Wednesday night was the last show of the auditions phase of American Idol Season 9, promising us the best and the worst of the auditions so far - and it didn't disappoint. "We've saved the best for last," Idol host Ryan Seacrest assured us at the start of the show, and it seems, for the most part, he was telling the truth!
With clips taken from all the auditions shows so far this season, American Idol The Road To Hollywood re-introduced us to some wanabees from past seasons as well as showcasing some fresh talent, and disasters!
First up though we get to relive what has probably been the most memorable and talked about audition so far this year - yes - it's welcome back Pants On The Ground!
Then we are introduced to a previous Season 8 contestant, 20-year-old Jessica Furney, who sucked up to Simon by performing Footprints in The Sand, an original composition penned by Cowell himself - who knew he had so many talents - guest judge Posh Spice for one, who is astounded to hear of Simon's writing "talents". Needless to say Jessica's nod to Cowell, along with a little talent, guaranteed her a place through to Hollywood, the first of many of the night who won a coveted spot.
Boston contestant Amanda Shectman wasn't lacking when it came to standing out, entertaining with her bad impressions and proclaiming that she just wants her true talent to shine through, which she's "pretty confident it will". She didn't wow with her performance though, prompting Victoria Beckham to tell her, "I think you need to work on your expressions" and Kara to tell her she felt she was lacking in connection, a sentiment Simon agreed with. Shectman stood her ground though, protesting, "Singing is what I love to do man, please listen to me!" And after some deliberating she was passed through, prompting an Oscar worthy performance of appreciation.
Lee Dewyze brought to the table his gravelly voiced rocker act, winning a ticket through to the next round.
Also sailing through was Crystal Bowersox, who kept her guitar over her shoulder, even though she wasn't allowed to play it.
23-year-old Church Event Director Lacey Brown, made it into the top 50 on Season 8, now, back for her second go she wowed with her version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow, which prompted Kara to tell her, "You're definitely one of my favorites this season" and winning her a second shot at stardom.
Someone that just doesn't seem to know how to take rejection is 23-year-old Stephanie Fisher, who appeared in Denver for her 7th attempt at American Idol fame. The overly tan Paris Hilton lookalike performed an overly dramatic and off-key rendition of the Peggy Lee classic, Fever. Simon judged her performance, "terrible" telling her "honestly, you can't sing sweetheart". Stephanie excused her poor performance on her nerves due to the presence of Victoria Beckham, explaining "she's my fashion icon." The judges awarded her another go, where she proceeded to murder Baby Love before Simon promptly stopped her and put an end to her dreams, once again. Better luck next time Stephanie, or maybe not....
Next up a trio of 16-year-olds. Rachel Hubbard, Thaddeus Johnson and Genesis Moore all showcased talent well beyond their tender ages and all were given a pass to Hollywood.
Oversized 6 foot 8" 17-year-old swimmer Adrian Chandtchi, described himself as, "A beautiful man-flower", claiming that for America, "I am the only one" and sharing he has a slew of nicknames, including "Blondzilla". Chandtchi stunned with a falsetto performance of Elvis' Can't Help Falling In Love With You, prompting poor Randy to double over in laughter. Kara commented, "Adrian, there's like a small schoolboy trapped inside you" to which Simon quickly quipped, "Either that or you've eaten one." Rejected by all Adrian wasn't giving up easily, telling the judges, "You have my number, if you want to do re-call backs call me." Don't wait for that phone to ring...
Big buff 26-year-old personal trainer Michael Lynch tried out in Orlando, sharing before his audition that he just found out he has his first child on the way! The gentle giant sang Unchained Melody and the ladies commented, "You're like a singing teddy bear", maybe echoes of past Idol Ruben Studdard? We will see, as Michael got through to the next round.
Hollywood contestant 22-year-old waitress Didi Benami battled her emotions as she explained that she was auditioning in memory of her best friend Rebecca, who died four years ago. Singing the Beatles classic Hey Jude Benami gave a rousing performance, prompting Kara to note, "You really want it bad." Randy commented that "you sounded really cool, you had good range. I actually really liked you." And despite a "very small yes" from Simon the hopeful got through to Hollywood.
16-year-old Aaron Kelly had a sob story to tell. Living a migratory lifestyle with his parents when he was infant and moving from place to place Aaron shared that he was about to be taken away by social services before his kindly aunt and uncle stepped up to the plate and adopted him and his brother. He performed The Climb by Miley Cirus, garnering praise from Simon who told him, "I think the moms will like you." Kelly won 4 yesses and a place into the next round.
Kimberly Bishop declared that "I have what it takes to become the next American Idol because I have a really good heart." The 20-year-old nursing student murdered Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl, getting a unanimous rejection.
In Dallas Shaddaiii Harris bought her mom with her, who confessed that when she was pregnant with Shaddaii she had a "vision" of her singing. Unfortunately Shaddaii's performance was beyond appalling, shattering her mom's visions forever.
Ryan teases, "We're saving the best for last" before introducing Hope Johnson who shares a story worthy of a Lifetime movie of the week, telling how she didn't know she was poor when she was little, taking food home from school to share with her starving little brother, declaring "there are a lot of things worse than going without". The pretty 19-year-old waitress won over the judges, with all of them commenting that they liked her. It was a unanimous yes for the last contestant of the evening and with that it's goodbye to the auditions and hello to Hollywood!