Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson were able to uncover a slew of talented singers — some single, others paired with their significant other — when “American Idol” headed to Austin on Wednesday night (Feb. 2). Country music was the predominant genre of the night, although any round of auditions that features a soulful Ray Charles cover as well as multiple reinterpretations of Duffy songs is okay in our book. Tell us how you would rank last night’s most memorable performances, and check out our full recap of the Austin auditions below.
‘American Idol’ Hits Austin, John Wayne Schulz and & Janelle Arthur Bring Country Charm
1) Casey Abrams
Song: Ray Charles, “I Don’t Need No Doctor”
Jennifer said: “You’re going to Hollywood!”
Steven said: “That was SICK good! SICK good!”
Randy said: “All together now — YES!”
We say: Casey might indeed look like a cross between Seth Rogen and “Fraggle Rock,” but all that matters in “Idol” is that he sounds like a winner. With the help of his melodica, the 19-year-old busted out a vibrant Ray Charles cover and got all three judges to groove along to his finger snaps. Extra points, of course, for the effortless scat singing.
‘American Idol’ Top 10 Sob Stories
Song: Brooks & Dunn, “Believe”
Jennifer said: “That last ‘believe’ almost brought a tear to my eye. I ‘believed’ that you believe!”
Steven said: “Beautiful. Great. I liked it.”
Randy said: “I feel you, man. I get you.”
We say: Yes, John Wayne Schulz might have already released an album as a teenager, but that doesn’t mean this real-life cowboy’s “Idol” performance was any less emotional. Auditioning due to a promise he made to his mother, John made up for a lack of powerhouse vocals by packing a ton of feeling into his extended notes. “I don’t think America will be disappointed in him,” John’s mother told the judges when he stamped his ticket to Hollywood. Only time will tell, but things are off to a great start for him.
3) Courtney Penry
Song: Sugarland, “Stay”
Jennifer said: “There are parts of your voice that are really strong, and there are parts that have some weaknesses in it.”
Steven said: “I think you got a star quality. We gotta kindle this up some, but I liked it.”
Randy said: “I thought you have a pretty good voice. There are a couple little bad habits in there that you need to probably break.”
We say: After Courtney professed her semi-concerning love for Ryan Seacrest and her ability to “do a chicken,” we thought there was no way she could buckle down and commit to a serious performance. Luckily, her take on “Stay” showed unharnessed but noticeable talent, and the approval of Steven and Jennifer passed her into the next round. She might want to leave the chicken victory dance in Austin, though.
Steven Tyler Q&A: Wild Man of ‘Idol’
4) Jacqueline Dunford and Nick Fink
Song: Duffy, “Mercy” and Maroon 5, “Sunday Morning”
Jennifer said: “You both sang songs that we hear a lot, but they both had very interesting takes on each of the songs.”
Steven said: “You’re gorgeous-looking. You’re beautiful-looking, man.”
Randy said: “It was like, ‘Yo, what’s this gonna be?’, and it was good!”
We say: Nick said that he wanted Jacqueline and himself to be “‘American Idol’s’ first power couple,” and judging from both of their auditions, it sounds like they could be well on their way. Jacqueline’s “Mercy” was a bit ostentatious but showed hints at greatness, while Nick was rightfully all smiles while singing Maroon 5’s jazzy hit. “The lovers go to Hollywood!” Randy declared at the end of the audition, prompting dozens of couples to start considering next season’s auditions.
Song: Duffy, “Syrup & Honey” and Avril Lavigne, “Unsolved Mysteries”
Jennifer said: “Yes!”
Steven said: “Oh man, that was terribly great.”
Randy said: “What are we doing here? Let’s say yes or no, right away!”
We say: There’s a little bit of Carrie Underwood in Janelle’s down-home country takes on Duffy and Avril Lavigne, but her effortless power on both songs made this as much of a no-brainer as the judges made it out to be. Janelle also gets props for having a whopping seven family members waiting for her outside the audition room, making her celebration all the more fun to watch.
‘American Idol’ Hopeful John Wayne Schulz Released Album as a Teen