American Idol 2, January 21: It’s Back!by Sting7 -- 01/22/2003
It’s back, it’s back, it’s finally back! I have been suffering through AI withdrawal like you would not believe! In the meantime, I found I actually care who Trista picks on The Bachelorette! I was in sad, sad shape.
The show opens in Pasadena. Ryan Seacrest is surrounding by thousands of screaming hopefuls. Ryan says that there were 70,000 applicants! The auditions took place in Miami, Detroit, Nashville, Atlanta, Austin, Los Angeles, and Manhattan.
Along the way, we got clips of the unspeakably horrible. Too many to recap, thank you, but those who were noteworthy enough to have their names on the screen are covered here.
Plenty of fluff about the grandeur of AI2. Randy says he is looking for someone who is “physically and mentally strong enough” to face the rigors of being a pop idol. Paula says she is looking for someone who can find “their inner voice and be true to themselves.” Um, okay! Lord only knows what Simon is looking for, but he has a special way of letting us know when he doesn’t get it!
This year, the contestants seem prepared to battle back at Simon. As David Bloomberg and I have documented countless times, this is a losing battle. And a waste of time. We’ll see some of that.
So, let’s stop talking about it! One of these folks could be the next American Idol!
In Manhattan, we met:
Chriss West Jr., who drew Simon’s ire, “If you had done that 2000 years ago they would have stoned you!” Ouch.
Janelle Lienhart was granted a “terrible” from Simon. She was.
Bradley Swift received a terse, “no one is sending you to Hollywood.” Brad tried to save a little dignity by retorting, “That’s okay, at least I live in a country where we brush our teeth twice a day!” They’ll love that in England, where they will be getting American Idol for the first time this season!
Cara and Rhian Morgan were twins who performed “Falling” in a gorgeous harmony that wowed the judges. Problem: they both want to go to Hollywood. Simon trifled with the idea of sending only one of them. But they adamantly wanted to go together. So, are they going to try to perform as a group? This ain’t Popstars! Somehow, they got the green light to go to Hollywood.
Nathaniel Golden Jr. had the notion to rip his pant legs up the side to stand out. He only needed to sing to do that. After a tuneless rendition of “My Girl,” Randy could only mutter “terrible terrible terrible.” He’s still speaking in triplicate! Then came an amusing fight.
“You’re horrible.” Simon deadpanned. “So are you!” said Nate. Nate decided to go on the attack. He charged that he hasn’t heard Randy sing a note. Randy said he’s better than that. So prove it, charged Nate. I’m not auditioning, reasoned Randy. Nate lowered the boom to Randy: “You’re fat!” (Nate wasn’t exactly rail thin), to Simon: “You’re an asshole!” (he knew that already!), and to Paula: “And, you’re played!” (to the hip-hop intolerant, that means she is past her prime). “Listen,” Simon starts in that exasperated tone that he gets. “I’m spent!” Nate declares with flourish as he stomps out. “I think he took it quite well.” Simon quips.
God, I love this show!
Then came the As The World Turns moment. Kristen and Janeane have a curious relationship. Kristen Barbera’s boyfriend is Janeane’s ex-boyfriend. But, the girls claim they are friends, even came down to the auditions together. But, this friendship seems somewhat combustible. Ryan Seacrest successfully stirred them up by claiming that Kristen told him she is auditioning to spite Janeane. “Really!” Janeane snarls. Kristen was too shocked to offer much of a defense.
Kristen sang “Crazy” and was pretty good. The judges were pleased and invited her to Hollywood. As Kristen came bouncing out of the audition room, Janeane went in. No congrats offered. Friends.
Janeane (missed the last name) sang “At Last” and got off to a rocky start, but recovered nicely. The judges liked her too and sent her to Hollywood, despite Simon’s claim that he was bored. Paula said she could stand naked in front of him and he’d still be bored. Simon agreed. Pow.
