American Idol Auditions: San Francisco Recap

by Hilary Rothing, posted Feb 9th 2011 10:00PM
The last stop on 'American Idol's' audition tour proved to be a redeeming one. After a spotty run from coast to coast, it looks like the odds are in favor of season 10's winner coming from the San Francisco auditions.

Over 9,000 showed up to audition in the city a mere 500 miles outside of the elusive Hollywood. And a good number of tonight's featured contestants made it through. Not surprising though, considering the amount of 'Gong Show' throwbacks we've had to sit through this season.

Every stand-out tonight conveniently came with a heartbreaking personal story, which perhaps explains why some rumored Top 40'ers weren't featured.

Twenty-one year-old Stefano Langone overcame the effects of a devastating accident, which left him relegated to a wheelchair. Now able to walk, Langone proved he can sing as well, with a fantastic take on 'Heard It Through the Grapevine.'

Julie Zorrilla originally hailed from Columbia, but her parents fled the country in the wake of guerrilla warfare. Now living in Boulder, CO, with her family, the 20-year-old gave a "fabulous" performance of Sam Cooke's 'Summertime.' In fact, Randy Jackson said it was the best rendition of the song he's heard since Fantasia "blew it out of the box." J.Lo also liked Zorrilla's audition, and her shoes.

Another tearjerker came from Arlington, VA, native Emily Anne Reed, whose home burned down just a week before her audition. Reed's tone and diminutive voice hearken back to season 9's Didi Bemani. Steven Tyler, beginning to exercise what might be the only mean bone in his body (he might beg to differ), passed on Reed, remarking that "the melody was all over the place." With Steven co-opting the villain role, Randy went into nice guy mode and put Reed through, leaving J.Lo to cast the deciding die. After some gratuitous hemming and hawing, she said "yes." Then Reed broke out her guitar at Steven's request, assuring Lopez she made the right call.

The night ended with 21-year-old father and Asperger's and Tourette Syndrome sufferer, James Durbin. Recalling a childhood of being taunted and bullied, Durbin found comfort in music. Adding to his personal saga was the revelation that his father, a touring musician, died of a drug overdose when Durbin was just 9-years-old. The judges responded favorably to his stylized take of (correction) Led Zepplin's 'You Shook Me,' but it was an impromptu rendition of 'Dream On' that seemed to put the trio over the moon on Durbin. "You sing from a different place," J.Lo said. Randy said Durbin's melodic sensibility was "fantastic." It's hard to say just how impressed Steven was with the faux-hawked young man's approach to his baby ballad, but it's only natural he'd feel a bit possessive of the song that made Aerosmith's career.

As for Clint Gamboa, the only tragedy he seems to have suffered is hosting a karaoke night at a local watering hole. Gamboa honed his vocal chops in church and they proved effective on a Travie McCoy/Bruno Mars tune the judges liked. Whether the karaoke king's vocals can transcend amateur night remains to be seen.

A number of female hopefuls also made it through, though a quick montage is all we got of their auditions. Instead the producers chose to save precious airtime for the likes of Drew Beaumier, whose autobot costume was nothing short of impressive. Unfortunately, his 'Born to Be Wild' cover was mostly inaudible, thanks to his helmet. But if the judges don't think a real-life Transformer is Hollywood material, I don't know what is.

'American Idol' heads to Hollywood Thursday night at 8PM ET on Fox.

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season 10 is heading into the right direction.i wish that paula was back but i like tthe new judges
steven tyler knows his stuff

February 10 2011 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

FAIL: That was Led Zeppelin's You Shook Me, from their first album which predates ACDC.

February 10 2011 at 8:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to voidistant's comment
Hilary Rothing

I stand corrected. Duly noted.

February 10 2011 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The part I didn't understand about this episode(which was definetly redeeming from the L.A auditions) was the quick montage over those "California Girls". There were about 3-5 girls that sounded very well but we didn't even get a name for any of them. Why show us them if you don't tell us their names? There are plenty of other times when we don't hear the contestants sing and we just see the contestant with the golden ticket. But this time we actually heard them sing and we didn't even get a name? Weird stuff.

Other than that I thought S.F was decent in talent. There weren't any that blew me away, but maybe some will grow on me. The girl, Julie, that J.LO thought was a "possible" winner did way too much with that song. First off "Summertime" is a tough song to sing given it's place in American Idol and Fantasia, but secondly she did way too many runs and pitchy stuff with the notes, I thought. I really wasn't that impressed. Sure she had style and a decent backstory but definetly didn't think she was a contender, at least not yet.

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February 10 2011 at 4:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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February 09 2011 at 11:39 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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