Thursday, January 31, 2008

Miami Heat

Wow, what a difference a day (or, as we discovered, a little creative editing) makes. Miami might have been the best audition show to date. Why? Well, the city just seemed chockful of talent. At least that's what we thought until we started doing the math. While supposedly the same amount of people showed up to audition in both Omaha and Miami (we were told 10,000 in each), there were actually two less people in Miami that received their Golden Tickets to Hollywood than in Omaha (19 vs. 17). How could that be? Apparently the producers decided to emphasis freaks an geeks in Omaha, while stressing the talent in the Miami clips. Note to the producers: As our friend Robbie has always said, the shows with the talented people are much more interesting and fast-moving.

In fact, the most-promoted freak act of the evening, Brandon Black, who closed the show, was just annoying and time-wasting. Apparently Brandon fancies himself a comic as well as a singer. We fancy him a fool. Period. Simon Cowell, apparently agreed, who, after trying to stop Brandon's "act," mumbled under his breath to Paula, "Get him out, get him out, get him out, get him out. I can't bear to watch him anymore." So let's get his video out of the way immediately and move on to more interesting and talented people:

Watch video of Brandon Black:

As it turns out (here comes a SPOILER, folks) three of the auditioners we were shown in Miami are on the leaked Top 24 list: Robbie Carrico, Syesha Mercado and Ramiele Maulbay.

Shannon McGough opened the show, and at first appeared very promising. Stylish, attractive, apparently a prize-winning singer, according to the awards hanging in her parents' meat market, a place Shannon was praying to escape. Guess grinding bloody meat isn't nearly as exciting as it seems. Unfortunately, neither was Shannon. Among Shannon's not so hidden talents (although we wouldn't have minded if she kept it under wraps) is her ability to belch. (Note to the producers: A pretty girl belching is about as pretty to watch as someone peeling his fingernails.)

However, her shrieky rendition of Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby," led Simon to remark, "Shannon, I had a late night last night, and I'm not feeling great, and you just made me feel a lot worse," and later adding "It sounds like you're eating when you sing." Why is it that these contestants won't realize that doing an impression of someone else -- a bad one at that -- is not what the judges want? They want to hear the contestant's own voice and style, albeit singing a cover tune. Poor Shannon, she was totally baffled by the negative reaction. Guess she'll just have to keep singing the blues to dead cows.

Watch video of Shannon McGough:

Fortunately, Shannon was followed by a long run of Golden Ticket winners. The first was former boy-band member Robbie Carrico, who has now turned to rock. He had a really nice, melodic strong voice, though his audition was more boy band than rock. Watching Paula Abdul's face, it was obvious she was smitten with him.

Watch video of Robbie Carrico:

After a montage of the lousy male singers, Ghaleb Emachah gets his chance. Ghaleb is from Venezuala and he says he plays Gypsy music with passion. He sings, what we thought, was a rather lame version of Marc Anthony's "You Sang to Me." Simon tells him, "I would like you if I was drunk ... sober I don't think it works." Paula thinks he has a very good voice, but thinks his problem is that he has a very strong accent that's hard to ignore. She then gets pissed at Simon interrupting her and sticks her finger in her ear saying "la la la la la la." Simon passes her and goes to Randy, who says "yes." Back to Paula. We think she puts him through just to spite Simon, then she gets up and hugs him to welcome him to Hollywood, extracting a promise from Ghaleb to work on his accent.

Watch video of Ghaleb Emachah:

Watch video of lousy male singers:

When we see who is up next, we figure it's going to one of the freak acts, first because Corliss Smith and Brittany Wescott are big girls, and second, usually when they send two people in together it's going to be b-a-a-a-d. But we're totally surprised to find out that both can sing fairly well. They have totally different styles, and like different kinds of men; Corliss likes them to have meat on their bones, while Brittany likes them thin. First Corliss serenaded Randy with "Take Five," doing a really nice job. Next, Brittany sang "My Guy" to Simon. After they both were put through, Paula encouraged them both to hug the men they desired the most.

Watch video of Corliss Smith and Brittany Wescott:

Suzanne Toon has one of those backstories that "Idol" loves. Promising music student takes time off from school, gets pregnant at 18, has kid at 19, relationship doesn't work out, now Suzanne is a single mom, telling us, with teary eyes, how she hasn't sung for three years but wants to succeed at "Idol" to make a better life for herself and her daughter. Did we mention that Suzanne is pretty and has gorgeous eyes? She did a serviceable rendition of "I Can't Make You Love Me." Paula liked the sultry sexiness of her voice and Simon said she became even more attractive when she sings. Randy told her to watch her pitch, but, ultimately, she received three yesses.

Watch video of Suzanne Toon:

After a spot pimping Season 3 finalist Jasmine Trias (huh?), whose CDs have gone platinum in the Philippines (maybe they don't hear as well there), we are introduced to Ramiele Malubay, who says she wants to be the first Asian Ameri-
can Idol. She is adorable, kind of like a pint-size Philippine version of Paula Abdul (is a pint-sized version of Paula even possible?) Needless to say, Paula found her adorable. When she blasted her version of Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman," it was hard to comprehend that that huge voice was coming from this tiny girl. Simon told her she was a good singer, but he didn't think she was a contemporary singer (we never quite understand this comment. Is it based on song choice or style? After all, he put through Brittany who sang "My Guy"). Fortunately, Paula told her she was phenomenal and Randy agreed.

