The onscreen titles welcome us back, telling us that another life is about to change on September 25, 2013 in Austin, Texas. And it's the life of another dude with a guitar, as chance would have it. I mean, statistically, that was always the most likely demo. He sings a few lines of "To Make You Feel My Love" by Bob Dylan, barely brushing the strings as he goes, and Harry invites him to tell them about himself. The editors obligingly rewind all the way back to a shot of him in front of his house, holding up a handwritten sign identifying his hometown as Magnolia, Texas. And then there are lots of similar signs being held up by other hopefuls all over the country. Again with the cue cards from contestants all over the place, ending with Jennifer Lopez holding up one saying she's from Castle Hill in the Bronx; Keith Urban showing off that he's from Australia via Nashville; Harry Connick, Jr. displaying a cue card that simply reads "Who Dat?" (indicating both his NOLA origins and his relative anonymity to so many of the contestants thus far); and Ryan's sign saying he's from Atlanta, Georgia. Like anyone cares what lab Ryan was grown in. And then he's in front of a whole arena of contestants who are holding up their handwritten cards, which a whole section flips over to reveal the American Idol logo splashed over the backs of dozens of the cards. That was actually kind of a nifty bit there. People are a lot more docile before they get rejected, I guess.
As the auditions gear up, Ryan, Keith and Harry wander through the hotel, Ryan asking, "Where'd the princess go?" "He's here," Keith cracks, pointing to Harry. Jennifer is already in the audition room wondering where they are (I'm wondering where the bottom half of her shirt is), while the first contestant of the day, Jesse Roach, is already sweating it out in the Chamber -- that airlock designed to maximize contestants' suspense before they enter the audition room. The others finally show up with Harry wearing his leather jacket over his shoulders like a preppie's sweater in 1983. Anyway, Jessie's story is that she has a neighbor-slash-stalker who wandered into her garage one day and ended up signing her up and paid all expenses to go on Idol so here she is. She sings "Do Ya" by K.T. Oslin, and the judges seem impressed by not only the matte black finish of her guitar, but also her actual singing. Mostly the guitar, though, but it's enough to get her three yes votes and a ticket to Hollywood.