Tonight's show starts off at 6:43 AM, according to the subtitles shown under the early morning Atlanta skyline. Cue the montage of people being woken up by their camera-wielding parents, including one mom in Dunwoody, Georgia named Connie Seacrest, rousting her son Ryan out his bed. And that's how the show starts. Don't worry, she'll be popping up to "help" Ryan at his job throughout that day. I will be skipping those parts.
After the credits, we get a glimpse at some Atlanta contestants, including one who's got the American Idol logo tattooed across his entire back. Ryan crams into the backseat of an SUV limo with all three judges to ride to the audition venue. The first person doomed to sweat inside The Chamber while waiting to audition is young Majesty Rose, who shows up with a headband made up of five large flowers. The cameras in Atlanta are on the opposite side of the room from where they've been in every other town so far this season, which is completely disorienting for me, but Majesty does a nice job with "Violet Hill" by Coldplay, both singing and playing guitar quietly. Jennifer says "beautiful" not once but twice during the performance. Harry appreciated its subtlety, and Jennifer enjoyed the apparent effortlessness of it, probably because she has to work so damn hard at everything. Keith says her quietness pulled him in, so she's on to Hollywood. Much to her surprise.
A cherubic gas station attendant named Jesse Cline from Ashland, Kentucky works the graveyard shift and drove all night to get here, so he's pretty much been sleeping anywhere he can find a spot in the venue since then. With his guitar, he sings "Washed by the Water" by Needtobreathe (two phrases that mean nothing to me in the musical sense), and the judges are completely and instantly convinced by him, and say so. And give him a golden ticket, obvi. This is moving along quickly.
Hold up; Alyson Ragona, 19, has not only made the questionable decision of attempting "Bohemian Rhapsody" in this setting, she's turned it into a upbeat ukulele ditty. She must be stopped. Harry gets distracted by the giant cat face on her shirt and the half-formed joke about it in his head that he needs to get out, which he eventually does (it's not worth repeating). Alyson also needs to get out, which she also does. Then Chris Medina comes in with his guitar, cowboy hat and a dog named Bubby. Harry takes Bubby into his custody, snuggling the dog in his lap at the judges' table so Chris can sing without distractions. HE's also forgoing the distraction of the guitar he brought in, apparently as a prop, Bono-style. He's got a nice voice, so he gets a yes vote from all three of them, as well as his dog back. Keith assures him that the dog can come to Hollywood too, and Harry hopes the dog-holding helped soften his "Harsh Harry" image. "It's going to take more than that," Jennifer says, rather harshly if you ask me.