'American Idol' Recap: Episode 2

By Daniela Duron,

American Idol had its second round of auditions Thursday night in Chicago. Although there were some crazy auditions and the judges continued to argue, what truly shined was the talent the contestants brought.

Ryan Seacrest starts the show by reminding the viewers how much of a roller coaster auditions in New York were. It’s a new day and there is a huge crowd waiting in Chicago, however, and the judges start fresh by greeting each other with kisses and calming the contestants in the holding room.

The first to audition is 17-year-old Mackenzie Wasner, who lives in Tennessee. She has been around music her whole life, as her dad is a piano player and a singer-songwriter. She proves to be a great singer herself, with Nicki saying someone like her walks in a room only every few years. With that, she’s the first contestant to get a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Kiara Lanier auditions next, who shares that she recently sang for President Obama at his birthday fundraiser. She sings “The Prayer” by Celine Dion and leaves the judges impressed with her ability to tackle such a difficult song. Mariah says she has huge potential, and all four judges say yes.

21-year-old Stephanie Schimel is next, who sings “Dream a Little Dream of Me” by Carrie Underwood. Keith says her voice is a blend of Underwood and Gwen Stefani, but Nicki says nothing special jumped out at her. This causes Mariah and Nicki to argue, but Nicki is outnumbered and Stephanie goes through to Hollywood.

After the arguing continues throughout several auditions, Melissa Bush breaks the tension with her humorous audition. She brings a shirt for Randy with the words ‘Get Down Dawg’ and is dressed in a pink costume. The judges are left speechless, but unfortunately for Melissa, not in a good way, and they say no to her.

The show then has season three finalist Haley Reinhart show up to give motivation to the crowd that has gathered for their turn to audition. Gabe Brown is then introduced, who was found through the show’s small town bus tour, which seeks contestants from small towns around the country. Gabe has a very strong rock voice and impresses the judges, who send him through to the next round.

Kevin Nabity is next, who says he was inspired to sing because of Vanilla Ice’s Ninja Rap. Kevin, who also dances and does martial arts, shows off his unique dancing moves to the judges and equally unique voice. The judges say they like him as a person, but not as a singer, which unfortunately isn’t enough to get him through.

After a montage of bad auditions, 15-year-old Isabelle Perrot shows off her voice by singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” At her request with a funny note, Isabelle gets the vocal help of Keith, and shines with her sweet demeanor, passing through to Hollywood.

Griffin Peterson auditions next with NeedtoBreathe’s “Washed by Water.” While Randy says his voice was barely below average, Nicki seems to have a crush on him, saying he looks and feels like a star. Nicki is able to beat Randy, and ‘G’ (as Nicki calls him) is through to the next round.

Curtis Finch, Jr. is the next contestant to blow the judges away. He sings a song by Smokie Norful and all judges say they are inspired by him. So inspired, in fact, that after he brings a friend in to meet Mariah, Nicki even has some nice words for Mariah, saying the first time you meet her is “monumental.”

To finish off day one in Chicago, we meet Mariah Pulice, who reveals she is recovering from anorexia. She says she wouldn’t be alive without music and brings the judges to tears after her audition. Nicki says her spirit comes through her music and after they all say yes, her family rushes inside to congratulate her.

Day two of auditions in Chicago starts with Brandy Neely, whose aunt adopted her when she was six months old. She sings “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams and Keith tells her it was a great song choice and that she made it her own. Nicki also says she has great presence and is super special, and all judges say yes.

Josh Holiday then auditions with Brian McKnight’s “Back At One.” Randy says he has a lot of talent and Nicki adds that no one sounds like him. They send him through to Hollywood, and his audition then kicks off a montage of strong auditions, with Ryan saying they found “talent out of this world.”

We then meet Clifton Duffin, who reveals his parents have never heard him sing. As he starts singing “Superstar” by Luther Vandross, Ryan quietly brings his parents inside so they can hear him sing for the first time. The audition causes the judges to become emotional, with even Keith saying he almost lost it watching Clifton’s parents hearing their son sing. All four judges say yes and send him through.

Ieisha Cotton auditions next. She says she is a professional dancer, and Keith asks her to show off some of her moves. She then sings Ashanti’s “Thank You,” but the judges tell her to leave the singing and stick to dancing.

We then see Johnny Keyser audition, who is a familiar face as he made it to the Top 70 last season. The judges love his voice and Randy says it’s great that he came back because it shows that he really wants it. He then adds that hopefully this time he won’t crash and burn in the competition.

The audition of Kez Ban is next, an up and coming street performer. Before the audition, she says she doesn’t expect to win and her goal is just to get to Hollywood. She auditions with a song that she co-wrote, and the judges are surprised by her great voice. After she gets her golden ticket, Kez Ban says she is in shock because she believed the judges would think she was too bizarre to make it through.

We then see a montage called “The Miserables,” which consists of terrible auditions. Ashley Curry then contributes to this with a humorous audition of her own. Ashley is a musical theater major, but her loud singing had Mariah running for cover and screaming for help. Even after the judges tell her they don’t like it but ask her to act out a monologue for them, she keeps starting to sing out of nowhere. The judges tell her she might want to rethink her major, because they believe singing is not for her.

The show ends with the emotional and inspiring story of Lazaro Arbos, who has a severe stutter. His parents say that after they moved to the United States from Cuba, his stuttering progressively got worse. This caused him to be very lonely and have no friends, which made music his life. He impresses the judges by singing Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Randy says he has a great voice and Mariah says his story is inspiring, and all four judges say yes to him.

After two days in Chicago, 46 contestants make it through to Hollywood. Next week, the show goes to Charlotte, N.C. Based on the previews, this is where Mariah and Nicki really go at it with each other. Whether they will be able to put their differences aside is uncertain, but what is certain is that it will be a must watch show!



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