Eric Gordon, 27, is working some horn-rimmed glasses, a Members Only jacket and a vertiginous pompadour. After some banter about hair dryers, Eric starts into a John Mayer song, awkwardly dancing and snapping his fingers while he croons away. They like him, especially Harry with the jacket and he gets to go to Hollywood.
As the day wears on, the judges are hoping for a new Eminem or Kid Rock, being in Detroit at all. I will tell you right now that it's not going to happen. Bearded Xavier Calvillo, 25, doesn't exactly fill the bill with his ear gauges and a screechy Creedence song. They shut him down, and refuse to listen to him try something else. Harry suggests he leave with the one thing left to him -- his dignity -- but he can't even do that, repeatedly asking for another chance the whole way out. Harry fully expects to be stalked by "one more chance" guy for the next twelve hours. Then Tony Delbarrio, 29, whose hair may or may not be attached to his hat, bellows "Radioactive" and gets the bum's rush, though he does much better with it in the hallway afterward. We're now into a montage of people dealing with rejection poorly, while Keith interviews that some of these people really need to hear a no already or they'll never get better. I think some of them will never get better anyway.
Enter Ryan Nisbett, who is sporting specs, a wispy handlebar mustache and a pompadour that makes Eric Gordon look like he got stuck with a low-flow shower head. Ryan explains that he used to weigh 300 pounds, so that's why he looks like this now. Makes sense to me. He's got a high voice that he puts to work for Sarah McLachlan's "In the Arms of an Angel." He blows one note and comes back around to it, and it's a good sign for him that the judges only chuckle indulgently. Jennifer calls him "sui generis," which she defines as "one of a kind." Harry hopes people would give his kind of voice a chance in Idol, and the other judges are also happy to give him a ticket. Especially when he doesn't tell them he's sick until Keith offers to shake his hand and he turns it down, because on top of everything else he's got manners and doesn't make excuses for why he didn't sing better.
We're coming full circle, because we're back with the very first contestant we saw on the season premiere, Marielle Sellers. She's 17 and from Indianapolis, and she's here to make her dad proud. He built her and her sisters a recording studio in the basement and taught her all manner of instruments, and then up and died in 2008. That's going to make it difficult for him to express pride. For now she's there with her family, all of whom have Marielle masks in hand. She goes in with her guitar and chats up the judges, then performs "Grenade," which we hear more of than now we did last week. We get to re-watch her being offered three thirds of a golden ticket before being given an intact one, and also Harry instructing her to tell the camera that she plans to be the next American Idol. And again she obliges. After Ryan observes her returning to the holding room as the first contestant ever to get two golden tickets (even if one has been mutilated), he gives us the end-of-night stats: winners from "all over the country, "40 of them tonight, half of them from Michigan, bringing the season's grand total thus far to 119. Maybe we should stop there? Nope, we're going to Atlanta tomorrow. That's Ryan Seacrest's home town, for everyone who cares. Which I believe would be Ryan Seacrest ..