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.


So I pretty much lost it during Mariah Pulice's anorexia backstory, and I'm guessing most women watching did, too, because we've all either been there or had to watch a friend, sister, teammate, or you name it deal with this terror. Eating disorders are all around, and I like that Idol tugged at the heartstrings in a not too exploitative way. Mariah's "Let It Be" was surprisingly strong and on-pitch for someone who'd just been crying. I'm not sure it's a standout voice, but the segment as a whole was such good TV.

Eventually, Mariah's entire support system trickled in to congratulate her, and a blonde woman was thrashing her fists at the judges, "Thank you for giving her a chance! Please, thank you so much" It was fascinating to watch Mariah and Nicki struggle to make sense of such an outpouring of raw emotion from the proletariat. You could tell they might have wanted to just join in and sob openly -- but that'd mean an extra hour to fix makeup, which would halt production….so the only thing to do was cover their faces with their scary talons and avoid eye contact, taking only occasional peeks. Ah, the humanity!

Shall we brighten things up? Oh, gladly. Louisville fireplug Brandy Neelly's cover of "Your Cheatin' Heart" was inspired and like nothing I've heard during an Idol audition, so for that alone she's one of my faves. I feel like she could be versatile beyond country, and apply that twang in her voice to rock or pop. She's sassy without seeming like she's deliberately acting so. That's always refreshing.

Now, a trio of quicker-hit yeses as the "stars were just beginning to appear" on Day 2. I ended up cringing at Josh Holiday's botched falsetto at the end of his "Back at One" verse, but that's precisely what Mariah seemed to love. He's cute enough and I think I spotted abs when he leapt off the ground in triumph. I guess if they like him that much, they'll fix his hair (serious case of Ambiguous Pet On Head) and take advantage of his eager-beaver blind faith. Courtney Williams ("Who's Lovin' You") and Andrew Jones ("Knock On Wood") scored even less screen time. Courtney's vibrato was the best of the episode, and Andrew brought some much-appreciated rhythm and energy to his foot-stomping performance. Randy made a hilarious "eek!" face when Andrew ruined everything by saying "I wanna be a star for you, Randy." Dude, this isn't The Voice! There are rules.

NEXT: Ryan desperately wants Clifton Duffin's parents to adopt him

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