idol-3

This week, the show decided to go all dramatic with their Charlotte, NC episode, and do it flashback style. They also brought out the winner of season 10, Scotty McCreery (who auditioned there), and set everything up at the race car track.

The first contestant was fashionista Naomi Morris, 28, from Charlotte. Nikki started her tradition of nicknaming contestants: “Omi” (so creative). Omi sang Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” and royally sucked. She apologized for being so nervous. Nicki said, “You shocked me today,” and gave her another chance. Omi tried once again, singing “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” and they quickly voted “no.” Mariah added, “Don’t let this bring you down. You’re a beautiful girl.”

Next to sing was a young man who liked to lie down while singing, which he apparently got from season 5 of the show. He also told Nicki she looked like cotton candy, so you have an idea of what this kid was like. She nicknamed him “Jumanji,” but his name was Joel Nemoyer, 20, from Pennsylvania. Nicki told him, “If nothing else, you made history,” and Keith said, “I don’t think singing is quite your thing.” They all passed, especially Randy, who said “never” with quite a bit of emphasis.

Finally, a serious contestant! Brian Rittenberry, 27, from Georgia, whose wife is in remission from appendix cancer. He sang, “Let it Be,” with a bit of a country twang… not completely unheard of, but original nonetheless. Mariah said, “Wow, I didn’t expect that. You just took me by surprise.” Keith said, “You just have a good light about you, and soul, and husky, and cool.” Ryan brought his wife in just in time to hear him get a “yes” from all the judges, and she got a hug from Keith.

Jimmy Smith, 25, from Tennessee, sang “Bless the Broken Road,” in an absolutely gorgeous voice that took all of the judges by surprise. Nicki said, “I think you poppin’, like you mad fly, and I feel like yo, your voice is the voice I was waiting to hear today.” Keith said, “The great thing about your tone is it’s your personality. I can tell who you are through your singing.” Mariah said, “You have something incredibly special and unique. I can’t wait for the world to hear it.” He got four yeses.

The next cowboy to get up in front of the judges was Matthew Muse, 23, South Carolina, who did a rendition of a Brad Paisley song that made Mariah yawn and Nicki cringe. Then he danced for them, if you could even call it that. Randy said, “You’re nowhere near ready for this,” and Nicki added, “You could be a model, though.” The consensus was “Cool dude, but no.”

Like in New York, there was a contestant who was nominated by a family member, and Randy came to visit Isabel Gonzalez at her Georgia high school, where he gave her a ticket to come sing for them. Isabel, 16, sang “Nothing Can Change This Love,” by Sam Cooke in a much more grown-up voice than you would expect. Nicki said, “I’m absolutely head over heels in love with you.” Keith said, “You’re a natural.” Mariah said, “You’re so adorable. People are going to fall in love with you.” She got four very enthusiastic yeses, and a shower of silly string from her family.

Taisha Bethea, 21, from North Carolina sang Johnny Cash’s “Folsum Prison Blues,” but claimed she wanted to be a rock ‘n roll star. Randy didn’t think there was much of a twist, so she sang a little of Alanis Morissette’s “You Outta Know,” and it sounded a lot more like her speed. Mariah said, “I think you’re interesting. You’re different, you have your own thing going on.” Keith said “Maybe you’re more suited with a band.” Nicki said, “I like your voice, I like your style.” Nicki and Keith said yes, and Mariah and Randy said no, but because they were in North Carolina, Keith had the deciding vote, so she got through.

Did you forget about the weird beginning? I had, until Ryan’s voiceover reminded us that the judges were getting on each others’ nerves, and things were about to erupt. Summer Cunningham, 20, from Georgia, sang “Lean On Me,” and was the unfortunate recipient of the disaster. Nicki said, “I really like you, I think your voice was really, really pretty and controlled.” Keith got a little annoyed when she called herself “more soulful country,” and Mariah grilled her a little on that. Keith said yes because he liked her voice (despite not really liking her), Randy and Mariah said yes, and then Nikki started talking about how annoyed she was at the whole country debate, and stormed out.

