American Idol 4, January 26: The Lights Get Brighter!by Sting7 -- 01/27/2005
From a sinful city to Sin City itself, American Idol keeps on rolling! Las Vegas has the next chance to display its hottest and brightest. Kenny Loggins is tonight's guest judge, and in typical Seacrest style, he is reduced to being "the grandfather of movie soundtracks."
See, Kenny did a lot of really good stuff before Caddyshack and Footloose, like "This Is It," "Heart to Heart," and "Whenever I Call You Friend." And, that's just as a solo artist. Any mention of Loggins and Messina? Nah. That might be educational or something. Further evidence that if you are relying on American Idol for musical history, you are in sad shape. Better yet, let's just do away with the guest judges?
The first person we meet is Trevor Hanson, and our introduction is very brief. Just long enough for us to see him perform "Footloose" and literally kick off his Sunday shoes. Kenny's regret deepens.
Mikalah Gordon says she is quite nervous, and her performance of "Lullaby of Birdland" showed exactly that until she gathered herself and showed a pretty strong voice. "Lullaby" was a risky, risky, choice of song, but the judges appeared to have enjoyed it. A lot. Randy says she was "born to do this." Simon says she is proof that pageants in America should be banned because he's sick of "precocious pageant singers" of which Mikalah is not, she is "just cool." Yep, she's going to Hollywood. She's thrilled, because if she makes it big, she buy her mom those breast implants, she says. Good to set goals.
Jeffrey "JC" Gray was born deaf and says the first sound he heard was Neil Diamond singing "America." That has led to a Neil Diamond fanaticism. In the scariest connotation. Jeffrey has an unsettling bug-eyed stare, you see. Makes you wonder if that "JC" stands for "just crazy." Simon recounts these facts with Jeffrey and says he is not encouraged, as Jeffrey stares at him like a hungry man at a juicy steak. Jeffrey sings "America" like Neil Diamond after being stabbed in stomach. Ironic, since Jeffrey makes subtle stabbing motions as he sings. Simon stops him and mentions the stabbing motions. Jeffrey says he was just adding some hand motions. Hmm. The verdict. Randy says no. Kenny says not right for the show. Paula too. Simon asks if Jeffrey knows where Simon lives in LA. Jeffrey, surprisingly, says yes! Simon responds, "then I'm a yes." But, it's a no overall.
Amanda Avila is a showgirl, and is beautiful, which might be redundant, but worth it. She craves that feeling that Kelly, Ruben, and Fantasia must have had singing their victory songs. Amanda sings Jessica Simpson's "I Want To Love You Forever" which I would not recommend because Jessica sang the living snot out of it, but Amanda was definitely up to it's daunting level! Four slack-jawed judges let her sing a loooong time before stopping her. Simon wondered if this means her showgirl friends might be visiting her in Hollywood. Make room, she's going!
Christopher Tamura says he wants to show what Las Vegas is all about, and Randy is eager to see it. Sadly, Christopher falls far short of his announced mark. His "Heartbreak Hotel" was closer to "Tragic Trailer Park." No.
Richard Molfetta - yes, stop rubbing your eyes, Richard Molfetta of the cussing Molfetta twins (see Tuesday's episode) is back. Frankly, I think the Molfettas got jobbed. He says he's auditioning solo, with solo performer songs. Richard arrives and they let him "I Who Have Nothing" and though he's pressing a bit too hard with the riffs, he is very good. Randy says he can definitely sing, it's his attitude that puts him off. Simon says it seems like an act. Paula disagrees, and as a woman, says she feels his sincerity. Kenny also enjoyed the performance. Yeses from Randy, Kenny, and Paula make it official. Richard is going to Hollywood. Simon is less than enthused. Richard, you'd better come correct!
Emily Neves is a sprightly bundle of energy, who's adorable to some and murderously annoying to one scary guy in the crowd. Kenny's offhand comment that she reminds him of Cyndi Lauper encourages her to burst into a sharp "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." Simon hates it. I'm feeling the guy outside. Paula asks her to sing something else. Emily eases into "Different Drum," which is better choice for her. She directs some of the more stinging lyrics to Simon. Randy likes her because she's fun (at this point, they were at day two and only advanced ten people), Kenny says yes because he wants to hear her with instruments behind her, Paula says yes. Simon says she's going to Hollywood. Stinger wouldn't have sent her, but he's willing to see what happens.
