American Idol Features Sitcom Tunes, Planking in Pittsburgh
01/20/2012 AT 07:30 AM EST
The gold streak continued on American Idol Thursday as auditions headed to Pittsburgh, where 38 tickets to Hollywood were handed out to contestants.
It seemed like there was less time – mercifully – in the one-hour show for the ridiculousness that often unfolds at auditions. Thursday's show featured, for the most part, talented and creative performers. Here's a sampling:
Heejun Han, 22, surprised judges when the nervous New Yorker (originally from Korea) sang Michael Bolton's "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" with control and a "beautiful voice," according to Jennifer Lopez. Randy Jackson was "really impressed."
Reed Grimm, 26, has been singing with his family since the age of 2. His rendition of the theme song from the sitcom Family Matters was a fun and funky mix of talent and silliness. Watch a clip above. Steven Tyler called it "genius," and Jennifer said it was "so exciting to watch."
While her sister planked in front of the judges, Samantha Novacek sang Faith Hill's "Like We Never Loved at All." Jennifer "really loved it," while Steven deemed her performance "sweet and clever."
When prompted, Eben Franckewitz, 15, said, "People say I look like Justin Bieber," but the jury's still out about that. His version of "Ain't No Sunshine," however, was unanimously praised. "Some people are just born with it. Some people are just born to do it," Jennifer said. "I think you're one of those people."
Travis Orlando, who auditioned last season, showed improvement when he sang "Isn't She Lovely," the judges said. Though they hesitated, they sent him through. It was a break from a string of bad luck for the high school dropout, whose mother left the family, leaving him to move into a shelter with his sick dad. "I'm doing this not only to show myself," Travis, 17, said, "but to show my mom that I am worth something."
Hallie Day, a waitress from Boston, told a story of chasing stardom at a young age before finding herself in the hospital after she "drank a bottle of pills" in a suicide attempt. Appropriately, she sang "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor – and impressed the judges. "She could win," Jennifer told cameras as the show ended.
But it wasn't a happy ending for everyone. Shane Bruce, a 19-year-old coal miner from West Virginia, spoke of "chasing a dream" but fell short in the eyes of the judges when he sang "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley. In the hour's most heartbreaking moment, they told him to come back next year.
Idol returns Sunday on Fox, following the NFL game.