A Feel-Good Story for 'American Idol'

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The new season of the world's ultimate talent show began Tuesday, with a singer whose daughter has Rett Syndrome leading the way.

MATT MARTINEZ: Yeah. I have the number four on Google Trends right now. It is Rett syndrome, and it's number four on Google Trends because of last night's amazing debut of one of my favorite television shows. And so it's kind of a back-end way into getting into this next segment.

But Rett syndrome - I'll get to it a bit later, but what it is, it's a neuro-developmental disorder that causes deceleration of head growth, small hands, feet. And it's not so nice.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Sounds horrible.

MARTINEZ: It sounds horrible.

STEWART: Yeah. Please tell me one of the contestants has this.

MARTINEZ: Did not have it.

STEWART: Did not - okay.

MARTINEZ: No. The contestants did not have it. But what I'm talking about is, yes, "American Idol" - it is back.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTINEZ: Oh, yes. The light in the darkness of the writers' strike. Let's queue that music.

(Soundbite of song, "American Idol Theme")

MARTINEZ: Oh, that makes me feel good inside.

STEWART: Just gets you all excited. I want to use this as our campaign theme music. That's all I'm saying. I just put it out there.

Go ahead, Matt.

MARTINEZ: Okay. Well, five months of "Idol" goodness started last night. It's the first round of auditions. It happened in Philadelphia. And the first guy up was a guy named Joey Catalano.

STEWART: Oh, he was cute.

MARTINEZ: He was super cute, and, you know, "Idol" always picks a couple of people with really feel-good stories. Joey was one of them.

MARTIN: And then they rip their hearts out and stomp on them.

MARTINEZ: And then they rip them apart. No, actually, this is good. Joey lost 205 pounds. And here, it's him doing a Maroon 5 song.

(Soundbite of TV show, "American Idol")

Mr. JOEY CATALANO (Contestant, "American Idol"): (Singing) Sunday morning rain is falling. Steal some covers, shed some skin.

MARTINEZ: Pretty good, huh?

STEWART: Yeah.

(Soundbite of TV show, "American Idol")

Mr. CATALANO: (Singing) Clouds are shrouding us in moments unforgettable, you twist to fit the mold that I am in.

STEWART: He was earnest. I like that.

MARTINEZ: Yeah.

(Soundbite of TV show, "American Idol")

Mr. CATALANO: (Singing) But things just get so crazy. Living life gets hard to do. And I would gladly hit the road, get up and go if I knew that someday it would lead me back to you. That someday it would lead me back to you.

Mr. SIMON COWELL (TV Producer; Judge, "American Idol"): Thank you.

Mr. RANDY JACKSON (Musician, Record Producer; Judge, "American Idol"): I'd say definitely yes based on the voice. Dude, you can definitely blow.

Ms. PAULA ABDUL (Singer; Judge, "American Idol"): Three yeses across the board.

Mr. CATALANO: Thank you very much, guys.

Mr. COWELL: You have a great voice.

Mr. JACKSON: Welcome, baby. Yeah.

Mr. CATALANO: Can I approach you?

Ms. ABDUL: Yeah, absolutely. Way to go.

MARTINEZ: Yeah. So he got through, and then it was on to the stuff that we really, really tuned in for.

STEWART: Can I just say at the end, Simon goes, "He looks hungry."

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: How horrible is that?

MARTINEZ: I know. It's awful.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

As always.

STEWART: All right.

MARTINEZ: Yeah. Okay, so he goes through, there's cheers and crying outside when he leaves. And then, you know, the stuff that I tune in for - at least the first couple weeks…

STEWART: Because you're a bad person.

MARTINEZ: …because I'm a bad person - the awful, awful, awful singers who come through. I've put together a tasteful montage - or a distasteful montage. Let's hear it.

(Soundbite of TV show, "American Idol")

Unidentified Woman #1 (Contestant): (Singing) So my…

Unidentified Woman #2 (Contestant): (Singing) He told him this boy has taken my heart, and I give you the rest of me (unintelligible).

Unidentified Man #1 (Contestant): (Singing) Don't you cry, cause (unintelligible).

Unidentified Man #2 (Contestant): (Singing) When this (unintelligible).

STEWART: Oh my, make it stop.

(Soundbite of TV show, "American Idol")

TEMPTRESS (Contestant): (Singing) I'm not living without you, I don't want to be free.

Mr. COWELL: Temptress, you're not a great singer, sweetheart. You know.

MARTINEZ: Temptress, she is a female - that was a female linebacker. She is a linebacker. Well, getting back to the number four on Google Trends.

MARTIN: Can we just say Alison has her left hand up against her eye.

MARTINEZ: It's a bad singing headache.

MARTIN: It's not - it's not pretty.

MARTINEZ: All right. So the story of the night, which was the Google Trends on Rett Syndrome, was the story of Angela Martin, and she's from Chicago. She's 26, she has a daughter named Jessica with this syndrome. And she said she came in to do the audition for her daughter. And she did one of my favorite songs - just hands-down favorite song. Let's listen to her audition.

(Soundbite of TV show, "American Idol")

Ms. ANGELA MARTIN (Contestant): (Singing) When that time when I said goodbye. Now I'm back and not ashamed to cry, ooh baby. Here I am, signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours. I'm yours, here I am, Simon, oh oh, signed, sealed, delivered, I'm yours.

Mr. COWELL: Okay, Angela. It was a good audition.

Ms. MARTIN: Yes?

Mr. COWELL: I think you picked up a lot of bad habits when you've been singing in a wedding band, the kind of the corny ad-libs, the heys, the whoas.

Ms. MARTIN: Yeah.

Mr. COWELL: You know, it's all a bit old-fashioned. You got to lose that.

MARTINEZ: You know, she got through, and as we all know, this song is the one that got Sanjaya Malakar through last year. But I personally thought she did a much better version of that song.

MARTIN: She did great. You know, it's really hard to sing a cappella…

STEWART: Yeah.

MARTIN: …these people.

STEWART: And I also think it's really interesting that many people were engaged by her personal story to go try to find out what was wrong with her child.

MARTINEZ: Yeah, yeah. Definitely, definitely.

STEWART: So we've got some heartbreakers, some ear-shatterers - eardrum-shattering sounds.

MARTINEZ: And there is more tonight.

(Soundbite of song, "American Idol Theme")

MARTINEZ: From Dallas, two more hours of American Idol. I am…

STEWART: You have no free time in your life, yet you manage to carve out time to watch "American Idol."

MARTINEZ: We make time for the things you want to make time for.

MARTIN: That's true.

STEWART: Matt Martinez, rounding out The Most.

MARTINEZ: It was good to be here.

STEWART: In the most Idol-rific way.

Thanks, Matt.

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