The auditions phase of American Idol Season 9 is drawing to an end as we enter the final week before heading to Hollywood and, at last, Ellen DeGeneres' highly anticipated premiere as the new fourth judge.
But first, there was Denver, Colorado. And Bikini Boy.
Victoria Beckham was back as a guest judge, with the hope that she would bring more to the table this time around than her lack luster appearance on the Season 9 premiere from Boston. But Victoria failed to wow, with more fashion critique than musical input, even prompting Simon at one point to ask, "Am I on Project Runway?"
First up was 28-year-old Mark Labriola who shared with the panel that he had spent 6 years on the run as a kid when his mom took him from his dad! Despite his zany persona he surprised the judges with a powerful rendition of Squeeze's Tempted, guaranteeing him a place in Hollywood.
Mario Galvin wasn't quite so impressive though! The nicotine addiction counselor murdered Elvis' Jail House Rock garnering a unanimous no from all.
Single mom Kimberly Kerbow wowed with her version of The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson, which she altered the lyrics to to make a jab at Simon's perfectly coiffed hairdo. Her cheekiness didn't stand in the way of her ticket through to the next round though. Simon commented, "You're very lippy but very funny." Before passing her through with the warning, "I think you're trouble though."
24-year-old karaoke host Danelle Hayes flew straight through with her rendition of I'm the Only One by Melissa Etheridge, Kara commented that, "That was the most moving audition". Simon said, "I like you but you're broken," but that didn't stop him from sending the hopeful through to Hollywood.
It was a case of girls versus boys when it came to 27-year-old Casey James. The girls loved him, commenting on his model looks and even persuading him to remove his shirt! Simon and Randy weren't quite so taken though, Simon commented, "That was a bad audition" but ever the peace maker Randy decided to side with Kara and Victoria in the end, telling Casey "You've got another chance" before voting yes.
Perky 16-year-old Tori Kelly garnered fashion praise from Victoria who told the high school student, 'You're gorgeous and that dress is gorgeous", Kara raved, "I really like Tori!" Simon wasn't so impressed but with three out of four Tori was through.
22-year old Austin Paul certainly wasn't lacking when it came to confidence, the football player thought he was the best and was in no doubt that he as guaranteed a place in the next round. Before his audition Austin shared that he had made a list of things to do before he died and getting through to Hollywood was number 42! His confidence in himself wasn't reflected in his singing abilities though. Simon told him, "You could be a bit annoying" while Kara said, ""You come off a bit cocky," Victoria agreed, saying, "You're arrogant". It was a unanimous no.
Another definite no was 24-year-old Kenny Everett, who proclaimed himself as, "The male Mary J. Blige" and shared that he sings as, "A public service to others." Simon told Everett, You sounded like you were being punched". Everett didn't take criticism well though, refusing to believe he had been rejected and carrying on singing till the very bitter end.
Wining the competition for most miles traveled was Nicky Nix who had flown all the way from Florence Italy for the chance to audition. Thankfully her trip wasn't in vain. Despite sounding like she "had eaten helium" when she talked according to Simon, Nix had an awesome voice and was sent through with a "million % yes" from Randy and a "thousand % yes" from Kara.
Hailey Vaughn shared her moving story of being born premature at just 2lbs and of having suffered through the heartbreak of her father's death when she was just 10. Simon raved, "You're a cute little thing aren't you." Going on to say, "You're different, you stand out, you're infectious." With a definite yes from all four judges Hailey was the last, and the 26th Denver contestant to be sent to Hollywood.
Saving the very best for last, we were introduced to bikini boy, AKA Ty Hemmerling. Ty attempted a rousing rendition of Billy Ray Cyrus' Achy Breaky Heart but the judges couldn't even listen past the first verse, before walking off in laughter. Needless to say it was a no.