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Auditions: Minneapolis (or "... Other Door") - January 16

A waitress in Texas... a student in Alabama... a mother in North Carolina... another student in Oklahoma... and finally, a guy who went prematurely gray in Alabama... The question now... Who's next?

We start where we left off last year... with a guy from Minneapolis named Prince... then a quick pan to the city itself, home of our first televised audition. The state of 10,000 lakes... and of 10,000 people who all believe they're the next American Idol.

Joining our three judges today... popstar Jewel. You may know her for her hits "Who Will Save Your Soul," "You Were Meant for Me", "Foolish Games", and "Intuition." You may also know her as the host of this season of Nashville Star.

Okay, time to go into the audition room. You know the drill, no state given, it means they're Minnesotan. No city given means they're from Minneapolis.

First contestant... Jessica Rhode (21, Cottage Grove), a makeup artist at the Mall of America. Also... Jewel's biggest fan. And thank you Ryan for putting her world at a tailspin. She goes into "You Were Meant For Me"...  Jewel... doesn't want to talk right now, but Simon thinks it sounded just like her. They all pass. Sorry, Jessica. She's taking it in stride, though.

Next, urban Amish man Troy Bennum (24, Sarona), who claims he's never seen "American Idol" before. And how the heck did he find out about this? He sings "You Can Be Mean To Me" as featured on the Bob and Tom Show... "I didn't say I was great, I didn't say I was the best, and I certainly didn't say I was the next American Idol." I think that was a given, buddy.

Next up, the Next Carrie? Nope. Next Katharine? Nope. The next Constantine? Nope. How about Jesse Holloway (19, Gary, IN). He says he has a unique vocal range. He implies that he takes 295 to get to Richmond (meaning he takes the long road to a short thought). He goes with "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion. Strangely enough, there's a cheer outside that sounds better than Jesse's audition. He wants to go get some water. He does so... and comes back. Sounds the same. I would've just not come back. Judges agree. He doesn't get a pass. Second audition... the first two notes of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." "Why do you think we're looking for a two-year-old who can't sing?" Simon asks...

Next up, Apollo Creed? No, just Charles Monroe Moody (26, Brooklyn, NY) symbolizing a knockout performance. He sings an aria in Italian for his audition... and it actually sounds decent. Too bad this isn't Opera Idol. "That song's kicking your butt." You just got punked by Jewel. He goes back into his corner and comes out with "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" by the season four Idols. "The fact that we're taking this seriously is disturbing," Simon says. They all say no. 

Outside, a real fighter named Denise Jackson (16, Madison, WI). Her mom struggles with drug addiction, and she was born a crack baby, raised by her grandmother. She believes she was born with a gift. As for the glasses... well, she just likes them. She sings "You're Gonna Love Me"... (C-Note: If you're playing the American Idol drinking game, take one shot right now). Honestly, that song is bigger than she is, and she seems to be reaching for that breadth. Granted, she succeeds where most people fail. Paula says she's powerful and adorable. Simon says she did everything right. It's four yeses all around.


And Denise is still celebrating!

Meanwhile, there is a condition that affects thousands of people every year. It's called... forgetting your words and really screwing up. These poor people can survive... unless their name is Teshawn Moore (27). She attempts to stifle her way through "Kiss" by Prince. That... didn't work.

Next up, Perla Andrea Meneses (25, Margate, FL), originally from Baranquilla, Colombia. So she looks, sounds, and is from the same town as Shakira. Well then... She came with two backpacks, a teddy bear, a guitar, and a dream. She calls it a "Survival story." First try, "Call Me" by Blondie. Randy wants two seconds of "Hips Don't Lie". Sounds like Shakira-lite. But Randy likes it better. Jewel thinks she's cute and perky, but the singing is "in the middle". Paula agrees with both. Simon says song choice is going to be a challenge, but hopefully it's one that she'll meet with style...


The women are coming with all the golden tickets. The guys... not so much. Will Matt Volna (25, Elk River) change that? He's into older country. He's got "flair" and "pizzazz". He does Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues". Sounds dead. Randy didn't get it. Simon... "categorized under pointless."

The guys just got worse, as evidenced by Kah'reem Copeland and... some other guy. Time to send in the Navy's Idol, Jarrod Fowler (27, Peoria, AZ). He's stationed on the USS Ronald Reagan, where he's the Reagan Idol. He sings "God Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts. Pretty good, actually. You have to be good to be the Reagan Idol. Simon says people will like him, saying yes. Paula agrees. Jewel agrees. Randy agrees, but he needs to watch it.