Joseph Land, allegedly 28, says this is his big moment as he takes a big swig from a coffee mug bigger than some whole pots. He walks into the room and Simon immediately asks his age. 28, Joseph says. (41, my guess). Simon asks for a birthday, Joe gives one in 1976. The look in Simon's eye echoes my thought: you haven't seen 28 in your rearview mirror for a long, long time. Simon asks if he saw the first moon landing. Joseph, unconvincingly, says he would have been too young. Joseph tries to distract his interrogation by waving to Kenny Loggins. Simon asks if he bought Kenny's first record. Joseph says no. Joseph sings "Young Girl" (a song recorded in 1968 by Union Gap featuring Gary Puckett. Yeah. The evidence is mounting!). Finally, Joseph cracks under the strain and admits he's 44. Thanks for playing.
Desi Yazzie - the brother of Dino Yazzie (who shattered glass in a four mile radius with his rendition of "The Greatest Love of All" in season two) came to do more damage with more Whitney - "I Have Nothing." He had nothing. Randy said he didn't want to hurt anymore and away went Desi.
Ryan says a string of bad auditions made the judges crabbier... with each other. Paula carped on about being interrupted (look up "conciseness" maybe?), Simon got even ruder with auditioners, Paula told someone that they could do a good Kermit the Frog, to which Simon asked if he came to be told by Paula Abdul that he sounded like Kermit the Frog, which set her off again, and eventually, Simon stomped off to take a break. Oh, my sides.
Susan Woodall, a former Little Miss Texas, apparently, sings "Viva Las Vegas." It was annoyingly casual. So casual, Simon called her on it. Yes, she just wanted to be on television. Simon tells her she wasted everyone's time. Out. In the confessional, Susan thinks she deserves points for not cracking or forgetting the words. Enjoy your fame.
Sharon Galvez, who Simon immediately pegs as "such a Vegas girl," is a short petite little thing who delivers "Saving All My Love" with astonishing power! She is unquestionably as yes!
Matthew Falber does a little Scooby Doo for the camera and I already like him. He sings "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" and it's curious: the first line is great, and the judges instantly perk up, then he goes into the comedy bits, and it throws off his singing entirely. While amused, Randy says no. Kenny thinks musical theater is calling. Paula says close, but no. Come back next year. Simon says, "nearly, but no." Matthew, if you are out there, if you watched the show, you know how close you came! Folks, the chances of going to Hollywood because you are a ham are slim to none. You must bring something. If Matthew had just stuck to singing, he'd have gone to Hollywood and with that sense of humor, he could have been Top 12 on likeability alone!
Bobie May is psychic. Which makes you wonder why she even showed up. Ba-dump bump. She predicts she's going to Hollywood. Only if she wins a raffle, because her "Can't Help Falling In Love" manages the dubious honor of being completely, entirely, totally, out of key. Every. Single. Note. Buh-Bye.
Jennifer Todd says she's wanted to try out before, but let her weight hold her back. This year she found the courage. She sings Alicia Keyes' "If I Ain't Got You" and besides being grammatically incorrect, vocally it's full of landmines. Jennifer does a wonderful job with great power and control. Randy is an immediate yes, Kenny thinks there may be an image concern, but Ruben did it (the most gracious fat insult ever delivered), Paula says the competition must have her, and Simon says that's four. Jennifer is understandably overjoyed.
Mario Vasquez comes to Vegas via New York, and he just got nervous walking into the audition room. What timing. Despite the nerves, he sings "Whatever Happens" (a song *I* don't even know) and what happened was he is only the second contestant to make the hair stand on my arms! Very good stuff! Paula was getting that gelatinous look she hasn't had since Justin Guarini. Simon says he's one the best he's heard the whole competition. Kenny seems like he wants to say more, but sticks to yes, and Randy makes it official. On to Hollywood!
Ryan says Mario is one of 24 people going to Hollywood in Las Vegas. Next stop: Cleveland, with LL Cool J!
Sting7 has been a respected published writer for 16 years, as a music editor, entertainment critic, columnist, and interviewer. He also has a curious love for pro-wrestling! You can email Stinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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