Contender: Matthew Lawrence
While Florida’s Matthew Lawrence isn’t the first Idol hopeful with a criminal record (how could we forget Season 5’s obnoxious Brittenum twins?), he appears to be the most reformed—and perhaps the most talented. Yes, Lawrence robbed a bank with a BB gun when he was 15 and spent four years in jail, but the 25-year-old says he’s a changed man, on the brink of a second chance. His soulful rendition of Ray Lamontagne’s “Trouble” in Orlando wowed the judges, who dubbed him “authentic” and “the real deal.” Kara even predicted he’d make the Top 12.
Trainwreck: Theo Glinton
The body bedazzling trend continues apace! Last week, we learned Jennifer Love Hewitt covers her, uh, lady business in sparkling jewels, and this week American Idol introduced us to Theo Glinton, a fab-u-lous young lad who covered his face with jewels for his Idol audition. Alas, this crazy diamond did not shine on quite enough for the judges.
Contender: John Park
If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out John Park’s “beautiful bottom end”—and yes, we’re referring to his lower vocal range. Guest judge Shania Twain was a fan of Park, who sang a sultry ballad at the Chicago auditions. The college student is the music director of his a cappella group at Northwestern University, and he’s already won the admiration of Idol alum and fellow a cappella geek Anoop “Noop Dog” Desai.
Trainwreck: Andrew Fenlon
The season got off to a creepy start with Boston’s own Andrew Fenlon, who so annoyed judge Kara DioGuardi that she threatened to spank him. The sad thing is, he wasn’t even a horrible singer, it was mostly his lousy attitude that blew his chances.
Contender: Katelyn Epperly
By now, loyal Idol viewers have learned to be wary of the contestant who overshares in his or her audition. Yet despite telling the judges that she was trying out because “I have a lot of family problems at home,” Katelyn Epperly, 16, charmed with her laid-back rendition of Duffy’s “Syrup and Honey.” While we’re already cringing at the thought of her feuding parents seated in separate aisles in the American Idol theater, we’re crossing our fingers that the precocious blonde makes it that far.
Contender: Katie Stevens
Cute-as-a-button Katie Stevens, just 16, earned her golden ticket with a near-perfect alto performance of “At Last” at the Boston auditions. “You have a really nice stage presence,” guest judge Victoria Beckham told her. Stevens also won hearts with stories about her big Portuguese family and her grandmother, whom she wants to make proud before she loses her to Alzheimer’s disease.
Trainwreck: Amy Lang
Oh, you thought the fake faint was going to be the “trainwreck” aspect of Amy Lang’s audition? Not so much. The 26-year-old waitress isn’t a bad singer, no, but her real talent seems to lie in what she calls a “boob flex” which is… well, you really have to watch the video. None of the judges seem quite prepared to handle the mammary movement, except Simon, who is not amused. Sorry, Amy.
Contender: Leah Laurenti
Why is it that so many horrendous singers are overconfident, and so many amazing singers, under? We won’t attempt to answer such existential questions, but we will give a big thumbs-up to Leah Laurenti, 22, of Long Island, New York. Laurenti wowed at the Boston auditions with her jazzy performance of “Blue Skies” and won fans with her Footloose-inspired story. The product of a conservative, Christian family—who wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music growing up—Laurenti is determined to prove to her parents (and the world) that she’s got what it takes.
Contender: Charity Vance
When you got it, you got it, as our Idol judge panel would say. The stunning and bubbly Charity Vance—another youngin’, at 16—earned her golden ticket with a pitch-perfect performance of “Summertime,” in Chicago. (Flashbacks to Fantasia, anyone?) With her adorable hairdresser parents to cheer her on, the Little Rock native deserves to go far.
Contender: Angela Martin
We first met Angela Martin back in Season 7—along with her young daughter, who suffers from Rett Syndrome and cannot walk or talk. We met her again last year. And after navigating some personal struggles, the talented 28-year-old single mom is back for Season 9 and ready to make it work. Will the third time be the charm for Angela Martin? Let’s hope so.
Trainwreck: Larry Platt
It seems unfair to call civil rights hero “General” Larry Platt and his self-penned audition song, “Pants on the Ground,” a “trainwreck.” He is, after all, currently the most famous—and the most-covered—of this season’s crop. But, on the other hand, is there anything else to call his insanely catchy minimalist ditty on the virtues of keeping your pants up, your hat straight, and your mouth gold-free? How about “masterpiece?”
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