American Idol 2, January 28: The Good, the Bad, and the WORSTby Sting7 -- 01/29/2003
The road to the round of 32 has only two exits left: Atlanta and Nashville. Last episode, we saw promising talents like Carrie Hunt, JD Adams, and Kewanna Niblett. What nuggets will we find in the South?
Nikkie Nicholson powered through “Lady Marmalude,” which is one of the toughest songs to sing ever. Nikkie had no problem with it. Simon said, “look fabulous, sound good. And fabulous is always better than good.” Glad he cleared that up. She’s on to Hollywood.
Johnny Ly told a lie when he said he could sing. He said he was doing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Simon said it’s his favorite song, all-time. Johnny cracked and gasped through it, Simon said, “it WAS my favorite song all-time!”
Omega Morris said she was “Born To Be Wild” and proved her case. She just wasn’t good. Simon said, “I would pay you to stop! It was exhausting!”
Clay Aiken strode in with a very low benchmark on style points. Imagine what the chess club dresses like. There you go. Clay said he’s the next American Idol, but they all say that. Simon asked (pointedly) if he’s seen the show. Clay had. What did you think? Clay thought he could have been Top Ten. Randy braced himself. And well he should have – Clay has a dazzling voice! He did an incredible “Always and Forever.” Once Simon and Randy (Paula was absent due to do a prior engagement. Yes, she apparently had one) managed to collect themselves, Simon said, “You don’t look like a pop star.” And he doesn’t. But that voice can’t be ignored. He goes to Hollywood (and let’s hope he’s read the advice article for AI contestants done by David Bloomberg and me! Think shopping mall, bro!).
John Reece nervously sang “You Give Good Love” (an interesting choice for a male). He wasn’t bad, really. Simon said, “you sing like a cabaret singer. I can see you singing on a boat!” John took it badly, while Simon stressed that he could make a living with his voice. But, not as an American Idol. As Simon dashed to the loo (accompanied by a security guard – does Simon need a bodyguard?), he again encountered John (who was complaining to Ryan Seacrest). “What do you mean I need to sing on a boat? You sing on a boat!” One day, John will realize he wasn’t actually being slammed.
Maria Ward performed her own song, the subtly titled “Take Forever and Shove It Up Your Ass.” Clearly, she has found the soul of America. Cute song, very nice voice. Randy and Simon gave her the greenlight to Hollywood!
Mitchell Asa confidently strode in, wearing a shirt like I wore when I waited tables at Chi-Chi’s Mexican Restaurant. Simon dissed it, but liked Mitchell’s performance of “Always and Forever.” “Wrap it up in a ball and hand it back to Ryan (Seacrest)!” Mitchell goes to Hollywood without the shirt.
Joshua Strickland, who does bear a resemblance to Ryan, sang well, but for his ticket to Hollywood, he had to promise Simon that he will not use Ryan as a role model and would move away from Ryan-esque styling. Seacrest came in to protest, but Joshua was physically moving further away by the second!
Vanessa Oliviera came in with “Bohemian Rhapsody” which promised disaster, but she sang it very well. Randy was clearly surprised, “very good, tough song to sing!” She moves on!
Ryan Beukelaer. Astonishing. He announced in his nasally voice that he was doing “Like A Virgin.” And, he sang it in that nasally voice, and seemed to transport himself on to that gondola like he was ducking underpasses. Simon asked if he did any other songs, as Randy hid behind a piece of paper. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” was the song Ryan announced, but what he sang bore no resemblance. Simon: “You’re possibly the worst singer in the world.” Ryan looked stunned by the feedback, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Randy tried to clear it up: “That was horrific, dude. You said you were entertaining and unique… but… oh my God!” Tears brimming in his eyes (he truly looked shocked), Ryan sighed, “Fine,” and hopefully he will fade away from our lives forever.
Adrian Love took a shot at “No More Drama” but got stuck at ‘no more pain.’ Simon echoed the sentiment and sent him home.
Stephanie Schultz (she looks awfully familiar) sang “Falling” like a dream. Simon said, “You’d make a great pop star!” And I agree. She’s gorgeous, stylish, and talented. Have to consider her a front runner.
Atlanta yielded 31 finalists, and on we go to the last city for auditions, Nashville. A city so rich in music history must be bursting with talent. Right? Well, we quickly learned that Nashville was bursting with talent... from out of state!
Edwin Naeger was the first we saw. And what a vision he was. Shoeless, wearing some heavy woolen animal skin looking thing with plaid sleeves and a Robin Hood hat. You can’t make this up. He strode in, took a swig of Paula’s Coke, (“Did he ask?” she mumbles). He declared he was going to sing “Somebody To Love” and proceeded to do so. Mainly, to Simon. Randy and Paula spurred him into opining, “Simon is sexy!” And he’d like to “give him a kiss.” Simon put an end to the madness by destroying him, “You snarled through a song. I don’t know why I need to say anything more.” No kiss came.
Ruben Studdard, a big fella, sang a beautiful “Ribbon In The Sky” that had all three judges agreeing he had “a very good voice.” Ruben flew out of the audition room and promptly gave shout-outs to his mama. Awww. And his daddy too.
Ira Lewis, Jr., age 5, came in and sang “What Going On,” which is what the judges thought. Paula, a sucker for a cute kid said, “You were so good!” Randy agreed. Right on cue, Simon deadpanned, “I didn’t like it.” You’re never too young. Ira reported to Ryan Seacrest, “The Caucasian didn’t like it!”
Alden Wynn, very blond and good-looking, sang “I’ll Be” and I’ll be! Paula had that look that only Justin Guarini could give her. A very good sign. Judges agreed, “very very good.”
Jeff Woodard mumbled “Unbreak My Heart” (I think). Randy took the honors: “You can’t sing, dude. You shouldn’t be doing this.” He said it like an accusation.
Corey Clark, with Guarini-esque hair, sang “Never Can Say Goodbye” and did a fantastic job of matching Michael Jackson’s pitch! The judges were also impressed, Paula saying he had “star quality.” Simon said he had “a good recording voice.” He also noted that the similarities to Justin ended with the hair. I didn’t perceive it as a dig. Corey can say goodbye to Nashville, he’s going to Hollywood.
Kelly Rene (missed the last name) did a spirited “Heard It Through The Grapevine.” Simon said, “good voice, good personality. It makes all the difference.” Kelly was genuinely thrilled to be told she is advancing.
Kimberley Locke sang a gorgeous “Rainbow” which had the judges bubbling. “Good voice,” said Simon. “Such control,” said Randy. She is definitely advancing.
Ricky Smith sang a song I could not identify from what we were offered, but he sang decently. Paula said she liked the voice but his style bothered her. He looked way older than his 22 years. He took off his glasses, and presto! 22. He was encouraged to spruce up, but he is going to Hollywood!
Now, my friends, the spectator portion of the program is done. The 234 finalists chosen from the cities to come to California will be narrowed down to 32. In a four-day audition process, so we’re told. Who’s going to make the big 32? In the promos, instant audience-favorite Frenchie Smith was sounding awfully good! We’ll do it again tomorrow!
Sting7 can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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