American Idol Season 9 Atlanta Auditions

Tonight was the second night of American Idol Season 9 auditions, coming to us this time from Atlanta, Georgia.

With guest judge Mary J. Blige helping out, 25 golden tickets were given to 25 very happy singers.

A quick review of some of tonight’s American Idol auditions, courtesy of

With her wild curls and neon pants, Memphis, Tennessee’s Keia Johnson, 26, who won Miss Congeniality in her Miss America bid, started the show off with a bang, putting a smile on guest judge Mary J. Blige’s face with a gospel-y run through the Celine Dion “Titanic” tune “My Heart Will Go On.”

Continuing Tuesday’s parade of medical backstories, 26-year-old Joliet, Illinois, native Jermaine Sellers — a church singer and caretaker for his mother, who suffers from spina bifida — elicited some whoops with his buttery-soul take on Joan Osborne’s “What If God Was One Of Us,” which Mary J. dubbed “anointed.”

One of the night’s most inspiring stories didn’t need any ER drama to make it compelling. Bridge-jumping Vonore, Tennessee, girl Vanessa Wolfe, 19, hoped that a twangy turn through Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” on “Idol” would help her get out of a going-nowhere life in her small town. Kara DioGuardi appreciated her country wholesomeness, and even though Simon thought she was “ill-prepared” for the pressure of Hollywood, he loved her authenticity and gave her a golden ticket.

Other standouts included South Dakota waitress Mallorie Haley, whose farm-bred good looks and Jewel-like countrified take on Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” got an instant yes from Blige and raves from the rest of the crew for her confidence.

But the night’s unexpected treat was Tennessee cop Bryan Walker, 25, who pleasantly surprised the three judges — Cowell inexplicably took a time-out during Walker’s audition — with his Ruben Studdard-ized version of the Carpenters’ “Superstar,” which brought to mind last year’s lovable roughneck Michael Sarver.

Sometimes, though, even the potential 10-car pileups can surprise, such as the instantly annoying “guitar girl,” whose corny Halloween getup turned Cowell off from the jump. Mary J. summed it up with a succinct “I don’t get it.” But, somehow, despite eight seasons of failed costumed auditions, Holly Harden’s throaty cover of Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man” ended up charming Kara, Randy Jackson and Simon enough to put her through.

Saving the worst/best for last, Wednesday’s show ended with the obligatory too-old-for-the-show throwaway, 62-year-old Vietnam vet General Larry Platt. He busted the room up with an original breakdancing ode to saggy drawers, “Pants on the Ground.” It was no “I Am Your Brother,” but Simon predicted the ultra-catchy song could be a hit someday.

American Idol Season 9 auditions continue next Tuesday in Chicago; Shania Twain will be the guest judge.

ATL 10 @ Yahoo! Video