Christopher Boehm sang O-Town’s (the group created from Making The Band 1) “Nothing At All” which sort of described his talent level. Simon said he may be the worst singer in New York. Christopher respectfully disagreed. Simon said prove it and gave him 24 hours to find someone worse.
With Ryan Seacrest in tow, Christopher began his search. He found a black guy who outsang half of those going to Hollywood! Ryan said Christopher is still the worst. One looked like a short order-cook, with a thick New Yawk accent – he was better too. And then, there was an obviously operatically trained man. No contest. Christopher was left with his title, if you will, intact.
Julia DeMato performed a gorgeous “Unbreak My Heart” that had Paula practically swooning and Simon saying she “made it seem effortless.” She’s definitely one to watch!
Danny Rodriguez performed a lounge-lizardy, but somehow charming “Fly Me To The Moon” that the judges liked. He moves on.
Cynthia Priester came in with a Catholic schoolgirl from Marilyn Manson High type outfit and lost the words to her song, Pink’s “Don’t Let Me Get Me.” She got got. The two lines she managed was enough for Simon to proclaim her, “ghastly.” She kept asking for a mulligan and the judges begged her not to.
Tirrell Anthony has a gorgeous voice that had Paula saying yes, but Randy saying no, “not so spectacular” (even though Tirrell said Luther Vandross personally complimented him). Simon’s yes came with his old standby argument that Tirrell did not “look like an idol.” Paula said that he deserves another shot. Simon actually agreed! 2 to1, he’s going to Hollywood.
Frenchie Davis is a thick girl whose friends raised money for her to try out for AI. She blew the roof off with “…And I’m Telling You,” prompting a standing O from Paula and Randy and respectful applause from Simon. Yes from Randy, Yes from Paula, (flashback: last season there was a girl of similar size with a great singing voice who Simon shot down for being overweight. Would he do it again?). Yes from Simon!
All told, 34 finalists from New York advanced to the next round.
From Miami, we were treated to:
Tara Daddona, who bears a hint of a resemblance to her own idol, Mariah Carey. That’s where the similarities ended for Tara, who warbled an almost unrecognizable “Against All Odds,” which defines her chances of advancing. “One of the worst voices I’ve ever heard,” was Simon’s critique. Randy said her vocal coach “is doing her wrong.” Simon suggested Tara demand a refund.
Heidi Hall is a stunning 17-year-old who performed a reasonable “When I Fall In Love.” The judges were smitten. Simon said she may be the future of pop music, look-wise. The opposite of “dirty” Christina Aguilera (which Simon pronounced “argue-leeria”). Personally, I thought she was very pretty but the voice didn’t get it for me. But I was out-voted, she goes to Hollywood.
Natalie Galan, who has a smoking-hot Mom, delivered a tuneful “Angel” and, for the first time that I can recall, Randy and Simon said yes, but Paula said no! “She’s not ready yet, but next season she will come back and dazzle us.” But she is out-voted and Natlie moved on.
Sean Campos is determined to be the first successful Asian in R&B. He did a nice version of Earth Wind & Fire’s “Together” and got the nod, though Simon proclaimed that R&B is not Sean’s genre, he’s just a nice looking boy with a good voice.
Then came my personal favorite. Edgar Nova. Good-looking, but a bit strange. He claimed he had dreams “before he was born” (that’s some trick!) that he would be famous. First, an awful Al Pacino impersonation from Scarface. Then, an even more awful impersonation of singing Enrique Iglesias’ “Escape.” If you know the song, you know Enrique hits some testicle-tightening high notes. Edgar’s sounded like a cat stuck in a rat trap! (and he got the lyrics wrong! What should have been “you can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape my love” was sung as “you can run, you can DIE.” I wanted to!). By then, Edgar was on the floor in what appeared to be mental distress! Sorry, he just gets so into it! Randy asked, no, demanded, “don’t sing anymore. Ever.” Edgar fluffed that off. Paula tried to be nice (so Paula) by saying she has never seen such “commitment.” I think she wanted him to be committed. Edgar missed it, he was anxious to hear from Simon, who “is the inspiration for all this!” (so, those pre-birth dreams were about Simon?). Simon’s feeling was that it was “one of the worst singers I’ve ever heard in my life!” Me, too. Edgar disagrees, of course, and takes his leaves.
