American Idol Baton Rouge auditions: Did Burnell Taylor top the night? What about Charlie Askew?

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 24, 2013 

The most memorable thing about Thursday's episode of "American Idol"? It was only an hour.

The episode, which featured auditions in Baton Rouge, La., was a nice break from the two-hour audition episodes we've seen so far this season. Fortunately, a 60-minute show didn't leave much time for the played-out feud between "Idol" judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey.

As for the talent, we saw many singers advance to Hollywood. But none of them seemed like potential finalists. The coveted last-singer spot went to Burnell Taylor, who developed a stronger passion for music after Hurricane Katrina. His performance was fine, but my favorite singer of the night was Maddie Assel, a singer reminiscent of "Idol" alum Haley Reinhart.

Here's a recap of Thursday's show.

Megan Miller is Miss Greater Baton Rouge. But wait, there's more to her story. She was involved in an accident three days before her audition. She's scheduled to have surgery right after singing for the judges. She performs a very strong rendition of "Something's Got a Hold on Me" by Etta James. "This girl's a natural," Randy says. Nicki calls her an "undeniable superstar." She unanimously advances to Hollywood. And her surgery went fine, Seacrest says.

Charlie Askew, 17, admits he's always been "socially awkward." He's relied on music as a refuge. He performs the intro to Queen's "Breakthrough." It's, um, interesting. He performs a second song, which is also a little operatic. His voice is intriguing, but it seems better suited for theater than "Idol." The judges love him. "I was pleasantly surprised by your voice," Nicki says. Randy calls him "seemingly dark, strange, but cool." He gets a four-way "yes" for Hollywood.

Maddie Assel was nominated by her grandmother to audition for "Idol." She sings a pretty impressive rendition of 'Oh! Darling." Immediately, she reminds me of Haley Reinhart...curly hair and all. No surprise, she lists Haley as one of her musical influences. She unanimously advances to Hollywood.

Quick montage of bad singers...set to the "True Blood" theme song. Awesome.

Paul Jolley wants to be like his grandfather, who recently passed away. He performs a decent rendition of Rascal Flatts' "I Won't Let Go." It's not incredibly unique, but he has a nice tone to his voice. "Your voice is really, really pretty," Nicki says. He unanimously advances to Hollywood. He leaves the audition and shares a big hug with his grandma.

Chris Barthel has an alter ego when he performs, but his alter ego doesn't have a name. Yet. Nicki wants to call his alter ego "Mushroom," presumably because of Chris' hair. He performs a disastrous rendition of Adam Lambert's "If I Had You." Four-way "no" for Hollywood.

Dr. Calvin Peters is a physician in his third year of residency. He sometimes sings at work. He delivers a really nice performance of a Maxwell tune. "I like your vibe," Keith says. Nicki adds, "I think you have a lot more technique than a lot of people we've already sent through to Hollywood." He unanimously advances.

Rapid-fire footage of successful contestants: Michelle Montezeri, Breanna Steer and Brandy Hotard.

Dustin Watts is a firefighter who performs "She's Every Woman" by Garth Brooks. It's fine, I guess. Nothing incredibly life-changing. The judges like him. "You look like a country star," Nicki says. He gets a four-way "yes" for Hollywood.

And...it's already time for the last singer of the night.

Burnell Taylor, 19, comes from a musical family. Hurricane Katrina enhanced his passion for music. He performs a nice rendition of "I'm Here" from "The Color Purple." He deserves to advance, but I won't lie: With all the hype surrounding this guy, I expected a little more. The judges are impressed. They love him. "While everybody else auditions, you entertained us," Nicki says. He unanimously advances.

We're done! Some 35 singers advanced in Baton Rouge, Seacrest says.

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