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‘American Idol’ Oklahoma City Auditions Recap: Puppets, Forgotten Lyrics + An Inspirational Kid With Cystic Fibrosis

American Idol
Imeh Akpanudosen, Getty Images

On tonight’s (Jan. 31) episode of Season 12 of ‘American Idol,’ the show hit Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, the home state and former stompin’ grounds of Carrie Underwood, one of the biggest Idols in the show’s history. Here’s how things shook out in OKC, where puppets, an instance of forgotten lyrics to the national anthem and an inspirational kid with cystic fibrosis left their mark.

Karl Skinner: This 26-year-old ginger kid from Joplin, Missouri auditioned because the bus pulled through his town. Seriously. The show had buses visit small towns to mine for talent tucked in the far corners of the country. He said he’d prove he’s got soul. He had a good voice and a rocker’s wail when he did ‘I Feel Good,’ but the footwork was questionable. He strapped on his guitar and came to life and lit up the room. He made it through to the next round.

Nate Tao: The singer, 24, is the son of two deaf parents with a beautiful and melodious voice, which he showed off when he sang Stevie Wonder’s ‘For Once in My Life’ while wearing a white shirt and tie. He was effortless and charming, and he won the entire panel over, as he got a “yes” four times. Oh, how we wish his parents could hear his terrific and well-toned voice.

Halie Hiburn: She is a ventriloquist with Oscar the hand puppet and they dueted on ‘(I Want to Be) A Cowboy’s Sweetheart.’ She was super pretty and humorous, but when she yodeled, she lost us. So it was a duet with a puppet and yodeling. Wait, what? She ditched the puppet, the yodeling and the ho-hum gimmick, singing ‘More Than Anyone.’ Oscar, while cute, held her back. So did the yodeling. She showed she can sing and is going through to the next round. But she almost blew it with all the stupid bells and whistles.

Zoanette Johnson: This confident, room-filling diva wore a color-blocked outfit and sang the national anthem, something she decided she would do if Obama was re-elected. She forgot the lyrics, getting an assist from Mariah Carey, who didn’t seem all that amused. But Nicki Minaj was obsessed with her — that was the actual word the queen of the Barbz used — and they sent her through, more for her personality and her sass than for her singing ability.

Anastacia Freeman: She cried before she entered the audition room and took off her heels before she sang Toni Braxton’s ‘Unbreak My Heart.’ It was really bad, but she believes that God told her to audition after she watched last year’s winner Phillip Phillips be crowned. The big G must be tone deaf. During her exit interview, she declared she’s done with listening to Carey’s music and said she heard Minaj worships the devil so she’s glad to be bouncing from the ‘Idol’ mess.

Kayden Stephenson: This 16-year-old blonde, who has teen idol potential, is suffering from cystic fibrosis. He knows his time is limited so he is making the most of it while he can. He is truly an inspiration and he wasn’t just a story that tugged at the heartstrings. He actually can sing, as evidenced by his rendition of Stevie Wonder’s ‘I Wish.’ He was like a mini-Michael Jackson and there was no question as to why he got upstreamed to Hollywood.

The show’s coda was a visit from Season 10 and 11 judge Steven Tyler, dressed in drag with a blonde wig and red-painted lips. He faked like he was there to audition but it was obvious that it was Tyler under the hair and makeup. He sure was one ugly woman! Love ya, mean it.

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