American Idol Episode Recap: Atlanta Auditions Season 9, Episode 2

American Idol's Season 9 audition train made its next stop in Atlanta. R&B legend Mary J. Blige joined Randy, Kara and Simon to critique all the would-be pop stars. And once again, we got a pretty decent mix of "hot," horrible and hare-brained. With the exception of a photo of a young Ryan Seacrest and the audition of a 62-year-old former General, the episode was pretty much paint-by-numbers.

Some quick thoughts on the night's best and worst.


Keia Johnson, "My Heart Will Go On"

Her version of "The Titanic song" won lots of praise from Randy and Mary, with particular attention paid to her unique phrasing of the oft-covered song. I, however, found the sound of her voice to be very ordinary, as did Simon, who said she easily could easily be cast in Oklahoma. She gets through, but the real tragedy here is that Mary used one of Randy's favorite (and most useless) phrases: "You can definitely sing."

Jermaine Sellers, "One of Us"

He's a nice-guy church singer who takes care of his mother, who suffers from spinal bifida. He does a smooth, soulful interpretation of Joan Osborne's '90s hit, even if the runs at the end are distracting. He gets big props and a quick ticket to Hollywood.

Vanessa Wolfe, "Wagon Wheel"

This "aw shucks" small-town girl has a strong underdog story, but it also made me (a native Tennessean) cringe. Her uniqueness, however, is what won over Kara and Simon. I agree that her voice was good, but I think Kara calling her authentic was based mostly on the fact that she had no other idea what to say about a country singer. The segment did deliver the best lines of the night: "Instead of butterflies, I've got frogs," her mom said. And did anyone else here Vanessa say to Simon in her shock, "Are you cereal?"

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