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Auditions: Chicago - January 17

Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Kimberley Locke, Josh Gracin, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Bo Bice, heaven forbid even William Hung... Nine artists, twelve hit records, one show in common. The question remains... Who is the next American Idol? You know how we do it, so let's get to it.

We start... at the Kodak, where two people out of thousands will perform in May, and where one of them will have their life change forever.

Over the next few weeks, you'll meet a granddaughter of one of the original members of Sounds of Blackness, a girl whose father is in-and-out of prison her whole life, a barrage of rockers, a torch singer, a crooner, someone who looks like a movie star, a 16-year-old with pipes of someone who is double her age... and of course, the usual parade of suck.

First stop on the hit parade... Chicago. They don't call this the Windy City for nothing, as the weather called for high winds, cold rains, and cloudy skies. Apparently people love ponchos in Chi-Town. But enough fluff...

Derek Dupree (25, Chicago) has the honor of being the first in season five to see televised daylight. "I often get turned on by myself. I'm confident to the point it hurts. No one in their negative days will ever bring me down." But still a bit sweaty. He says he can sing bass, medium, and semi-high. He'll bring out an original medley as a surprise... Shout... and XTC. All three judges are.. confused. He sings "Blue Moon" in his bass... and it's a mite sharp. Simon says that everything about the audition was horrible. Derek had one chance.. and he blew it. The judges agree to give him an hour to sound better... But will he deliver?

While we wait, let's hear Katrina Yaukey (28, New York City) with "The Humpty Dance". Then the judges ask for something with an actual tune. Unfortunately... it goes nowhere. Next time, come prepared.

Next, Justin Sticht (26, Burnsville, MN, looks like World Idol Kurt Nilsen) sings "Beyond the Sea" and "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)". He's very powerful with Meatloaf, and less so with Bobby Darin... That's a no, by the way.

We always see twins on Idol, but will the Brittenum twins bring it? They think that the twins are dependent upon each other, but they have a different idea. We'll see what they have to offer in a moment, but first...

Another parade of losers take the walk of shame.

Now for the twins! Derrell and Terrell Brittenum (27, Memphis) do an original... which sounds weirdly like "Reach Out and Touch". Both together are melodic, but how would they sound solo? Terrell sings "My Girl" with all the charisma of a gospel singer. Good thing, really. Derrell sings "Ain't Too Proud to Beg"... with help from Terrell. Paula says they make other twins pale. Randy says yes to both. Paula agrees. Simon makes it three...

Derrell & Terrell Brittenum: GOING TO HOLLYWOOD.

Meanwhile, Paula and Randy try to give Simon a bit of a coaching on how to be less of a hater. Luckily, he has a fan in dental assistant/Catfight lead singer Gina Glocksen (21, Naperville, IL), as she gives up "The Power of Love" by Celine Dion. With authority, I might add... She could be a contender. She has the clarity needed for the show. And she butters up to the British dude. Randy likes the voice. Paula agrees. Simon likes the lyrics change, so...


Some lost breath, some lost timing, Gina Noriega (21, Chicago)... lost her mind. And her lyrics to "Blue Moon." And the pitch. And the song entirely, switching to "Reflection." Sorry, you just lost your audition. Meanwhile, Mandisa Hundley (just Mandisa, 28, Antioch, TN) falls in with "Fallin'." It's good sounding... but I've seen and heard better. But Simon thought it was terrific. All three say.... Yes!


And Simon says, "Do we have a bigger stage this year?" Kevin Brenneman (21, Cuyahoga Falls, OH) sings "The Weight" by the Band.... Sounds kinda whiny. Simon calls him akin to a wasp, "a little buzzy energetic thing". Paula suggests voiceover work. Meanwhile, Charles Berry (23, Darby, PA), as the returning auditioner tries an original... "Doesn't get any worse than that. My advice, honestly? Shave off the beard and wear a dress." No idea what Simon meant by that, but... Charles leaves in embarrassment, but Amanda Rabideau (25, Hoffman Estates, IL) enters. She sells furniture... interesting. No, not really. She also shows beef cattle. She sings "Something To Talk About" as if it were sung by Ethyl Merman. Simon said it started okay, but turned awful. Randy agrees. Paula cites her passion... not right for the competition, though.

Uh, oh, the judges are getting catty again. Time to bring in the police. Enter deputy sheriff Brandon Groves (25, Wheeling, WV). He sings, naturally, "I Shot the Sheriff." And after that performance, I want to slap the cuffs on him and feed him to the paddy wagon. It doesn't get any better than the first time, I'm afraid... Oughta shoot you... "That was terrible." Paula agrees.

Back to Derek, who has just about exhausted his hour. Meanwhile, 17-year-old Christine Davis (St. Peters, MO) looks like she's about to go to prom. She sings "My Heart Will Go On," which they played at my prom... ad nauseum. Unfortunately, she's in two pitches. Paula says she lacks experiences. Simon thought it was mediocre. All three say no.