Watch video of Ramiele Malubay:

Syesha Mercado also came equipped with a big voice and a sob story. She is feeling good because things have been going well lately, but her father has just completed a rehab program for drug and alcohol abuse. We get to meet daddy with daughter and, of course, tears are shed, as their story is told. Inside the audition room, Syesha sings "Think" by Aretha Franklin. She no doubt has a powerful voice, and maybe we've listened to Simon one too many times, but to us, she sounded more as if she shouted than sang the song. Nevertheless she made it through.

Watch video of Syesha Mercado:

The most most annoying audition of the evening (yes even more annoying than Brandon Brown's) belonged to Julie DuBela, a former contestant on "American Juniors," a Simon Fuller-created show featuring, well, 12-year-old Julie and other juniors, and hosted by Ryan Seacrest. Ryan, however, didn't remember Julie, straight off, even though, as Julie told us, "Music is my life, this is my dream, I'm not a quitter." She felt her previous experience would give her a leg up at "Idol," which is why she decided to "give it a whack." When Simon ragged on "American Juniors" ("I wore out my DVD player. I just love hearing kids that age sing"), she didn't even get it.

Her performance of Joplin's "Bobby McGee" was so filled with acting and affectation that even Paula laughed during it. Simon called her "precocious." Julie wanted to know what that meant. Even when the judges told her to go back to Hollywood and pursue acting, not singing, she carried on like the spoiled brat she is because she was being rejected. That is, until Simon finally told her to pretend the camera was no longer on and that she could cut out all the (petulant) acting. When she left the audition room she cried to Ryan, telling him she turned down singing at a Red Sox game to come to the audition, as, inside, Simon called her overindulged and said she needed a reality check.

Watch video of Julie DuBela:

Watch video of Richard Valles:

Watch video of Miami loser auditions:

Watch video of Ilsy Lorena Pinot:

Watch video of Natashia Blach:

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Omaha? More like OMIGOD

Interest must be fading fast for this season's "Idol" auditions. We waited nearly 11 hours after last night's show to post this entry, and the number of videos that "fans" had posted of Tuesday's show was just a fraction of the number we've seen over the past couple of weeks. Hmmmm. Look, there's the shark ... and look, look, here comes Fonzie on water skis ...

The only good thing one can say about Omaha is that the audition show was kept to one hour. When only 19 contestants of the supposed 10,000 tryouts receive a ticket to Hollywood, the whole city needs a ticket to ride. And we don't care.

Very little actual talent was on view in Nebraska. Once again the "Idol" execs dipped into their neverending pot of freak stew and dished up a big bowl of it. At least some of them made us laugh. The person we laughed at the most was 25-year-old former professional wrestler Sarah Whitaker. Now, as Simon would say, "We're not trying to be rude," but c'mon, Sarah's face is scary even without the ridiculous eye makeup. And the rest of the package wasn't any better. She looked liked a dominitrix straight out of "Nightmare Before Christmas," with a laugh that sent chills down the spine. She reminded us of characters who like to torture children and animals in nasty fairy tales. And she did, indeed, sucker punch Ryan Seacrest. (Well, maybe he needs to be slapped around now and then.)

As for
her singing? Just how bad was she? Here were the lyrics to her "song":

"I'm so happy, happy o' lucky me
Things just go my way, living every day
Things that bother you never bother me
do do do do do do do do
Living in the sunlight, loving in the moonlight
Having a wonderful time."

Simon Cowell: "This is like the soundtrack to this town. It just sums up the whole day."

But you really have to see and hear it for yourselves.

Watch video of goth wrestler Lady Morgue killing the judges with her singing alone:

We should have suspected we were in for an evening of weirdness when the producers opened with a sky shot of a crop circle of the show's logo with the words "Welcome to Omaha." (You can find out how it was created here.)

Next, we discovered that Paula Abdul wasn't there for the beginning of auditions. Her plane was late. Uh-huh.

Opening the show in terms of "talent" was 25-year-old Chris Bernheisel, who said he has waited for this moment for seven years and called the opportunity to audition, "The biggest life-alternating change in my life." Uh-huh. He brought gifts, or as Simon quickly and correctly renamed them, bribes, for the judges. A big stuffed sheepdog for Randy Jackson, a jersey for Simon, who asked why they just couldn't have money, and a small stuffed dog for Paula, which Simon said he would take and just as quickly tossed over his shoulder onto the floor. Chris also brought a little album of pictures of himself with Kelly Clarkson, so we shouldn't have been surprised that his audition song was "Since You've Been Gone." Before performing, he burst into tears, telling the judges how "American Idol" was about giving people a second chance at their dreams (Huh? We thought it was a first chance, or was Chris psychic about all the failed pros that were going to audition for Season 7?), and how he had waited so long for his chance. Of course, he sucked. He then asked to audition to be a Red Carpet interviewer at the finale. Simon told him to tell the local Fox affiliate that they wanted him assigned to cover the finale for them. The way Idol craziness goes, he probably get the gig. And, once more, we're so moving on.

Idol reject Chris Bernheisel "exploding in happiness":

You would have thought when Johnny Escamilla auditioned with his crazy gold lame coat and James Brown moves, singing "Shout," that that would have been the highlight of his video segment. But, no, it was the newly arrived Paula Abdul, whose "late plane" seemed to produce a hiccup highly reminiscent of early-day imbibing. We're sure her hiccuping, giggling and head-on-the-table scenes throughout the Omaha auditions were due to the same jet lag that last year caused Abdul to be less than coherent during a live TV interview. Uh-huh. The hiccup elicited the funniest line of the evening from Simon, who looked at her in (mock?) disgust and exclaimed, "You disgusting little pig!"