But, outside, he told everyone he would “see them in Hollywood.” Only if he buys a ticket. Eventually, he tried to sneak in another audition, claiming the judges wanted to see him again. The ruse is soon discovered and he was escorted from the building! Still claiming that we would see him in Hollywood! Creeeepy!
Victoria Mayers ran through (well, more like collided with) the scales, not hitting any of the keys successfully, before singing the lyrics to Vanessa Williams’ “Save The Best For Last.” It was mind-numbing bad! Randy said he will need medication.
Bashir (missed the last name) did a pretty cool beat-box and some sharp choreography before delivering a so-so vocal on “If I Fall I Love.” Randy says no, but Simon challenges Randy on this one. Simon’s feeling is that Bashir is offering something more than vocals that could work. “This isn’t vocal coach idol!” Randy caves and Bashir goes on.
Miami only netted 20 contestants moving on.
Austin brought us:
Dana Clark, a stylish 23-year-old who already looks like a star (and her mother called her Diva Deluxe!) and sang a soulful “Let’s Stay Together.” Randy is the sole no vote, (Randy always seems to have a problem with contestants doing a well-known, well-loved song. If they aren’t spot on, yet original, he’s not going to like it!) but she moves on!
Kimberly Caldwell, hot blonde, sang the stuffing out of “Superstition” and she advanced. Slam dunk!
Cedric Hunt came pimped-out from Kansas in a lemon yellow suit that smacked of Dick Tracy, with a hat to match, by-god. Cedric came in the door singing and did a nice version of “Reach Out” but the judges were not feeling him at all. This was the only time I really disagreed. “You’re not a good singer, man.” Randy slammed. Cedric expressed the agony of defeat with his eyes welling up with tears to Ryan Seacrest. As a single, poetic tear rolled down his cheek, Cedric could only sigh, “you win some, you lose some, I guess.” Poor guy.
Coffey Anderson (that’s pronounced “café” somehow), good-looking guy with a baby due any nanosecond, performed an overly stylized “Lately” (RJ Helton’s was better), which impressed Randy and Paula, but left Simon cold (“Okay. Heard better.” Surely, he doesn’t mean RJ’s!) Southern gentleman to the end, Coffey left with his Hollywood invitation and a “nice to have met… two of you!” That could come back to haunt him.
Jacob John Smalley, fresh from Oklahoma, has an okay voice and a heartthrob’s smile. He sang “If I Fall In Love” (just as Bashir did), but holds more to the boy band style. Positive comments from all the judges, Paula said she sees the “X-factor.” That is a good sign.
Katherine (missed the last name) performed a theatrical “Fever,” which dazzled the judges in its authenticity. “She’s Doris!” Simon enthused. Randy was going to vote no, even though he dug the time flashback it gave him, because he has no idea how it would work in today’s music scene. But he was swayed. Katherine claimed to have more weapons, we’ll see in Hollywood!
Patsy Charles closed out the show with “Unchained Melody” sung in passages so long, the crew edited in footage of summer turning to winter and babies yawning. Randy, stopping her, said she was “on par to have the longest song in history!” If she made it to the next round, we wouldn’t crown an American Idol until 2007! No worries, she’s out.
There were 36 contestants from Austin moving on.
And so ends night one. My favorites from tonight were Julia DeMato, Kimberly Caldwell, Frenchie Davis, and Tirrell Anthony. Will one of the be the new American Idol? First we have more auditions to go through as the show continues with another 90 minutes Wednesday night at 8:30/7:30 Central. But these first 90 minutes were followed by a look at where the first AI’s Top 10 are up to now -- be sure to check out Sting7’s recap of that portion of the show on Foxes On Idol.
Sting7 can be reached at email@example.com.
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