Welcome to Portland, home of the weird. Would "the jewel of the Northwest"'s eclecticism overwhelm our corporate-casual sunlight magnet of a host? No! Ryan was fine in the crowd! It was the door handle that did him in.
Later on, Seacrest's ego would be challenged by a preposterous pastry version of himself (Real Ryan would never let chocolate sprinkles get so close to his mouth) and a very special giant named Junior who had no idea who Ryan was. Our poor hero was so flummoxed, out there in the wild, that he started running around with a small, potted tree who had no choice but to love him back. Couldn't we all use a friend?
We only saw six of the 45 golden ticket winners from Portland. It's difficult to pick an MVP given this limited data. I think we'll all just have to agree that the real winner of the episode was "Megan," who had the misfortune of wearing black tights to work the same day Jennifer Lopez had lost hers. Have fun on eBay, Megan! You're in Portland, so remember to put a bird on it for extra flair -- and if all else fails, you can pickle that.
Let's zip through the singers.
Brittany Zika, the girl who sang with Sara Bareilles onstage a.k.a. the girl who tripped while stepping up to her American Idol metal cylinder of doom, sang "The Story" by Brandi Carlile. She's so good! I agree with J. Lo that this was "one of the prettiest voices we've heard." Randy kind of ruined things with an Arrested Development-esque "Glasses Off, Hair Down" routine for the ages by marveling how Brittany's sultry drawl was so unexpected given her goofy physical appearance.
By the way, I am very amused that so many of you tweeted to me that Brittany Zika was my doppelganger, but despite my love of large-frame glasses and crappy knit caps I have trouble believing I would leave my house (or even a store) wearing suspenders and a fedora. She's still totally cute. Aren't we all? Why do we wear what we wear? We're such weirdos!
I hope Jermaine Jones gets a decent shot in Hollywood, because I can see voters really latching onto the kind face and dynamic, spiritual voice of this gentle-giant mama's boy. Steven Tyler raved that he could hear the song -- Luther Vandross' "Superstar" -- through Jermaine's nerves. The 24-year-old music teacher from Jersey could be too sweaty for TV, but I like to think that the use of Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" as his background music means the show has confidence in him. His mom certainly does. As she said of their "all music" family: "It's not like somebody just decided they would try to be a singer. We were BORN this way." Oh, lawd.
"Let's get it in, Portland," said Randy Jackson. Ewwwww, Randy.
Britnee Kellogg completely won J. Lo over with her emotional, occasionally raspy rendition of "You're No Good," directed at her ex-husband. "I'm FEELING you right now!" exclaimed Ms. Lopez, as visions of Marc Anthony skeletons on fire danced in her head. Britnee wondered how J. Lo pulled it off, being a superstar and a mother, and J. Lo schooled her because her own kids were just outside. "You never leave the kids. You have to be happy so they're happy. It takes a village to raise them and they're only better for it." Against my better judgement I nearly teared up here, especially when a leaden-handed blond cherub blew our superstar a kiss.
Steven was struck by Britnee's mom's t-shirt, which read "My daughter's the next American Idol." He murmured that out loud softly and then leaned back, exhaling slowly as if to say "that's a shame" and "that's beautiful" at once. I love it when Steven Tyler suddenly gets blown away by little reminders of what this show is and what it does to people. Just thousands of them, desperate to sing for only one of him. There they all are. Man oh man.
Speaking of men, I'm pretty sure this thing started out as a penis cake.
The Ryan Seacrest Doughnut will undoubtedly haunt my dreams.
NEXT: "And dude, refugee camp?! Dude."