idol-4

We headed to a very unique location for tonight’s auditions: Baton Rouge, Louisiana. First up was the very determined Megan Miller, 22, from Louisiana, who was headed into surgery following a serious accident a few days prior. She sang “Something’s Got a Hold On Me,” by Etta James, and managed to both sound beautiful and make light of her condition. Randy said, “This girl’s a natural. It just goes to show that no matter what’s going on: crutches, leg busted, you can sing.” Nicki said, “Undeniable superstar. What I want to commend you on is coming in here and not making an excuse.” Mariah said, “I think you’re really endearing, and you’re talented.” Keith said, “I love how you came in here and you just went at it.” They all voted yes, and the day was off to a positive start.

Next up was self-described “socially awkward” Charlie Askew, 17, from Arkansas. He sang the intro to Queen’s “Breakthrough” as well as Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy” in a unique, powerful voice. Nicki said, “I was pleasantly surprised by your voice. I really like you, I like your spirit.” Keith said, “Dude, I love your voice: The tone, it’s not of a gender. I mean that in a really glowingly, complimentary way. It’s your own thing.” Mariah said, “I can identify with you using music for escapism.” He got very enthusiastic yeses from every judge.

Sylvia Assel nominated her granddaughter, Maddie Assel, 17, from Virginia, for the show, and Randy came to see her the night before, and brought her to auditions. Maddie sang The Beatles’ “Oh Darling,” with a strength and grace way beyond her years. Keith said, “You’ve got your own style.” Nicki said, “You’ve got some power there.” Mariah said, “I like your confidence.” Another unanimous ticketholder made it through.

Adorable Paul Jolley, 22, from Tennessee sang a Rascal Flatts song, and Nicki said, “I like you a lot. Your voice is really pretty, and you have not only a nice texture to your tone, but this ability to play with it.” Mariah said, “I felt that you exuded confidence, and I felt that it was effortless, the way you sang.” Keith said, “It was like a great crafted musical performance.” Of course, he made it through as well, and made his whole family cry when he said he did it all for his deceased grandfather.

The very enthusiastic Chris “Mushroom” Barthel, 24, from Louisiana sang an Adam Lambert song, and strutted his stuff all over the stage. Keith said, “You’re a sweet guy, I don’t think it’s your thing.” Mariah said, “You’re very entertaining.” Nicki asked if she could run her hands through his hair, and Randy summed it up by dismissing him, but thanking him for performing anyway.

Doctor Calvin Peters, 27, from Texas sang “Whenever, Wherever, Whatever,” by Maxwell. Mariah said, “I think you’re very handsome. I think it’s unique that you’re a singing doctor.” Keith said, “Yeah, I really like your vibe.” Nicki said, “I think that you have a lot of technique.” He got four yeses, and I honestly think it may have been just because he picked a daring song and he had a unique hook, because he wasn’t that good.

Keeping with the tradition of sexy male-dominated professions, firefighter Dustin Watts, 27, from Louisiana sang Garth Brooks’ “She’s Every Woman.” Mariah said, “I liked you, I really did. There’s something special about you.” Nicki said, “I think you’re doing it with ease. You look like a country star.” Yet another unanimous vote from the judges, and another golden ticket to Hollywood.

Leave it to American Idol to bring up Hurricane Katrina. 19-year-old Burnell Taylor’s house and belongings were destroyed but, weirdly, little else was mentioned about it. He got a standing ovation from all of the judges after singing, and Mariah cried, “I felt every single word you sang. Just spectacular.” Nicki said, “That is what we came for. That thing that can’t even be put in words.” Randy said, “Amazing voice.” Keith said, “Somewhere there is a spotlight just waiting for you to walk into.” The final contestant of the night received a positive verdict, and bittersweet music played him out.

Next week the judges head to San Antonio, Texas!