Keith Urban Sums Up Idol Auditions With Four Words

"You Just Never Know"

When Shannon Berthiaume, 17, walked in to her American Idol audition during Wednesday night’s (Jan. 21) episode, she was dressed down. Way down.

In just jeans and a plain black T-shirt, no makeup and naturally wavy hair, she said she was going to sing “The House of the Rising Sun.”

She sang the hell out of it.

Keith Urban said her performance was “the most raw talent we’ve seen. Period. So raw.”

Then when she left the room, he said, “You just never know.”

Because, I guess, looks can be deceiving.

There were a handful of other highlights from the Minneapolis auditions, like when Courtney Guns did Martina McBride’s “Independence Day,” when Cindy Jo Scholer did Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and when Vanessa Andrea did “Some Kind of Wonderful.” She was surprisingly composed considering what a crush she had on Urban.

“I legitimately hoped that he was gonna be at my hotel or something,” she said, “even though I’m staying at the Holiday Inn.”

But the coolest moment of the night was when college student Zach Johnson auditioned with Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” He was dressed in the Garth Brooks uniform of a heather gray hoodie, jeans and construction boots. And Urban asked him, “You like Garth Brooks? Yeah. I can tell.”

Then Harry Connick Jr. accused him of faking his Brooksesque twang. But once Johnson did a few seconds of Luke Bryan’s “Drink a Beer,” Connick was convinced he was good people.

But Urban liked him from the get-go.

“I like you a lot, Zach. There’s so many boxes that we check when we were looking for people to send through to Hollywood, and there’s a lot of them that you didn’t get to check. But there’s a lot that you did,” Urban told him. Then he promised Johnson he’d bring him up onstage to do a song at his next Sioux Falls show.

Urban made good on that promise in October. And Johnson’s mother posted a video of it, writing, “My son Zach singing with Keith Urban on stage in Sioux Falls! Crowd went crazy! First time he sang to a large crowd. Think it’s his 2nd time on stage with a live band. This video does it no justice since it’s from my iPhone. I’d like to thank one of the owners of ’The District’ in Sioux Falls – His wife recorded it for me because I thought I would shake too bad :)”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro