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American Idol
Season 12
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In the world's ultimate talent search, where the eyes of a nation are upon the best undiscovered singers in the country, where the audience has the power to make or break you, and where a million-dollar recording contract is on the line, there is only one rule: If you can sing it, bring it.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, Jason Block, Don Harpwood & Gordon Pepper, GSNN
Host Ryan Seacrest
Judges Mariah Carey
Randy Jackson
Nicki Minaj
Keith Urban
Mentor Jimmy Iovine
Announcer Mark Thompson
Creator Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP Nigel Lythgoe
Ken Warwick
Cecile Frot-Coutaz
Simon Fuller
Trish Kinane
Packager 19 TV & FremantleMedia North America
Origins CBS Television City, Los Angeles
Web americanidol.com
Airs 8p Wed & Thurs, Fox
@American Idol

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Auditions 4
January 24

Halfway through the audition process, and we've had over 100 golden tickets, one judge storm out, a couple of nasty fights, and a guy who sang lying down. And that's before we hit Louisiana, which promises to be neither big nor easy.

AUDITIONS: New Orleans Arena - New Orleans
CALLBACKS: Baton Rouge River Center - Baton Rouge

Fun fact... This is the home state of the dawgfather.

First up, Megan Miller (22; Ethel, LA), the current Miss Baton Rouge, who, now that she's graduated, wants to concentrate on her music. But she's walking wounded, as she has to deal with a nasty accident and infection on her leg. She's actually scheduled for her surgery RIGHT AFTER this audition of "Something's Got a Hold on Me" by Etta James. Nicki may know it as the track Flo Rida used for "Good Feeling". She personifies the river blues of Baton Rouge. And props for... props. And props for a golden ticket.

Now get to surgery, stat!

For the record, Megan's surgery was a success, and she'll be back on her feet in time for Hollywood Week.

Charlie Askew (17; Little Rock, AR; student) has always been very socially awkward. When he was little, he couldn't reach out and connect. In fact, he's so strange in this that doctors have called it "Charlie Askew Syndrome". But give him a guitar and he can let it all out. He sings the intro to "Break Through" by Queen. He sounds like what he is... a 17-year-old singing a song double his age. In a way, he nails the money notes. His second song, "Nature Boy" by Frankie, is equally as lifted. It's like what would happen if you gave Donnie Darko a microphone. Now give Donnie Darko a golden ticket.

Maddie Assel (17; Centreville, VA; student)) had her world change in 24 hours. She's a star scout product from her grandmother. She thought she was just going on vacation, but this singer gets a visit from Randy and a personal invite to audition "Oh! Darling" by the Beatles. She's got some pipes on her. The tone matches the song, and she has a lot of youthful energy. She'll need that in Hollywood.

And then it started to go... south.

How about... Paul Jolley (22, Palmersville, TN), who calls this a calling in his life. He draws from his grandfather who passed away. He wants to give back to the world with his voice on "I Won't Let Go" by Rascal Flatts. He's a little sharp, but the tone is there, or a "texture" as Nicki said. He's swept to the next round.

The judges are starting to fade. Can Christopher Barthel (24; Metairie, LA; lawncare), aka "Mushroom", thanks Nicki, perk them up? I don't know but I'm confused. He sings "If I Had You" by Adam Lambert. It's a poison mushroom from SMB Lost Levels.

Dr. Calvin Peters (27; Fort Worth, TX, physical rehab resident) - that's right, a doctor - hopes to go from the VA to the AI. He wanted to get into med school, so he hid his voice for a while. Today, The Singing Doctor will sing "Whenever, Wherever, Whatever" by Maxwell. The doctor is in. Tune. Pitch. Range. Hollywood.

Meanwhile, the ladies (Michelle Montezeri, Breanna Steer, Brandy Hotard) are getting just what the doctor ordered.

It's getting hot in here. Meanwhile, it's cold in the Toughest Room in America. Sounds like we need a firefighter. Calling Dustin Watts (27; Albany, LA; firefighter) with "She's Every Woman" by Garth Brooks. I think he can do a lot better. He's got a voice, but he needs a song to go with it. The judges are going to give him a shot, and he's going to give the news to his engine crew.

We're down to our final singer, Burnell Taylor (19, New Orleans, unemployed), who grew up in a musical family. He knew he wanted to sing and could... after Katrina. He lost everything in the storm, and it made him appreciate everything he has. He closes the show with "I'm Here" from "The Color Purple". And he's got the presence and the voice to match. This is the easiest decision of the night, as all four judges send him to Hollywood. That's Louisiana. And what an ending, as the panel is moved to tears.

This is why we watch. In total, 35 little papers with numbers on them went home with 35 lucky young people. Randy's hometown does it again, but can San Antonio outdeliver? Come back next week to do a little Texas two-step, followed by a historic audition aboard the Queen Mary in So-Cal.

Stay tuned for Glee over most of these Fox stations.

To see extras from this episode, go to www.americanidol.com.