Update: Added Screencaps
The San Antonio audition was originally scheduled for tonight. My DVR video, in fact, is labeled “San Antonio”. A last minute switcheroo by TPTB has San Antonio, TX closing out the auditions next Tuesday.
Tonight, it’s all about Los Angeles. The initial audition cattle call took place in the Rose Bowl, in Pasadena. A camera pans a massive crowd as LA native Katharine McPhee singing “Over The Rainbow” is played in the background. How ’bout those Open Toes?
Olivia Newton John is tonight’s guest judge. The video intro on Olivia features a montage of truly bad 80’s haircuts. She tells everyone they do a good job, even when they suck. Why are there guest judges again?
Paula Abdul looks all chipper, dressed in yellow. On with the show…
Martik Manoukian 24, Tujunga CA – Martik does a panther imitation that looks like some sort of deranged martial arts routine. When it seems like he’ll never get to his song, Simon says, “I’m not being rude, but could we just get on with the singing?” Thank you, Simon. I have no idea what this guy is singing. He sounds like a cat in heat. Simon says, “The buildup was horrific, the outfit was horrific, the meowing was ridiculous and the singing was horrendous.” That was it, in a nutshell.
Sholandric Stallworth 25, Los Angeles CA – Sholandric plans to bring the romance back to singing by performing “If Ever Your in My Arms Again” in a tone-deaf bellow. Randy says, “You hit about 12 keys in the chorus, baby.” Next.
It’s peanut butter jelly time! We’re definitely in LA–all the bad contestants seem to be aware of their suckitude. LA is full of people who just want to get on Tee Vee.
Marianna Riccio 20, West Hills CA – Even Marianna’s begging when the judges turn her down comes across as really bad acting. Marianna’s mom was one of Dean Martin’s original “Golddiggers”–for you oldbies who might remember his TV show from the 70’s. Mariana fetches her Mom to help out with the pleading after the judges are less than thrilled with her performance of the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” Thankfully, Mom is not that invested and manages to talk Marianna down. Ryan and Simon think the Mom is hot.
Alaina Alexander 24, West Hollywood CA – It’s almost 20 minutes before we see the first contestant advance to Hollywood. Alaina impresses, Simon in particular, with a breathy, off pitch performance of Michael Buble’s “It’s Going to Be Feeling Good”. While Simon is smitten with Alaina, the rest of the panel advances her based on Alaina’s “this-is-my-last-chance.” backstory. No doubt, LA is full of would-be entertainers who are one step away from leaving the business.
Phuong Pham 17, San Diego, CA – Phuong does this whole channeling Taylor Hicks thing. It’s not something one would expect from a young Asian woman. For the first time, I feel like I’m watching a contestant who is really sincere. Certainly, her desire to emulate her hero and make her way as a singer is genuine. She tells the story of her mom who tells her, honestly, that she is not “TV pretty”. Despite the fact that it’s true, and I applaud the mom’s honesty, I still feel for Phuong in that moment. Even when it needs to be done, it’s hard to witness a kid’s dream being dismantled.
Brandon Rogers 28, North Hollywood CA – Holy cow, there are good singers in LA? Who woulda thunk it? Brandon, like Melinda Doolittle before him, is a talented background singer. Unlike Melinda, he’s got the confidence. He’s also intelligent and good looking. Brandon, does an R&B twist on Willie Nelson’s country classic “Always on My Mind”. So did Fantasia, memorably, Season 3. It’s obvious that Brandon has the chops. The judges are wowed and enthusiastically advance him to Hollywood. Watch this one.
Brian Miller 19, Placenta CA – Brian was cut from Hollywood early on last season. He’s returning to give Idol another shot. Brian lives in California now. But here’s a fun fact: He’s originally from Buffalo New York and is a close friend of Season 3 contestant, John Stevens. They attended high school together. I’m a little surprised that Brian’s audition is so good. His performance of a “A Change is Gonna Come” shows off a powerful voice.
Sherman Pore 64, Los Angeles, CA – That’s not a typo. Sherman really is 64. He literally petitioned the show to allow him an audition–gathering hundreds of signatures–as a project to work on with his “lady love” of 20 years. She died of cancer two days before his audition. Sherman believes that the project helped keep her positive in her last days. Sherman says, “It made her passing a little softer.” He performs “You Belong to Me” and I have to say this cynic was touched. Kudos to the producers who kept this segment from degenerating into schmaltz. Well done, TPTB.
21 contestants from Day 1 make it to Hollywood–just a scoot across town.
Day 2 is far from compelling.
The first auditioners after the break are a couple. The best thing about this segment is the Ramones version of the Phil Spector classic “Be My Baby” playing as background music to shots of the couple making out. The music helps to cleanse my brain of disturbing visuals.
Cavett Carr 26, Compton CA – She likes to go by the nickname “Sparkles”. She doesn’t. Cavett is a big woman–a vision in spandex. She can’t sing, but somehow thinks blinking her eye at Simon like she’s got some dirt stuck under her contact is going to convince him to advance her to Hollywood. It doesn’t
Darold Gray 20, Compton CA – He can’t sing either. There’s not much to say except that, when Randy asks Darold if he’s the jealous type, he answers, “Look at her…what’s there to be jealous of?” I hate to admit it, but I laughed out loud.
Anthony Adams 23, Pasadena CA – Anthony’s performance of “You Light Up My Life” is one big screech. Needless to say, he is not advanced to Hollywood. When Simon says, “Unfortunately, not a note is in tune, ” Anthony answers, “No it is not, you are correct.” What he didn’t say was, “And I don’t care, I only wanted to get on television.”
Eric Mueller 23, West Covina CA – Eric Mueller tells Ryan, “I’m an ice breaker.” and Ryan says, “I’m Ryan.” Har. Eric studied the musical stylings of both Stained and Michael Jackson. He auditions with a Hilary Duff song. Simon starts screwing with Eric. He keeps asking him to sing the song lower. Eric can only manage to sing in a high pitched warble. Eric claims that he’s spent the last two years “getting his hands on programs, ” teaching himself to sing. The joke is, of course, that the “program” he got his hands on was Randy and Paula’s “Teach Yourself to Sing” video. Ha ha ha.
19 more contestants make it to Hollywood on Day 2. Not one of the 19 are featured singing on the show. A total of 42 contestants from LA are advanced to the Hollywood Rounds. I’m thinking there have to be a few hidden gems in that bunch that we haven’t seen yet. Rather than waste time on these LA put-ons–’cause besides Phuong, I don’t believe any of the other “bad” contestants were sincere–I wish we could have seen more of the good talent tonight.
Tuesday’s upcoming episode features the talent of San Antonio, TX. Wednesday is something called “The Best of the Rest”, which is probably going to be more like “The Worst of The Rest”. The extra audition episode cuts the Hollywood Rounds down to two episodes. I’m assuming the ratings take a dip during Hollywood, because every year more and more hours of auditions are tacked on to the show. Obviously the rest of America does not find the audition episodes as boring as I do. Sigh.