‘American Idol’: an episode without a bad audition — really

We’ll give Nigel some props for this one.

We are still reeling from it as much as anyone — we literally just watched an entire episode of “American Idol,” and not once did we witness someone go up in front of the judges, embarrass themselves royally, or simply fulfill some part of a dare that their buddies put them up to in return for a large pizza. It was nice to see the singing competition actually (gasp!) take a page from “The Voice” here in realizing that you can have compelling auditions without the riffraff.

Over the course of the breezy hour, we only saw one contestant who didn’t get a golden ticket in coal miner Shane Bruce — and thanks to his charming story (and the fact that he called Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” “the song from ‘Shrek'”), we really wanted to see him advance. Every else was a success story — from a 15-year old in Eben Franckewitz who was trying too hard to be Justin Bieber 2.0 to the return of Travis Orlando. If you remember, Travis was going through some tough times when he audition last year … but somehow, things have gotten even worse for him since that time and he is set out to give himself a better life.

Now that we are done giving Nigel Lythgoe his credit for giving us an episode with nothing but great singers, let’s focus on the people who we are hoping to see on this show for a long time.

Heejun Han – We were so expecting this guy to be terrible, and thus he has become our new Susan Boyle — a contestant with a ridiculous edit who turned out to be a rather great singer. We’re still deciding what part of his personality we’ve more curious about — his dance moves or the fact that he was too intimidated by Ryan Seacrest to stand next to him.

Reed Grimm – Even though he’s a bit crazy with his funky choice of audition music, the guy’s got a definite personality that brings to mind a touch of Casey Abrams with a bit of Taylor Hicks thrown in there. The only issue here? He looks like just about every other white male singer currently alive and doesn’t pop off the screen at all.

Hallie Day – The coveted spot went to a girl who tried to find fame at 15, failed, and ended up turning to addiction before finally finding love and chasing away her demons. In some ways, she reminded us of a female Chris Rene from “The X Factor” … though her story may be even rougher than his. Focusing purely on the voice, she is luckily a fantastic singer, and there are few people alive who would actually go to a talent competition and perform “I Will Survive” (let along knock it out of the part).

Who was your favorite auditioner in Pittsburgh, and did you prefer the show without the typical round of terrible singers?

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