We're picking up where we left off last week; namely Detroit, Michigan, in a montage of anticipatory moments with contestants just before they step into The Chamber that leads to the audition room. They talk about the feeling, but the startling thing is they make people wait two full minutes in there. And most of this first batch is here to represent Detroit. Too bad Jeff Gutt isn't here.
We're starting with Detroit-ian Keri Lynn Roche, a 24-year-old waitress who gets past her initial nervousness with the judges to croon a bit of "Radioactive," accompanying herself on guitar. Keith stops her and asks her to do something without it, and she just so happens to have a rendition of "I'd Rather Go Blind" by Etta James that impresses Keith and Jennifer, at least. And it doesn't offend Harry either and we know what a purist he is about the classics. He also appreciates her camera-ignoring performance style, so he joins the unanimous yes vote. Starting off happy tonight.
Julian Miller, an 18-year-old shoe salesman who sports glasses, a winter hat, a bow tie and a guitar, does a version of "Who Did That to You" that earns him a golden ticket as well. Then there's a threesome of inter-edited girls named Olivia Diamond (22), Paris Primeau (16) and Samantha Furtwegler (18), two of whom prompt Harry to remark on the showbiz names. All of them seem to be on the fence, but Paris and Olivia make it through. Alas, it looks as though Samantha will have to return to her day job of furtwegling.
The show then rolls out a "character" -- Malaya Watson a bespectacled and brace-faced 16-year-old who plays the tuba in her high school marching band outside Detroit. Not that any of that is weird… she just acts like a bit of an oddball. So then she turns out to actually be able to sing, both soulfully and in tune. Even the judges thank her for it, although I'm a little annoyed at Jennifer for how much she says she's looking forward to Malaya's "transformation" over the course of the competition, and with Harry for how much he agrees. In other words, "We're going to make you less of a weirdo. Lucky you!"
We temporarily dispense with the local talent to meet a cornfed kid named Brian Watt from all the way down in Thomasville, Georgia. This kid turns out to be 29 and a "nonprofit director," and he strums out an earnest Carrie Underwood song (as if there's any other kind). He's got a clear, pretty voice, the kind that makes me wonder if we're sure he isn't a worship leader. Jennifer is reduced to a puddle of "Awww," Harry seems to think Brian is a superhero, and Keith appreciated his restraint on the guitar. He gets a golden ticket without even having to wait through a vote.