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'American Idol' heads to Chicago

"American Idol" goes to Chicago which show host Ryan Seacrest calls President Obama's hometown, so he can rattle off comments like "his influence has been felt all over the country" and the 12,000 wannabe Idolettes who showed up to audition can be made to shout "Yes We Can" in unison.

Curley Newbern auditions in Chicago for season nine of 'Idol'. (Fox)

Shania Twain admits right off the bat she once wet her pants auditioning, and 'Idol' Kara DioGuardi says she loves Twain so much she stalks her, either of which already makes Twain 20 percent more interesting already than this season's two other Pretend Paulas to date Posh Spice and Mary J. Blige.

Nineteen-year-old Katelyn Epperly is auditioning for her mother, who recently got dumped by dad. Simon asks whose side she is on in the divorce and Katelyn says she's forced to side with mom but still talks to dad. This golden back story assures her a Golden Ticket to Hollywood. She's the only Idolette we see before the first commercial break.

Twenty-six-year-old Amy Lang wants someone to write a musical about her interesting life as a women who had her first inappropriate celebrity dream about Ryan Seacrest; she also can "boob box," and does a very convincing faux faint. NBC is developing it as a 10 o'clock series with which to replace Jay Leno as we write. Lang does not make it to Hollywood despite her impressive mammary motor skills.

Sixteen-year-old Charity Vance grew up singing for her hairdresser-parents' clients and feels she is now ready to take on "Idol." She sing Gershwin's "Summertime" and she's no Fantasia -- her voice is itty bitty. But Kara wasn't around when Fantasia gave her competition-winning performance of this tune, nor was Shania, Simon's pretty checked out, and Randy follows the pack, so she too is Hollywood bound.

A melange of accordion players, jugglers and push-up do-ers, fake brides, and angry stage mothers later, Angela Martin is back for her third try at "Idol" stardom. Angela has the mother of all back stories: a heartbreakingly adorable impaired little daughter, a tragically-killed dad, and a warrant for outstanding traffic tickets that scuttled her last "Idol" run. Even more dramatic, since Angela is now 28, this will be the last year she's eligible for 'Idol' -- next year she'll have to try out for Simon Cowell's new "X Factor" which has no upper age limit.

The judges give her that third try because, Kara says, Angela listens to criticism, takes it in, and then comes on the show and is better. No one has any idea what Kara is talking about since no one has given Angela any criticism to take in, nor have they said she's so much better than last year. But with her back story, there was never any chance she isn't Hollywood bound.

Twenty-six-year-old Curley Newbern is high-pitched horrible -- so high pitched Simon asks whether animals turn up when he sings at home. This causes Curley to walk out of the room before the judges even vote which surprises and confuses the judges. Stupid judges.

Alanah Halbert is so tone deaf when the judges give her a note, she can't get anywhere near its octave. "I didn't know what I was doing," she says.

Brian Krouse apparently used to imitate Tiny Tim doing "Tiptoe through the Tulips for the troops, which also confuses the judges, who become even more baffled when he calls them "Mr. Cowell" and "Mr. Jackson." They think he's pulling their leg and send him home where, he says, he will take a bubble bath and "relax" his thoughts.

Harold Davis can hold a note a really long time, based on which he believes he's a "champ" and will "shoot off like a rocket" in the audition. The "Rocky" tune is playing behind him which means he will be horrible -- that's called "irony." The judges do indeed send him away Golden Ticket-less, and he breaks down and weeps.

Twenty-year-old John Park is cute and has a Beatles haircut, which so impresses Shania she begins to twirl the rope of pearls around her neck nervously while increasingly inappropriate things come out of her mouth, like saying she loves his "bottom end" and how he has "nice lips" and a "nice tone down there, " and that he has a "good head."

"Shania loves me!" John boasts to his guy pals outside the audition room, his Golden Ticket in hand.

Paige Dechausse has asthma, which normally doesn't rise to Golden Ticket back story levels. But she nearly died once after having an asthma attack and going into anaphylactic shock. Even so, Simon votes against her, but Kara and Shania have fallen for her hard and sway Randy -- which, of course, is as easy as falling off a log. "Didn't see that one coming" Simon skarks when Randy votes with Kara and Shania. Paige gets that Golden Ticket which gets her so excited she has to use her inhaler.

After which three guys give good auditions but apparently have no tragic back story, so they're dispatched to Holly wood very quickly and are included in the episode for no apparent reason except to kill time before the start of "Human Target." Woo-hoo!

By Lisa de Moraes  |  January 20, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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I didn't know what to make of Brian "the Gomer" Krouse. Was he really real? I mean, he said he was in the Army... did Uncle Sam give this guy weapons training?


Posted by: molsonmich | January 20, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

The Army guy reminded me of the dude who offed himself in "Full Metal Jacket".

Posted by: RightWinger1 | January 20, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

I think Kara is trying to become a little like Paula was. She's already been more "outrageous" by her standards than she was last year. I'm still not digging her. Shania was a nice change - I enjoyed her.

Posted by: too_through | January 20, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Can we replace either Randy or Kara for Shania? She was by far the best judge last night...I'd say even better than Simon with her analysis/critique of some of the singers' abilities. And best of all, she even ventured, momentarily, into loopy Paula mode with Mr. Park. I started wondering exactly what was in her little sippy cup for a moment.

Posted by: kdinsd | January 20, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

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