'American Idol': Portland, Oregon Auditions
As the Idol auditions start to wind down the judges were in the Pacific Northwest of Portland, Oregon. This is the first time Idol has been to the state of Oregon. They are no strangers to the Northwest. Seattle auditions were held during season six. It was there Jordin Sparks auditioned and eventually became that season's American Idol.
- The City of Roses - Portland
- Brittany Zika - #1 Sara Bareilles Fan
- Jermaine Jones - Mama's Boy
- Britnee Kellogg - Looks Like Britney
- Jessica Phillips - Loving Caretaker
The City of Roses - Portland
"American Idol" moved westbound to the enchanted "City of Roses" known as Portland, Oregon. The reason it’s called the “City of Roses” is for the renowned International Rose Test Garden. Rosarians from around the world take part in a one day judging from international rose experts. It is the oldest official public rose test garden in the U.S. that has continuously been operating since its founding in 1917. Mt. Hood is 20 miles east of Portland. According to Popular Science’s website, PopSci, it is ranked number one as the greenest and most environmentally friendly city in the U.S. Portland is known for its breathtaking nature, how did it stack up with its first “American Idol” auditions?
Brittany Zika - #1 Sara Bareilles Fan
She had a dream one night of performing with her idol, Sara Bareilles. When Bareilles came to her hometown of Portland for a concert it was sold-out. Her mother managed to get two tickets. At the concert Brittany Zika made a makeshift sign that read “Will you sing “Gravity” with me?” Lo and behold Bareilles saw the sign and asked her to come onstage to sing. After that extraordinary experience Zika was determined to try out for “American Idol.”
As she approached the judging area she tripped while stepping onto the Idol logo platform. She looked like a blonde Zooey Deschanel with the oversized black rimmed glasses, bangs and a fedora hat. Her audition song was not by Sara Bareilles, surprisingly enough. Zika sang Brandi Carlile’s “The Story.” When she took off her hat and glasses at the end she looked amazing. The first audition of the night got a ticket to Hollywood.
Jermaine Jones - Mama's Boy
This warm hearted mama's boy stood out because of his enormous height (6 feet 8 inches tall), much like the majestic Mt. Hood seen in Portland. Jones showed a lot of charisma while singing Luther Vandross’ version of “Superstar.” While waiting on the judge’s decision he was literally sweating from his performance, not to mention nerves. After Jones got his golden ticket he called his mother to tell her he’s going to Hollywood. She was screaming for joy so loudly it was easily heard on TV.
During the middle of the show we were inundated with some stupid auditions such as a fast food industry worker, as he put it, tried to be a comedian too. His rendition of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” was a definite train wreck. This was not a song to do for an audition. Another annoying guy kept trying to be cute and funny, which wasn’t working. He butchered Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” For the first time this season we saw a montage of rejected contestants who came out crying, bawling or going ballistic.
Britnee Kellogg - Looks Like Britney
When we first saw her she looked almost identical to Britney Spears. If I had walked into the room for the first time that’s who I thought it was. The single mom with two boys, they looked like twins, was married to a basketball player. During her marriage she was not able to pursue her dream of music. Her husband had a roving eye for other women, so the marriage ended. Appropriately enough her audition song, “You’re No Good”, was likely a dig to her ex. With her sons and other family she’s going to Hollywood.
Another audition worth mentioning was a Liberian refugee named Romeo Diahn who now lives in Portland. He lived in a refugee camp for nearly ten years elsewhere in Africa. His version of “This is Love” by Bob Marley earned him a ticket, though Jennifer Lopez was a bit trepidacious to say “yes.”
Jessica Phillips - Loving Caretaker
In true “American Idol” fashion they closed with another heartbreaking story. This one related to being a caretaker for a stroke victim. Those who’ve had a loved one suffer a stroke know what it’s like with their rehabilitation. Jessica Phillip’s boyfriend suffered a stroke over a year ago. They were out having dinner when it happened. As he got out of the coma her boyfriend didn’t even know her. She has been there for him with the rehabilitation. For Phillips’ audition she did Faith Evan’s “Again.” At the end it was extremely touching to see her boyfriend D’Angelo hugging her when she came out with the ticket.
American Idol Official Website, AmericanIdol.com
Portland's Rose Garden - International Rose Test Garden, RoseGardenStore.org
USDA Forest Service - Mt. Hood National Forest, FS.USDA.gov
Elizabeth Svoboda, "America's 50 Greenest Cities," PopSci.com
Adam Graham, "'American Idol' Snaps Jermain Jones, Jessica Phillips," MTV.com
Sammi-T, "American Idol: Recap For February 1, 2012," TVGrapevine.com
All photos from Wikimedia Commons.