Watch video of Johnny Escamilla and piggy Paula:

Of the auditions that were shown, the only name that appears on the Top 24 spoiler list is that of David Cook, who sang "Living on a Prayer" and was inspired to try out by Chris Daughtry's success. All three judges liked him (as we did), although Simon felt him to be a little "too worthy" and Randy wanted to see more personality and movement.

Watch video of David Cook, whose prayers seemed to be answered:

Other Omaha auditions:

Watch video of Samantha Sidley (and Ryan becomeing a judge):

Watch video of Michael Sanfilippo:

Watch video of Arm Wrestler" Rachael Wicker

Watch video of Jason Rich:

Watch video of Angelica Puente:

Watch video of Leo Marlowe:

Watch video of "Stuck in the Middle" medley of losers:

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Let the Mud-Slinging Begin! Plus, 24 Semi-finalists leak

Well here it is, only Week 2 into Season 7 and the dirt is beginning to come out about the contestants. Also, according to a reliable source the 24 semifinalists were selected on Tuesday. The leaked list from that site is depressing. Gone are a lot of the male favorites we've seen since last week, but present are a good number of contestants who previously have gone pro. The most notorious -- Carly (Hennessy) Smithson -- has a 2002 MCA album available on both iTunes and Other names we'll be seeing more of who've had previous experience, according to numerous sources and our own research, include Michael (Lee) Johns, Kristy Lee Cook, Kady Malloy, Brooke White and David Archuleta.

Idol executive producer Ken Warwick's statement last week, which essential said that if contestants meet all the eligibility rules they deserve a shot at stardom, even if they've had previous experience, seems to fly in face of the original concept of "American Idol" -- to find fresh undiscovered talent and turn them into superstars.

The semi-finalist spoiler names will appear at the end of this post. So if you don't want to know, don't look!

As to the dirt: Yesterday published a story about Perrie Cataldo, the single father with the poignant story from San Diego who made it to Hollywood after singing Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You." Seems that Catalado has an arrest record from 2006 for carrying a handgun into a bar in Glendale, Ariz., after being kicked out for fighting. According to the arresting officer, Cataldo was "concealing" the gun under his clothing, and was confronted by security and arrested. Cataldo pleaded no contest to carrying a concealed weapon (a misdemeanor) and was fined $568. Guess that could be a reason he didn't make the semi-finals.

Plus, it appears that some of the wacky acts we saw last week were professional comics. This so-called "reality" show is becoming more scripted and filled with plants than PBS' "The Victory Garden." According to, Paul Marturano, Paula Abdul's infamous "stalker" from the Philly auditions who sang about breaking into her house and trying on her underwear, is an improv comic who has released two CDs. In fact, he appeared on Fox’s "The Magic Hour With Magic Johnson" as his alter ego "Pauly Nipple" in a video his band, The Hairy Aureolas, produced for the show. And Milo Turk, the 39-year- old who sang "No Sex Allowed" at the same audition session, is also a comedian associated with Marturano's Off The Edge Productions.

And, so, on to Charleston, S.C. Well, we complained that the two-hour auditions episodes were too long, now we're going to complain that the one-hour episodes are boring. Or are we just getting tired of the show. To date, we have nobody we particularly cared to root for. Nobody. Yes, we've been shown some decent singers, but no one especially memorable or creative. As bad as last season was, we seen nobody who can excite us even as much as Blake Lewis or Melinda Doolittle did.

The story that was supposed to carry us throughout the episode was that of contestant Oliver Highman, who was first on line for Day 1 of Charleston, but whose wife went into labor before he had a chance to audition. The producers, spotting what they felt was a great story opportunity, sent cameras with him and his wife to the hospital. They had a girl and -- ta-da -- Oliver gets to be the last contestant on Day 2, singing "Get Here." Guess what? Even though he didn't have a half-bad voice he doesn't get to go to Hollywood. But, of course, he has a great consolation prize, a new kid (We'd rather go to Hollywood). Oliver is so good-natured, he offers "Do you guys want to at least see my baby?" And so, Randy, Paula and Simon get to oooh and aaah over one-day-old Emma Grace, who came with mommy to daddy's audition. Anyone else find that strange, not to mention extremely unsanitary for a newborn? Truth be told, we were thoroughly unimpressed with the whole another Idol baby born story.

Watch video of Emma Grace Highman's first TV appearance:

Some other people we thought had a modicum of talent in Charleston didn't get their Golden Tickets either. Among them was Lyndsey Goodman, who at least has an interesting life. Lyndsey is not only an Air Force pilot, she flies C-17s, those huge cargo carriers, transporting troops, equipment and medical evacuees. We thought her rendition of Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet" was pleasing, if not prize-winning. She was obviously nervous, which Paula pointed out, but we thought she'd make it through anyway, especially compared to some others who already have. But, ultimately, she has turned away.

Watch video of Lyndsey Goodman failing to take flight:

On the other hand, London Weidberg, who claims she's a full-time musician made it through -- albeit with some hesitation from Randy and Simon -- with what we felt was a mediocre version of "Good Morning Heartache." Her backstory seemed to center on the death of her father three years ago. We agreed she has a nice tone to her voice, but, honestly, she was no more memorable than Lyndsey, who we actually liked a little more.

Watch video of London going to Hollywood via Charleston:
London Weidberg

Although Simon said some people would like Amy Catherine Flynn and others would find her annoying, we found her the latter, especially when Randy asked her name and she answered, "I'm Amy Catherine, Amy, Amy Catherine, A.C., whatev." Whatev is the leader of her high school's dance team and a STARS (Students Teaching and Respecting Sexuality) panelist, i.e. she lectures to other teens on the importance of abstinence, be it sexual, drinking or smoking. She gave Simon a small demonstration of one of her speeches. Paula found her adorable. We didn't. We didn't even know they had Valley Girls in Knoxville, Tenn., where Whatev comes from. But we enjoyed the slightly snide undertone to her personality when she talked back to Simon ("I think that's a bit much to say") and made faces at his critique. He answered back in Valley Girl "Sowry." LOL. We'll give her one thing. She was fearless, if full of herself, in front of the judges. Her singing of Christina Aguilera's "Reflection" was nothing outstanding, but to our surprise she got three "yeses," with Randy telling her she had "mad potentional."

