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Auditions: Austin - February 1

Idol's Audition phrase continues in the live music capital of the world. Next stop, Austin City Limits...

Texas had already given us Kelly Clarkson, so it's pretty much a given that there's going to be someone here who believes that they can follow her in her footsteps. Let's not keep them waiting any longer. Because we know they have the same thing on their mind... Not "I'm the next American Idol!" But rather... "It's HOT!"

First up, Julian Riano (27, Austin), who loves to dance, but never made it onto a troupe. Luckily for him, this is a singing competition. He also loves his boots, and can do the splits in them. He's singing Trini Lopez's "Lemon Tree". Like a man. An off-pitch man. An off-pitch alluded man. All together now... no.Julian thinks he's a good singer... We think otherwise.

"Keep following your dreams... always." Good for him.

Again, "Lean On Me" gets the bastardized treatment thanks to Michelle Lapoint (27, Austin). Her number falls... OMEN! Arthur Mayfield (25, Orlando, FL) danced... poorly. And Donnell Bolton (20, Fort Worth) entertained us with "The Jigglypuff Song".

Meanwhile, Paula Goodspeed (27, Los Angeles, CA) is a student, model, fashion genius, artist, and brace face. She really likes Paula. She REALLY likes Paula. Simon notes a similarity between the two Paulas. She sings "Proud Mary" by Tina... And the similarities end there... because Paula actually sings controlled. Judge Paula is speechless. "Not a good thing." Randy: "Terrible!" Simon likens her mouth to a bridge. Three-way no.

And needless to say the love affair with Paula is over for Paula... Peace out.

Austin is a college town... inhabited by the living bored. But could we tell the difference between the zombies outside (bored UTA students) and the zombies inside (Danielle Zamora - 16, Austin, Chanequa Jackson - 25, Balch Springs, and Anisa Olaniyi-Oke - 21, Austin)? Answer... no. Again, my opinion, not libel. Were the auditions... cursed? Probably...

All these dead pitches. Perhaps it's time to call in a mortician. Enter Jason Horn (28, Longview), a funeral director. He thinks he's one of the best. His family... not so much. He's out to change the way the world thinks of morticians.. That being the whole "We're not normal" thing. He sings "You Raise Me Up." Typical for a mortician. But don't count him out. He's very lively, and very strong. He's off toward the end, but still, very good. "I guess you can learn from the dearly departed." Jason notes that the funeral home has good acoustics. Paula and Simon agree, so...


Cierra Johnson (20, Pflugerville) is a vet assistant and dance choreographer. She just plans to be herself. She has a new jazzy voice. But is Idol ready for the jazz?  She sings "O Holy Night." Rocky start. Emotionally flat middle... Nasal ending. Simon: "Awful." And this is after he thought he was going to be good. Randy wants her to do "Silent Night". Apparently sarcasm is lost on her. No ticket for her.

That starts a bit of a drought. What about Allison Schoening (21, Chapel Hill, NC)? This student from, ahem, UNC, almost died on the plane trip, having survived only on an oxygen mask. She sings "In Another's Eyes" by Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood? She's very warbly and off-pitch. She attributes it to nerves. She knows it's bad, so the judges, believing in her, give her another shot once she gets her nerves in order. "Imagine Randy in his swimming trunks," Simon suggest. Allison says that she's already imagining Simon, which is why she did as bad as she did. Give her points for rapier wit!

Meanwhile, Austin continues to be a ghost town. Jeffrey Pollack... doesn't even know why he's here. Luckily Jeff's friend Ricky Hayes (21, Bedford) knows why he's here. He's here to prove his music major prowess. He tries "I Can't Make You Love Me". Very good tone, but the song may be a bit much. Gotta love the voice, though. Paula: "Beyond refreshing." Randy: "Hello Austin!" Simon: "The nicest sounding audition so far. There's something distinct about it. Loved it." That's one, two, three...


Meanwhile, Ashley Jackson (20, Dallas) puts aside her fit model aspiration for the tough room. The tough room gets tougher when she belts out "Something to Talk About". She's got a good voice, but it's a tad pitchy. She tries to sing with her mouth closed for her "Part 2" query... Simon likes Ashley, but not too much her voice. Randy says yes. Simon... agrees with Randy. Paula says no.


Next up, a man who loves himself more than Simon. Ronnie "RJ" Norman (21, Tyler). He's going on the ears of everyone who's ever met him, but first, he goes collecting numbers. "People think I'm confident. Just when I'm waiting tables." Allison from earlier meets RJ for the first time, as they discuss baseball (and the absence of caring thereof). Plan of attack: being himself. "No flirting. Not too much." He sings "Ain't No Sunshine". It's good for its tone, but it seems like he's singing in one pitch. Wait... he just switched it up. That's pretty good. Simon though so. Paula thought so. He just sang the song. Randy thought it was just average. He says he's a very lucky man...


"Randy says I was flat at the end. But that's okay. He knows what he's doing. He's got a good ear, too."

Randy: "He was terrible."

Well, maybe he'd like his twin brother, in the persona of Kevin Mitchell (27, Longview). Everyone thinks he looks like Randy Jackson... Which gets him points with the Dawgfather. Kevin sings "I Can't Dance" by Genesis. He's got an off-putting twang and wail move. Simon: "like you as a judge, Randy. Slightly forgettable." All three say no, and Simon says "Randy Jackson, you're not on American Idol anymore."

Back to Allison, who's hopefully not as bad as she was before... She tries "Proud Mary"... and it's still bad. It's a final no for Allison, but at least she's owning her failure. And she has many a year to improve upon it.

William Makar (16, The Woodlands) hopes to be the first 16-year-old man to make it to Hollywood. He tries "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." Not bad. Just okay, though. Paula thinks it was sweet, but too immature. Simon liked him. Randy's the decider... Guess what, dude...


We're wrapping up with Austin here, but have we saved the best for last? No. Meet Tessie Mae Reid (17, Arlington), who believes she's the next Diana DeGarmo. "I think people would just like me. Simon's going to love me."

Really? Not really. She sings "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." With little success. So much to say about that... None of it good. "I wouldn't have chosen that song," Simon says. "I wouldn't have chosen any song," Randy says. Paula thinks that Tessie thinks that the judges are in the wrong. But on the other hand... Three no's. "You're missing out."

"I don't think I can do this anymore," our British friend says. While Tessie Mae cries herself out, we send only twelve people to Hollywood from Austin. The final stop before Hollywood... Boston, where we find a hottie, a national anthem singer, a Cher impersonator, and yet another person who thinks that he's the next Clay Aiken.

And then, it's onto Hollywood, where 175 will be whittled to 24.


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