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January 28, 2011
'American Idol': Nashville nails it and is Lauren Alaina the one?

Matt-Dillard.jpg

By Leigh Grogan
lgrogan@sacbee.com
My "American Idol" cohort here at The Bee, Kathy Morrison, and I agree that last night's show only devoted an hour to the Nashville auditions, but it was an hour of memorable performances:

We like the singing exes, Chelsee Oaks and Rob Bolin, who sing well together - and apart. And judge Steven Tyler offered sage wisdom to the duo: "Sometimes the deepest passion comes from friction." Words to love by.

Randy Jackson thought Nashville produced "a lot of highs and lows," including the "Mystery Auditioner" dressed in a blue body stocking and identified only as "?"

Among the highs was Adrienne Beasley, the 22-year-old farm girl, and Jackie Wilson, 28, who went old school with Aretha's "Until You Come Back To Me." Matt Dillard, 27, (pictured) represented the "elder statesman" in a Season 10 that's pushing the youth movement - code for 15somethings.

Dressed in overalls and a straw hat, he also had a touching story about his family's lifetime commitment to foster kids. He also schmoozed the judges, calling Jennifer Lopez "my favorite actress," Randy "my favorite judge" and Steven "my favorite rocker."

Tyler definitely has an eye for a pretty girl: Would Stormi Henley, the former Miss Teen USA, have earned a golden ticket in previous years? JLo chastised Tyler for voting her through: "That might be the smallest voice we've heard in five cities."

Kathy M. shared with me that Lopez is fast becoming her favorite judge for her quips. There, in Nashville's famous Ryman Auditorium, just after the horrible screechy performance by Kameela, she cracked, "You know, the acoustics work, no matter what ..."

The show's now-familiar closing story (you'll laugh or cry or both) was 15-year-old Lauren Alaina from Georgia, who had the judges doing handsprings over her "real, natural, God-given talent." (She didn't seem that extraordinary to Kathy M., but that's what the next level is for, after all.)

After getting her ticket to Hollywood, Lauren brought her family into the audition room and rocked it - with Tyler in tow - to one of her parents' favorite songs, "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing." Said Steven outside afterward, "If you've got it, you've got it." Some "Idol" sources say producer Nigel Lythgoe has Lauren already pegged for big things as the season progresses. We'll see.

One omission neither Kathy nor myself caught last night was how many golden tickets were handed out. Does anyone know? Just curious.

Next Wednesday: Auditions in Austin, Texas.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Becker/Fox

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