“American Idol” returned to its roots on Thursday with a kinder, gentler episode filled with inspiring stories designed to tug at the heartstrings and make it even sadder when some of those getting good news in Chicago are summarily booted off in Hollywood.
The biggest story by far was Lazaro Arbos. Cuban-American Arbos has a stutter bad enough that even a simple sentence is difficult for him, and the judges had to help him get the words out when he told them the name of his song. But as soon as he broke out “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” all of that went away, and he got four yes votes from the overwhelmed panel.
Is Arbos likely to win? Probably not. But he’s a great story and he inspired anyone who watched. That, traditionally, is what the audition episodes are all about.
Unconventional for a different reason was Kez Ban. Ban doesn’t have the look of a pop singer – she has the look of someone who plays with fire for a living, which, as a fire performer, is what she does – and she acted like she didn’t much care how she did and was just there on a lark. Maybe she had a gig down the street and showed up to kill time.
But whether she was slumming it or simply sandbagging, Ban got four yes votes and moved on to Hollywood. Then she complained about the paperwork she’d have to fill out. Her voice was good enough to go far, but she’ll probably have to act like she cares a little bit about how she does if she wants to succeed in the competition.
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