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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol, Jan. 26 – Is the Texas Talent Dried Up?

Let’s see what Galveston, Texas, has as far as auditions tonight on American Idol. The first few nights of the season were really good, but the last two were a little lacking in the excitement factor. I’m figuring they’ll be opening the night with the Glen Campbell song.

Instead, they open the show with Spirit In the Sky, as they’re coming from the International Space Station, flying high above the earth. Is it yet another gimmick like the USS Midway? It turns out Houston is the headquarters here, while Galveston is where the judges have set up shop.

The first contestant is Phong Vu, 25, of Houston, TX, who is lookng for Steven Tyler. The best part of the day for him so far is all the camera action in his face. He believes his spirit will come alive today to wow everyone and make him a superstar. It will feel good inside for him to have such a big achievement. He says, through tears, it would be amazing. He loves singing female pop artist music, especially Celine Dion and J-Lo, and believes it’s in his soul. That’s why he’s going to bring it. Phong sings Unbreak My Heart, and it’s painful, both in the way he’s singing, and the fact that he seriously belives in his talent. It’s heartbreaking, as he’s such a sweet guy.

Jennifer Lopez thanks Phong, who is now crying. Steven asks if he hears Toni Braxton when he sings, and Phong says the energy, emotion and pain is coming through him, and he wants to channel it back to them. Steven acknowledges his power, but tells him his voice isn’t interpreting what she sings. He brought Toni out tonight, but there wasn’t enough of him in it. Phong wants to show them his iconic move before they decide, and it’s an odd jump he does. Jennifer thanks him, but says it’s not going to work this time. He promises America that we’ll see him again next year.

Cameron Dobbins, 22, of Houston, TX, sings That’s My Prerogative, and it’s again painful, but in a different way. Lamounte Hall, 18, a wardrobe stylist from Houston, TX, is Flamboyant with a capital F. The judges just give him a finger pointed towards the door when he’s finished. He screams and leaves. I think the next few guys think they are singing like Scotty McCreery, but they fall very short.

Skylar Laine, 17, of Brandon, MS, is shown riding a four-wheeler and hunting deer. She has the head of one on her bedroom wall. Her family owns a restaurant /grocery store, a “hole-in-the-wall” that has been in her family for seventy-one years. She thinks it’s fun to work there with her whole family. They lost about 25% of their business in the past ten years, but she plans to help with any money made on her singing career. She sings Hell on Heels for the judges, and has a great country girl voice. What Jennifer likes about her is they know exactly who she is. She gets three yeses and is in. She brings her friend, who is obsessed with Steven, in to get a hug from him.

Baylie Brown, 21, a nanny from Nashville is back for her second try at Idol, five years later. She made it to Hollywood in season six. I love it when I remember them too. She was with some friends from New Jersey in group round, and she forgot the words. They stayed, and she went home. She feels that she has matured now and is ready. She sings Bed of Roses, and is gorgeous in her look and her sound. And, she doesn’t forget her words. J-Lo is ready to vote right away. Steven votes yes as a no-brainer. J-Lo wonders what she was like at 16, but votes yes, hoping she holds it together in Hollywood better. Randy thinks she got significantly better. She’s in. J-Lo thinks she has a good country star name.

Kristine Osorio, 28, of Amarillo, TX, won’t get a second chance because of her age. This is it for her. She’s always been into music and has sung in bars and cafes, and then met her husband, and they had a band together. She got pregnant, and it all got put on pause. She now has three kids and is going through a divorce, and knows it will be a hard journey to be a single mom. It’s been hard to find work, so she’s trying to do things out of her house. She took out a loan, but instead of paying her divorce lawyer, she bought a plane ticket to audition for Idol.

As Kristine starts singing One and Only, Jennifer looks up to the sky and says, “Thank you God.” She needs to not close her eyes when she sings, but it was absolutely great. Steven loves when her voice “goes upstairs,” calling it beautiful. She gets three easy yeses and is on her way to Hollywood. Randy tells her that’s how you do it. Apparently this worked out better than the divorce lawyer.

We get to a spot in the auditions where it’s J-Lo vs. the “Boys Club,” as Ryan Seacrest calls them. Rachael Turner, 20, Miss Houston 2011 from Sugar Land, TX, is up, and while Jennifer says yes, the boys club says no. Reagan Wilson, 23, a choir teacher from New Braunfels, TX, takes her shot singing At Last, and Randy doesn’t think she’s quite ready yet. J-Lo asks if he’s crazy, but he didn’t get it.

Can Cheyenne James, 17, of Conroe, TX impress the guys? Steven isn’t sure she’s got it for this year’s Idol. J-Lo thinks he’s joking, because she thought she was soulful and rich. Randy doesn’t think she’s ready either. She wants a show of hands from anyone else in the room who thinks they’re crazy. She tell Cheyenne she would have said yes, and if the people with her were hearing correctly, she would have made it very, very far. She thinks they’ll look back and wonder what they were thinking.

