By Ericka Alston
7:19 AM EST, January 25, 2013
Tonight's "American Idol" in Baton Rouge was the best episode thus far. We actually got to see more authentic talent than squabbles between the lady judges and misfits. It was awesome.
In the very beginning, we were introduced to Miss Baton Rouge herself, Megan Miller, who opted to postpone surgery on her leg to not miss her audition. Megan did us all a huge favor, siding with singing versus going under the knife.
"I would let my leg fall off before I missed this audition," Megan said. Thank you, Megan! She sang "Something's Got A Hold On Me" and something had a hold on us while she sang. Off to Hollywood for Megan -- right after surgery.
Charlie, Charlie, Charlie. Nicknamed "Mystery Man" by Nicki (of course). The socially awkward 17-year-old from Little Rock has used singing as his outlet to express himself when he can't verbally. His undiagnosed disorder would make most people call Charlie weird, right up to the point where he opens his mouth to sing.
This seemingly dark mystery man had a huge voice and he sure did use it to wow the judges and America. He's got just the mix of boyish innocence and a seemingly dark side that will make for a good mix in Hollywood, that's exactly where Charlie is headed after unanimous yes votes across the board.
Mariah was interested in knowing if Charlie had reached puberty, I'd assume out of fear that perhaps his voice was not fully developed. But Charlie let us know that his voice was the "first" thing to mature. Nicky wanted to know what the second was. Nicki, he's only 17, you cougar!
Tonight's nominee was Mattie. Nominated by her granny -- and rightly so. Randy surprised Mattie singing "Sitting By the Dock of the Bay” in front a crowd, and gave Mattie her personal invitation to come auditio. Again, we were blown away.
Mattie sang "Oh Darlin'" by the Beatles, the judges screamed yes and handed her a golden ticket. There was a very proud granny waiting for Mattie on the other side of the door, and ummmm, clearly granny had been drinking a little. She was sprinkling fairy dust, clad in Mardi Gras beads and whispering in Ryan Seacrest's ear, "I wanna kidnap you and take you home with me." Baton Rouge may just very well be the Cougar capital of the world tonight. Down Granny! Congrats Mattie. See ya in Hollywood.
Tonight's show is off to a fantastic start, so much talent, so many golden tickets to Hollywood.
I spoke to soon. We got a full segment of tears, cursing, tears, camera shoving and more tears. It wasn't a fantastic night for everyone.
Next contestant: Paul Jolly. Had a gift he wanted to share with the world. Paul took this opportunity for his grandpa. Grandpa was definitely looking down from heaven and enjoying Paul's rendition of Rascal Flat's "I Won't Let Go." Paul, don't you let go of that golden ticket until you're in your room in Hollywood. Grandpa is proud, I'm sure.
"Mushroom" was the name Nicki gave contestant Chris, who likes to sing Adam Lambert songs badly. No ticket. Thank you very mush-room. Goodbye.
Oh, thank you "American Idol" for introducing me to Dr. Feel Good. This 33-year-old medical doctor may have taken on the boldest artist ever to audition with: Maxwell. It was absolutely heavenly. I couldn't hear past all the noise his beautiful biceps were making. I think I need a doctor -- does he make house calls? If not, I'm willing to travel to Hollywood for his bedside manner. Oh doc. Thank you. Can't wait to see -- I mean hear -- you in Hollywood.
Michelle, Breanna and Brandy, all through to Hollywood. As was firefighter Watts, who sand Garth Brooks and got his golden ticket as well.
And what a finale. We meet 19-year-old Burnell Taylor, a huricane Katrina survivor. He and his family lost everything in Katrina and had to pick up and start all over. He did, without missing a beat or allowing it to dampen his dreams of becoming a singer.
Burnell sang "I'm Here" from The Color Purple and unless you were in a coma, you felt every word and had goose bumps. A speechless Mariah cried. Nicki said, "We've flown all around the country just to find you."
Burnell got an "amazing" from Randy and Keith Urban closed out the standing ovation with "somewhere there is a spotlight just waiting for you to walk into it!"Another hopeful that I think will stick around for a while. Welcome to Hollywood, Burnell.
Thirty-five others received golden tickets tonight. The amount of talent in Baton Rouge was extraordinary, hailed Keith Urban, then he turned to Nicky and called her Mariah. Thunder crashed, lightened flashed and hearts stopped beating -- until Keith immediately realized what he had done and told Nicky he'll do a thousand Hail Marys for that one. Mariah said, "Then some." I am certain that Keith is still doing Hail Marys. Ouch!
Next week: A double hitter, on to The Alamo and Long Beach. See you then. It's "Idol," baby!
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun