Could Next Idol Sing “Sweet Home Chicago”?

Handful of Chicago hopefuls survive first live performance


Like chicken soup for the soul who enjoys the public humiliation of untalented strangers, American Idol is back.

And three of the contestants moving on to the next round are, drum roll please...from Chicago! There are only 12 men and 12 women remaining, giving the Second City residents a respectable 8% chance of coming in first.

Jermaine Sellers, 27, from Joliet, was hoping to get votes with his rendition of "Get Here" by Brenda Russell (made famous by Oleta Adams). The judges didn't give him the rave reviews he was looking for , but fortunately he garnered enough votes to move on to the next round of competition. Let's just hope there aren't any more tiffs with American Idol pianist Michael Orland!

John Park, 21, hails from Northbrook and is a junior at Northwestern University. Describing smooth crooners like Stevie Wonder, Gavin DeGraw, and John Legend as his major influences, perhaps it's no surprise he chose the blues classic "God Bless the Child" for his first live performance . But he too got mixed reviews from the panel on Wednesday. Oh no! Maybe fans of his mutual crush Shania Twain dialed in to save him because he also will be around to sing another day.

Could 23-year-old Lee DeWyze of Mount Prospect save the Chicagoland name? His unique voice added a rough edge to Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars." Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi didn't agree with his song choice (Hey judges, critique the performance, not the song!), but Simon Cowell called it the best performance of the evening yet. Whew!

What about the women? Well, Katelyn Epperly, 19, and Crystal Bowersox, 24, aren't technically from Chicago, but they auditioned here, so that has to count for something, right? They both have a raw, indie, "coffee shop" feel and have been praised by the judges for their originality.

Fortunately, all 5 of these individuals survived the first round of voting, so Chicago now stands a 1-in-4 chance of claiming the next American Idol.

The top 20 contestants will be performing this week, so be sure to tune in and support our fellow Chicagoans!

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native, a reality TV addict, and a social media sovereign.

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