Time for the first “American Idol” episode this season that I haven't seen in advance and therefore the first episode on which my time-code is going to be correct. Woot!
But that also means it's the first episode I can't pause if I'm in danger of misspelling somebody's oddly spelled name.
Be gentle and click through for all of the action from more Kansas City auditions…
8:00 p.m. ET. In case you've forgotten, tonight's auditions were culled from the bus tour.
8:01 p.m. From Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, they stopped in 11 “small” towns. Let's be frank, almost none of the places they weren't were actually small. Harry is looking at a map and marveling at how big the country is and how right-in-the-middle they are.
8:02 p.m. J-Lo is showing Harry her instagram pictures of her butt. She pretends to be embarrassed.
8:03 p.m. Welcome our first contestant. Some people call him Big Ron. Some people call him Big Sexy. His birth certificate calls him Ron “Rontarious” Wilson. He's assuming that Ms. J-Lo is gonna feel him. He enters singing “Jenny From The Block,” which is vaguely absurd, but J-Lo happily sings two words along with him before saying that she doesn't have a voice that day. He sings “Let's Get It On” directly to J-Lo. “I so don't even exist right now,” Harry says, as he and Keith discuss BBQ. Big Sexy is fairly good, but the male judges depart mid-audition. This is half-amusing and half-rude. At least J-Lo is paying rapt-attention. The guys return talking about burgers. It's moved up to two-thirds amusing. Big Sexy has a nice falsetto and great tone. “Me and Big Sexy, we were doing our thing,” J-Lo says. Harry likes Big Ron's showmanship, but wants him to work on his vocals. “It was kinda rude, but I was singing to Jenny anyway,” Big Ron tells the judges. He's going to Hollywood. Everybody is excited for Big Ron and nobody wanted to hug Ryan. “Did you hook up with him while we were gone?” Harry asks. “I'm not that type of girl,” J-Lo coos.
8:12 p.m. Awful person without a name. Wait. No. His name is Ian Subsara. He feels like dancing and he wants to dance the night away. Ian sings very very high and Harry wants to test how high he can go. It's awful, but a little funny. Ian definitely can hit high notes. Harry is impressed, but says that it wasn't right for the show.
8:14 p.m. Ashley Lusk has a strong voice and decent guitar skills for 15. Josh Sanders definitely has an Idol-friendly roots-rocker vibe. Casey Thrasher isn't bad either. And all three are going to Hollywood. Why do I feel like I've seen a couple of these people before? Yeah, we've definitely seen Casey before. I guess Ashley is too young to be familiar.
8:15 p.m. “I think originality needs to be brought back into the mainstream and accordions need to be more than just polka music,” says squeeze-box player Joey Cook. She's got a distinctive nasally tone, nice blue hair and a funny hat. She's quirky with a might capital “Q,” but she's certainly got some talent of some sort. I think she'd be great on “America's Next Busking Superstar,” the competition that I feel like “Idol” might be shifting toward this season. Keith loves her voice. “You're so unique and you look like a little doll,” J-Lo says. Harry warns her that she's close to the end of novelty, but on the right side. Joey's going to Hollywood. “Now back in the pouch,” Keith says, making a joey/kangaroo reference, I think.
8:23 p.m. Lots of Country! So how does anybody stand out as a country singer? Alexis Gomez doesn't describe herself as a country girl, because she doesn't ride horses. She's actually the “hippy, Mexican hillbilly.” I'm not really into her singing. It's kinda affected and unmusical. But she's an OK package. Maybe she'd sing other songs better? J-Lo thinks she's beautiful and talented. Harry thinks she's smart and beautiful, but maybe not spectacular. Keith votes “No.” J-Lo votes “Yes.” And that puts it on Harry, who likes her enough to let her go to Hollywood.
8:26 p.m. I like Anton Bushner's name and his guts at singing a Keith Urban song for Keith. Anton's Kansas accent is genuine and it gives his vocal a very pleasant lilt. It's a bit hard to take these country singers seriously if they don't have guitars, but maybe it's refreshing that Anton isn't trying to do that? Oh and did I mention that he's African-American? I guess that's different. His voice is actually kinda beautiful in places. I could listen to him again. “I absolutely love you,” Harry says. “I like the way you stand. I like the way you show respect for Keith,” Harry says. “You have a real sweet voice, too,” J-Lo says. It's off to Hollywood for Anton.