Watch video of the judges failing to abstain from Amy Catherine Flynn:

The judges went gaga over oversized siblings Jeffrey and Michelle Lampkin, especially Jeffrey. Actually, we thought they were a joke act at first, but they sounded really good dueting "I'm Your Angel." Simon said Jeffrey had the better voice, but he liked them both. Randy put through only Jeffrey, while Paula said "yes" to both. It came down to Simon, who said he couldn't separate them and let Michelle go to Hollywood as well. Frankly, we thought the two -- especially Jeffrey -- way too over the top to be taken seriously, but Simon called them funny and a breath of fresh air, saying he throught they had great chemistry. Hey, what do we know? According to the judges' decisions in Charleston, very little, apparently.

Watch video the Jeffrey and Michelle Lampkin having tons of fun:

Another duet was performed by Randy Stark and Crystal Ortiz, who should have left their coupling to the online dating they've been doing. You, see, Randy and Crystal met on the Idol chatboard, where Randy, who's auditioned before and apparently still doesn't believe he can't sing, advises others on how to get in to see the judges. He must know something about that, as get in they did. But they couldn't get out fast enough for us. Simon seemed amazed that they couldn't keep their hands off each other. Well, what else did they have?

Watch video of couple Randy Stark and Crystal Ortiz. Let's hope they don't reproduce:

Last night's medley of losers performers attempted, feebly, to sing Carrie Underwood's before he cheats. You might want to take a Louisville Slugger to them:

There were three obnoxious auditioners who also could've used a Louisville slugger to the head (or mouth). First was the inappropriately named Aretha Codner, who thought just because her mother named her after Aretha Franklin it automatically imbued her with singing ability. Memo to Aretha C.: It didn't. She actually wasn't terrible, but was so arrogant about her "talent," that she stupidly tried to take on Whitney's Houston's "I Have Nothing." And when she got three "no's," she insisted on arguing with the judges, telling them she knew she had a beautiful voice and that she could sing. What she knew was not much. And we don't even know what to say about her appearance. That's she's overendowed would be an understatement. That she emphasized it with a wide belt worn snugly beneath her chest made her look as if she could lay a set of dinnerware on that rack.

Watch video of Aretha Codner who ultimately had nothing:

Next, we wanted to slam Joshua Boson, who isn't a friendly loser, either. It was torture sittig through his shrill screaming of "I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." When he left the judges stupefied and speechless, he offered to sing again. Simon offered that it wasn't a good audition. Joshua told us, "Well I haven't had any voice training or anything like that." Duh, ya think? When Randy told him he didn't have a good voice, he actually was shocked. He then called the show faked and rigged (yeah, well we no that, Joshua, but you still can't sing). He then went outside the audition room and lied saying the judges said that nobody can sing in South Carolina. Ultimately Joshua told us that his talent "was too big for this competition to hold." Errr, didn't you mean attitude and not talent, Josh?

Watch video of Joshua Boson, who was, indeed, not going ... to Hollywood:

And then there was DeAnna Prevatte, a waitress from Kellie Pickler hometown of Albemarle, N.C. who had the personality of a soggy waffle. She complained to the judges about her piggish Sunday morning all-you-can-eat customers. In the intro she told us she hoped America would like her almost as much as Kellie, but unlike Kellie, who would walk away from you in her red high heels if you done her wrong, Deanna said "If I am going to lose you, I am more likely to run you down with a baseball bat than strut around in red high heels." Her version of "Fancy" was so angry, Simon said, "You're a little tiger, aren't you, Dina." Umm, wrong move Simon. He then got lectured and corrected on the mispronunciation of her name. P.S., DeAnna didn't take rejection well, as she promised.

Watch video of Deanna Prevatte. Just don't order food from her:

Raysharde Henderson

If you don't want to know, don't read any further.

1. Chikeze Eze
2. Colton Berry
3. Danny Noriega
4. David Archuleta
5. David Cook
6. David Hernandez
7. Garrett Haley
8. Jason Castro
9. Jason Yeager
10. Luke Menard
11. Michael Lee Johns
12. Robbie Carrico

1. Alaina Whitaker
2. Alex Lushington
3. Amanda Overmyer
4. Amy Davis
5. Brooke White
6. Carly Smithson
7. Kady Malloy
8. Kristie Lee Cook
9. Ramiele Maulbay
10. Syesha Mercado
11. Joanne Borgella
12. Asia'h Epperson

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Singing in San Diego

We're back to one-hour audition shows. Thank you, lord. San Diego was just run of the mill, a few good singers, a few mildly crazy people were shown. Nobody spectacular in either category. We've yet to be shown a contestant we're really rabid to win the competition. And nearly everyone who we've been shown that possesses a modicum of talent has previous experience, from making demos to recording for major labels to touring with established singing stars. Feh!

Where is the promise of "American Idol," to find new, raw, previously undiscovered talent? It seems that everyone we've heard of who has made it to the Top 50 (the 24 semi-finalists were supposedly selected yesterday) has had management in their past, including Brooke White, Kady Malloy and Kristy Lee Cook.

The first three contestants up in San Diego left the audition room clutching their magical Golden Tickets to Hollywood.