Back to Derek... who gets an audience... laughing. Back to Blake Boshnack (20, Hewlett Neck, NY, dressed as Lady Liberty). "Start spreading..." "Thank you." No.

Back to Derek... again. Not any better... Go. Now. Please. Next? Erik Lawhon (18, Maitland, MO), as he has the backing of his music teacher and his grandma. He's trying out "If You're Not the One" by Daniel Bedingfield. Very breathy, out of depth, and not as clear as the original. Sorry, but it's a no from me. "You sing like an auntie," Simon says... It's three nos all around. Actually, "I would've said yes." Simon says. Yeah, right. He has it out with Erik's grandma... "You're giving him false hope," he says.

Back to Soldier Field with Brooke and Leah Barrettsmith (23 and 19, Spring Grove, IL), who come from the home of the world's largest corn maze. They agree not to kill each other afterwards... Brooke sings "The Shoop-Shoop Song". Reminds me of Carrie. Without the country thing. Leah sings "Blessed" by Rachael Lampa. Reminds me of Brooke. Both would get yesses from me. Randy says yes to both. Simon says no to both, probably to provoke Paula into giving an answer...

Brooke and Leah Barrettsmith: GOING TO HOLLYWOOD.

Yvette Gomez (27, Hayward, CA) is very perky, but can she cut the mustard here? She sings "How Come You Don't Call Me". The pitch is all over... The performance is just showboat. Randy and Simon call it "terrible." "Rowrrrr..." How about Zachary Smits (17, Hudson, WI)? He goes with "I'm In the Mood for Love". Polished, but needs maturing a bit... There we go. Very nice.  Paula is impressed. Simon thinks he's charming. Vocally... on the fence. Randy... "Okay, why not?


Don't get used to seeing Peotone, IL's Jessica Nelson, who looks like an anorexic and sings like a person with Tourette's. As for ol'girl round the way, she didn't make it, but her best friend did. Rebuttal? "I don't think she's that good!" "If you bring a performance with it? That's how you get the gold paper." Someone's been reading Gordon's guide to golden tickets! Nineteen of them went out the door on day 1.

Day 2 in Chicago. First up, David Radford (17, Crystal Lake, IL) and his mama. He's in it for the music. He's big into standards and old school. His mother is also a big singer. He sings "The Summer Winds" by Frank Sinatra... A little bombastic... but on cue. Paula says the package is dead on, but he's one-dimensional. Simon calls Paula on that. Randy says no. Simon says  yes... Paula says, in light of Michael Buble, and in light of Josh Groban...


"But you better work! Because if you do, then you're the hero of this competition." Next with her mom was Crystal Parizanski (16, Palatine, IL), who looks like Paris Hilton with about as many careers, singing, dancing, modeling... She'll sing "And I'm Telling You" after she explains the suntan... Too much libretto there... I think the suntan baked a few of her brain cells. Randy shrugs. Simon wants to meet mom about Crystal's look. He says no. Randy says no. It's a no.  

Everyone has hats in Chicago. Hats don't work in Hollywood. Stuart Benyamin (27, Chicago) had the best hat of them all. He comes from a long line of Assyrian performers. He sings ... something in Assyrian. Catchy. Randy says yes to karaoke, no to Idol... The other two say no. But Paula wants the hat.

Yuliya Matus (24, Naperville, IL) came from the Ukraine to be the Idol. For her, it's another three years in America if she makes it. She sings "Bohemian Rhapsody." She looks like the Ukrainian answer to Alicia Keys, but sings like ... she's going back home in a few weeks. The voice was off-tone, and the tumble... That had to hurt. Simon called it extraordinary. "You have an appalling singing voice, but a lot of people would like you."

Another set of twins in the guise of Jarrett and Joshua Simmons (16, Inkster, MI). They sing "Superstar", one chorus as a time. Josh has pretty good pipes. Better than Ruben... Jarrett sounds.... well, Josh is the singer, but Jarrett is the performer. And both hit on Paula. There's one vote. Remember not to give them digits, girl. Simon's silenced. Randy says yes. Simon says... good. Paula says yes...

Jarrett and Joshua Simmons: GOING TO HOLLYWOOD.

That's about it for Chicago, until.... Dave Hoover (28, Wexford, PA). He says that animals talk to him. He also has no shoes on. He sings an original. He definitely had the notes there... until the end. "Catchy", Simon says. Meanwhile, Dave dances. Randy is on the fence. ... He says yes about talking to the animals. Simon says "categorically never." Paula.... for her own reasons...


Won't last. Better luck awaits 15 others on the road to Hollywood. So far, 34 from Chicago. Several cities left, as we leave you with a "Lady Marmalade" montage. A very painful "Lady Marmalade" montage... for the most part, ending with Crystal whatsherface trying... again... Apparently she wasn't content in sucking that hard to start.

Next stop: Denver.


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