8:30 p.m. I suspect that Cedric is heading to Hollywood, but we'll find out in a few minutes.
8:34 p.m. Cedric is, indeed, going to Hollywood.
8:34 p.m. Happy people!
8:34 p.m. Baby-voiced Stephanie Gummelt sings an original. If this were 1971, I think she could win “American Idol.” Heck, she could be a major star even without “American Idol” in 1971. Her song isn't bad. Her voice is interesting. Her guitar-playing is fine. She's totally old school, listing Joni Mitchell and James Taylor among her influences. She also idolizes Steve Perry. Harry pretends that Steve Perry is there and Stephanie threatens to vomit. J-Lo calls her “pleasant-sounding.” Harry wants her to be a bit more experienced and votes “No.” J-Lo votes “Yes” and Keith doesn't hesitate before voting Stephanie through to Hollywood. At the very least, she can play Olive Oyl if anybody ever does a Broadway version of the Robert Altman movie. Has somebody ever done that? You've got your Olive Oyl.
8:38 p.m. Lots of contestants have families. That's not all that exciting, but 15-year-old Ashley Stehle's parents are deaf and her father just got a hearing implant that allowed him to hear her sing for the first time. Oy. This is going to make me cry, isn't it? She sings into a receiver and then he can hear it. J-Lo says she's going to cry and I may also. Ashley is 15, but she's listed as a “lifeguard”? She's reasonably good, but it's impossible to judge her accurately, because of how emotional this is for everybody, including her. Ashley's kinda all over the place. Sigh. Harry's choked up. J-Lo says that she has trouble singing a cappella. Harry tells her she's not ready. “It's heartbreaking,” Keith says. I like that the judges are all trying to speak bit of ASL. They say “No” to Ashley. “I'll get 'em next year. I promise. I did my dad proud. That's all that counts,” Ashley says. Sniffle Sniffle.
8:46 p.m. Not everyone made the cut. Now we're seeing awful people who didn't get out of the parking lots in their respective cities.
8:47 p.m. Up next, Branson-born banjo-player Ellen Petersen. Keith is wearing a Branson shirt and everything. Ellen is rather terrific with what she's doing, picking away at the banjo and looking angelic as she belts. Oh and she yodels. Nice. Harry likes that she didn't overplay the banjo. “Yeah, you're a pro,” Keith adds. I think Ellen has breakout potential if she can do more than what she just showed. I don't wanna say “Carrie Underwood,” but Ellen definitely has the wholesome-yet-hot girl next door vibe that helped Carrie dodge the pitfalls that have taken out ever-so-many attractive female contestants over the years. She's going to Hollywood, of course. On her way out, the judges ask her to play the “Beverly Hillbillies” theme. Fortunately, she knows it. Harry and Keith join in. That's what's happening at the top of my recap. J-Lo is giggling nervously like she's never heard this song before. “How do you guys know that song?” J-Lo asks. “We didn't have that in the Bronx,” she adds.
8:54 p.m. We're getting toward the end of the episode. Will Kohlton Pascal be our last performer of the night? Apparently. Colton wanders the land hitching and camping out. He moved out of home at 16. “I travel to defeat depression, boredom and stagnant living,” Colton says. He explains the Latin root of the word “passion.” And he starts with an original. He's like a guitar-playing Tom Waits. The passion burst out of him in raspy wails. I wish I liked his song a bit more. But he sure sounds unique. Harry is concerned about what Kohlton is auditioning for. “Are you willing to do what you have to do to win this competition?” Harry asks. J-Lo wonders if he'll always be that dark. Keith would listen to Kohlton on a record, but he doesn't like his look. The judges all vote “Yes” and for at least a few nights, Kohlton will have a nice hotel room in Los Angeles.
8:59 p.m. There were 37 people advancing from Kansas City. Ryan brings in a massive plate of ribs. We only see Harry eat a rib, though. Oh. Keith has one, too. But J-Lo certainly does not. Oh. They're for the crew. My God. J-Lo really isn't going to have one. Now I'm sad.
That's all for tonight! A couple other decent people tonight.