Idol returns to Dallas, where “Idol” found Kelly Clarkson in 2002.
While the crazies were at relatively low ebb, this left the producers no choice but to highlight some good singers. (We heard plenty.) Dallas brought home 31 Hollywood-bound contestants, a very good total.
Julie Kevelighan, 28, did an awful Lady Marmalade season one. She tries again eight years later with “Black Velvet” this time. It was still lousy, just less irritating. Her hideous makeup, as Simon noted, just adds to the pure awfulness of it all.
Lloyd Thomas, with a lousy dock worker and two cute kids, is this season’s Ruben Studdard if he can get that far. He does a nuanced version of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” Neil Patrick Harris wants him to show more personality while he’s singing but everyone else loves him.
Neil shows a little bite against Simon. Kimberly Carver, a school teacher, goes for an original song, a bluesy tune. “You can blow,” Randy said. “I don’t see anything current, anything interesting,” Simon said. “I disagree with you,” Neil said. “Mutiny on the panel,” Simon said. I can see why Simon wasn’t thrilled but she was pretty good.
Dexter Ward is very arrogant but he is hideously bad. Of course.
Erica Rhodes does a brilliant take on the Barney song, then gives us En Vogue. I like her. Maybe it’s the whip. Or the voice. “Barney kids grow up,” she explained.
Sad story alert: Tourette Syndrome man Dave Pittman, 27, from Arkansas. Tourette’s does not affect his singing. He has a great presence. “You’re crazy brave,” Neil said. He’s in.
Day two with Joe Jonas.
Todrick Hall of Arlington does his own original song. It’s self referential and very well done. “One of the best I’ve seen for season nine,” Randy said. “It was a cutesy audition. Voicewise, I’m not jumping out of my chair,” Simon said. I find this man totally charming.
Five more yesses: Dawntoya Thomason, three more unnamed folks, then Stephanie Daulong, who makes Simon smile.
Richardson cosmetologist Maegan Wright, with the cute son, is sweet, with a touching vocal of “To Make You Feel My Love.” “I like the surprise element,” Simon said, based on her “Break the rules” shirt.
Chipper Vanessa Johnston, in vibrant pink, goes for the classic “At Last.” Oh, boy. She misses the first note and couldn’t get done quick enough. Tone deaf, meet Vanessa.
Then there is this strange sidenote from Ryan about Simon, defending his grouchiness by noting he has to listen to “thousands” of singers. More like hundreds in reality. The final contestant: Christian Spear, who had leukemia at age four. (Take that, Tourette’s dude!) She is now an eight-year cancer survivor at age 16.
She also does Etta James. She clearly has had vocal training. “You have a natural gift,” Kara said. “And you have no fear, which is rare for a 16 year old.”
So why was Joe Jonas there? He added a big fat zero to the proceedings.