‘American Idol’ Recap: Zoanette Johnson Brings the Crazy in Oklahoma City (VIDEO)

By: Cortney Wills / January 31, 2013

'Idol'-'X Factor' Face-Off!
Nicki Vs. Britney in the facial Olympics,
The FOX show hit Oklahoma City for the first time for its final audition stop of the season on Thursday night. There, the judges find a few fascinating characters, but not a ton of talented contestants.

First off, I wonder what Kelly Clarkson thinks about judge Randy Jackson calling hometown hero, Carrie Underwood, “the greatest American Idol to date!” during the opening.

The first audition is a bad omen as Kari Skinner, 26 is a red-haired pizza chef who fancies himself a soul singer. He tries James Brown’s “I Feel Good” with full choreography before busting out his guitar at judge Keith Urban’srequest. Now, he sings an original song and his voice is not impressive, but he seems to be winning the judges over with his personality. He’s through to Hollywood. Annoying.

Next is 24-year-old Nate Tao, a sign-language instructor with two deaf parents. He gives a nice rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “For One In My Life” and makes it through. Nothing amazing, but descent.

After a montage of bad auditions, we meet the first real weirdo of the night, Halie Hilburn. The 27-year-old Texan has been a ventriloquist since age nine and brings her puppet, Oscar, in to audition with her. She sings Patsy Montana’s “(I Want To Be A) Cowboy’s Sweetheart” and the judges seem amused and confused.

She asks for fifteen seconds to sing another song, and this time they’re buying it. “I think Oscar’s holding you back,” says Keith before he and the panel vote her through to Hollywood, sans puppet. This is another clear case of personality winning over the panel, and is again, annoying.

At this point, the episode feels like a dud, and right before my eyes glaze over, I catch a glimpse of the next contestant, 19-year-old Zoanette Johnson. At first, I’m certain this is another spoof. Everything from her crazy weave, insane outfit, and tattooed thighs suggest she’s just here for a laugh.

She chooses the national anthem as her audition song, because she bet her family she would sing it if President Barack Obama got re-elected. From note one, I’m amazed by her gaping gob, possibly the biggest mouth I’ve ever seen in real life. I’m more amazed by the sounds that come out of it, especially one glass-shattering high note that makes Keith fall off his chair.

She’s really giving it her all and judge Nicki Minaj is feeling it. She’s sweating now and adds an impromptu step session for the big finish. She sounds terrible, but the audition is hilarious and incredibly entertaining. It’s more so once she stops singing and proceeds to rejoice, then cry, then furiously chastise the President for not inviting her to The White House.

After a couple more mutterings, she does the butterfly while asking, “Am I going to Hollywood, Y’all?” before snapping her fingers and rushing them , “C’mon I got a lunch date.” Of course, the judges will vote no and give her kudos for her pizazz. I’m pretty sure she made history as the first contestant to address the President through the telecast, but I’m worried how the seemingly unstable hopeful will handle the rejection.

I think she may need medicine. Or may have too much medicine. Wait. Is that a golden ticket? She made it through. What just happened? I’m now convinced the judges need medication as they have dismissed all judging parameters this episode.

In the only really good singing moment of the episode, we meet 16-year-old Kayden Stephenson. The charming teen has been living with cystic fibrosis since he was eighteen months old, with a life expectancy of 35. “Basically I don’t have as long to live as other people,” he says.

His condition makes him appear younger than he is, and propels him to make the most out of life. He sings Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” and melts the judges’ hearts with his sweet, soulful voice. Nicki is reminded of a young Michael Jackson and is inspired by his story. So am I. This kid is the real deal.

Now that the auditions are over, the real battle begins during Hollywood Week where judges will narrow contestants down to the Top 40. My guess is there won’t be too many on that list from Oklahoma.

What did you think of Thursday’s crop of crazy contestants?

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