It’s AI’s third trip to Atlanta. Ryan boasts that the city has produced 3 superstars–Clay Aiken, Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia Barrino. Between them, Ryan explains, They’ve sold millions of albums. Well Jennifer hasn’t actually sold ANY albums, unless you count her cut on the craptastic AI3 compilation album. Oh, but she won an Oscar! As if you would have mentioned her otherwise…
There were 12, 000 auditioners in the ATL. (The ATL?) which happens to be Ryan’s hometown. He introduces his parents–nice people forced by their loving son to interact with a giant hub cap wearing wack-job. Nice, Ryan.
Atlanta’s got a few wack-jobs, some great talent, and a couple of sad stories.
Joshua Jones 26, Atlanta, GA – “Don’t Stop me Now” by Queen – He’s a glass cutter with a passion for glass. Or so he claims. Though he admits that he’d throw his glass cutting tools as far as he could if he made it to Hollywood. He’s chosen a hard song to sing. A good voice sorta comes and goes as he performs. Simon stops him to tell him to stop doing “weird demonic things with his eyes.” Ha, it’s true–at points in the song, his eyes bug out and he loses his concentration. Simon stops him again. They make him turn around and sing to the wall. He’s a little better when he’s not looking at the judges. Or maybe it’s that he looks less creepy, so he sounds better. Either way, his voice is middling. Paula and Randy say yes. I can’t imagine this dude making it past the first few days in Hollywood.
J.P. Tjelmeland 20, Auburn, AL – “Me and My Gang” by Rascal Flatts. When he auditioned in Season 4, Carrie Underwood was sitting a couple of seats behind him. Now, JP is sorry he didn’t get to know her. Like she could have helped his “career.” Or something. Weird-ass hubcap dude is sitting nearby and is totally impressed with JP’s Carrie encounter. JP says that people tell him all the time that he’s going to be famous, and that he has star quality. For reals? He’s got all the charisma of a giant rock. His performance is a one-note wonder with jazz hands. Yes, jazz hands! Ha. “Joshua, c’mon, ” says Simon. JP tells them he’s a music major, studying singing. Randy says, “Yes to composition, no to singing.” Simon says, “My pen has more charisma.” Paula begins to blather, “Joshua, you understand what I’m trying to say…” Probably not!
Asia’H Epperson 18, Joplin, MO – “How Do I Live” by Leann Rimes – Asia’H describes herself as a “small town country girl.” She’s got a backstory. And it’s horrible and sad. Two days prior to her audition, her father was killed in a car accident. Holy sh*t. Despite her personal tragedy, she decides to go on with her audition, for her dad. Because, it’s what he would want for her. And, she knows he is “with her.” She tells the judges her terrible story, and that she’s decided to “switch up” her song choice. She performs. It’s a little rough–she’s got a very throaty sound–but the emotion is there. She stops, overcome. Simon, obviously moved, tells her that he’s heard enough. Paula does her Paula thing–she starts crying. Simon says, “I think your dad will be very proud of you.” Naturally, all three say yes. I could get all cynical right about now. But if you don’t mind, I think I’ll skip it. Sniff.
Brooke Helvie 18, Wellington, FL – “Who’s Loving You” by Jackson 5 – She’s like, from West Palm Beach, and like moved for school and then like won a pageant. Like, Miss South Florida Fair! I’m thinking Brooke’s laying the pageant queen act on a little bit thick. That little annoying airhead giggle has to be fake. But whatever. She’s probably hoping to be the next Kellie Pickler. She tells Simon that she wants to prove to him that pageant girls can sing. And, as it turns out, she’s not bad. She’s got a big, soulful voice. It’s three yeses for Brooke. She hops around and squeals loudly when she hears the good news. Brooke coos to Simon, “I loooove you!” When she leaves the room he says, ” Possibly the most annoying person I have ever seen in my life.”
Next is a montage of really bad auditioners singing “Glamorous”. I liked the bespectacled white girl, near the end singing, “If you ain’t got no money take your broke ass home.” In a monotone. Good stuff.
