For the first time in the show's history, this year, "American Idol" allowed contestants to upload videos of themselves auditioning via MySpace. A chosen few were then flown to Los Angeles to audition in front of the show's judges. Along with the lowering of the age requirement to 15, think of it as the other Justin Bieber rule: If Bieber could be discovered via webcam, why not an American Idol?
On Thursday's (February 3) episode, viewers were introduced to the first of the MySpace contestants: 21-year-old Karen Rodriguez of New York. She was first shown on her webcam singing Whitney Houston's 1985 hit "You Give Good Love," and that video transitioned to her singing the same song in a L.A. audition room in front of Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson. And it wasn't her first time singing in front of Lopez: Rodriguez later reminded J.Lo she sang to her on an episode of "TRL" and that Lopez had praised her "beautiful" voice.
Turns out, J.Lo was onto something. Rodriguez, a student, tackled the Houston song head-on, which is usually an "Idol" no-no. But she never tried to overpower it and displayed a cool mastery over the vocals, ending on a lush high note that she brought down and cradled before putting it to rest.
Afterward, Lopez was still in her corner, praising her control and telling her, "I'm pullin' for you, mama."
Tyler was wowed: "You got the confidence, you got the spit, you got the fire, you got the melody. It was sweet, it was beautiful. Great voice." Randy Jackson agreed, and Rodriguez received a unanimous "yes" vote from the panel and was sent to Hollywood.
Clutching her golden ticket outside the audition room, Rodriguez said, "I wanna be the first Latina 'American Idol' winner. I wanna be that!" After Thursday's episode, she's one step closer to getting there.
What did you think of Rodriguez's audition? Share your views in the comments!
Get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.