Same as it ever was? Live posts during the show, after the jump.
Kansas City. Can I get a little Wilbert Harrison? OK, Fats Domino then. Clips of KC's own David Cook. Clips of the audition crowd. Judges arrive. Jason Castro greets Paula. Egad.
Chelsea Marquardt starts. She has been singing as long as she can remember, which contestants often say but tells us nothing about their memory. And Chelsea is not memorable in a good way. "Living Without You" seems like a fine idea, Chelsea. Simon says it sounds like cats jumping off the Empire State Building; Randy piles on. Paula tries to be positive but Simon demands to know what was positive about the performance. Kara says she's pretty -- but not a good singer.
Ashley Anderson, Cher-like eyelashes and hair. Song co-written by Simon, but she muffs the lyric containing the title -- and Simon corrects her. Not a terrible singer. Almost messes up the lyric again but catches herself. Four yes votes for Hollywood. Break.
Long David Cook-centric promo for "Idol" leads into more Kansas City. Where, as we are reminded, everything's up to date.
Casey Carlson. "A Thousand Miles." Iffy, and some odd phrasing and very ticky-tock rhythm. But the judges like her and she gets a unanimous Hollywood.
Classical/opera guy Brian Hettler, does Aretha's "Think." Hysterically unfortunate performance. Randy calls it "definitely definitely different." Simons says everything was wrong, including Brian's outfit. Brian offers some "You Raise Me Up," almost as unfortunate as "Think." No Hollywood. Brian's unhappiness -- and refusal to cry -- leads into a sequence of failed auditioners who did cry. Then a break.
More David Cook homage. More brief auditions by high-voiced men. Naturally, Simon gets in a Seacrest joke. Then just a bad singer, briefly. Then Von Smith, dressed in seeming homage to Ryan Evans, singing "Over the Rainbow." Big, impressive voice but it takes him a long time between lines and he works too hard. His fate is held until after the break, and we're again teased about a heartfelt story to come.
After the break, Randy was impressed. Simon likes him. Paula says "absolutely yes." Kara thinks he can take a lot of risks that other singers can't. Four for Hollywood.
Jason Castro clips to set up his brother, Michael, who seems to be as big a goober as JC. They debate whether JC is "girly" and what that means. Michael started singing 20 days before the auditions. "In Love With a Girl." Some voice, but no phrasing, rushing the lyrics, and yet not as offensive as Jason became. Simon calls it "good-ish." Wonders if the Castros are really into the competition. Kara thinks he's a "ballsy dude." The judges send him to Hollywood. Eek. Then another teaser leading into another break.
A guy singing a banana song. Not successfully. Matt Breitzke from Oklahoma, married with a child, who put aside singing in bars for a day job (welder/fabricator). "Ain't No Sunshine." OK, but another singer whom I wish would just do the song and not stretch it out to show off the way they hold notes and get intense. Randy iffy, but Kara thinks he has "natural talent." Paula pleased with tone. Kara, Paula and Simon outvote Randy.
Jasmine "Jazz" Joseph. Another "Over the Rainbow." Not at all a good one, either. Judges silently reject her. (At least, that's how the editing does it.) "Wizard of Oz" references lead to a Jessica Furney, a contestant from an Oz-themed town who lives with her grandma and takes care of her. Sings "Cry Baby" "by Janis Joplin." Can I get some love for Garnett Mimms? Adequate. Simon likes that she's a small-town girl with big dreams. Four for Hollywood. And another break.
Sisters rap together on a thing called "Cookies." Asia McClain sings. Badly. India Morrison has more of a voice and is all right. Kara thinks they're both great. We don't see all the votes, but India gets Hollywood. And Asia is touchingly happy for her.
Jamar Rogers. Curious hair. "California Dreamin'." Loud. A little bleaty. Kara says it was a little bit overdone. Randy didn't like the faces he made. But he gets four votes for Hollywood. His best friend, Danny, is the emotional story of the show -- after at least one more break.
Now we get Danny Gokey, Jamar's best friend, whose wife died not long ago. Song is "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." He's all right, kind of bar-band derivative, but he's got a story. And Paula loves him. As does Kara. Randy calls him "one of the best we've seen." Hollywood, to be sure. But the praise seems unusually high based just on his singing; the judges must have known his background.
Sequence of bad women singers. Then Anoop Desai. "Thank You." Now, this is a good singer. Very, very good. Paula didn't expect that. Randy also impressed. Simon says the look is geeky. Kara says we're talking about the vocals -- as if people never get bonus points for look or narrative. Anyway, Anoop's heading to Hollywood.
Sequence of bad vocals and group sings of "Signed Sealed Delivered." Break.
Gimmick highlights, including another clip of bikini girl, who already seems, uh, overexposed. Then Andrew Lang, who has two cheerleaders introduce him. Sings "My Girl." More overwork. Simon says it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be but "it wasn't fantastic." Kara and Paula like the cheerleaders, though. Andrew offers a little bit of "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." Paula calls him theatrical, and Randy changes his vote from yes to no. Cheerleaders cry. Kara says he's not going to make it in the competition. No to Hollywood.
Asa Barnes. Band director at a middle school. Has a daughter and wants to show that "it's OK to be a good dad." "The Way You Make Me Feel." Nice groove but not a consistently good vocal. Simon likes him but is puzzled by the song choice. Paula liked it. Kara did. Four votes to Hollywood.
Eerie-looking blond guy, Michael Nicewonder, with a medal from animation (?) school and a fortune-cookie line on the back. His mother does not think he can sing but he plans to walk into the audition "and become a star." Related somehow to Hank Williams Jr. Paula tries to chat with him, and Simon wants to move along. Simon should have moved it along faster. Original song, terrible vocal. More singing, more terrible. Simon needles him, though relatively gently; Kara also tries to soften the blow. No Hollywood. Michael cries.
Dennis Brigham. Arm waver. Not much of a singer. Tries twice to impress Simon. Says "I want this so bad, y'all. ... This is my dream." Promises he can "sing good." Simon says no. Paula gives him what sounds like a mercy yes. Dennis pleads more. Randy gives him a yes, as does Kara, it seems. Hollywood, anyway. Kara says Dennis is funny. Simon says Kara has been "duped."
Two women with weird voices. Clips of rejects and celebrants. Then Mia Conley, sleeping in the audition room. Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You." Unfortunate. No to Hollywood. After, more than once says God is going to get the judges for rejecting her.
Last contestant: Lil Rounds. Married mother of three. Apartment torn up by a tornado. "All I Do." Starts well, falters some, but she doesn't overdo it. Kara really likes her. Paula loves her and thinks her vocals are "one of the best I've heard." Simon calls her fantastic. Randy calls her a mixture of Fantasia and Mary J. Blige. Kara also says she's one of the best to come through. Holllllllllllllllllllllllllllllywood. One of 27 from KC.
And I am done.