America Idol in Portland: The judges were spot on, but the contestants were a mixed bag

If you're going to take on Freddie Mercury's vocal prowess on "Somebody To Love" and use it as an audition piece for American Idol, you better be able to hit those notes. Unfortunately for the baby-faced Ben Harrison, 28, none of the judges loved his take. The falsetto, on blast, would have made Mercury turn over in his grave -- and good for the judges, Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and even the sugar-coated Steven Tyler, for giving it to Harrison straight.

Finally, for the first time in season 11, we had the privilege of watching the judges actually, you know, judge. It may have taken 'til Portland to get here, but better late than... well, canceled. It's a breath of fresh air watching Tyler, then Lopez, then Jackson reject one contestant after another for not being the next Adele. Such is why last night's episode was Idol producers' answer to many a fan's prayer: crank up the audition room drama, dial back on the sappy contestant backstory -- oh, and actually show us more rejection. After all, if we wanted indecisive judges, we would have watched The X Factor back when it was on instead.

Other notable contestants whose dreams were deservedly -- and gloriously -- crushed last night included the awkward Revenge of the Nerds import, David Weed. Weed, 22, chose may have chosen the wrong audition, Rush's "Tom Sawyer," but damn! That boy deserved a round of applause for the courage to attempt such a difficult song. He then deserved to be sent home, and he was.

Then there was the perky-as-hell Sam Gershman, twenty one, who, during her intro sequence, led what looked like other contestants in Zumba and other exercises. Her boobs were as bouncy as her personality, and Steven Tyler's eyes picked up on the energy right away. Even during her actual audition, when she sang "I'm A Woman," we saw shots of Tyler's eyes slide a bit.

Other misses: the feathers in Steven Tyler's hair or the obnoxious zebra frames on Randy Jackson's glasses. Really though, guys, what the hell were you thinking last night?

But it wasn't all bad last night. With 45 contestants pushed through to Hollywood, we were bound to see a few potential winners. Some came with an emotional back story, like Jessica Phillips, 25, who, prior to Hollywood, devoted most of her time to caring for her boyfriend who suffered a stroke last Easter and woke up without remembering Phillips even was. Or there was Jermaine Jones, 24, with a contagiously enthusiastic, hopeful (and nervously sweaty) mentality that Idol could be his big break -- we'll see if that's the case during his Hollywood performance.

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We also met Brittnee Kellogg, 27, whose basketball-playing scumbag of a husband left her and their two kids for the multiple women he was seeing on the side. Appropriately, Kellogg sang "You're No Good" and freaking nailed it. Cue the inspirational speech by J.Lo on the possibilities of juggling motherhood with a career in entertainment.

Tonight we'll see the last episode of auditions, this time in St. Louis, before Idol begins airing the Hollywood round next week. As an added perk for tonight's episode, FOX is also airing the world premiere of Madonna's new music video for "Give Me All Your Luvin'" featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.

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