UPDATE: Added screen caps, click on the jump.
Tonight’s audition episode is only an hour long. I’m glad. These two hour audition shows are murder. Thankfully, after watching, I don’t feel like I need a shower. The singers are either deluded or talented, or funny. There are no pathetic cases that make me want to look away. I even chuckle a few times. However, for the most part, I’m not blown away by the talent.
Frank Byers Jr. 21, Waldo AK – Frank is a cheerleader at Southern Arkansas University. He brings the entire cheersquad and band with him. It’s a great gimmick. He tells the judges that his nickname is “Frank n’ Beans” Wow, that’s corny. Then he launches into a tepid rendition of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”. Simon says, “I hated it, I thought it was over the top, cabaret.” Frank keeps singing. Simon stops him, “That is not going to change my mind.” It’s thumbs down from all the judges. Frank leaves and all the cheerleaders are waiting for him. At this point, the most obviously scripted shtick unfolds. The band starts playing and the cheerleaders cheer (the hot cheerleaders definitely helped Frank’s mediocre butt get passed through to the judges). Simon shouts, “Can somebody tell him he didn’t get through?” The band keeps playing. Simon stomps out to tell them to “Shut UP!” All that was missing was the laugh track.
Tamika Simms 16 Memphis TN. – She’s kinda the female version of Matthew Volna, the cowboy dude from Minneapolis last Tuesday. She mumbles and has absolutely no affect. She tells Simon she could be a “Maya” and Simon doesn’t understand and keeps repeating “Mayor? Mayor?” And Tamika keeps mumbling “Maya”. It’s actually funny. Tamika sings Ashanti’s “Rock With You” in an extremely flat, nasal voice. I mean, her head tone is totally up her nasal passages. Simon tells her he can’t understand a word she’s singing. The judges tell her she’s terrible, but she looks at them like they have three heads. She keeps asking if she can sing another song. Simon says it’s completely pointless. Sorry Tamika.
Christopher Rivera 18, Black Mountain NC – Chris sings “Superstition”–it’s very weird and very speeded up. He’s dancing. Sorta. He finishes with a little “Yeah WOAH”, which cracks me up. Thumbs down from the judges. “Pretty Depressing”, Chris says as he leaves the room.
Alexis Partee 20, Southhaven, MS – Alexis has this…well, major overbite, with braces. I’ll give her credit–her song choice is pretty awesome. She sings “Square Biz” by the incomparable Teena Marie. Unfortunately, she sings in this really weird breathless falsetto. Randy says, “That was just a little strange for me.” Indeed.
Sundance Head 27, Porter TX – Sundance explains how he got his name, “My folks were hippies.” Ha. His dad is Roy Head who had a number #1 hit for a few minutes in 1965 called “Treat Her Right”. It was knocked off the charts by the Beatles “Yesterday.” Sundance is a big guy. He says his Dad was a dancing fool, but “I have no moves.” Sundance explains that this year was big for him–he got married and his wife had a baby. And now Idol. He sings Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Stormy Monday”. He’s very confident–maybe a little over-confident. He’s a blues singer with a very powerful voice, but in my opinion-not a lot of color. I’m not quite feelin’ it, dawg. Paula – “Powerful voice.” Randy – “You blew it out.” Simon – “One of the best we’ve heard…in every way” And then, “I’m going to be amazed if you don’t make the finals.” Then the first Taylor-diss of the season from Simon, “He just blew Taylor apart.” And then Randy adds, “He sang circles around him.” Well, peeps, we knew THAT was coming. It didn’t take long. Note: Simon has a tradition of dissing the contestants from the year before during the current season. Remember when he told Kellie Pickler that he liked her better than “that other one”? It’s totally part of his shtick. Don’t sweat it, peeps. Watch this one, sez I.
Wandera Hitchye 23, Memphis TN – Wandera is another blues singer. Simon says, “there are so many singers like you trying to get deals right now.” They all say no and she begs for a second chance. She falls apart when she leaves the room. Wandera is actually good, better than some of the singers they let though. But alas, she appears to have no backstory. I feel bad.
Travis McKinney 22, Memphis TN – He describes breaking up with his girlfriend. He uses the word “emotional” about 10 times. Then he does this speak-sing thing with some crazy dancing. I can’t believe this dude is for real. These “bad” auditions are still boring the crap out of me. “That was crazy man, ” says Randy.
Danielle McCulloch 18, Collierville, TN – Danielle is blonde, pretty and pouty. She sings Aretha Franklin’s “Baby I Love You”. She’s got a bluesy, soulful voice that’s mature beyond her years. Paula says, “You are like an old soul.” But, for some reason, Randy is not impressed at all. Randy says, “I wasn’t blown out.” Simon says “I like the blues part of her voice.” Randy says no, and completely dismisses her. Paula says yes. Note: Unlike prior years, there seems to be very little dissension between the judges so far.
Day One ends. The judges are very glad.
There’s a montage of Paula hugging a bunch of guys. Yeah, Paula likes the guys.
Next, is a contestant who claims to be her biggest fan.
Topher McCain 28, Kennesaw GA – Topher is very excited about meeting Paula Abdul. He explains that his wife left him recently because she was cheating on him. Then he says (Gah, I hope not seriously) “When I become the next AI, she’s going to want me back.” Uh, yeah. Topher also believes that, the “American Idol auditions are a new beginning for me.” He looks at the camera and tells Paula “I’m available.” A joke, yes this must be a joke. Or, this guy is pathetically delusional. Simon asks him why his wife left him, and he calls her a BLEEP I couldn’t make out. He sings “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. Of course, he sucks and has terrible moves. Simon says, “I’m tempted to ask if you sang that the night before your wife left.” Good one, Simon. Then he pulls out the old tried and true, “You’re like the drunk guy at a wedding” shtick. As Topher leaves he says, “I’m going to go drink, do some karaoke and fall off the damn stage…” Then he adds, “like everybody’s favorite drunken uncle.” Hee. He definitely watches the show.
Janita Burks 20, Memphis TN – Janita explains that she thinks the judges will find her “very sexy”. She’s got a low-cut halter dress on, and when she performs “Disco Inferno”, completely out of tune–she definitely shakes her groove thang, even grabbing her boobs at one point. It’s a very odd audition. Simon says, “Janita, you are a handful.” To say the least. Just for fun, they let her sing another song, and she can’t even get out the first note. It’s a no for Janita.
Sean Michel 27, Bryant AR – This dude’s thing is a really long beard and even longer hair. Not sure what’s up with that, and he really doesn’t explain it. He wears a green shirt and cap and does resemble some sort of South American revolutionary. He sings Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” which is a very harsh song about God’s retribution. “Well, that cheered us up, ” says Simon. Paula thinks he has a nice tone. The judges put him through. I think he’s just ai’ght, and that the judges put him through on his unusual looks. There must be a backstory here somewhere, we just haven’t heard it yet. Hilariously when he leaves, he does the “Owww, Supahstar” Molly Shannon bit. I laugh.
Melinda Doolittle 28, Brentwood TN – Yes, YES YES. That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout baby. Melinda is a professional background singer. Background singers are usually good singers, so this peaks my interest. She doesn’t have a lot of confidence but she seems very cool, very laid back. She explains that she’s trying out for Idol because she wants to get over the fear of singing out in front of people. She sings Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life, ” and she’s unbelievable. In my opinion, the best so far. Simon says, “You walk in with no confidence, no attitude…you are a brilliant singer.” She looks completely shocked and disbelieving as Simon compliments her. She truly seems to have no idea how good she is. The judges enthusiastically put her through. Melinda has the potential to be this year’s “diamond in the rough.”
Robert Lee Holmes 21 Memphis TN – Claims to sound “just like Elvis”. He sings “Burning Love” and he doesn’t totally suck, like one would expect. But he is very odd, and the judges take a pass. Well, there has to be some Elvis shtick somewhere tonight…
Phil Stacey 28, Jacksonville, FL – Here we go–the mother of all backstories is next. While Phil waits in Memphis to audition, his wife has a baby. Originally, he is going to sing Al Green’s “Let’s Get it On”, but switches up to the Temptations “My Girl” so he can dedicate it to his wife and daughters. The judges aren’t totally convinced, so he does a little snippet of “Let’s Get it On.” Really, he’s not bad. But after missing the birth of his child in order to audition, how can they say no? And it is a hell of a story. In fact, the episode ends sweet, with Phil meeting his new daughter for the first time. Singing, schminging. It’s all about good Tee Vee. Watch this one.
The stats: Burning Love is the “City Song”. 22 contestants make it to Hollywood.
Tomorrow: New York City, and we’re back to 2-hour shows. Bleah.