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'American Idol' recap: The altitude takes effect in Aspen

January 26, 2012 | 10:29 am

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The view out the window was nice. That's almost the best that can be said about "American Idol's" Aspen/Denver auditions shown on Wednesday night.

"The altitude's giving me kind of a headache," Steven Tyler quipped of the episode's mountainous locale at the outset. "Does anyone have an Aspen?" It was more or less downhill (with just a few bright spots) from there.

We got ...

Jenni Schick, an "overly energetic" music teacher who'd apparently schlepped in from Sterling, Va., to plant one on Tyler because he was on her shortlist of people her boyfriend would allow her to kiss without calling it cheating. (Also on the list: Lady Gaga and Adam Levine.) With her enthusiastic take on Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker," she earned a yellow ticket and an opportunity to inform us that Tyler's lips are "very soft."

Curtis Gray, a Florida singer at the upper tip of the age range, at 28, who sang Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" and got three yeses -- and a bonus "you're good-looking" from Jennifer Lopez.

A fast-cut through three seemingly talented singers: low-voiced Richie Law (think Scotty McCreery), Devan Jones, and Mathenee Trego. Yes, yes, and yes, the judges concluded.

Tealana Hedgespeth, a sunny 19-year-old with a twin sister whose talent she's felt overshadowed by all her life. She was looking for a little validation from the judges, but when she opened her mouth to sing, all Lopez could do was beg Tyler not to ask her for another song. Even he didn't have the stomach for that, though he did have the mettle to suggest Hedgespeth record herself singing and listen back so she can hear what the judges heard. Hedgespeth left disappointed.

Haley Smith, a groovy-giggly 18-year-old straight out of another era (Lopez detects a '60s/'70s vibe straight off) who sailed through with an interesting Joni Mitchell-esque take on "Tell Me Something Good." Probably my favorite audition of the episode. (Tyler's too, it seemed: He told her he was "honored" to be listening to her voice.)



Alanna Snare, a waitress/bartender at a restaurant that serves "Rocky Mountain Oysters" (a.k.a. bull testes), along with the testicles of both buffalo and turkeys. "Turkeys have [bleep]?" Tyler asked. And while the producers had their fingers on the sound-effects buttons, they also inserted some cow noises into Snare's tone-deaf rendition of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and then a turkey noise after she got the boot. Not so nice, guys.

Shelby Tweten, a Minnesota 17-year-old who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in March and has been "struggling with depression since 4th grade." She wants to show people that bipolar disorder "doesn't define who you are." Singing got her through some of the rough spots in her illness, and now, with Carrie Underwood's "Temporary Home," it has elicited tears from Lopez and gotten her through to Hollywood. "See you later, Minne-snow-ta," Tweten said, cutely.



Jairon Jackson, a sweet-voiced 19-year-old from Denver who sang his own song and prompted Lopez to dub him "a lover." Having broken through to the next round, Jackson then broke a glass fixture on his way out. ("Sorry. My bad …")

Angie Zeiderman, a 25-year-old waitress, part-time singer and Lady Gaga fan who declared, "It is time for a vintage glitter queen on 'American Idol.'" After she sang "If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It" from "The Producers," Randy Jackson (apparently no fan of show tunes) wasn't so sure. But Lopez requested another song, and Zeiderman rose to the occasion with a perfectly fine "Blue Bayou." Jackson said the second song had changed his mind, and the judges waved her through.

And last, but not least, Aspen brought us Magic Cyclops, a stunt contestant who had apparently taken a few pages from the "Spinal Tap" notebook: phony British accent (originating in Davenport, Iowa, he said), delusional rock star shtick and all. He was not unfunny: "I am not ready at all but that's when I do some of my most dangerous work," he said before heading in to face the judges. And when one of them asked him how old he was, the bearded contestant demurred, noting, "It's not polite to ask a lady her age." After the funnyman butchered Neil Diamond and Jimmy Buffet (or as he pronounced it, James Boo-fay), Jackson began to flee the scene, stopping to ask that the contestant at least remove his sunglasses. Magic Cyclops refused. "They're prescription," he said, adding, "I have no eyes. I have no soul."

Don't we all kind of feel like that at this point in the "Idol" auditions?



What did you think of "Idol's" Aspen auditions?

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-- Amy Reiter

Photo: Colorado contestants get ready on Wednesday's "American Idol." Credit: Michael Becker / Fox

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