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American Idol 4, February 2: Udderly Ridiculous in San Franciscoby Donna Reynolds -- 02/03/2005
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It's the last night of the audition shows, and we have finally arrived in San Francisco. Ryan greets us from a scenic spot in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, and we are off and running. It's the seventh and final stop on the search for the next American Idol, and 12,000 people have converged on the Cow Palace where the auditions are being held. We find trombone players, pageant queens, and even a guy auditioning for Ryan's job. It's all good!
Randy's good friend, singer Brandy, is the guest judge tonight. Brandy became an "overnight singing sensation" at 15, and was also the star of her own TV show, Moesha. Now, here she sits as part of this esteemed panel of judges ready for duty. Actually, some of the guest judges have done all right - LL Cool J was particularly good with his hugs and good vibe. How will Brandy handle this? We'll soon find out as the parade is about to begin.
First up is Albert Minero, a pleasant looking fellow who tells us that he is a veritable quadruple threat. He sings, he dances, he acts, and has personality. Too bad he missed Fame! A tearful family member verifies this information. We'll see about that. Albert tells the judges that he thinks he is as good as any of the previous contestants, and then launches into a rendition of Michael Jackson's "Gonna be Startin' Something." Simon tells him that "dogs have personalities," and Randy thinks he was horrible. Fantasia can breathe a sigh of relief. Albert is no threat to her Idoldom! Albert took it well enough, though, figuring that they just couldn't handle that much personality.
Matthew Miller strolls into the room, and in an extremely high-pitched voice, tells the judges that it has always been his dream to be a singer. His Idol is Kelly Clarkson, and to honor her, he has chosen to sing "I Never Lived Before Your Love." He actually sings it higher than Kelly does, possibly going off all previous musical scales. Randy asks him if anyone has ever told him he sounds like a woman, and Matthew admits that a woman at his church says he sounds like a "skinny black woman." It's an "absolutely not," and an emotional Matthew is consoled by his fellow contestants.
James Mohr is next. I think this guy is singing about an elephant, but the song was blessedly cut short, so we'll never know.
Ryan stands on a scenic hill in San Francisco and leads us into the "crooner segment." Two crooners will try to win the hearts of the judges, and this segment is somewhat confusing with their auditions overlapping. Jamie Koehler is singing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" in honor of his uncle who loved the song. Ross Williams is performing "Moody's Mood for Love." Jamie sings, and then we hear Ross. Both do a fairly credible job, and the judges react accordingly. But because they keep flipping back and forth, it is somewhat unclear as to which singer blew Brandy away (I think it was Ross) and which one nailed it for Paula.
At any rate, they are both going to Hollywood despite Simon's reluctance to let Jamie advance. I would have taken Ross but passed on Jamie. You don't often hear "Moody's Mood for Love" on American Idol!
Next is the requisite collage of weirdos all leading up to one particular weirdo, Elizabeth Pha. Elizabeth has what is often referred to as a "bubbly" personality. But somehow, the giggling and effervescence don't quite work for her due to her appalling outfit. She's wearing what looks like a two-piece black bathing suit with a fishnet top. It's so hideous that it completely detracts from everything else about her.
She greets the judges and launches into a decent rendition of Whitney's "I Have Nothing." She has a powerful voice, and is not all that bad. Brandy comments on her "big" voice, wondering where it comes from since Elizabeth is such a small person. She may have had a chance, but this outfit totally ruined it for her. Simon calls her image hideous, and Randy calls her outfit stripper-like. Even Paula doesn't like her look. Brandy and Randy vote "No," but Paula sees potential and says, "Yes." Surprisingly, Simon agrees with Paula, and Elizabeth is going to Hollywood.
Next, we meet the "Moms," an assortment of wildly supportive mothers who are there to cheer on their babies. They hug and holler and cry. But some of them are a bit more realistic, one in particular says her child sings well, sometimes!
Justin Clark, a 17-year-old from Atlanta is there with his mother, Debbie. Justin goes in to sing for the judges, and Mom is right outside the door. He does an okay job with "My Cherie Amore," and as each judge renders his or her verdict, Mom is getting more heated by the minute. Simon says, "Yes," and Debbie hoots. Paula says he has a good voice, and Mom gets a little more excited. Justin is going to Hollywood, and Mom may well be on her way to an emergency room. She "whew, whews" herself right into an hysterical collapse on the floor. Whew, is right!
Next is San Francisco's own, Michael Garcia. Michael auditioned last year and has since had what he calls a total makeover. He says that he is now more in touch with his "essence," and we see him trying on a variety of strange shirts to prepare for his audition. He chooses a striped/floral number, and has fashioned his hair so that the top resembles a rooster's comb. Quite fetching. This would be okay if he could sing, but sadly, this is not the case. He presents himself to the judges and warbles his version of "If I'm not Made for You." He stops, wipes his brow, and then launches into "Lean on Me." It was pretty bad. Paula passes, and even Brandy excuses herself on this one. Randy tells him to let the singing go, and that's that.
Christopher Noll is up next, and tells us that he's going to drop some "ill rhymes" He's tells the judges that he's a nanny, but he that he would leave his charges behind "in a heartbeat" if he were to make it on the show. He's written a rap about the judges, which is somewhat lame but amusing nonetheless. They are amused, but not impressed. He gets a long, drawn out no from Randy and Brandy. Paula, who must have been having a momentary lapse of sanity, says yes, but Simon, ever the voice of reason tells him, "The girls have kept their nanny." Christopher bursts into a string of expletives and slithers away.1 2 Next-->
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