American Idol 4, January 19: Grading On An Archby Sting7 -- 01/20/2005
Day two of the search takes us to St. Louis, MO. Things are starting off rough for the auditioners. The first two we see are people with obvious singing talent, yet...
The Maynard Triplets, dressed in matching pink outfits, immediately concede that middle triplet, Erin, is the best. Simon feels it’s necessary to tell them they look like three overweight Jessica Simpsons. Despite that lack of encouragement, they belt out a credible "It’s Raining Men" and Simon lowers the boom. The obvious boom. They all can’t go, there will only be one winner. Triplet on the left is already upset. Simon dismisses the bookends, and asks for judgment on Erin. Randy is on the fence (?), Simon says no, and Paula also says no.
Outside, triplet on the left is crying because she was called fat. Triplet on the right admonishes "we are fat!" Out comes Erin, a little teary eyed herself. To us, she begins a tirade on Simon, so what if her sister weighs 160 pounds? What? Oh. 150 pounds. Then an argument breaks out that sis’s weight was announced in front of, what, 30 million people? I understand.
Katrina Rece has quite a lot to say. She has eaten human flesh for an anthropology class (we taste like bacon), her parents had a panic room, and she works in a call center talking to the mentally ill all day. "This is not going well," Simon notes. Katrina sings "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and is doing well until the upper register, which causes a little wincing. Randy says she can definitely sing. Paula doesn’t think the voice compares well to what they’ve heard already. Simon thinks she should meet the triplets, they can help each other. (You know what that means.) Ouch.
Ryan throws the first pitch at a Cardinals game. It goes as well as you can imagine it would. Ryan uses the opportunity to introduce a couple of other guys who are "off-pitch." Get it? Oh my sides. I won’t bore you with them.
Osborne Smith II just happens to be the son of Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith (who just might be the greatest shortstop of all time... if it weren’t for Cal Ripken, but I digress). Osborne sings Stevie Wonder’s "All I Do" (excellent song choice, excellent!) with real passion, and the judges unanimously send him on to Hollywood. (Stevie Wonder is now three for three!)
Johnny Hayes is not singing Stevie (thankfully, the streak is still alive!), in fact, I don’t know who or what he is doing, but it sounds like he took a hit of helium before he came into the room. No.
Angel Higgs is a music teacher, and she arrives with her prize student (this appears to be a scheduled audition, in case you were wondering – in some cities, you are scheduled a time to sing before the triumvirate). She sings a spirited "Ain’t Nobody"(not a great choice – no one else will be Chaka, don’t use this one) with a lot of affectations, and I would have thought a music teacher would know better. Simon thinks she looks old (she does). Randy thinks the voice is worth a shot though, so does Paula. Simon says he was a no, but she’s going to Hollywood!
Jessica Pontius seems sure she is going to Hollywood. She likes to tan, by the way. Her "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" is, in fact, "excruciating" and Randy suggests voiceover work, which Simon heckles. The judges amused themselves with the voiceover idea and Jessica just walks out. Our judges are officially punchy.
Joe Schoen arrived with his whole family it seems, he has banners and signs in his honor, and he decrees that he is the "complete package." Little did the family know that Joe would represent everything NOT to do when auditioning. Joe says he worked on a cruise ship and now he trains other cruise ship entertainers. (Bad answer – you know Simon and cruise ships! The deck was already stacked against him.) Joe sings a decent "My Girl," still a bit affected (folks, please, just sing it straight!), and Randy says he did alright. Simon says he thinks it was a bit variety show for him. Joe vehemently disagrees. (Stop it.) Simon warns him that they are "going to have a problem if this continues" because he’s becoming "obnoxious." (Stop it!) Joe says he doesn’t want to be obnoxious, but, "you need to give me another chance and you need to send me to Hollywood!" That is NOT the way to get there. Simon says no, and Randy adds, "not good enough." (Remember, Randy was on his side pre-fight.) An astonished Joe tells his family it’s a no. And I bet he’ll say he has no idea why.
Future idols, don’t fight with Simon. You won’t change his mind. You’ll only annoy him. And, even if you do or did work on a cruise ship, don’t offer that! Pick another one of your jobs to talk about!
