly they forget about Blake Lewis. And yet, Kara and Randy voted to send him to Hollywood anyway.
Tearing it up
Cornelius Edwards was the most surprising success story of the day. He did the splits — and so did his pants — but that giant ripping sound didn’t keep him from moving on. But he won’t go any farther if the “Idol” wardrobe people have anything to say about it.
‘That’s our girl’
Shelby Dressel was the night’s medical miracle. She couldn’t use the right side of her face growing up, and its still a bit noticeable now, but neither that nor her forgetting the words to her Norah Jones song and dropping an S-bomb in her reaction fazed the judges. “You were kind of afraid of us, and we were kind of afraid of you, and you broke open the ice and we were like, ‘Yo, that’s our girl,’ ” Randy said.