Thursday was the last night of audition rounds for “American Idol” Season 12.
Has the show saved the best for last?
It's a little surreal watching Ryan Seacrest and the huge crowd of Oklahomans that filled the streets around the Chesapeake Energy Arena that hot July morning… I was there, too!
Of course the show opened with a short flashback to the Carrie Underwood story…
“Carrie Underwood started in the exact same spot you are today. It could be you,” Ryan Seacrest said to the crowd in the Peake.
“Is the next American Idol in Oklahoma City?”
The first auditioner was Karl Springer from Joplin, Mo.
“I'm going to prove gingers got soul,” he said.
“Hey! I feel good … I knew that I would now,” sprang from Springer, complete with James Brown style fancy feet. After an acoustic guitar rendition of an original song, the illustrious judges deemed him worthy to move on to “Hollywood” week.
And now for some Oklahomans!
OUCH! Not off to a great start… a parade of unfortunate singers and rappers led up to a lovely young man named Nate singing “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder. Unfortunately, during much of his background story about having a deaf parent, my own Stevie, 3, named after Wonder, was loudly proclaiming that she'd rather be watching “Dora.”
Nate had a great voice and got four “yes” votes from the judges.
21 minutes into OKC “Idol” audition episode
The judges are situated inside the Ann Lacy Event Center at the Devon Boathouse
Next, Oscar the puppet and his ventriloquist Halie Hilburn added some, well, unusual color to the episode.
From Vernon, TX (phew), the pretty young woman sang “Cowboy Sweetheart” and Oscar the puppet's background howls and yodeling cracked the judges up completely. Then she dropped the puppet and sang a straight song and some of the weird fell away. She made it through to Hollywood Week. Oscar did not.
Meet Zoanette, 19 , of Tulsa
And her outlandish self. She sang The National Anthem in honor of Obama's re-election. She forgot a few words but her expressive interpretation and glass-breaking high notes, tap breaks kept the judges on the edges of their seats.
“Set yourself free Oklahoma,” Randy Jackson said. “Set yourself free!”