San Francisco was the last stop on the trolley for this season's "American Idol" auditions, and the City by the Bay left us with at least two more memorable contestants.
First, there was gorgeous Colombian Julie Zorrilla, who tried out for the show on her 20th birthday. Julie has it all: Cover-girl good looks, an intriguing story (her parents escaped guerillas in Colombia when she was 8), a killer voice and the personality and confidence to go with it.
As soon as she started singing "Summertime," we thought to ourselves, "She could be a finalist." Jennifer Lopez validated our theory when she predicted that Julie could be this season's winner.
James Durbin, 21, also stood out for all the right reasons. James never really knew his father, who overdosed on drugs when he was only nine. Soon after that, he was diagnosed with Tourette's and Asperger's, for which he was made fun of and beaten up. His life seemed to take a turn for the better when he met his "angel," Heidi, who encouraged him to pursue music -- and bore him a son.
Life isn't exactly easy for Durbin and his family -- he doesn't have a job, and sometimes they can't even afford diapers. But his version of "You Shook Me" was Adam Lambert-quality good, complete with an amazing high note and a cool style. He even impressed Tyler with his own classic, "Dream On."
We felt proud to watch Durbin earn his ticket to Hollywood.
Tyler wasn't so nice to everyone -- in fact, it was the first time we've seen him be really mean. After rocker Dave Combs, 25, sang "Oh! Darling," Tyler told him the melody was so off, it was "on another planet." He also (sarcastically) told contestant David Johnston that he sounded like the Beatles -- then took it back. We get the point: When it comes to rock 'n' roll, Tyler isn't kidding around.
But when it comes to your garden-variety weirdos, Tyler is in on the joke. Inessa Lee, 22, told the judges how she came from Ukraine, the "home of beautiful girls, as you can see." Inessa did have a talent for belly dancing and impersonating Betty Boop, but she seems to have let appearing in a few naughty YouTube videos go to her head.
Tyler, however, gave her "100 percent" in the cuteness category.
Inessa had serious rivals in the "worst" category from Kenneth Derba, 22, who wore a tail, earmuffs and some kind of "Thriller"-era ripped shirt; Sabrina Corbett, 25, who came dressed as a sexy cop ("You ought to be arrested for that voice," Tyler complained); and Drew Beaumier, 24, who appeared to be a human Transformer ("Before you leave, how many gallons per mile?" Tyler quipped).
At least Stefano Langone, 21, had a few talents up his sleeve. After an accident in 2009, doctors didn't think he'd live, let alone walk. But today, he's walking, singing, playing piano and "hungrier than ever," and J-Lo said he had "star quality" and "movie-star looks." We thought he was more "Jersey Shore" than movie star, but he did sing a nice rendition of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."
Emily Anne Reed, 26, also had a bizarre story -- her house burned down the week before her audition. Reed's "old-timey" voice reminded us of last season's Lilly Scott, and J-Lo agreed she was more the "singer-songwriter" type. Tyler wasn't convinced, but Lopez gave her another chance to prove herself during Hollywood Week, where she'll also compete against a karaoke host and several comely "California Gurls."
It all starts Thursday night -- let the race begin!