American Idol recap: Sweet Hope in Chicago

The Windy City singers inspire, while Keith Urban wants to crawl in a hole and die
Ep. 02 | Aired Jan 17, 2013

A HERO COMES ALONG Mariah Carey superfan Lazaro Arbos bravely crossed the bridge over a troublesome stutter.


"I'm actually a baker," revealed Iowa native Gabe Brown, and really are there any other words a cuddly, kind-hearted man ever has to say? Sold! to the hungry recapper on the couch. Gabe basically screamed his way through "Gimme Shelter," but it was a controlled, well-tuned scream. Crazy, definitely. But good. And fun -- upon Gabe's first bellow, Keith Urban looked alive for the first time during his long and arduous tenure as a scratching post. "WOOOOOT! I LOVED IT!" yelped Keith, bouncing around in his seat. But neither cat would play with the eager puppy. Nicki begrudgingly admitted to Gabe that "when you do rock, I believe it," and "it feels truthful to you." Yeah! Rock god!

The hits kept coming -- Keith was so smitten by his "Baby It's Cold Outside" duet partner Isabelle Parell, 15, that he forgot he had already praised her following the audition. Her voice is very smoky-cool but I wish it was even more distinctive because I just think she'll get lost in the crowd in Hollywood. This is someone I'd want to watch on-screen 24/7 -- like Mariah said, Isabelle has this humble and adorable spirit you don't see that often, plus an exquisite "droopy in a good way" face. She was basically a giant drop of fresh dew with a Victorian lace overlay -- a pure delight, but probably not the next American Idol.

Let's not forget Mariah's first comment to Isabelle: "I think I was very happy to hear a Christmas song, because [haunted, knowing crescendo] I love Christ-MAS!" Good lord.

Isabelle's dad was funny, grilling the camera guys on how much action they got due to their sexy, sexy jobs.

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Anyone else vote for Owen?

"Bieber don't do dis to me!" Griffin Peterson is a 22-year-old Cheesehead with no girlfriend, and Nicki Minaj probably would have scurried over to molest him physically instead of just verbally had she not feared her meteorite hat might fall off and render her a melted pile of galactic matter with no connection to her home planet. Kid sang one tiny verse of "Washed By The Water" and the cats had decided he could sell out arenas purely on the basis of being a hottie. Maybe they're right! He really was cute, with a Phillip Phillips everyman allure. (A lot of people have that, actually. I might start calling them Phillips Heads.)

I'm a huge fan of friendly, boisterous Curtis Finch Jr., who recognized an optimal improv moment after Randy exclaimed in wonder that he had just called Smokie Norfolk the night before. "Well next time you talk to him, Randy, you tell him God Is Able…." and he was off singing. Nicki, Randy, and Mariah (the scratching post had to jet off early for a concert) totally dug "Finchy'"s smarts and right away you can tell he'll be a favorite.

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The Gospel hand is up! Finchy had the runs, and Mimi approved.

NEXT: Don't you dare make me cry -- I'm wearing 800 layers of makeup!

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