Recap: ‘American Idol’ Auditions – Minneapolis

We've reached that intriguing place in the “Idol” audition schedule that overlaps with Sundance, so there's a distinct chance that between now and next Thursday, a few of the audition episodes may not get recapped. 

Instead? You can expect a lot of reviews for documentaries you've never heard of!


Follow along with my recap for Wednesday (January 21) night's auditions from Minneapolis…

8:00 p.m. ET. Minneapolis is today's “American Idol” destination. It's the first time “Idol” has been here in seven years, apparently. And the judges are trapped in an SUV. High drama to start the episode. Will they escape? And who will be forced to eat who first? I assume J-Lo and Harry eat Keith first.

8:02 p.m. Darn. They appear to have escaped without resorting to cannibalism. Our first contestant is 17-year-old Shannon Berthiaume, who has never sung in front of anybody before. She's got a strong Kristen Stewart vibe, which mostly means that she can't stop playing with her hair and she can't make eye-contact with anybody. Facing the judges, Shannon is squirmy, but says she wants to sing soul. Shannon is raw and clearly untrained. She has no idea what to do with either her voice or her body as she's singing. But the voice just tears out of her, almost like she doesn't know what's coming and where it's coming from. Harry observes that she's not highly rehearsed, which sounds right. “The most raw talent we've seen,” Keith says. And Shannon is going to Hollywood.

8:05 p.m. Wandering around with a gold microphone is Kemil Casey, who somehow prompts Ryan Seacrest to quote Wreckx-n-Effect. So he's worth it for that if nothing else. And, indeed, it's “nothing else.” If you like baby-voiced, awkward Michael Jackson covers, then Kemil is the artist you've been waiting your whole life for. If not, you're probably wondering why Kemil managed to make it to the judges. Harry calls it “oddly entertaining.” J-Lo suggests the Kemil has a career in show business, just not this one. Keith thinks his voice just wasn't good enough, but he's a sweet person. How does Keith know? And why does Harry have such an eerily good 14-year-old girl impression.

8:13 p.m. Harry sleep-ate a bag of kettle corn last night. The judges! They're just like us. People in Minnesota are all polite. Morgan Ovens is actually from Venice, CA and she's our latest entrant for “America's Next Top Busker.” Yawn. Gabrielle Noe'l is a bit better, but she's mostly an excuse to get J-Lo to talk about her career as a temp. Courtney Guns is from Bemidji! This makes me happy, even if nothing in her performance is memorable other than her slow encroachment on the judges. All three smiley ladies are going to Hollywood. I doubt will see any of them again. Courtney is excited to go to Hollywood, because it'll be warmer there than in Minneapolis.

8:17 p.m. Vanessa Andrea's husband is in the Air Force. She's stationed in North Dakota and she's got three kids. She also has permission to bang Keith if the opportunity arises. Keith was her first concert and “Selena” was her first movie and she loves “Hope Floats,” so she's got connections to everybody, but only permission to sleep with one of them. Vanessa cries talking about her husband. As Minneapolis buskers go, Vaness is much better than Morgan, especially with her furry boots and her guitar Baby Bjorn. The judges like a lot and, sensing the direction things are going, she takes a phone out of her boot and calls her husband. All three judges tell her husband that she has “Yes” votes. Vanessa praises Keith's aroma and his butt and throws in a secondary compliment for J-Lo's rear as well. Poor Harry. Nobody likes his butt. 

8:27 p.m. My Slingbox goes down in the midst of a mediocre country performance by some guy named Zach. Harry loves his energy and spirit and likes his voice. Harry warns him, though, not to sing with a country accent if he doesn't talk like that. Zach likes the storytelling of country music, but Harry wanted him to sing in his own voice, not what he thinks country sounds like. Keith votes “Yes.” J-Lo and Harry want to hear a less affected performance from Zach. Sorry, but this guy is so very average. My opinion doesn't matter. Zach's going to Hollywood and we'll never see him again. I think we're getting a lot of never-to-be-seen-again performers in Minneapolis. Apparently Keith brought Zach onto the stage at a concert two weeks later. That was very nice of Keith. We'll still never see Zach again.

8:33 p.m. Another freaking busker! Aaron Bissell strums the axe and growls, like he could be riding the rails in the 1930s, with a guitar and a bindle. He's only 17 and he lets Harry tell a story about his own days performing at coffee shows. In exchange for letting Harry ramble, Aaron gets a ticket to Hollywood.

8:36 p.m. I'd say that Cindy Jo Scholer is another busker-wannabe, but she's also a Minnesota hunter. She's an outdoors woman and she has a necklace with intertwined pistols. Harry acknowledges her authenticity, presumably because he doesn't want to get shot. Cindy's got a bigger country voice than most of our other singers tonight, though she could use some containing. Keith likes her power and rasp. Harry felt like it was yelled throughout. J-Lo votes “No.” Keith says “Yes.” Harry gives her another chance and sends her to Hollywood. 

8:40 p.m. Oy. The next person enters the room dressed like a panda. Or some other sort of bear? Or woodland creator? He's only there for a joke about Cindy Jo would have shot him. Hilarious!

8:41 p.m. If that guy isn't 40, he's going to Hollywood. But I suspect he's 40.

8:45 p.m. He's going to Hollywood. So I guess he wasn't 40.

8:45 p.m. Understudying for Jerry Lee Lewis at a Vegas show is Jacob Tolliver, who instantly sits down and tickles the ivories. I would describe Jacob as frantic and much, much, much better on the piano than he is as a vocalist. He definitely has the Jerry Lee Lewis mannerisms down. J-Lo is pleasantly surprised. “Do you see that on the radio today?” Harry asks. “We've already heard Jerry Lee Lewis, he says. “I don't know who you are. You're like a chameleon,” Keith says, asking Jacob to sit down at the piano and play something as himself. I turns out that Jacob is much more of a country pianist, doing a twang-y Sam Smith cover. He's much better in that mode. And he's going to Hollywood. 

8:49 p.m. Next up? Wisconsin-bred 16-year-old Hanna Mrozak. The girl's got lungs. She doesn't really seem to have a clear performing style, but her voice has a lot of potential, especially given her youth. “I'm so excited to see where you go,” J-Lo says. Hannah's going to Hollywood, but only after telling Harry that she loves “Independence Day.” This gives Harry the chance to — spoiler alert — lament his character's all-too-early demise.

8:54 p.m. Who's gonna close the show tonight? Kristi Kroker is good, but she doesn't seem pimp slot worthy. She isn't going to Hollywood. Lots of people aren't going to Hollywood. Dreams shattered. 

8:55 p.m. On the verge of aging out of the “Idol” range is new dad Mark Andrew. He gets emotional thinking about music and his dwindling chances in life. His version of “Soulshine” is good, but Keith wants to hear something else, so Mark launches into “I Wanna Be Like You,” which is much more interesting. J-Lo likes the tone of his voice. Harry wants to hear him on a record. And Mark is going to Hollywood.

8:58 p.m. We end with Harry and J-Lo dancing, for no particular reason.

This was not an especially good night. There were a couple decent people, but I don't know that I'm going to remember anybody if they pop back up in Hollywood.