IDOL WATCH: The Houston Auditions!


Judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson go to Houston on tonight's episode of AMERICAN IDOL; hopes are high, as this is the city where the original IDOL, Kelly Clarkson, had her audition. As one of the show's success stories - with a fifth major studio album that hit stores in October - everyone's hoping for a piece of Clarkson's success.

25-year-old Phong Vu is a Houston native who warbles, um, very passionately (but tunelessly) through Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart" and leaves without a ticket in hand.

Skylar Laine is up next. A 17-year-old country singer, she says that she'd like to be the next American Idol in order to save her family's restaurant. She'll get one step closer to that goal as she scores the first golden ticket of tonight's show. Following Skylar is Baylie Brown, 21, who auditioned in season 6 at age 16 and was eliminated in the group round. She impresses this time around, and gets through to the next round, but adds that she expects to do better this time around since she was "just a baby" when she auditioned the first time.

28-year-old Kristine Osorio is in the opposite position: this is her last chance to audition for IDOL. She's in the midst of a divorce, and she says that she took out a loan to pay her lawyer - but instead travelled to audition for the show with the money. It's a risk that pays off for now, though, as she's headed to Hollywood.

Meanwhile, J-Lo's getting frustrated as her opinion doesn't align at all with Randy and Steven's on the next few contestants - when she says no, they say yes and when she says yes, they say no. "I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone," she jokes.

Hoping to reunite the panel is 26-year-old Alejandro Cazares, who hopes to win the competition because he wants "A world where Lady Gaga can become a platium seller. A world where Barack Obama can be President." The fact that that's already the world we live in nonwithstanding, Alejandro simply can't sing but refuses to leave, eventually being escorted out by security to end the day.

The second day of auditions opens with 20-year-old Cortez Shaw, who sings a reworked version of Adele's "Someone Like You." Initally Randy's not convinced, but the song picks up midway through and Cortez leaves with three yeses and a trip to Hollywood.

After a bunch of bizarre auditions - from a woman screaming "Rolling in the Deep" to a man with a voice so high that it leaves the judges in stitches - we hear from Ramiro Garcia, 28, who was born with one ear not fully formed and the other missing altogether. After several corrective surgeries throughout his childhood, he gained much of his hearing back and today he wins over the judges with his rendition of "Amazing Grace." He'll be headed to Hollywood along with 54 (!) others from the Houston auditions.

Next week, tune in when the show airs its Portland auditions! Emmy Award-winning AMERICAN IDOL is created and executive produced by Simon Fuller, Founder, 19 Entertainment, a division of CKX, Inc.; and executive-produced by Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO, FremantleMedia North America, Inc.; Ken Warwick, Executive Producer, FremantleMedia North America, Inc.; and Nigel Lythgoe, President, Big Red 2 Entertainment.


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