First up was Tetiana Ostapowych, who sang "Someone to Watch Over Me." Simon told her "I don't think you're as good as you think you are." Frankly, we didn't think she was good enough to even let through. Randy and Paula voted yes, so she would have made it anyway, and we were surprised when she asked Simon for a chance to prove herself and he relented and said yes as well. If Simon getting too soft this season?

Watch video of smug singer Tetiana Ostapowych:

Next came the poignant story of single father Perrie Cataldo, who lost his young son's mother in January 2005. When Ryan asked what happened, Perrie told him, "To sum everything up, she was in the wrong place, wrong time, with the wrong people, doing the wrong things, and she paid for it." Cute kid, sad story but could Perrie sing? Well, yes, he could. He did a nice rendition of Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love to You." And we were just a bit teary-eyed as his son met the judges after his dad got thumbs up from all three judges.

Watch the story of Perrie Cataldo. It'll being tears to your eyes:

The third person scoring a ticket to Hollywood was Australian Michael (Lee) Johns, who sang "I've Been Loving You Too Long" leading Simon to call him ""a white soul singer." He looked and sounded good and easily was sent through. We've since learned from, that under the name Michael Lee, he and his former band had been signed to Maverick Records.

More later, in the meantime here are some more videos from San Diego:

Watch video of former "Star Search" junior champ David Archuleta:

Watch video of former MCA recording artist Carly (Hennessy) Smithson dupe as all:

Watch us scream as we have to watch Blake Boshnack's 21st audition:

Watch video of Alberto Hurtado fulfilling his fan-tasy:

Watch video of the sisters hot for Simon starring Samantha Musa:

Watch video of Christopher Baker, who won't believe he can't carry a tune in a basket:

Watch video of people who need to never quit their day jobs:

Watch video of Aaron Garrett, the contestant we'd most like to be left alone by:

Watch video of Mariah Carey wannabe but will never be Valerie Reyes:

Watch video of Joseph and Juanita Mejia:

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008

Clone Star State?

And so Idol moved on to Dallas, the city where it discovered its first superstar, Kelly Clarkson. And many of the waiting wannabes aspired to Clarkson's fame and fortune, actually thinking they possessed her talent, when, in fact, they possessed none. Their interpretation of Clarkson's "Since You've Been Gone" caused Simon Cowell to utter, "OK, I now officially hate that song."

Watch compilation video of Kelly Clarkson wannabes:

And we're so moving on.

Singing waitress Beth Maddocks chose, instead, to murder Clarkson's "Beautiful Disaster." Not only was her voice ridiculously bad, neither Simon Cowell, nor we, could make out a word that she sang. When informed by Randy Jackson that it was called "Beautiful Disaster," Simon replied, "Well, OK, we'll stay with the last word on that."

Watch video of Beth Maddocks' causing indigestion for home viewers:

Illinois resident Kyle Reinnick came ready, as he said, to "rock out." He is a couselor for kindergarteners to second-graders and brought a poster with their pictures. He also wore a shirt he had them all sign. He thinks he's edgy and wears guy-liner to intensify his creepy eyes. And he has the worst fake tan we've ever seen. Like a pumpkin that's been roasted too long. Mama lock up your children. He sang Clarkson's "Never Again," and that's exactly how the judges felt. Simon called it "A very disturbing, slightly demonic audition."

Watch video of Kyle Reinnick and his guy-liner:

Not everyone wanted to be Kelly. At least one contestant thought she was Carrie Underwood, both in voice and looks. Alaina Whitaker said she preferred to think Carrie looked like her. Uh-huh. When asked if she sang like Carrie, she said "I sing country, but I can sing so many different styles." So what does she choose to sing? Faith Hill's "Stronger." She was actually pretty good -- though we like Carrie's voice better -- but, as Simon pointed out, she wasn't as good as she thought she was. She also had trouble with Cowell's accent, unable to understand the word "latter," or maybe she didn't know it?

Watch video of Carrie clone Alaina Whitaker:

By far, the highlight of the evening was saved for the end of the show. It was angelic Renaldo Lapuz, beaming beatifically, especially when he finally got to meet his own personal Idol -- whom he called "heaven's chosen" -- Simon Cowell. He sang his own composition, which he said was called "We're Brothers Forever" (although the lyrics were actually "I Am Your Brother"). What happened in the audition room (as well as before and after) is pretty much indescribable and has to be seen.

Watch video of Renaldo Lapuz singing to his Idol, Simon Cowell:

Douglas Davidson was also out of touch with reality but not entertaining in the least. He kept needing to turn his back to te judges to warm up the voice he obviously didn't have. He couldn't hit any right notes for "Livin' on a Prayer." (He probably couldn't hit the wall in a car.) The more he attempted to sing, the more we prayed he'd stop. It went on forever. He was still warming up as he was being escorted out.

Watch video of Douglas Davidson who didn't have a prayer of getting through:

Mercifully, the audition of brother-and-sister Gregory and Mia Tobias singing an opera duet was kept to a minimum.

Watch video of aria-singing siblings Gregory and Mia Tobias:

Then there was newly married, filled with enthusiasm Angela Reilly. The judges decided her model-husband who helped her pick out her songs, and whom they invited into the audition room, must love her very much to be so encouraging of her karaoke-level singing. Love is blind. Well, at least deaf. She started with "Baby Love," and when that failed to impress, tried "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."

Watch video of new bride Angela Reilly who made us say "just shoot me."

There's probably never been an audition as stultifying dull as the one given by Tammy Tuzinski. She talked and thought s....o, and her affect never changed -- never! You knew something was wrong. Especially when she said that she was going to sing Celine Dion's "The Power of Love," but actually sang "If You Want Me To." (No we don't e...ver a...gain).