Eva Miller – “1000 miles” by Vanessa Carlton – Yet another contestant explaining how the world is drawn to her totally! awesome! charisma, as she fame-whores for the camera. She also has a crush on Simon. It was sort of cute when Gina Glocksen did it Season 5 (I typed that right, the season she didn’t make it). Now, I’m thinking these contestants really, really really need to come up with some new shtick. She flaps her arms and legs like a deranged chicken as she sings tunelessly. Then, she slips and falls right on her ass. Simon thinks its part of the act. She’s all whooooo! Oh my gosh! She gets right up and asks, “Do you want me to continue singing?” And she picks up where she left off. It’s hilarious! Simon calls Eva out as a fakety-fake-fake, and she becomes indignant, and then upset and starts to cry. Simon actually backpedals (what is this world coming to?) and the judges let her down gently. After, Simon gives her a hug! WTF? I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she’s a fake. She’s probably a plant from a radio station. Some Atlanta morning zoo is going to play this clip over and over again for the next 3 days.
Alex Lushington 16, Douglasville GA – “My Funny Valentine” While Ryan keeps Alex’s 93 year old great-grandmother company outside the audition room, Alex is impressing the judges inside. She’s dressed in green fatigues, and looks like she’s going to bust out in some hip-hop, but instead she wows the judges with some old-school jazz. I look forward to hearing more from her. And she’s only 16! Heh.
Next, A homage to Season 2 Atlanta auditioner, Clay Aiken–a montage of geeky guys. The twist is that none of them can sang. My favorite is Jared Whiley, the dude with the bowl haircut, weird helium falsetto and lisp. What the hell is he singing? “I’ll climb the frosty mountains, I’ll climb the frosty mountians.” That’s some effed up sh*te right there. Simon says, “This was like something out of a Science Fiction movie.”
Nathan Hite 16, Savannah GA – “Paralyzer” by Finger 11 – Nathan claims to be a 9th grade repeater. Actually, he’s a smart ass. Screw the singing! He’s totally ready to get into that audition room and spar with Simon. His audition is lackadaisical, and he’s a horrible singer, but that’s not why he’s there. When Simon calls it a “bedroom audition, ” Nathan asks if he keeps these things “written down on a piece of paper.” Simon asks, “Do you want to listen, or do you want to be a smart ass?” Nathan decides to listen. Simon explains what he means by “Bedroom audition” and then tells Nathan, “Now you can be a smart ass.” Nathan pulls out a pretend piece of paper and pretends to read off a bunch of canned remarks. Simon says, “How about not funny and can’t sing?” Nathan’s parting shot, “If this doesn’t work out for you, you can always go back to managing boybands.” Bonus: Ryan asks what a “Bedroom audition” is, and Nathan replies, “Maybe its the fact that I wouldn’t let him spoon with me, so he wouldn’t let me through.”
Amanda Overmyer 22, Mulberry, IN – “I’m a Mean Woman” by Janis Joplin. She’s a respiratory nurse, biker and rock ‘n roll singer. Her look is all gothed out, but she’s got a decidedly old school sound. On the Joplin tune, she channels Joplin, with the whiskey rasp, the wailing and the grimaces. It’s a bit clone-like. She sounds more distinctive when she sings Creedence Clearwater’s “Traveling Band”, where she displays a flair for straight-ahead rock. Randy and Paula love her. Paula calls her the female Chris Daughtry, but really her throwback ways are closer to Taylor Hicks. Simon says yes, and she’s on to Hollywood.
Josiah Leming 18 – Morristown, TN – “To Run” by Josiah Leming – Josiah dropped out of school at 17 and hit the road in his car, where he’s been living for the past 10 months. At first, he swears he loves life on the road, and that his car is absolutely his home. But after a bit, he breaks down and admits that living from hand to mouth is scary and lonely. His parents think he’s been staying with friends. Josiah sings his own composition. No doubt about it, this kid has talent. His vocals aren’t Idolesque by any stretch, but they are compelling. I really really like this kid. He’s got something rare and special. Therefore, he needs to effing run, run, run, as far away from Idol as possible. I’m not kidding. There is no way in holy hell this kid can make it through the Idol system without majorly compromising the special gifts he has. Simon tells him he sounds English. I’m not hearing that. Simon asks him to sing “Chasing Cars”. He does and it’s beautiful. I love Josiah. Paula “adores” him. Randy, already trying to put him in a box, says that he should be in a band. Gah, Randy, STFU. Randy doesn’t get it, but he says yes anyway. Simon says yes. Paula says, “I think there’s a lot of personality in you that we haven’t even begun to see as a front man.” Paula. Making sense.
Nineteen contestants are on their way to Hollywood from Atlanta.
Tomorrow: Leftover goodness all wrapped up in a big package called “The Best of the Rest”…
Next week: Hollywood and the Top 24 revealed!