Almost 2p, and the Midwest turned into the Midworst, thanks to Rakel Garcia. What about Trista Giese (22, Brainerd), who does the Lion from the Wizard of Oz... More like the Wizard of Kashyykk. She sings "King of the Forest"... talk about a royal pain. All noes.

Next, a vocal teacher, Stephen Horst (28, New York City). He knows the deal. Don't just sing the song, tell the story. He sings "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith. Sorry, he OVERSINGS it. Randy thought it was "wild". Stephen did a program in Disneyworld. "Perfect for there, people walking down the street, no one really listening." But yeah, it was very musical theatre. "You shouldn't be a vocal teacher. I wouldn't take a vocal lesson from you." Simon's just amazed at Randy's audacity. Needless to say, they all say no.

Next, Michelle Steingas (19, Excelsior) sings "If This Is Love" by Deana Carter. It was a little effected, really. Jewel thought it was good. Randy liked it. Simon thought it was an odd song choice, but the public will like her for being confident without being irritatingly precocious.

Michelle Steingas - GOING TO HOLLYWOOD

"I can quit my job!" Not just yet. You're not the American Idol yet... That didn't stop most people, though. Dayna Dooley (27, Inglewood, CA) wasn't in any immediate danger of losing her job. Partly because her boss flew her out. She didn't make it in Pasadena, so hopefully she's going to shine here. And there's her boss now! She sings "Tell Me Something Good" by Chaka Khan. It was a bit undertoned and bombastic. Pitchwise, it was all over the place. Randy and Simon go with me on this one. Simon calls for his boss. He hears her sing all over the office. And apparently today wasn't her day. Until she sings in front of Gary. She needs him in front of her. Still wasn't good enough for a golden ticket.

And while the judges continue to play "Three's a Crowd" with these guys, Matt Sato (16, Maplewood) waits for his chance. He's in show choir, and his parents really don't see the financial burden as a plus side. "California Dreaming" is the song of choice, and I don't hear it either. A little too immature, but maybe in a couple of years. Simon thought it was good. Jewel was surprised. Randy likes him. It looks like a yes...


First person he calls... Mom. "She's proud of me." Good for you, Matt.

Next, Rachel Jenkins (21, Minnetonka), who works with her parents in a body shop. Her husband is in Iraq right now. She's in the Reserves. She says she's ready to go in a moment's notice. She sings "His Eye Is On the Sparrow". It started off well... then dropped a bit. Simon and Jewel agree on that. But will America like her? Simon says... Yes. Paula... Yes. Jewel... Yes.... Randy...


Next, Sarah Krueger (19, Eau Claire, WI) goes with the Katharine McPhee version of "Over The Rainbow". Seriously. It sounds just like her. Simon cites being in control. Jewel says she's got a good personality. Randy says yes.


Next, the biggest fan of American/Pop/Canadian/Australian Idol we could find... Brenna Kyner (24, South Holland, IL), she and Idol are like BFF. She'll audition in televised tandem with Jason Anderson (16, Burnsville), a juggler. He juggles while singing "Somebody Love Me" by Michael W. Smith... Weak voice... Randy says that he's perfect for "America's Got SOME Talent," obviously giving Simon a hard time because he created it. And Simon? "You just summed up Minneapolis for me." And Jason's reaction? "(^_^) them! Those (^_^)damn sons of bitches cut me off!" He's taking it surprisingly well.

Brenna, meanwhile, sings "Under Pressure" by David Bowie... much to the same result. She has a degree in vocal performance... and even that didn't help.

We end our days in Minneapolis with a tribute to its favorite son... and a "Kiss".. with Perla. So we now know these montages are prearranged.  "Dog, Prince will NEVER be on this show again, man."

Josh Flom (20, Chisago City) is pushed into this by his dad. But if his dad had any say, he'd be a hockey player. Josh goes the rock route with "Bad Day" by Fuel. Randy said it didn't feel like him. He thinks Josh is a fake rock. Simon challenges him to find an ABBA song to sing in that register...

... so he runs out and gets the lyrics to... ANY ABBA song. He goes with "Dancing Queen", which plays over the video with a legitimate rock band. And Josh's version? Not any better. And "Copacabana"? Same old same old. We like HIM, but his voice is grating. He says he's in a band? He's better off there. As a solo star... no.

That'll do it for Minneapolis. Seventeen golden tickets head out the door. Is one of them the next American Idol? The search continues in Seattle next time.


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