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American Idol: Sitting Pretty In Salt Lake City

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

Tonight's AmericanIdol audition episode took place in Salt Lake City, home to last season'stween dream David Archuleta and about a jillion Osmonds. So the laws of probabilitydictated that, inevitably, a real live Osmond would audition tonight.

I, ofcourse, had my issues regarding someone from such a huge showbiz family dynastylike the clan that spawned Donny & Marie. David Osmond--son of eldestOsmond brother Alan--was the first singer to try out tonight, and I was certainlywary of yet another after obviously privileged, well-connected contestant makingit through after former major-label signing Joanna Pacitti and Jason Castro's sibling Michael received golden tickets in previousepisodes. Come on now, did an OSMOND really need a break like this? And then the producers startedshowing sad footage of David's crying,multiple sclerosis-stricken dad (Alan had to retire because of his disease) andof David's own MS battle (David hasbeen wheelchair-bound in the past), and I just knew this guy was going to getthrough. Sorry to be crass here, but FAMILY CONNECTIONS + SOB STORY = GUARANTEEDGOLDEN TICKET.

I just hoped that David would actually be able to carry a tune.Luckily, singing ability runs in the Osmond family. David sang Take 6's "Something Within Me" decently andnicely enough to earn his ticket to Hollywood...maybenot decently and nicely enough to make the top 12, but well enough to at least geta chance at the finals. He certainly was better, and more deserving, than Bikini Girl!

Flame-haired,plus-sized, ill-advisedly miniskirted-and-gartered Tara Mathews--who Ryan probablyerroneously claimed was "Salt Lake City's onlygoth," and who was pretty much the opposite of fresh-scrubbed all-Americanboy David Osmond--showed up next. Tara claimedto have ESP, but I wonder, did she predict that she wouldn't make it through? I mean, I don't have ESP, and I could easily forecast herinevitable rejection just by observing her ridiculously unflattering outfit andoff-putting attitude. She whimpered her way through a five-octaves-out-of-her-rangeversion of "One Day I'll FlyAway," to which Simon Cowell quipped without missing a beat, "Hopefully soon!" Tara certainly seemed bummed about the news, scowling andsulking like a real goth girl, but to be honest she didn'tseem all that surprised by Simon'sunkind words, so maybe she does have ESP after all.

The nextmemorable lousy audition was by Chris Kirkham, whose cardboard Simon mask and bunnysuitedsidekick will certainly come in handy come Halloween time but did nothing todeflect attention away from his unremarkable vocals. So soon Chris and his bunnybuddy were hopping right out the audition-room door, golden-ticketless.

Aseries of bad-to-worse auditions followed in one of Idol's patented blooper-reelmontages, and then in came Frankie Jordan, who'dbeen hyped in the pre-show promo spots as "the next Amy Winehouse."So what did that mean? She'd soon begoing on all-night London pub benders, shouting out onstage declarations of loveto Blake Incarcerated, withering down to 80 pounds, breaking her teeth indrunken face-first sidewalk tumbles, developing a weird face-eating skindisease, smoking crack in leaked viral videos, and struggling to stand uprightbeneath the weight of an ever-growing beehive wig?

Being the "next AmyWinehouse" may not be such a lofty career goal after all, you know.

So Frankie sang Amy's "You Know That I'mNo Good," and she was pretty good. Not as good as Amy herself--Frankie isNOT the next Amy; she doesn't haveAmy's charisma or edge--but goodenough. And Simon liked Frankie's"cute little face"--which, I must agree, was cuter than Amy's.

I was moreimpressed with the next girl who sang, divorced young mom Megan Corkrey, whosevocals had a certain Amy/Adele/Duffy throwback quality to them but still managed to soundtotally original. I totally dug her old-fashioned, jazzy soul stylings on "Can't Help Loving That Man Of Mine," and I agreedwith judge Kara DioGuardi'sassessment that she had a certain "glow" about her. She seemedgenuinely spotlit from within, and definitely worthy of the Idol spotlight. Simon described Megan's performance as "one of my favorite auditions...youare one of the few I'm goingremember." Then again, he said that about Josiah Leming during last season's Hollywood Week, right before Josiah wasaxed...but I have a feeling this time Simon meant it.

