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Idol visit to Charleston proves a Southern discomfort

More than 10,000 in Charleston, S.C., which was recently named the friendliest city in America. What? Many of this group seemed to have more sneer than civility.
Aretha Gardner, who portrayed herself as "the next big thang" fit the bill in some ways. Choosing a Whitney Houston song was one, even if singing it wasn't. Gardner was of the more obnoxious performers we've seen all season. Worse yet, the fashion police would have a field day with her.
 
If Gardner was irascible, Joshua Boson was a shrill, annoying whiner - one that was plain awful to listen to during and after his foul attempt at Dreamgirls tune "I'm Telling You I'm Not Going."
 
Interestingly enough, Boson claims the auditions are "rigged." He's right, they're rigged to exacerbate the worst (like him) and inevitably showcase the best. Memo to Josh: don't hate us for wanting talent.
 
A pleasant departure from the gnarly norm was Oliver Highman, whose wife gave birth to their first child before he was able to audition, had an adorable girl named Emma Grace. Highman returned with a vibrato- and falsetto-laden take on "Get There"; so much of a vocal gymnastics exercise routine that listeners lost the song's message and affect.
 
Had Highman given a more simplistic, sincere rendition, the first-day father may have stuck around during Hollywood week.
 
But on this day, three glazed looks from the panel were followed by three no votes.
 
Highman, unfazed (possibly relieved) by the rejection, brought his wife and daughter in to meet the judges, smiled and shook hands and happily departed.
 
Same goes for classy Air Force C-17 pilot Lyndsey Goodman, who hoped to fly and sing, had a dignified, professional response to the panel's rejection after a serviceable effort at "Black Velvet."
 
Michelle and Jeffrey Lampkin, a brother and sister team, seem whacky from the exterior, but their spin on R. Kelly and Celine Dion's "I'm Your Angel" was all business. In complete agreement with Cowell, they were "a breath of fresh air." Both siblings landed a goldenrod invitation to Hollywood.
 
A total of 23 contestants from Charleston are going to Hollywood. Perhaps there was some talent?

Look for show emcee Ryan Seacrest to join the judging panel next week in Omaha. The better news: only one more week of auditions.

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