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American Idol gets crazy in Austin, TX, pt. 1

John Wayne Schulz fulfilled a promise to his mother by auditioning for American Idol.
John Wayne Schulz fulfilled a promise to his mother by auditioning for American Idol.
Michael Becker/Fox

American Idol


American Idol would like to apologize for Steven Tyler’s outrageous behavior on last week’s episode,” said the words that came across the screen at the beginning of last night’s episode of American Idol. (Presumably, the producers were referring to Steven’s dropping of the f bomb. Even though it had been bleeped out, this is a family friendly show, so surely some complaints about the happening were heard.) “We promise that will never happen again,” said the next slide.

“My name is Jake Muck,” said a young, blonde haired boy upon entering the Idol audition room with no other introduction. “You know what Muck rhymes with, right?” Steven said, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth. “Read my lips.” And before the word could pass through his mouth again, the credits rolled. Yea, sure it’ll never happen again. Can’t wait to see what kind of craziness ensues with Steven when Idol goes live!

This is American Idol’s third time visiting the city of Austin, Texas, and it hasn’t changed much since the last time the show took up residence. “They’re a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, and a whole lot of weird,” said Ryan. Possibly the biggest change Idol saw was at its own judges’ table, accented by the presence of Marc Anthony giving wife Jennifer Lopez a chaste kiss on the lips and Steven Tyler’s turning everything that happens in his life into a rock song, thus singing in a high pitched voice at strange moments.

Auditions kicked off with Corey Levoy, who didn’t know his sister, Brooks, just two years older than him, until he was 14. Due to parental differences, the two weren’t allowed to see each other, despite the fact that they lived a mere 15 minutes away from each other. Now the two are such good friends that the judges thought Corey would benefit from his sister joining the judges’ table. Though Brooks’s appearance seemed to make Corey a bit more nervous, his delivery of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” was still plain good. He delivered runs smoothly and had a great high pitched tone that’s different from most guys who appear on Idol. It’s refreshing to hear a man who can hit high notes easily, without strain or preparation. “I think you got a good voice. I was really surprised and impressed. Your speaking voice is so high that I didn’t know where your voice would fall,” Randy told him. Jennifer agreed, saying, “All the runs you were doing… you landed them so perfectly.” Brooks weighed in on her decision to let Corey go to Hollywood with a “heck yea!” and all other judges followed suit.

Hollie Cavanagh, 17, made a pretty horrific song choice with Etta James’s “At Last.” This has to be one of the hardest songs to sing, ever, and poor Hollie couldn’t decide on a melody. She had a voice that was much bigger, much more full of soul than one would think just looking at her waify frame and mousy blond hair, though. Obviously, Hollie was nervous, which Jen spotted. She graciously offered Hollie another shot. After a not-too-suspenseful commercial break, the girl made a better song choice on the second go round with Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb.” All of the judges then gave Hollie a yes, including Randy who had initially turned her down. Unfortunately, though Hollie has real potential, the yeses seemed to be given more out of pity than out of belief that she really stands a chance. This girl is going to crack when she gets to Hollywood, and it probably won’t be pretty to watch.

After a slew of awful contestants, each of whom cried when they were given the big N-O, Jen sighed and said, “I’m waiting for the next American Idol to walk through the door.” Enter Rodolfo Ochoa, who quickly proved that he was not it. This boy was a hot mess, from his blue/green tinted hair down to the flat notes that squeezed out of his mouth in an attempt to sing “Circle of Life.” “The singing honestly was terrible,” Randy lamented. “So it’s a no,” Rodolfo pouted. Hmm, ya think?

Then there was an inundation of singing cowboys – or non-singing cowboys, once the judges were through with them. The one who did catch their attention in a positive way, though, was John Wayne Schulz. “Today I’m gonna fulfill a promise that I made to my mother,” John told the judges when they asked why he was auditioning. In 2007, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and though he waited awhile to do what she wanted most of him, his efforts paid off. John has a pretty decent country voice, but there was a little bit of a throaty honk present that could interfere with true greatness. Of course the fact that Idol cut away from John’s audition to show his parents talking to Ryan in the middle of things didn’t help me form an opinion of him… The judges all seemed to enjoy John, though. “I feel you, man. I get you. I really like it. I think you could do well,” Randy told him. They had the Schulzs brought in for the final verdict – John would be going to Hollywood.