And I concurred with him.Megan was one of my faves, too.

After frog-throated,foghorn-voiced "soul" singer Andrew Gibson tanked (but took hisrejection very well and wisely decided to pursue his education instead), incame well-educated schoolboy Austin Sisneros. A 17-year-old senior classpresident who said he was auditioning in order to "inspire people"and let viewers know "it's OK tofollow your dreams," this guy was so clean-cut he made the Osmonds looklike Amy Winehouse. And he totally bugged the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out of me the minute he hit the screen. When he told thejudges, after failing to impress them with his yawn-inducing rendition of Train's "When I Look To The Sky," that theyshould still support him because he knew they didn't "want to see him fail," I groaned. What a smug over-achiever! But I guesshe was right, because the judges let him give it another go. He sang a secondperplexing song, Raffi's "ItTakes A Village," which the judges also loathed.

But then they let himthrough anyway! Randy in particular admired Austin'sperseverance, so I guess sometimes a little smugness goes a long way. I do havea feeling that if this guy makes it to the voting rounds in a few weeks,though, that viewers (like myself) will find him unlikable and send him homeearly. Which is probably just as well, since being on this show would take toomuch time away from all his extracurricular activities.

Another montagefollowed of various Salt Lake Cityrejects crying vast salty lakes of tears. Then came Hawaiian-born, 16-year-old island beautyTaylor Vaifanua, who with her 5'11" stature andsexy-secretary pencil skirt looked basically 16 going on 28. I certainly didn't look like that when I was just 16! She sang with greatwomanly maturity, too; Randy Jackson said hers was one of the best voices ofthe entire season so far, and naturally she made it through.

Another promising SLCfemale.

But it wasthe final singer, Rose Flack, who along with Megan Corkrey made tonight's episode so encouraging. After Louisvilleand Jacksonville,I thought this show was going straight to Nowheresville, but SLC got me hopefulagain thanks to girls like these.

Pretty, blonde-dreadlocked flower child Rose hadthe proper sob story that is always saved for the final five minutes of everyepisode--her dad died when she was 13, then her mom died when she was 15, and now she's been taken in by a kind Idaho family--and she had agreat image ("You look terrific," Simon blurted out the minute sheentered the room). And--to lapse into flower child lingo myself here--she had a lovelyaura. She sang Carole King's "IFeel The Earth Move," and I kinda/sorta did--feel the earth move, that is.I was excited about this one. She sort of reminded of season 7's Brooke White, before Brooke got all annoyingand chatterboxy and neurotic and I stopped liking her. Anyway, Simon seemed excitedabout Rose as well. "There's somethingabout you which I absolutely love," he raved, then he repeated what he'd said to Megan: "You'reone of the few I'm going to remember."Wow, he was just full of uncharacteristically free-flowing compliments tonight,huh? I guess all the kindness and sweetness of the Osmond-dominated SLC populationactually rubbed off on him. So Rose got her ticket to Hollywood, and I have a feeling she's really going to blossom there.

And thusconcluded a thankfully very productive talent search in SLC. I actually foundmyself getting all psyched about two contestants (Rose and Megan), who now joinPhoenix's Cody Sheldon and SanFrancisco's Adam Lambert as myofficial season 8 picks so far. But the auditions aren'tquite over yet, people: Before the Hollywood round kicks off next Tuesday, there's one more bonus episode tomorrow (Thursday) night, on which Simon and his cronies will scout for one last batch of singers inboth Puerto Rico and New Jersey.I'm actually a little tired of all these auditionsby now, so I'm thrilled and relievedthat Hollywood Week is just around the corner...but I'malso hoping that the judges do find a few more worthy belters tomorrow, before the showmoves on.

Tune in tomorrow and find out if they do! Seacrest out.

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