Linda Williams, 24, a bartender, from League City, TX, tries her hand at it, and Steven thinks she can sing, as she offers to pee herself. Jennifer feels like she’s in the twilight zone, as she says there was something in her voice she couldn’t connect with. Randy thinks she has something there, as J-Lo gives him the evil eye. Linda gets the guys’ two votes to get put through, as Jennifer shakes her head, saying it was awful. The poor guy can’t even fix J-Lo’s hair, as she’s so animated and upset about who is and isn’t getting through.

Alejandro Cazares, 26, a cell phone repairman from Houston, has been waiting around doing what needs to be done, taking orders, and following them to a T, but he’d really love to be in front of the judges, blowing their minds. It’s the first day of the revolution, and anyone around will feel that heat. He asks the judges to grant him the power to bring Revolution to the world. Revolution is where the underdog can win once in awhile, a world where Lady Gaga becomes a platinum seller, and a world where Barack Obama can become president. Isn’t that a world that already exists? He’s been on the sidelines all his life. He has a girlfriend and asked her to wish him luck, but she replied she can’t wish something she doesn’t believe in.

Alejandro sings Looking Up, and I’m thinking he judges will all agree on his performance. I also have to note his green tongue matches his shirt. J-Lo doesn’t think his voice is good enough for Idol. He wants to be Steven’s age some day, or even undercut to where he got to, acknowledging that he wrote Dream On before Aerosmith even formed. He promises to fight for it. Randy tells him the voice is terrible and that it’s never going to happen. Steven explains he wrote Dream On back when the Dead Sea was still sick. Alejandro gets down on his knees and begs as they vote, while J-Lo tells him he has too much integrity for that. Randy tells him if he thinks he’s good, and he’s here, he doesn’t even know. Security has to escort him out eventually. He promises that the revolution is not over until he says it’s over.

On day two, J-Lo is showing a little belly, and the guys, meaning her fellow judges are really digging it. The first contestant, Cortez Shaw, 20, a warehouse worker from Garland, TX, envisions being the next American Idol. He grew up in a single parent household, with his mom being strong for him and his brother. He’s struggled a lot, but believes no one else can put a definition on your life. He wants to show that through hard work, determination, and passion, you can do it. American Idol is opportunity at its greatest.

Cortez sings Someone Like You, and that great spirit he talked about previously shows in his singing. Randy tries to stop him early, but Jennifer won’t let him. She jokes, “That’s what that song sounds like,” explaining that a lot of other people try to sing it. Randy asks for something else, and Cortez pleads with him, as he tells him he’s his favorite judge. While he loves all of them, Jennifer is beautiful, and Steven is talented, Randy is his favorite. Randy thinks he has a special talent, a special something. Jennifer tells him he’s sweet and has a great voice, Steven says yes, and Randy thinks he has a good voice and is a goodlooking guy, so … yes.

Julie Shuman, 28, a dancer/nutritionist from Manhattan, sings Rolling in the Deep, and screams the lyrics while wearing tight bronze-colored leather. Steven thinks she would be crazy … on the dance floor. Vanessa Hernandez, 18, from Pasadena, TX, has only one tone when she sings Heard It Through the Grapevine, and it’s not a good one. Erin “Nire” Ketil, 19, from Beaumont, TX, has Randy cracking up the way he used to with Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell. J-Lo apologizes for him.

Ryan goes in to figuring out what’s going on, and Steven tries to explain with a mouthfull of food, then wipes his face on Ryan’s tie. That’s where Steven fills in well for Simon. He fits right in with the guys.

Ramiro Garcia, 28, a worship leader from Houston, was born with no ears, and said doctors said he wouldn’t be able to hear or speak. He has nothing on one side, and just a lobe on the other. They eventually found it would be possible for him to hear, and he had surgery to help correct it. It would be surprising to people that know him that he’s auditioning. He sings Amazing Grace, and sings really well despite everything. I’m hoping the judges can agree on him.

Steven likes what he’s hearing and likes Ramiro’s insides as well. Outside with Ryan, his dad knows he’s the best. Steven tells him Ramiro he’s a power of example, and he can sing, so he’s happy. He says yes. Randy is hopeful, and Jennifer tells him they’re taking a leap of faith with him today. As his dad gets emotional, Ramiro comes out with a golden ticket. This is the proof he can make it and can get through it. His dad just remembers doctor saying he wouldn’t speak or hear. He’s happy now.

In a show of everyone’s celebrations, Ryan gets punched in the eye. It’s good they can celebrate, as this was a city that was definitely short on talent, although there were a few really good female voices. They’ve had a lot of great talent to come out of Texas, starting with Kelly Clarkson, so maybe it’s dried up there. Or, maybe editors are holding out on us, and there was more talent there than we were allowed to see.

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