Watch video of Tammy Tuzinski as you grow older waiting for her to respond:

The creepy award went to 19-year-old Bruce Dickson. Bruce came with his daddy, for whom Bruce has taken not only a vow of chastity until he marries, but he's also never kissed a girl -- and is not going to -- until it's his bride. He holds the key to her heart on a chain around his neck. Creepiest part? Daddy wears the heart around his neck, holding it safe until Bruce meets his bride. Don't wanna know what goes on in that house at night! He voice wasn't bad -- he sang Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sunshine" -- the judges felt he didn't have the right type of voice for R&B. Or maybe they were as creeped out by him and his daddy as we were.

Watch video of Bruce Dickson and his daddy dearest:

As creepy, and also with a good voice, was Brandon Green of Mississippi. Now we don't know what the other residents of Mississippi do, but good ol' boy Brandon has peeled off his fingernails for the past seven years and kept them in a bag. Yes, a bag that he brought to the audition and showed to Ryan Seacreast, and, unfortunately, us. He sang "Rich Girl" -- pretty well in fact -- and made it through. But if he becomes a semi-finalists, is anyone out there ever going to get past that fingernail story and vote for him. It's even worse than Paul Kim, the Season 6 semi-finalists who vowed to wear the same pair of "lucky underwear" and sing barefoot until he was eliminated -- and that didn't take long.

Watch video of Brandon Green get nailed:

Park attendant and roller-coaster enthusiast Paul Stafford was sweet in a big lug kind of way, even though he didn't stand a chance singing Elliott Yamin's "Wait for You." Simon called him a nice guy after he was dismissed, but then, in typical Simon style, mimicked his singing. But Paul unknowingly got one up on Simon and the best line of the night when, outside the audition room, he said, "Simon didn't come down on me like I thought he would. So That's always good, 'cause he goes down on just about everybody." Hmmm, oh really?

Watch video of Paul Stafford revealing Simon's dirty little secret:

Then there was the story of the night with the awwww factor. It belonged to 24-year-old mother of two Kayla Dawn Hatfield, who nearly lost her life in a disfiguring car accident when she was 18, but who maintains a great attitude and is thankful for everything. Simon wanted to be her for an hour -- maybe two -- every day, because of how happy she is. Her rendition of Joplin's "Piece of My Heart," wasn't bad, and, surprisingly they put her through. Simon said, "Under the assumption that all rock 'n' roll singers should be slightly mad -- in a good way -- I'm going to say 'yes.' " Amazingly, Paula, who gives everyone a chance, said no. With Simon telling Randy, "You've got to give this girl a chance," Randy told her that she had pitch problems, but he really just liked her, then welcomed her to Hollywood. But she's an odd duck. A strange little thing.

Watch Paula reject Kayla Dawn Hatfield, but she gets through anyway:

There was another object-lesson backstory in Dallas, that of Jessica Brown who got lost in the drug world while in college, using meth and eventually getting busted. In a reverse of the Jessica Sierra story, Jessica Brown (what is it with the name Jessica? Brown even looks like a prettier version of Sierra) has found god, straightened out and is now the married mother of two and a perfect role model. The pretty blonde sang "I'll Stand by You." Simon told her she made the song interesting.

Watch video of Jessica Brown continue to turn her life around:

There were the others who went on to win their Golden Tickets. Some you knew wouldn't make it past the Hollywood rounds, others showed real promise. One of the latter, was backup singer Pia Easley, who did a soulful rendition "I've Got to Use My Imagination." Simon liked her right off, especially because she had the self confidence that (without saying her name) Melinda Doolittle didn't, saying "most backing singers come in here with the demeanor of whipped donkeys." He added she was confident and stylish and that he liked her a lot. What he called stylish we thought was a bit weird. She looked like an elf, or a genie's assistant. And she keeps her eyes scrunched almost closed most the time.

Watch video of backup up Pia Easley not acting like a whipped donkey:

On the other hand, there was beautiful Nina Shaw from Kelly Clarkson's hometown of Burleson. That and those legs of hers that seemed to go on forever seemed her only claims to fame, because her version of "Run to You" certainly failed to impress. We're not sure why she was put through, but are confident that she'll be eliminated in Hollywood.

Watch video of Kelly Clarkson homegirl Nina Shaw:

Kady Malloy started off on shaky ground doing her impression of Britney Spears. Yes, it was good, the judges said, but they wanted to hear her voice, not her version of other people's, when, for her audition the Carrie Underwood look-alike started singing "Before He Cheats." She then knocked Simon's socks off with her rendition of his favorite all-time song, "Unchained Melody." He told her, "I think, of all the people we've seen so far this year, you're the best" and that she was "super, super talented." She wasn't hard on the eyes, either.

Watch video of Kady Malloy chaining Simon up with this melody:

Our prize for the sweet-singing fresh-faced boy that Simon either automatically hates (i.e. Kevin Covais) or initially likes and eventually hates (i.e. John Stevens) goes this year to Kyle Ensley, an aspiring politician (he eventually would like to be the governor of Oklahoma) who sang Queen's "Somebody to Love." Simon told him, "You weren't as bad as I thought you were going to be," and gave him a "yes." Randy gave a thumbs down, but after sending him through to Hollywood, Paula said, "OK, there was something that came over me, I don't know, it's called niceness."

Watch video of Kyle Ensley continue his Idol campaign:

Although Simon automatically nixed Drew Poppelreiter because country music is not his thing and Paula was ambiguous about this attractive young farmer because she didn't feel any "wow" factor with his performance, we were knocked out by his voice on "Check Yes or No." (And we loved when he said, "My family, they're a hard bunch of working rascals." How cute is that?) Fortunately, Randy liked him and Paula decided to give him a shot.

