‘American Idol’ Recap: Portland Auditions 

Glee Blaine Michael JacksonS11E6: We’re almost there. We’ve made it to the second-to-last stop on the Idol auditions tour before Hollywood: Portland. And we’ve established that these audition episodes are far too long and repetitive, so in lieu of witnessing any sort of exciting change wherein Steven starts picking only geeky boys with glasses and no talent, I’ve found a new activity. I spend a great portion of the episode staring at Jennifer Lopez’ outfits, because they really are pretty stunning.

Just this week, she sported that giant pony tail that was so pretty while swinging back and forth that I thought it might be an actual pony’s tail. On Day 2 she rocked sparkly boots which I’m still not sure where chic, or if they were bedazzled shoes from the 90s. They were confusing. Then there was the tights debacle: why did JLo need her tights? She’s definitely worn less and it wasn’t wintertime. Did she forget to shave her legs and needed the tights to hide it? It’s okay, Jennifer. We’ve done that, we understand. Alright, now that we’ve covered Jennifer’s wardrobe, all that’s left to do is actually talk about the uninspiring crop of contestants they chose to show us from Portland. Maybe they’re just saving the big guns for Hollywood week? 

”They call me tripster the hipster.” – Brittany Zika

Brittany Zika

Age 21

And here we have the definition of a Forever 21 Hipster. She’s got a miracle story about singing “Gravity” with Sara Barielles on stage, so while her cartoon dinosaur behaviors made us sure she’d be a warbling, off-key mess, I’m pretty sure major recording artists don’t let horrendous singers stay on stage with them for very long. Her audition song is “The Story” by Brandi Carlile and guess what? She sounds just like her! Oh wait, she’s supposed to sound like herself? Well, phooey. Jennifer, Steven and Randy are all atwitter over her sound (even though she’s clearly learned to sound like Carlile). It’s not that she doesn’t have pipes; she does. Her style of singing just doesn’t feel genuine. We’ll see what happens when she has to sing some Destiny’s Child song for the group performances.

“It was terrible, but it was better.” –Randy

Ben Purdom

Age 18

Let’s start with the first mark against this kid: he’s got a serious cold at his audition. Of course, the most efficient (and disgusting) way to tell this story is with a classy montage of him coughing, burping and sniffling. It makes you want to be a famous singer, doesn’t it? Ben’s backstory is that he’s got the sniffles and his coworker told him he was talented once. Clearly, that means he can do justice to “Born This Way.” Nope. He sounds like he’s almost egging on a cheesy voice to get on television, but then I realized that he genuinely sings that way and I felt bad for the kid – especially because they had him do two songs. At least Jennifer gives him her token, meaningless compliment: “you’re cute!” If embarrassing the kid wasn’t bad enough, after he’s sent home, he says his cold prevented him from using his falsetto voice: clearly this calls for Idol’s classic chipmunkization (that’s a fancy word I just made up for speeding up someone’s voice in order to make fun of them).

”Gentle giant goes to Hollywood!” –Randy

Jermaine Jones

Age 24

I already ruined the suspense. Yes, Jermaine gets a golden ticket. His intro is cute; the 6’8’’ singer does his background interview with him mom, which is so adorable. (Well, played Jermaine.) He does a pleasant rendition of “Superstar” by Luther Vandross, and he’s got a really nice voice and nice timbre, but he doesn’t have that great of a range or stage presence. While I wouldn’t have showered him with praise like our judges did, I am curious as to what else he can do. He gets a unanimous yes and then he calls his mom who just keeps screaming. Idol honors this moment by showing her picture in the corner – in which she’s making crazy eyes and waving her arms, because they’re all about respect.

”You have a beautiful sense of humor.” –Steven

Britnee Kellog

Age 27

Don’t bother trying to figure out what Steven’s comment meant: it just means she’s hot. This woman was married to a basketball player who cheated on her and left her with two adorable little boys. In honor of that, she sings “You’re No Good” and she is good. (This is what happens during auditions, people.) She has a good voice. And she’s pretty and blonde. And she has cute kids, and oh yeah, blonde hair. She’s going to Hollywood, but not before asking Jennifer for parenting advice even though she’s got a yellow piece of paper that in no way shape or form guarantees fame and fortune. Jennifer’s answer: you make it work. I’m sure Britnee’s accompanying army of aunts, cousins, and a few girls she used to cheat off of in high school (I’m guessing – it’s an abnormally large group) couldn’t help her at all.

