We're in Cleveland: The first performer is Jacklyn Crum, who's only 16 and who tells Paula she loves her because she's pretty. She's obviously scared but she sings beautifully. Simon and Randy start hedging about her inexperience, but guest host LL Cool J says you've got to start somewhere and, with Paula's yes, she makes it.
Up next is one of the least attractive women ever to appear on the show. I assume she's going to be great, because otherwise it would be too mean to shine the spotlight on her. She looks 50 but she's only 18. LL Cool J laughs out loud. She's singing "I Could Have Danced All Night" with no pop quality at all. They all like her voice, and Simon lectures her about how you just can't go into pop music and look as bad as she does. They are nice to her as they reject her. LL gets up out of his chair and goes over and hugs her. So far, LL is a total sweetheart, a male Paula.
There's a big montage of bad singers. Then we get Scott Savol, who talks a little like that Sling Blade guy. He sings "Superstar." He says his dad doesn't think he can amount to anything. He's got a lovely voice, but again, lacks the looks. "You've just proved your dad wrong," Simon says. He makes it.
A mime is next. She silently mimes an Aerosmith song. Lotsa jokes about how she's better than most.
A farm boy comes out in overalls and sings the Charlie Chaplin song "Smile," which he identifies as a Nat King Cole song. They love him.
The Jackson sisters. They are very large, but charismatic. First, Lashunda. No! She cries. Leandra is next, crying, knowing her sister didn't make it. She sings "Summertime," but it's all off key, much worse than Lashunda. They are nice to her. LL gets up again to hug her and they all get up and hug her. We see her come out crying.
Briana Davis is next, dressed in lots of stripes, singing "Phantom of the Opera" beautifully ... until she gets to the high notes, which are a horror. But they all like her and she gets through.
"Aw, we all love this boy," I say about Anthony Federov. I've seen him on the teasers and thought was going to be the new Clay. They start saying he reminds them of Clay Aiken. As a boy, he had a tracheotomy and was told he might never speak again. Okay, we love him.
For the second half of the show, we're in Orlando. First up, Marissa Ganz sings "White Boys" from "Hair." She's white, so ... what is really the point of this song choice? She's horrible. They are aghast. "I don't know if that's good or bad." It was bad. She's followed by some other terrible people.
Vonzell Solomon sings "Chain of Fools." She fancies it up beyond belief, but she's good. She's trying touchingly hard. They love her.
Dezmond Meeks tries to do James Brown, "I Feel Good." He's wearing two-tone shoes. Paula loves him. Randy is not convinced. Simon thinks it's stagey and says no. So Paula "feels like quittin'." Paula asserts that he did James Brown better than James Brown, which is so not true. Simon has said no. Randy agrees based on Paula, and he makes it. He seems like a sweet kid. He overdid it, but how was he supposed to know where the line was between overdoing it and performing? Our hearts go out to him.
Note that they put two cities together tonight. I guess Cleveland and Orlando were the worst cities in the auditions. Tomorrow's San Francisco. Just one city. So presumably better than tonight's slightly subpar show.