Watch video of Drew Poppelreiter plowing us over with his singing:

We thought Colton Swon, who sang "Boondocks" by Little Big Town, was good (Simon thought he was OK but sounded like guys all over the country singing in bars; Paula liked him but said he needed to open his eyes when he sings), but found something about his appearance disconcerting. Was it the 1980s hair or those caterpillar eyebrows? However, he did make it to Hollywood.

Watch video of Colton Swon down in the boondocks:

On Tuesday it's off to San Diego ...

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Philly Freak Show

Ah, it must be winter. How can you tell? The freak show has come to town ... well at least on TV. And when it comes to freak shows, who does it better than the "American Idol" auditions?

Oh, yes, there are a scant few actual singers we are shown on the audition shows, but Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick et al, have made the auditions more about the memorable weirdos than about the singers we're going to spend the better part of the next five months with, both on TV and in every other form of media on earth.

On the season premiere -- the Philadelphia auditions -- the freaks ruled. There were so many freaks -- scary freaks, sad freaks, funny freaks, out-of-touch-with-reality freaks -- that you'd have to have freak-off to determine the King of Freaks in Philly. By far, the scariest freak of all was the Stalker Freak, Paul Marturano, who
wrote a love song for Paula Abdul whose lyrics rhymed with stalk, and included breaking into her house and putting on her underwear. He was big, scary looking, loud and as the song got worse and worse he kept getting closer to the judges' table. Simon Cowell tried to stop him several times and finally had security escort him out of the room, saying, "I think you should leave. That was really creepy."

Watch video of Paula stalker Paul Marturano :

Then their was the hairy freak (well for a time, anyway) Ben Haar, who entered the room in a black cloak because he wanted his "costume" to be a surprise. (Simon: That isn't your costume?") Sadly, he uncloaked to reveal his hairy overweight body clad in, well, very little. Paula couldn't get past the hairy chest accentuated by his breastplate. When Ben offered to get a wax job and come back, Paula accepted, much to the digust of Simon, and we got to see him getting plucked. Yuck! He returned later to sing "Don'tcha," by The Pussycat Dolls. Thankfully, Simon allowed him to emit only four words note before shutting him up.

Watch video of hairy then hairless Ben Haar :
Hairy Ben

Hairless Ben

Saddest (and funniest) Philly freak was tour guide James Lewis, who said his "unique" voice -- he compared it to Paul Robeson's or Eddie Vedder's -- would bring something different to the show. It's low, get it? How low could he go? Low enough to keep us laughing throughout his segment. When he sang "Go Down Moses," yes you read right, each time he got to the refrain "let my people go" his enunciation of people cracked us up. But not before it cracked up Paula, who started laughing on the first note. Randy Jackson was just a few seconds behind her and had to cover his face with his notes. Admirably, Simon kept a straight face until nearly the end of the performance. What was sad? Like most of Idol's losers, Lewis didn't get what they were laughing at and offered to sing another song. Yikes!

Watch video of James Lewis singing with his "low" voice:

Most tiring freak was Zhengzhong Yu, who put us, and the judges to sleep, with his lullaby.

Watch video of sleep-inducing Zhengzhong Yu:

There was the freak who "bugged" us the most, Mark Hayes, who makes cricket chirps to amuse his friends, when someone makes a joke and it's not funny. Hmmm. Guess what happened after his frightful rendition of "White Christmas"?

Watch video of cricket boy Mark Hayes:

Most full-of-himself freak was Udgeet "Udi" Sampat , who "dances" through business meetings and who says people tell him he sounds like Sinatra or Manilow. Perhaps he meant Chuck Sinatra and Johnny Manilow? After his "performance," Simon inquired, "Did you honestly think, Udi, and I'm gonna ask you this question seriously, that you had any chance of getting through and winning?" Udi: "Yes I did." Simon: "Then you're nuts."

Watch video of dancing man Udgeet "Udi" Sampat:

Most sparkling and obscene freak was 23-year-old Alexis Cohen , who wears glitter makeup because she likes things that shine ("I'm a pirate") and lives in a one-room apartment with mom, dog and cats (the dog smartly was hiding under furniture when the "Idol" cameras arrived). Her command of the English language left something to be desired, with remarks such as "Judges, I plan to knock you on your feet" and "I'm going for actressing." She compared herself to Janis Joplin, Grace Slick and Pat Benatar, and, truth be told, we thought she did a pretty good job with Slick's "Somebody to Love." But as she might say, she was too f---ing freaky and the judges took a pass. Up to that point she was just strange, but after they rebuffed her, she went on a cursing tirade outside the audition room, especially against Simon, and gave him the (well, two) finger/s. She even demonstrated (with her pants on) how she wanted to moon him.

Watch video of glitter girl Alexis Cohen and her finger popping:

There was petite shreiky freak Alyse Wojciechowski, who first demonstrated her Elaine Benes dance moves outside the audition room, then, after telling the judges her main musical influence was Eva Cassidy shreiked her way through "Feeling Good," inspiring Simon to comment that her performance was "identical to a nightmare I had last week."

