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January 17, 2008
Idol Chatter: Big 'D,' little talent


Day 2 of the Season 7 "American Idol" auditions landed us - and the contestants - deep in the heart of Texas, specifically Dallas, Wednesday night. And it didn't take long to grow weary of the phrase, "Everything's bigger in Texas!"

Of course, there were also the incessant references (both in dialogue and song choice, particularly the annoying "Never Again") to Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson, who hails from Burleson, Texas, but made it through from Big D.

And, unless I heard it wrong, only 13,000 showed up for this cattle call, including a former meth addict, Jessica Brown, 24, of Longview, Texas, who is now a cleaned-up mother of two. She did well enough to make it through to Hollywood, even though we might have heard our first "pitchy" critique from judge Randy Jackson.

At least Jessica's past won't come back to bite her when they do the background checks. There's nothing left to tell.

Meanwhile, from Sweetwater to Grand Prairie to Killeen, contestants tried to snag a yellow ticket, many of them warbling so badly I was losing my sense of humor. There were some high notes, particularly from (natch) the country music stylings.

Anyway, for those of you who want to re-live the auditions - or happened to miss the show - here's my recap:

* Most likely to like herself: Alaina Whitaker of Tulsa, Okla., was quick to make the comparison between herself and Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood. "I look like her, sound like her, but with a wider range," she announced. The judges let her through, but Simon Cowell was quick to quip, "I don't think you're as good as you think you are."

* Most sheltered contestant: Yikes, that would have to be Bruce Dickson, 19, who showed up with his father - both of them wearing necklaces that made reference to young Bruce's confession that he had never been kissed. (Think back to Tuesday and Brooke White, who had never seen an R-rated movie.) Bruce says he has the "key" part of the necklace, which fits into the "heart" part his dad wears. When he meets his future wife, then he'll give her the heart - and seal the deal with a kiss. OK ....

But, I digress. We'll probably never know if Bruce ever locks lips with anyone. He can't sing (and was advised by the judges to kiss some girls).

* Most enthusiastic "Ks": That would be Kayla Hatfield, 24, of Campbell, Texas, who was just happy to be there, given a bad car accident that almost killed her. And there was Kady Malloy, 18, of Houston, whose Britney Spears impersonation was dead-on. She also can sing on her own. Both got through.

* Most gross. Period: Hands down, Brandon Green, 21, from somewhere in Mississippi. He revealed to the world that he saves his peeled fingernails, even showing a Ziploc bag to host Ryan Seacrest, who reeled at the collection. Somehow, it came down to judge Paula Abdul, who thought Brandon's "Rich Girl" rendition merited a trip to Hollywood.

* Most worthy of our votes: The very Bill Gates -esque Kyle Ensley, 21, a student at Oklahoma State University, who wants to be governor and, oh, by the way, the next "American Idol." His version of "Somebody To Love" (the Queen cover) reminded Randy of a glee club or some frat boys' choir, but Simon and Paula found Kyle endearing. Me, too.

* Most likely to succeed: Nina Shaw, 24, of Burleson (Kelly's hometown) and Pia Easley, also 24, of Chicago. You might be looking at two Top 24 candidates.

* Most disturbing. Seriously: Douglas Davidson, 27, of Austin, demonstrated an odd warm-up ritual a la Christina Aguillera, and then proceeded to sweat profusely and wander aimlessly in circles. His "Livin' on a Prayer" left Simon wondering, "What the bloody hell was that?" Indeed.

* Most endearing contestant: He didn't make it to Hollywood, but Reynaldo Lapuz (pictured) of Reno showed up in a Sir Walter Raleigh get-up (silver lame cape, white hat and suit) and performed an original song, "We're Brothers Forever," which he sang to Simon. Eventually, the chorus, infectious as it was, took over with Randy and Ryan joining Reynaldo, and Paula "signing" the lyrics for the hearing impaired. Remember, you heard it here - maybe first. Someone, somewhere will turn this guy into the next William Hung.

All in all, 24 tickets to Hollywood were handed out Wednesday night. "Idol" returns Tuesday (at 8 p.m. on Channel 40), where the gang lands in Sea World, er, San Diego.

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