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Wednesday February 3, 2010 2:01 am

American Idol 9: Denver Auditions

Tuesday’s audition city, Denver, is where first found Chris Daughtry, who was surprisingly eliminated in Season 4 of the popular reality series. Guest judge Victoria Beckham again joined the regular panel to fill Paula Abdul’s vacant seat.

Auditions began with Mark Labriola, who thinks he looks quite a bit like Jack Black. He was very energized for his audition and truly interesting. His surprising voice was absolutely beautiful, forcing the panel to raise their eyebrows as they listened. The unique sound could certainly stand out in Hollywood Week. called the audition “a really nice surprise.” The judges unanimously voted to send Labriola to Hollywood, though not before Simon Cowell questioned him further about his unusual past.

Mario Galvan laughs when he’s nervous and arrived to his audition in a beat-up trench coat. He growled out an Elvis tune with tons of volume, but no display of vocal command whatsoever. “No,” Simon Cowell was brusque, and Mario went quietly away.

They can’t all get golden tickets. Even more will be rejected during Hollywood Week, some only one step away from reaching the big stage.

Beautiful Kimberly Kerbow sang in a sweet soprano, directing her tune to , who found her “very funny.” He also warned that she might be “trouble.” Kimberly ran out of the room proudly waving her golden ticket.

Danelle Hayes’ interesting look quickly caught the eyes of the producers. She already makes her living in the music industry with karaoke, though Idol would be a considerable step up. Her bluesy, raspy voice was full of feeling. “I like you,” Simon Cowell told her right away. Kara DioGuardi thought it was a “moving audition.” All four judges said “yes” to Danelle’s Hollywood visit.

is an accident survivor and full of down home, quiet charm. The Texas native sang with a smooth twang to captivate half the panel. “This is a bad audition,” Simon Cowell declared. Kara DioGuardi argued in favor of Casey’s voice. “He’s got a great look,” Victoria Beckham told Cowell. After Posh got James to take down his hair, Kara DioGuardi made him take off his shirt. Simon seemed appalled by the situation, and gave James a firm “no.” Randy Jackson gave James a third “yes” vote, “for the girls.”

Tori Kelly, sweet 16, arrived at her audition with a ton of young kids in tow. One of them, little Hope, gave each judge a picture of themselves, hand-drawn by her of course. Tori was in control of the spotlight once she started to sing, however, delighting some of the panel with her pretty vocals. “Out of the two, I’d put Hope through,” Simon Cowell decided dryly, likening Tori to “a human orange.” “You’re through,” told her. “I think these three are mad,” Simon offered as Kelly prepared to leave the room.

Austin Paul is a music student and football player, which creates an interesting combination. His warbly voice wasn’t the strongest or the prettiest, though Paul delivered with a ton of conviction. Sometimes, even confidence isn’t enough. “Is that the way you normally, naturally sing all the time?” Randy Jackson wanted to know. “You come off a bit…cocky,” Kara DioGuardi observed. “I think you could become quite annoying,” Simon Cowell told him. “I didn’t get it,” Randy Jackson deemed. Austin tried to plead his case, but the judges weren’t swayed. “Unanimous no,” Simon Cowell finally called a halt to the proceedings.

Kenny Everett was also incredibly confident, billing himself as “the world’s best singer” and a “male Mary J. Blige.” He then delivered a loud, strange series of vocal sounds for his audition. It was all very off-putting. “You were just screaming at us,” Simon Cowell told him. “It wasn’t good,” said regretfully. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m a great singer,” Kenny remarked, then began to sing his exit lines. “But I did like the choice of song,” Victoria Beckham remained sweet. Everett angrily made his way out of the room…but more would take his place.

A montage of the strange auditions and tearful rejections followed. This included an Elvis-like baritone and the oddest Michael Jackson impersonation ever.

Florence, Italy native Nicci Nix traveled across the world to get to her Denver audition. She was adorable, but had such a high-pitched speaking voice it was hard to listen to her. Nicci Nix then sang in a relatively low-pitched, well-modulated vocal that was completely incongruous - and surprisingly pleasant to hear. “You sing so much deeper than you talk. It’s weird,” Simon Cowell made the same observation. “I like your look. You have beautiful skin,” Victoria Beckham noted. All four of them voted Nicci Nix through to Hollywood. I’m pretty sure she’s not eligible for the competition called American Idol, being a resident of Europe and all. But she’s cute and interesting, and that ought to warrant a quick trip to Hollywood at least.

’s story was immediately attention-getting. This preemie baby was lucky to survive her early birth, and seemed to feel equally blessed to be auditioning for American Idol 9. She wants to be a “black, pop-country” singer, and proved her point with a Carrie Underwood joint. Her breathy vocals could use a little more control, but Haeley definitely has some natural talent and capacity for the big notes. “Cute little thing, aren’t you?” Simon Cowell seemed to like her. “I like you, too,” Victoria Beckham told her. Haeley’s honestly joyful reaction to the happy Hollywood news brought a big smile to Simon Cowell’s face.

The show closed with Ty Hemmerling, who decided to pull a Katrina Darrell and wear a bikini to his Idol audition. He sang so horrendously, the judges refused to tolerate it and walked out of the room en masse. They’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

Dallas found twenty-six hopefuls to take the California journey at the end of two grueling audition days. More singing talent will be discovered in Wednesday’s audition round, which will include a montage of more singers from across America and a re-cap of all the faces we’ll see in Hollywood Week. Check out all our other posts.



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