“American Idol” did recappers a favor Thursday night by slimming down to an hour (seriously, Nigel Lythgoe, thank you), which is still about 49 minutes more than necessary to really get at the crux of this show and what it’s all about. Thursday, it was just about the good contestants, which is actually a really excellent thing. It’s shows growth and maturity—even if there were one or two references to chickens auditioning.
Seven of the eight featured contestants made it to Hollywood with four yesses, making for a total of 35 golden tickets in what appeared to be just one day of auditions in Baton Rouge—a pretty strong showing for the place that gave us Randy Jackson.
After Wednesday night’s Nicki Minaj tantrum, which, by the way, was totally justifiable, there was very little drama on Thursday night. The most controversial thing to happen was Mariah Carey appearing to be ADDING sweat to Randy’s face, doing makeup pre-show. And one contestant’s grandmother, who obviously did some scandalous things to collect a huge number of Mardi Gras beads, propositioned Ryan Seacrest and claimed to be high on magic dust. Can this woman please be sent to Hollywood?
Grandma nominated her granddaughter, Maddie Assel, who was caught on hidden camera singing on the street in New Orleans, only to be interrupted by Randy. She growled her way through “Oh! Darling” in a nod to Season 10’s Haley Reinhart, whom it turns out, Maddie considers one of her influences. So I take back my comment from last week that no one remembers Haley, because in “Single White Female” fashion, she has a similarly curly-haired, jazz-growling fan right there, living her life. Come to think of it, has anyone seen her since she showed up at the Chicago auditions? Someone please check that she hasn’t been stabbed with a stiletto.
Even sob stories on Thursday night were lacking. The worst: for current Miss Baton Rouge, Megan Miller, hurt her knee in a car accident and was going in for surgery right after her audition (Hollywood). Country singer Paul Jolley recently lost his grandfather (Hollywood). And Charlie Askew is socially awkward and has a truly bizarre singing voice. With a name like Askew? Really? (Hollywood.) Seriously, that was the best they could do tonight.
The remaining winners were: Dr. Calvin Peters, a resident physician who gets called “the singing doctor” at work, and did a respectable version of a Maxwell song; Dustin Watts, a country-singing firefighter; and Burnell Taylor, who realized his passion for singing after Hurricane Katrina.
Burnell sang a song from “The Color Purple” musical, which seemed to confuse the judges, but by the end, got them into a standing ovation. Mariah said she cried, though it’s not clear whether anything actually came out of her eyes. Somehow, he escaped the “musical theater” insult that people get when they sing musical theater, even though he was totally “musical theater” in his performance. Again—could this be a sign of growth?
The sole bad performance featured tonight came from Chris Barthel, a bubbly guy that earns the nickname “Mushroom” from Nicki, and inspired producers to tap into their clip art collection from 1996 when Keith Urban said he was a “fun guy” and they paused to write “fun guy = fungi” underneath a cartoon mushroom. Yup, “Idol” is definitely 12.