Reality Check: Atlanta 'Idol' Auditions Heavy on Hard Luck

It doesn't pay to be a peppy Georgia peach — or at least that's what I could determine from watching the Atlanta "Idol" auditions.

Consider Brooke, an 18-year-old blond beauty queen (and really, beauty queen might be overstating things — her title was Miss South Florida Fair), who burst into the room with more spunky enthusiasm than Paula has during even her most manic states.

The final assessment on Brooke? "Possibly the most annoying person I've ever seen in my life," said Simon.

True, we saw her do a lot to earn that comment — namely, claiming her sincere love for the judges in a mirror-breaking shriek, coyly asking them, "Do you like me a lot lot?" and then insisting on hugs all around before she left.

But the girl, when it came down to it, could really only be faulted for her enthusiasm. (While she did get the ticket to Hollywood, Simon admitted that he really had hoped that she wouldn't be able to sing.)

It's safe to say that the judges felt the opposite for Asia'h — otherwise known as Hard Luck Story Line Number One. The curly-haired girl was at the audition despite the fact that her dad had died two days earlier in a car accident, and she seemed to be holding up admirably — shrugging that what she'd endured was "kinda hard," but that her dad would have wanted her to go on.

While what she'd been through was undoubtedly tragic, it's worth noting the fact that she wasted no time in informing the judges of the situation as soon as she could.

And watching their faces, it was clear that she could have made William Hung and Sanjaya seem like Bono and Sinatra, respectively, and she probably still would have been put
through: Paula got teary, Randy marveled at her "unbelievable circumstances" and even Simon internalized his inner snark.

Hard Luck Story Line Number Two belonged to 17-year-old Josiah, who seemed to have taken a page out of the Jewel E! "True Hollywood Story" by living out of his car for the past year.

The sweet high school drop-out also put admirable effort into making the best of his situation — insisting that he wasn't homeless and that living out of his car was fun — but broke down when he started talking about the loneliness he'd endured.

And take it from someone cynical enough to have implied that the girl whose dad just died was working "Idol" judges for sympathy votes: you'd have to have a heart made out of stone to not be moved by this guy.

Which is why I got nervous when Josiah earnestly launched into an original song — typically an "Idol" kiss of death.

Thankfully, everyone was so distracted by the British accent he took on when he sang that they let the whole original song thing go and asked him to instead sing Snow Patrol — which he killed.

And while, sure, the British accent (which also snuck into his speaking voice) was a bit odd, look at it this way: it took Madonna and Britney Spears years in the spotlight before they caught onto something that young Josiah seemed to do rather effortlessly.

So what does it take to make it from the South to Hollywood and still be liked by the judges? I say it's understanding that chipper is cheap, unless it's laced with a bit of tragedy.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores.