American Idol Recap: Philly Vanilli

And the award for worst American Idol episode ever goes to…

OK, OK, it’s still Season 9’s Top 12 announcement night — where Katelyn Epperly, Lilly Scott, Todrick Hall and Alex Lambert got axed in favor of Paige Miles, Katie Stevens, Andrew Garcia and High-School Student Aaron Kelly — but Season 15’s Philadelphia Auditions is definitely in contention for first runner-up.

Perhaps a rip in the space-time continuum swallowed up every talented vocalist in a 100-mile radius of the City of Brotherly Love and deposited them on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike. Or maybe the show’s producers chose to focus on marginally talented teenagers who’ll meet an even grimmer fate come Hollywood Week.

Whatever the case, when the episode’s high point (pun intended) involves a Brooklyn songbird whose speaking voice/demeanor have you tweeting the word “Quaaludes?” into the bitter January air, it’s hard not to let one’s inner conspiracy theorist run rampant.

Maybe the four-plus minutes of botched audio that plagued many East Coast viewers was a silent gift from EP Trish Kinane to the Idoloonie Nation? Maybe Fox asked Kinane to deliver an entertainment-free hour so the premiere of the ludicrous Second Chanceread my review here — would seem scintillating by comparison? Or perhaps we can blame everything on cattle-call guest judge Clay Aiken and his bubbling cauldron of bad vibes and fading relevancy? (More on Clay’s beef with The House That Kelly Clarkson Built here.)

Wherever you assign the blame, let me run down the half-dozen Golden Ticket recipients we got to see from the spectacularly poor Philly auditions in order from least- to most-promising:

6. Isaac Cole, “Love Like Crazy” | Fifteen-year-old with a dubious talk-sing style and a manufactured twang duped the judges with his Bieber-y locks and “I’m a fast learner” pleas. If he advances to the voting rounds, heaven help us all.

5. Gianna Isabella, “House of the Rising Sun” | Her mom is the legendary Brenda K. Starr, which — since it gave Jenny From the Block a chance to share a little tidbit from her past — is likely the only reason Gianna got through (despite questionable breath control and more than a few clipped notes).

4. Sara Sturm, “Lips Are Moving” | Eh.

3. John Arthur Greene, “Somebody Like You” | No doubt, it was a heartbreak to hear his backstory about accidentally killing his brother with a loaded gun while playing cops and robbers as kids. But while clearly not untalented, the Broadway actor’s affected enunciation and hiccupy inflections had me siding with Harry’s “no” vote.

2. Harrison Cohen, “No Time” (original track) | His Spanish guitar-tinged original track was fairly catchy. But the teenager’s lothario shtick proved tiresome after 10 seconds, and his actual vocals didn’t sound muscular enough to carry him through the live voting rounds.

1. Jenn Blosil, “Radioactive” | Brooklyn chick whose self-admitted glassy-eyed demeanor made me wonder if she was a joke contestant turned out to be the surprise of the night. She brought color and shading to Imagine Dragons’ ubiquitous hit and her work at the piano was rock-solid, too. I’m intrigued to see if she’s got the mental toughness to survive the grueling Idol process.

On that note, I pass the mic to you! What did you think of Night 3 of the American Idol Season 15 tryouts? Would it rank in your Top 5 worst Idol episode ever? Sound off below!