The change in direction in this year's "American Idol" — focusing on actual contestants rather than the humiliating auditions that result in YouTube infamy — has, thus far, deprived viewers of any great-bad moments. That changed Wednesday (January 25) during the "Idol" auditions from Aspen, Colorado, when viewers were introduced to "professional air guitarist" Magic Cyclops, who showed up in front of Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson in an American-flag T-shirt, a red-white-and-blue bandana and a faux-British accent he said he picked up in Davenport, Iowa, from watching the BBC.
The long-haired, facial-hair-sporting Cyclops refused to give his age — "it's not polite to ask a lady her age," he told Jackson — and claimed to be the proud owner of 11,000 air guitars. "I know there's a guy in Belgium that has, I think, five more than me," he said. When it came time to sing, Cyclops offered the judges their choice between Neil Diamond's "Cracklin' Rosie" and Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" and ended up singing them both in a kind of metalhead growl.
Jackson was already on his way out of the room when Cyclops hit his grand finale — a burst of confetti shooting out of a cannon he had tucked into the back of his pants — but by that time, season 11 had finally given us someone to include alongside William Hung, Renaldo Lapuz and others in the "Idol" Bad Audition Hall of Fame.
Cyclops aside, Aspen had a solid crop of talent to offer, with 31 singers earning Golden Tickets to Hollywood. Perhaps the most unique contestant was 25-year-old Angie Zeiderman of Delray Beach, Florida, a would-be Lady Gaga in a floral-print minidress, pearls and a purple hairdo who rolled around the audition stage while performing "When You've Got It, Flaunt It" from "The Producers." She followed it with a measured take on Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou," leading Jackson to tell her, "You're in your own little world." Lopez complimented her strong voice and her tone, while Tyler told her she had a "great little voice." Zeiderman herself told the cameras, "It is time for a vintage glitter queen on 'American Idol,' " and it seems as though she's right, as she sailed through to the next round of auditions.
Viewers were also told the story of Shelby Tweten, 17, of North Mankato, Minnesota, who was diagnosed bipolar last year but who said "American Idol" keeps her balanced and gives her a reason to stay on her medication. Her version of Carrie Underwood's "Temporary Home" brought a tear to Lopez's eye and inspired Jackson to give her a "big, huge yes!" to Hollywood.
Haley Smith, meanwhile, doesn't have just one job she has to leave to head to Hollywood, but three. The hardworking 18-year-old from Orem, Utah, brought a little flower power to Wednesday's show, as her throwback hippie vibe gave Steven Tyler flashbacks. "I love your voice so much. You're right out of my era, and I'm honored to be here listening to your voice," he told the Janis Joplin-like Smith, following her earthy version of Rufus and Chaka Kahn's "Tell Me Something Good."
Then there was 19-year-old Jairon Jackson of Denver, Colorado, whose original song "So Hard" inspired Lopez to exclaim, "That kid is a real artist!" and also provided enough of a tie-in for producers to play will.i.am.'s Lopez-assisted "T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)." Cross-promotion is key, kids.
Other singers ushered through to Hollywood on Wednesday's episode included elementary school teacher Jenni Schick, 24, of Sterling, Virginia, who managed to steal a kiss on the lips from Tyler before leaving the judge's room; Curtis Gray, 28, of Spring Hill, Florida, who was called a "major talent" after his version of Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday"; Scotty McCreery sound-alike Richie Law, 19, of Centennial, Colorado; Devan Jones, 26, of Aurora, Colorado, a hotel clerk who moved the judges with his version of the Script's "The Man Who Can't Be Moved"; and 25-year-old Mathenee Reco of Centennial, Colorado, a dance instructor who gave an animated version of the Beatles' "Hey Jude."
On Thursday, "Idol" is off to Galveston, Texas, to find out if everything really is bigger in Texas.
What did you think of Magic Cyclops and the rest of Wednesday's "Idol" contestants? Let us know in the comments!
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