Michael Becker / FOX
Did the American Idol judge find any talent deep in the heart of Texas?
Sure they did—though a bunch of it came from outside the Lone Star State.
Nicki Minaj was an immediate champion of 19-year-old Papa Peachez, a self-described "big black woman trapped in a little boy's body" from Jackson, Miss., who sang his own music about being a "gypsy on the rise...a woman in disguise."
"I think that you are a superstar," raved Nicki. Keith Urban wasn't ready for that jelly, finding "Papa Don't Peachez" a little too theatrical for the competition, but Mariah Carey and her "small yes" helped Nicki rally for Randy Jackson's deciding vote after he initially said no.
Everybody wins, because Papa Peachez is going to Hollywood!
Then there were the more obvious contestants, like Miss University of Arkansas Ann Difani, whose husband nominated her for an on-camera audition slot.
So, Randy Jackson went, saw and summoned her to San Antonio, where she subsequently impressed and said she was "absolutely" ready to be separated from her hubby for months at a time—for a good cause, of course. Off to Hollywood then!
The judges also really liked 16-year-old Sanni M'Mairura, who just had a really great vibe about him and, luckily, a great voice within, as well as 19-year-old Adam Sanders, who belted out Etta James like nobody's business.
Then on to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., where auditions kicked off without Mariah, who was stuck in traffic ("We don't have this in Manhattan," she complained, apparently never having looked out the window in Manhattan), or Nicki, who was rehearsing for the American Music Awards.
There was no denying Iraq war vet Matt Farmer, who auditioned with his miracle daughter in his arms, the 3-year-old born after doctors had told him the medication he was on to treat a traumatic brain injury would probably leave him sterile.
Instead, he's headed to the next round of American Idol. No such luck, however, for Stephanie Sanson of the, er, punk band You Only Live Once. She proceeded to scream Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" and skip off into the ether, leaving her surprised-looking bandmates behind.
"Not ever!" vowed Randy.
Perhaps one of the most memorable voices of the day was the one belonging to 24-year-old Navy man Micah Johnson, whose story looked to be more one of inspiration than aspiration after he revealed he was undergoing speech therapy for nerve damage suffered in what was supposed to be a routine tonsillectomy.
But he was amazing! His was clear as a bell on Zac Brown Band's "Chicken Fried" and the looks on the judges' faces were priceless!
If Micah maintains this level of performance throughout, he could win the whole darn thing!