As for Joe, there’s always Star Search.
Justin Smith, a ball of personality, lunges into "Proud Mary" with Ikette choreography and everything... except a good singing voice. Simon moans, "what is it with this song?" and that leads into a montage of Proud Marys. Proud, maybe. Good? No.
Aa’shia Jackson (pronounced Asia), a mere 16, comes through the door with her own rap, and she is fabulous! Without a word to the judges, she starts "I’ll Be There" and it’s not as impressive. Randy says exactly that but thinks she has promise. Simon thinks she sounds like she inhaled helium. But Paula thinks there is something unique and special about her. Simon is a "categorical" no, but Paula is a "categorical" yes, and adds she hopes Aa’shia makes it all the way. Aa’shia is going to Hollywood and her family explodes. Mama tells us that Aa’shia is the most talented person she has ever seen and she will outsell any Idol who has ever been. Thanks Mom, Aa’shia was cocky enough as it was, and now, you have made her the villain. Remember, people have to vote for her!
Maurice Thomas never blinks and it is scary. He says his friends tell him he sounds like Brian McKnight. He sings Tevin Campbell’s "Can We Talk" and starts off in his own key, then tries to match Tevin’s (Tevin was quite young when he did that song). Bad idea. What am I saying? He was doomed from the start. It’s a no. Maurice is having trouble wrapping his head around the rejection and keeps looking back at the judges like he’s expecting them to say, "just playing! You’re great!" Randy asks him what’s wrong. Maurice comes back and says he knows he can sing! He sounds like Brian McKnight! That makes Paula choke on her Coke (ca-Cola, people!). Simon asks if he knows a Brian McKnight song. Maurice sounds like air escaping an old tire. It’s over. Thank goodness.
Carrie Underwood is a beautiful young farm girl from Oklahoma... she’s so normal. She’s so normal, she’s seems abnormal. Abnormally normal? Anyway, she sings the stitches off "I Can’t Make You Love Me" and she was going to Hollywood three verses in. Randy tells her to work on her presentation, but the look in Simon’s eyes was "yes!" almost immediately.
Jeremy Wakefield is Angel Higgs’ music student. She’s anxiously waiting for his audition. Jeremy goes through the door like a Tasmanian devil and boldly asks the judges, "are you ready?" (Groan.) He does a nice job with "Ain’t Too Proud to Beg" but the judges are... annoyed? Jeremy asks if he should do another song. Randy says he can do another song "less affected." Jeremy launches into "Superstar," arms out, looking heavenward, mouth a perfect O. Affected. Randy stops him, but says yes to Hollywood. Paula is a no. So is Simon. That is that. He rejoins Angel and she is absolutely disconsolate, wailing that she came here for him, and she shouldn’t have come. Jeremy tells us the road is not over for him, this just "wasn’t God’s Will."
Ryan tells us it’s time to experience when "Adam Met Dirk." Adam and Dirk became fast friends in the line and the guys seem to be genuinely pulling for each other. Will either of them make to Hollywood?
Dirk Pearman is up first. A huge smile accompanies his announcement that he is obsessed with Baywatch. Thus, he will do American Idol’s first ever David Hasselhoff number (he’s big in Germany, you know!), "Current of Love." Dirk is in Hasselhoff heaven as he beseeches the judges to reeeeeach out for that current of love, but they don’t take the life preserver. Simon asks if that was a serious audition. Dirk says he gives 100% everything he does. He’s beyond guile. He’s beyond help. It’s a no. That smile keeps going because Adam is next.
Adam Pratt tells us that he knows that people will watch American Idol, just because he’s on it. He’s got The Voice. Adam sings an NSYNC song that is out of synch with everything that we want in an Idol. The judges are desperately trying to keep from giggling, and pretty much failing. Randy tells him it’s a no. Outside, Adam surmises that he was so good, the judges just couldn’t believe it was true. Hmm. And, the new best buds head off to seek their fortunes with the wind at their backs and fire in their hearts.
So, St. Louis yields another 32 finalists. Next week, we head to New Orleans, with guest judge Gene Simmons of KISS!
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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