One week after uncovering a Texas-size amount of talent in Dallas , “American Idol” headed north to Denver on Tuesday night (February 2), looking to find more of the same (only, you know, Colorado-size). It seemed like a pretty safe bet; after all — this is where season-seven champion David Cook auditioned — but, for the most part, the only thing Mile High in Denver was the mediocrity.
While there were some pretty great voices on display, Denver will probably best be remembered for a whole lot of auditioners with sad stories to tell (childhoods spent on the lam, tragic accidents, etc.), and the very last wannabe of the show: a guy in a bikini named, appropriately enough, “Bikini Boy.”
But let’s get to the good stuff first. Victoria Beckham was back behind the judges’ table again (she also served as a guest judge in Boston ), and right off the bat, we got a genuine taste of talent, in the form of 28-year-old Mark Labriola, who wowed the panel with a sandpapery version of Squeeze’s “Tempted.”
He was followed by the bubbly Kimberly Kerbow, who got through to Hollywood with a take on Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am” (and despite the fact that she sang a lyric about needing Rogaine directly at Simon), and Danelle Hayes, a down-on-her-luck karaoke hostess who earned high praise for a booming rendition of Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One” (“That was the most moving audition,” Kara raved. “I love that you wear your heart on your sleeve”).
That was followed by the usual montage of assorted goofballs — a woman dressed in an electric-blue mariachi outfit, a tiara-clad glamazon, a hot dog and a winged gargoyle, to name just a few — and then we entered the “questionably talented” portion of the night’s show, headlined by Casey James, a good-looking kid who survived a motorcycle accident (“The doctor said I’d never play guitar again,” he told producers). James’ audition — a flat-voiced take on John Mayer’s “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” — was nothing special, but Kara and Beckham liked his look (they made him take down his hair and remove his shirt, BTW), and he got through, despite Simon’s objections.
And then there was 16-year-old Tori Kelly, who didn’t impress much with her version of Mayer’s “Gravity” but made it to Hollywood based largely on her outfit (“You’re like a human orange,” Simon hissed). And with that, day one in Denver came to a close.
Day two opened with some more oddballs, one of whom inspired Simon to declare, “I think you just killed every cat in Denver” (one good thing about Tuesday’s show: Simon really got to show off some killer one-liners). And then, finally, the first real breakout star of the auditions emerged: Nicci Nix, who spoke like she had just inhaled helium but unveiled a breezy, jazzy voice on her rendition of Girls Aloud’s “Something Kinda Ooooh.”
Nix was followed by 16-year-old Haeley Vaughn, who dreamed of being “the first black, pop-country-kinda-mainstream singer” in “Idol” history. She took on Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name” and, with her brassy voice, easily made it through to Hollywood.
And that, unfortunately, brought us to the likely star of Wednesday’s online-search trends, a guy named Ty Hemmerling, who, in an apparent attempt to make it to Hollywood like last year’s “Bikini Girl,” donned a striped two-piece and attempted to sing Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart.” He didn’t even get to belt out two lines of the tune before the judges stood up and walked out on him, but not before Randy dubbed him “Bikini Boy.” And a brief, shining star was born.
With that, the Denver auditions wrapped up. Probably for the best. All in all, 26 golden tickets were handed out, and hopefully on Wednesday, we can all do just a little bit better.
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