Watch video of shrieker Alyse Wojciechowski:

There was overage, balding celibate freak Milo Turk, wearing a leopard-print vest who told Ryan he needed to get his message out to the American public, and especially Simon, through his self-composed ditty "No Sex Allowed"

Watch video of chaste Milo Turk:

And, finally, there was "Star Wars" freak Christina Tolisano dressed as Princess Leia, right down to her fake ear-muff looking buns (that kept coming off). She tells us her children will have "Star Wars"-inspired names. She wants out of her Connecticut hometown because there's nothing there for her unless she becomes a corrections officer, which is a possibilty (may the force be with the prisoners). After she left the room, rejected for her Roger Daltry version of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," Simon said "Give my love to the Wookie." She too, bitched outside about how American Idol only wants cookie-cutter pop stars.

Watch video of the power not with Christina Tolissano:

And what would an audition show be without a video medley of the lame-os all trying to sing the same song. In this case Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll."

Watch video of the chorus of weird destroy a great song:

Now, of course, there were the poignant moments in the show -- you need some normalcy to balance all the crazy. The ill-named Temptress Brown , a 16-yer-old with a mother with a chronic illness appeared both for herself and her mother. Temptress is built to be the middle linebacker she is and struggled terribly with "And I am Telling You I'm Not Going," the song that both Jennifer Hudson and LaKisha Jones do a grand slam on. Of course, after seeing her supportive, wheelchair-bound mom there to support her "little" girl, we were compelled to feel bad when the inevitable happened -- she failed. Her crying brought Paula and Randy to their feet for a group hug. Simon joined them to walk Temptress out to her parents when she said she couldn't face them.

Watch video of dutiful daughter Temptress Brown:

There was also Alaa "most people call me Yuka" Youakeem, an Egyptian who came to the United States a few years ago. He loves America, he loves American girls, he loves American music. He loves the Bees Gees, especially Mr. Bee Gees. Uh, OK. He sings "How Deep Is Your Love?" Answer -- sorry, not that deep. We love you too, Yuka, we just didn't love your singing. Watching Paula try to tactfully tell Yuka his voice sucked took 5 minutes before she meekly said singing wasn't the field he should be pursuing.

Watch video of Bee Gees backer Alaa "Yuka" Youakeem:

There's always a sad story where the contestant makes it through. Philly's belonged to Angela Martin, whose daughter has Rett Syndrome, similar to cerebral palsy. We were shown footage of her daughter to be made keenly aware of the struggle her young mother is going through. Martin said, "It's not about fame for me. It's about getting her the best care, the best therapists. Because the doctors told me my baby was never gonna walk or talk, and I'm gonna get that for her."

A singer in a wedding band, Angela is also attractive and Simon tells her so. While she didn't wow us with her rendition of "Signed Sealed Delivered," she didn't embarrass herself either. Simon advises her to "de-wedding-ize" her performances.

Watch video of Angela Martin do Stevie Wonder:

And then there was Joey Catalano, who is less than half the man he used to be. But that's a good thing. It's because he has lost over 200 pounds. Fortunately, he didn't lose his voice as well. He sang "Sunday Morning," and we actually liked him better than Elliott Yamin. Paula and Randy were thumbs up. Simon agreed on his voice but wondered if Catalano could actually be an Idol. He doesn't exactly fit the mold, but then, neither did Clay Aiken. But Joey with the great backstory got through on Randy and Paula's votes alone.

Watch video of The Thin Man Joey Catalano:

Also getting through -- barely was Melanie Nyema -- who didn't have the sense to hide the fact that she's been touring as a backup singer for Taylor Hicks. In case you need any proof that there's no love lost between the producers and Hicks, check out the show's new opening. Hicks has been virtually removed -- if you do a frame by frame, you can catch his chin -- and Jordin added (of course, they could both easily be included). And the backdrops at the auditions? Taylor has been moved so far off to the side, it is almost guaranteed his face won't get on camera. Check out the picture at the top of this post. His face is literally behind the potted plant. Melanie's version of "Unwritten" was unimpressive, but she squeaked through because of Randy and Paula.

Watch video of Hicks chick Melanie Nyema:

Others who made it through in Philly were Jose Candelaria , who sang "Unbreak My Heart" in Spanish and sounded pretty decent.

Watch video of Jose Candelaria and his Spanish serenade:

Junot Joyner, who did a surprisingly nice job with Elton John's "The Blues."

Watch video of Junot Joyner:

Even though she didn't impress Simon, we enjoyed Beth Stalker's styling of "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." Fortunately Paula and Randy agreed.

Watch video of the bewitching Beth Stalker:

Simon seemed to be entranced by Brooke White, Philly's last auditioner. Brooke is a nanny who has never seen an R-rated movie. She doesn't drink, she doesn't smoke. She is so sweet and innocent she makes sugar seem sour. She sang Corinne Bailey Rae's "Like a Star," but we don't think she'll ever be one. She was just a bit too sweetsy to be palatable. Makes Carrie Underwood look like a tramp. Simon said they'll have to bring her over to the dark side a bit and she answered, "I dare you." He said, "Just give me a week, Brooke."

Watch video of sweet young thang Brooke White:

Here are our two favorite contestants from Philly:

Chris Watson just seems custom-made for the Idol mold. Young, black, good looking, nice voice (and didn't sing R&B). He did a fine job with "Follow Me" by Uncle Kracker. According to Simon, he looks like a star (we agree) and told Chris the chicks will like him. Randy wasn't especially impressed. He made it through and we think you'll see more of him.

Watch video of Chris Watson:

Best voice of the night award goes to pretty blonde Kristy Lee Cook, who lives in a log cabin with her family in Oregon. She rides and trains horses, does martial arts, is a cage fighter and kickboxer. Her voice control and modulation on "Amazing Grace" were great. She is personable yet humble. Another blonde who the Idol folks probably would love to mold.

Watch video of country cutie Kristy Lee Cook:

Next it's on to Dallas ...

e-mail Idol Addict
© 2008