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

American Idol, Feb. 2 – Honoring the Dads in St. Louis

Reis sings Lean on Me, and proves that teacher in the hallway knew what they were talking about. He feels the music deep within him. Steven tells him that it was so beautiful it made him cry. Reis is taken aback, telling him to not even say that to him right now. Steven hasn’t heard anything like that before. He confirms that’s a yes for him. Jennifer agrees, as does Randy. Reis celebrates with his loved ones who loft Ryan into the air, as Steven tries to collect himself, calling what he just heard phenomenal.

Steven is pulled in the back to give the next contestant, Ethan Jones, 22, a musician from Pontoon Beach, IL, a pep talk. It means a lot to him and brought him down to earth. He says he now feels completely different than he did three minutes ago. Ethan walks in front of the judges and explains he dropped out of school to be in a band with his dad and extended family. His dad had to take a hiatus from the band to go to rehab. Evan just wants to move forward. Steven relates and thinks Ethan’s dad can be a power of example to him and everyone else around him, and thinks he tries to do that himself.

Ethan sings I’ll Be, and has the talent to back up him quitting school. I don’t think anyone should quit, but this guy has what it takes to back up the decision and reason to not starve. Steven loves the way he sings, and Randy likes his unassuming way of singing. He looked nothing like how he sounded. Jennifer could kind of see the country thing about him when he sang, despite him not singing a country song. He gets three yeses, and Steven tells him he wants to meet his dad when he gets out. That’s just cool.

Ethan tells his loved ones and Ryan that to hear Steven say he loved his voice … he then calls his dad and tells him he loves him. He hears the same back from his dad, as he cries. His dad updates him that he’s clean and sober, and Ethan tells him he’s proud of him. While Reis made Steven cry, Ethan and his dad have done the same to me.

It’s the world premiere of Madonna’s new video, and it seems like she’s trying to go back to her Material Girl days. The video just reminds me a lot of that one where she’s stepping from this to that. Oddly, they seem to have decided they’re not going to show us the whole thing. It was kind of weird, as it wasn’t announced, and just the first third of it or so was shown. Odd.

Day two starts with Steven practically jumping out of his shoes, and Jennifer hopeful, so like any other day. Mark Ingram, 28, from Collinsville, IL seems to have jumped on Steven’s enthusiasm train. He works in the hotel the auditions are being held in, and seems to run the whole place. His coworkers mention he sings all day on the job, and believe he sings good. He sings Overjoyed, and sounds good, but might not be quite ready, with a few scratchy high notes.

The staff thinks Mark sounds great. Steven loves the light he’s in, but his voice and melody are lacking a little. Jennifer knows he’s nervous, as he starts singing again. Steven loves everything but the melody. Jennifer wants to say yes really bad, but can’t. Mark starts singing again trying to change her mind, but only makes it worse. Randy tells him he’s just not ready, and Mark gets three noes.

Lauren Gray, 22, from Hardy, AR, is in the family business, a one-stop wedding shop. She also sings every weekend in a band along with her dad. She’s always been one to follow in his footsteps. It’s a big part of why she’s there today. She’s worked her butt off to get here, and it’s make it or break it for her here today. She sings One and Only, and has an amazing voice with a lot of character. Steven looks smitten.

With tears in her eyes, J-Lo quietly mentions she didn’t need to hear that song right now. Steven loves the way Lauren goes up and is fearless about it. When you can hit the note and break, it’s the sexiest thing on the planet to him. Randy again appreciates her fearlessness. Jennifer thinks she’s one of the best female voices they’ve heard. It’s three yeses as she moves on to Hollywood. Randy wants her dad to sing Whipping Post and dedicate it to him. Jennifer has two words for the day “Lauren Gray.”

Walter is still driving. He hopes they all have great success, but adds “it ain’t gonna happen.” True enough. Out of all the ones to make it to Hollywood, only only the top 20 will make it to the performance round. And of those, only a handful at most end up with recording contracts. Regardless, St. Louis seems to have taken the auditions out on a high note, despite the bluesy sound of Lauren Gray.

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