”You’re going to make a good Easter Bunny” –Steven

Sam Gershman

Age 21

Maybe it’s the fact that people can actually list “motivational dancer” as a profession that rubs me the wrong way or the way it brings into stark relief the fact that our country on the whole is producing fewer engineers and doctors and more fame-seekers instead, or maybe this girl is just obnoxious. She sings “I’m a Woman” from Smoky Joe’s Café and it is ridiculous – even for Broadway. The judges are concerned it’s too musical theater, yet Randy wasn’t as annoyed as he was with the girl from Aspen who thought she was Gaga even though he HATES Broadway vibrato. Maybe he forgot. The one woman show goes ticketless.

”So, you’re tired of asking people if they want fries with that.” –Steven

David Weed

Age 22

This kid just makes me sad. They start by talking about what a crappy job he has and then he tries to sing “Tom Sawyer” by Rush, and I thought he was pretty similar to Geddy Lee – but I never thought he was a great singer. And even if I did think so, David’s copycat routine was weak and off-key. Randy says definitely no, the other two say not now, because Randy is tired of pretending to be nice. The kid then attempts some stand-up comedy and it’s not good. I don’t even want to say anything snarky, this whole vignette just makes me sad and sorry for the poor guy.

”So, you sang for your life?” –Steven

Romeo Daihn

Age 22

And here’s our first heavy back story: Romeo is a Liberian refugee. His father sent him to a refugee camp in Ghana, before he and his family finally got the chance to come to the US. When he sings, he has a very sweet voice, perfectly suited for his Bob Marley tune of choice. Jennifer is worried about him being able to go beyond the Bob Marley tunes and gives a hesitant yes. She knows the series format is screwing this kid and the judges, because it seems she’s likely going to have to have another tearful goodbye with Romeo after Hollywood week. The strength just isn’t there.

”If you got it, you got it, you got it.” –Randy

Naomi Gilles

Age 22

Naomi asks Steven for permission to sing his song, “Crying” – if only all the terrible singers we’ve seen so far had asked their artists’ permission first. We would have gotten off the hook! She’s got a nice range and unlike anyone else from the episode, she can actually belt. She just runs the risk of being a little generic.

”No, I rock it, man.” -Ben Harrison

Ben Harrison

Age 28

Here’s what I have to say about this kid: YOU ARE ANNOYING. To quote the great Troy Barnes, YOU ARE HUMAN TENNIS ELBOW. I didn’t like this guy. He talks like he’s the brobot from Jimmy Neutron (Google it – I’m eerily spot-on). He sings “Somebody to Love” and he’s awful – so awful it makes Randy question his purpose on this earth. Or maybe just why Ben was there, but it’s Idol so let’s be dramatic. Even after his rejection, Ben wouldn’t stop smiling. There is definitely something wrong with him. That’s just unnatural.

”You gonna be good, I feel.” –Randy

Jennifer Phillips

Age 25

Finally, we end on – you guessed it – a sob story. Jennifer’s boyfriend had a stroke and when he woke up, he didn’t know who she was. She still takes care of him, even though he’s a different person. This tale of heroism signals to Randy that she’s going to be good (he must have been a judge on this show for the past 10 years or something). She sings “Again” by Faith Evans and she’s cute and pretty good, but I fear she may get sent home like the saintly Chris Medina did last year. She met her boyfriend through music, which makes it harder for me to be honest. I don’t want to say it, because she’s such a good person, but she doesn’t have a phenomenal voice or a wow factor. She’s going to get swallowed up, the poor thing.

Did you find a favorite in Portland? Or are you in my boat? They handed out 45 tickets and not a single person caught my eye – or ear. Let us know in the comments or get at me on Twitter. @KelseaStahler