American Idol
Auditions #4

Episode Report Card
M. Giant: B | 1 USERS: B+
YOU GRADE IT
Calling Baton Rouge

Ryan visits a young woman in the holding room by the name of Maddie Assel and smugs about how her life has changed in the past 24 hours. Even less than that; in fact, last night she was sitting at Café du Monde in New Orleans, unaware that her grandmother had nominated her. She put on a little show for the beignet-eaters with a brass band, which was rudely interrupted by Randy showing up with her audition number for her to use today. She presents herself before the judges (while her mom and grandmother wait outside, the latter dressed like she came straight from the Mardi Gras parade) and belts out "Oh! Darling." She's pretty polished and prepared and Keith asks who her influences are. She rattles off Beyoncé, Adele and some chick named Haley Reinhart, but Keith likes how she doesn't sound like any of those. Nicki and Mariah both like her and after Randy takes a poll, she's in. And then she comes out and is embarrassed by her mask-wearing, parasol-wielding grandmother, who wants to kidnap Ryan and take him home with her. She had me and then she lost me.

Since we're in Louisiana, the editors have to throw together a little True Blood-themed vignette called True Bad, because they can't always just have a montage of bad singers. They have to be branded now. This one intercuts between shots of wild pigs squealing in panic and lizards hissing in apparent disapproval. Nos (and weirdos who are upset about hearing those nos, however richly earned) are strung together until we meet Paul Jolley, a fresh-faced 22-year-old from Hummersville, Tennessee. He wants to share his calling with the world, inspired by his recently deceased grandfather who told him to practice in private. Okay, Grandpa Jolley is my hero, too. More singers should have a guy like him in their lives. Paul sings a Rascal Flatts song called "I Won't Let Go," really putting his all into it. Nicki is enraptured by him, Keith and Mariah nod in approval and Randy looks blank as always throughout. The judges like him and unanimously put him through. Although Randy is only a hundred percent yes as opposed to Nicki's thousand percent. Then there's the emotional reunion with his still bereaved family in the hallway, which Ryan uses as an opportunity to do some hug-grubbing.

We come back hearing "It's Oh So Quiet" over shots of the torpid judges, which of course is just the setup for a boisterous contestant who comes right out and asks Nicki for a nickname. After a pause, she dubs him "Mushroom." At least he seems to realize that people who beg for nicknames can't be picky about them. The caption obligingly identifies him as "Chris 'Mushroom' Barthel" as he starts singing an Adam Lambert tune and not doing it any kind of justice whatsoever. But I will admit that his choreography is pretty tight. "I like the keys that song was in," Keith snarks and also makes that old "fun guy/fungi" pun that onscreen captions have to explain for us. Keith and Mariah shoot him down, but Nicki asks to touch his hair and bestow powers on him rather than giving him an actual no. Randy gives him a straightforward no, but the Mushroom leaves happy, despite not being harvested for Hollywood.

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American Idol

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