American Idol 2013 continued January 17 with a round of auditions from Chicago. Following nearly two hours of mixed-bag entertainment from a host of wanna-bes both talented and not, a pair of performers closed out the episode with a set of impressive numbers from their near-impeccable pipes.
Up first was the decidedly quirky Kez Ban, a self-proclaimed up and coming fire performer and balloon artist from North Carolina. Wearing a red dress, glittering hat and boots and toting an acoustic guitar, she faced judges Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson with an excellent rendition of "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio. At the judges' request, she moved on to an original tune that included use of her guitar.
Randy called Kez "very interesting" and Mariah cooed over her "realness." Nicki declared her "very captivating" and paid her one of the night's biggest compliments with "I want to pay to come to [your] show." Keith agreed with the others and said he liked her voice. She earned four yeses and achieved her big goal: a trip to Hollywood.
After one more less-than-memorable performer finished up, 21-year-old ice cream scooper Lazaro Arbos of Naples, Florida closed out the show with the evening's most touching segment. His pre-audition segment featured Lazaro and his parents discussing his severe stuttering problem, which began when he was only 6 years old and never responded to therapy.
Lazaro faced the panelists looking adorable in a blue shirt and pink bow tie, and went on to croon his way through "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." All four judges were very impressed and Lazaro cried over the heaping helping of praise he received. Keith encouraged him to just skip talking and sing all the time, while Randy called the offering "really, really nice" and "very pleasant." Nicki enjoyed his "vibe" and Mariah called him "adorable." Like Kez, Lazaro earned a ticket to Hollywood, and tearfully expressed his gratitude to the panelists.
How will Lazaro and Kez fare in Tinsel Town? Keep watching American Idol 2013 to find out.