American Idol St. Louis auditions: Johnny Keyser, Lauren Gray advance to Hollywood

February 2, 2012 

The best thing about Thursday's episode of "American Idol"? It marked the end of this season's audition phase. Next week, we're going to Hollywood!

Hallelujah. Thursday's show, which featured St. Louis auditions, took back-story fatigue to an entirely new level.

We got the single mom. The kid who was bullied in high school. The guy whose dad went to rehab.

Unfortunately, nobody really impressed me. But maybe I'm just sick of auditions. Anyway, here's the full recap.


The show kicks off with a friendly reminder that Carrie Underwood auditioned in this city. No pressure.

Johnny Keyser, 22: His parents divorced when he was 3, and he's lived with his dad for a long time. "He's like my brother more than my dad," Johnny says. He performs a pretty good rendition of "A Change Is Gonna Come." I'm lukewarm at first, but I really start to like him toward the end of the song. He unanimously advances to Hollywood.

Rachelle Lamb, 26, is a mom who's going through a divorce. She says her ex held her back from her dreams. She brings her little daughter into the audition and sings Faith Hill's "Find Somebody New." (My fellow "Idol" blogger JoeyTube wisely noted the song is actually called "Dearly Beloved.") I think it's just average, but the judges go crazy. She gets a three-way "yes" for Hollywood.

Reis Kloeckener, 20, was bullied in high school...until he found choir! He looks like Justin Bieber. He performs a pretty sleepy version of "Lean On Me." However, the judges love it and unanimously send him to Hollywood.

Ethan Jones, 22, has a strange cut on his forehead. But wait...that's not his back story. He dropped out of school to be a full-time musician. His dad founded a band, but later went to rehab. That's about it. Ethan sings "I'll Be" and it's just OK. But...surprise...he unanimously advances to Hollywood. That seems to be the trend tonight.

Mark Ingram, 28, works at the hotel where the auditions are being held. He sings "Overjoyed" and it's a little, um, over the top. He tries a second song, "Part-Time Lover," and it's just as extreme. Three-way "no" for Hollywood. He also has some extreme sweat going on.

Lauren Gray, 22, usually performs with her dad. Her family owns and operates a wedding shop. She sings a bluesy version of Adele's "One and Only." I'd best describe this performance as LOUD. She has potential, but I'd like to see something more restrained. Nonetheless, she deserves a shot. Three-way "yes" for Hollywood.

And...we're done! Hollywood, here we come!

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