‘American Idol’ Recap: St. Louis Auditions

American idol St Louis AuditionsS11E7: We did, Idol watchers! We made it through the whole audition circuit, which is great because I don’t think I could take it anymore. Apparently, the producers are tired of it too, because this final auditions episode was half filler. We learned that Carrie Underwood in St. Louis, and isn’t that magical? We learned that Walter the taxi driver is pissed about the traffic and doesn’t understand the show. We learn about terrible singers like William Hung from seasons long passed. We get to see the editors turn a bad audition from the Portland episode (I know because I have a catalog of all Jennifer’s outfits in my head) into a “tribute” to The Artist. Plus, we get about 10 times the usual amount of “look at how many people are auditioning, can you believe it?” montages. And after all that was said and done, we’re left with only six full auditions. Luckily, none of them rendered me deaf or angry enough to finally give up. And while the singers were few, at least they found a few who were actually worth featuring.

“You know you’re gonna be a star, right?” –Jennifer

Johnny Keyser

Age 22

This cutie patootie was raised by a single dad and he’s so cute I was sure he was going to be mediocre. But wouldn’t you know it, he’s kind of amazing. He sings “A Change Gonna Come” and it’s like his voice is a genuine musical instrument instead of this pretty thing that just pops out of his vocal chords. It’s obvious that he’s going to be a serious competitor – Jennifer even upgrades her compliment from “cute” to “sexy” and Steven is just can’t believe it: “Are you f**king kidding me?” Yes, we couldn’t believe there was someone that good after the past few episodes either.

“I went off and got married and he took all them things away from me.” –Rachelle

Rachelle Lamb

Age 26

Next, we get a woman going through divorce, and she brings along her little girl, Maddy, with adorable glasses. They’re like the real life version of that Sandra Bullock movie, except instead of winning Harry Connick, Jr. she gets a golden ticket. She sings “Find Somebody New” by Faith Hill and her little girl dances with her – which means even if she was average, she’d have to get a ticket. It’s too adorable. She is a good singer, she’s got a strong country capable voice; Steven says she’s got moxie, Randy’s impressed. She’s great. But really, is it Hollywood week yet? I feel like a kid in the Disneyland parking garage. I don’t care if we’re parked in the Donald Duck section or the Pluto one, WHERE IS THE TRAM TO THE PARK?

“It made me tear up and get all crazy inside.” –Steven

Reis Kloeckener

Age 21

The next singer was bullied as a kid because he was tiny and like a human version of a Glee character, he joined chorus to boost his confidence and find happiness. With a story like that, he has to be good. He makes Steven cry, but I’m not sure he was that good. He does “Lean On Me” and he’s got a great natural voice, but he needs to stop trying to Justin (Timberlake) it. Still, he’s a sweet, cute kid so everyone smiles and sends him through.

“You look nothing like the way you sound” –Randy

Ethan Jones

Age 22

Ethan Jones apparently needs a pep talk from Steven to get into his audition, and while editing makes it seem like a bit of a joke, it turns out he’s actually down because his dad is in rehab. Jones is a full-time musician in his dad’s band, so they’re close and the situation is tearing him up a bit. His song choice is “I’ll be” by Edwin McCain and I hate to say it after his touching story, but he sounds like a backstreet boy. It’s not bad and it works for Idol, but I don’t have to pretend to be impressed. When he gets his ticket, he calls his dad and breaks down crying, that’s where it got me – even if his introduction soured me with images of him sitting sadly on a bench with “Fix You” playing in the background.

“I love everything about you except the melody.” –Steven

Mark Ingram

Age 28

I’m sorry, sports fans. I know seeing the name Mark Ingram might invoke visions of Heisman trophies and touchdowns. As more filler, they go around the hotel and find his coworkers – did I mention he works at the hotel where the auditions are being held? He sings “Overjoyed” by Stevie Wonder and it’s not good. His voice is cracking and he’s off-key. The quality of his voice is great, but he doesn’t have the range or skill to use it properly. When they say it’s not working, he asks to sing another song, and they tell him no, but he does it anyway. And it’s just so embarrassing. The producers screen these people. They knew he wasn’t going to make it, yet they brought in all of his staff members to watch him fail. Then they make fun of him by taking the effort to film hotel guests pretending to be annoyed by his voice ringing out through the halls. Despicable, guys.

“If you can get up there, hit the note and break, that’s the sexist thing in the world.” –Steven

Lauren Grey

Age 22

Finally, we get someone who can really sing. Lauren Grey sings in her dad’s band and helps her family run a one-stop wedding shop and it’s her dad’s dream for her to go to American Idol. And she says she’s going to sing Adele. This is the moment where if she wasn’t the last contestant of the night, I would bet big money she would be terrible. However, she does “One and Only” with a big, bluesy voice. While Jennifer cries for some reason (the girl wasn’t that good), Steven and Randy spend far too long talking about her voice breaks after she hits the high notes (note to singers: breaking after the high note, great – before the high note, bad news bears). Jennifer cleans herself up in time to tell Lauren she’s one of the best female voices they’ve heard. This is true, but then again, we’ve been trekking through a few serious dry patches for the past few episodes.

Whew. There it is. We’ve done it! Who was your favorite of the night? Are you thanking sweet baby Jesus that the auditions process is over? What are looking forward to most from Hollywood week? Let me know in the comments or get at me on Twitter. @KelseaStahler

Celebrity Editor Kelsea Stahler was born in a pile of dirt. Okay, she was actually born in an old Naval hospital in San Diego, which then became a pile of dirt and remained as such for a number of years before becoming a parking lot perfectly sized for circus tents, and finally a museum. She eventually left San Diego to attend New York University, where she studied Journalism and English literature — two less-than profitable liberal arts degrees about which guidance counselors warned her. Against all odds, she now resides in Brooklyn, where she fights the constant fear that the locals will soon discover she isn’t quite cool enough to live there, and makes a living writing absurd, pop culture features about Batman, zombies, vampires, funny people, and Ron Swanson.