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

American Idol, Feb. 1 – Portland Shows Some Character

Admittedly the auditions so far haven’t knocked anyone’s socks off. Yet they’re also going by very quickly. This is the last week already. Usually by the time we get to the last week, it seems as if they have dragged on forever. This must be because of an increased effort to not focus on the bad auditions. They seem to be following suit with the other talent shows.

The judges, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson, are in Portland, Oregon, tonight to see what they have to offer. Host Ryan Seacrest mentions that you never know who or what they will find here with such an eclectic mix of auditioners.

First up is Brittany Zika, 21, a nanny and social media tech from Portland, who had a dream that she was on stage with Sara Bareilles singing Gravity. She was bummed to wake up and find it was just a dream. For her birthday, she got two tickets to a soldout concert of Sara’s, and took along a homemade sign asking Sara to sing Gravity with her. Sara read it and allowed her onstage with her to sing. From that moment on, she knew she needed to follow all her dreams. She trips walking in to see the judges, and Steven quips, “Did you fall for me?” recognizing that he is too young to be saying things that make him seem that old.

Brittany sings The Story, and has a delightful delivery in her voice, one that is very unique. Jennifer tells her she has one of the prettiest voices they’ve heard. What Randy loves is that she looks nothing like she sounds. She takes off her glasses and says she isn’t as nerdy as they make her seem. He requests that she take off her hat too, and as she does and shakes out her hair, Randy turns into a horn dawg and asks her to take her boots off. It’s three yeses (to Hollywood, not taking her boots off), and she asks if it’s for real, wanting to make sure they weren’t just playing a trick on the girl who tripped.

Maybe I spoke too soon about them not focusing on the bad auiditions. The next one up is Ben Purdom, 18, a cable TV salesman from Philadelphia, who spends most of his time blowing his nose and wiping it, saying he’s not feeling good. He tries out his cable TV sales pitch on Ryan, who tells him if his singing is anywhere near his pitch … then sends him in front of the judges. He tells them he sang for his one of his coworkers one day, who they said he knows talent when he sees it and wanted him to audition.

Ben sings an unrecognizable Born This Way, and it seems like maybe his coworker was putting him on. Jennifer gives an “aye aye aye.” He stops once the notes get too high, then launches into Super Bass, just as unrecognizable. Randy admits that in the craziest, weirdest way, it was actually better, but still terrible. Much of it is bleeped out, but Steven tells Randy to take the rubber band off something and lay off. Jennifer tells Ben he’s cute, but he already knows it’s a no, which it is. He blames this on him being sick. Right, that’s what the trouble was.

Jermaine Jones, 24, a music teacher from Pine Hill, NJ, mentions that his family is all music. He began singing in church when he was young. It’s his life; he eats it, he breathes it, he sleeps it. He’s also a Mama’s Boy. The night his mom delivered him, she did a whole church service and a concert, so he came out singing. The gift God has placed in them is amazing, and she thinks the world needs to know it. He feels it’s his turn. Randy asks how tall he is, and his reply is “6’8-1/2″, and don’t take away my 1/2.”

Jermaine sings Superstar, and everything he and his mom said about the influence of music on his life is absolutely correct. He feels it through every inch of his body. That’s apparent. Randy tells him when he showed his dynamics with the low, the power, and the softness; he loved it. J-LO calls it a natural gift you don’t hear every day. Steven recognizes his spiritual sound and says it took him away. He also recognizes he’s really nervous, yet he still heard the song through that, making him realize Jermaine has the gift. Jennifer also wants him to loosen up a bit. Regardless, he gets three yeses, and barely makes his head through the doorway on the way out without having to duck. When he calls his mom, he thinks her shouting in excitement is going to break the speaker on the phone.

On day 2, J-Lo is late, because she is missing her black tights. She borrows some from a crew member after Ryan jokes about taking them, and the show is ready to start.

Britnee Kellogg, 27, a banker from Vancouver, WA, has a whole entourage with her, including her two little boys. She was always told she couldn’t do it, but her little boys think she’s the next American Idol. Explaining to the judges why she’s there, she starts to cry and says she has two beautiful boys, and was married, but her husband held her back from what she wanted to do. He’s pursuing his dreams as a basketball player, then started pursuing other women too.

Fittingly, Britnee sings You’re No Good, with Steven recognizing her sense of humor. She’s not only gorgeous, but has a gorgeous voice as well. J-Lo seems to feel every bit of these words along with her. Randy likes her attitude and vibe, and J-Lo agrees, also mentioning Britnee’s rasp and tone. She gets three yeses, as Randy tells her to keep the passion. Before she leaves, she asks J-Lo how it is being a mom when so many people tell you if you’re a mom you can’t do this and leave your kids. J-Lo tells her you never leave your kids. J-Lo’s kids are here with her too. You have to be happy so that your kids are happy. Amen, Sister.

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