Production was shut down after that for the day, and Day 2 in Charlotte began following a number of news reports from broadcasters who had gotten wind of the feud. First to face the fire was Brandy Hamilton from Charlotte. She sang “All I Could Do Was Cry” by Etta James. Randy said, “You came in so positive, you like lit up the room. That’s what stars do, they’re infectious.” Keith said, “I heard enough to know it was all in there. I’d love to hear more.” Nicki said, “You made me feel what you feeling in that particular song.” It was a unanimous vote for a ticket, and so things began smoother that day.

Ashley Smith, 22, from Charlotte, was a bit of a clown: She joked, giggled, butted her way into other peoples’ conversations, etc. Nicki called her “Blondie,” and she sang “Cowboy Casanova,” by Carrie Underwood. I was fully prepared for her to be another goofball wasting our time, but she belted that song out with such force and control, I was blown away. Nicki said, “That sounded really, really pretty.” Mariah said, “There’s something about you that’s very effervescent.” Keith said, “I couldn’t look away.” Randy said, “I think you can sing any kind of song.” They all said “yes” in unison.

Speaking of cute blondes, Jenelle Arthur, 22, from Tennessee sang Keith’s own “Where the Blacktop Ends,” in one of the most gorgeous country voices I’ve ever heard. He simply replied, “I loved it. Beautiful voice.” Nicki said, “I think you are really, really special, and you already seem like a star.” Randy said, “I think the vocals were amazing.” Mariah added, “Really pretty demeanor.” She also got four yeses, and a hug from Keith.

“The Voice of Charlotte,” is apparently a street singer named Rodney Barber, 27, who sang Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be.” Mariah said, “I thought you were fantastic.” Keith said, “You’ve got a really big voice,” and Randy added “Strong.” Nicki said, “I’m really inspired by your story, and I think you have something really captivating about you.” He also got four yeses, and of course, a ticket to Hollywood.

Candace Glover, 22, from South Carolina is a returning contestant from last year. She sang Duffy’s “Syrup and Honey,” and got a standing ovation from Randy and Mariah. Nicki said, “I’m obsessed with you. You are what people in America watch American Idol to see.” Mariah said, “This was the absolute best singing we have heard thus far. I felt you.” She obviously got through, no questions.

The frog-killer of the South Carolina, Ja’Bria Barber, 16, had quite a lovely voice, if a strange palate. She said “Pride and Joy,” and Mariah said, “I liked your song choice, and I really like your voice. I think you’re adorable.” Randy said, “You’re got a little spunk in you. You’re not scared.” Nicki added, “You have a strong voice.” Despite being turned off by her consumption of frog legs for dinner, she got a ticket to Hollywood.

Back to the weirdos: Brad Harris, 28, from North Carolina has (most likely) a bit of brain damage from frequently bashing his head into things in high school. He sang “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, and Randy spent the whole time with his head in his hand. Mariah said, “So…,” Randy said, “Dude it wasn’t good,” and Nicki said, “Not your thing.”

The final sob story of the night was Seretha Guinn, 26, from Charlotte, and her boyfriend, who was in a serious accident and has undergone a number of rough surgeries. She also brought along their three-year-old daughter, who came in the room with her mom to sing. Side note: The daughter also idolizes Nicki, and brought her a teddy bear. As if it couldn’t get stranger, Seretha sang the theme song to “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” … and nailed it. She followed it up with Lee Ann Rimes’ “How Do I Live.” Nicki teared up and said, “Incredible. I’m so proud. You’re a superstar.” Randy said, “I was blown away, too.” Mariah said, “I absolutely loved you.” She was immediately sent through, and Nicki took a picture with her daughter.

So that was it for Charlotte! Tomorrow, the judges will be in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.