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American Idol, Week 2A: When Good Madonna Songs Go Bad
Well, here we are. We've headed south for the final two audition cities. Once the judges are done in these two cities, it's on to Hollywood. But, before we can get to that point, we have to make it through Atlanta and Nashville.
Our first stop tonight is Atlanta, the city that provided us with Tamyra Gray in last season's competition. But, wait…where's Paula? Apparently, she has some sort of "previous engagement", so the Atlanta crowd will only be auditioning in front of Randy and Simon. Anyway, the city hosted the Summer Olympics in 1996, but what kind of singing talent will we see—gold medal winners or people left in the starting blocks? Things start out on a good note when we meet Nickie, who belts out "Lady Marmalade" for the judges. Now, Nickie, I might not want to "voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir", but I like the way you sound. Apparently, the judges do, too, as Nickie is told she's going to Hollywood. Clay proves that looks can be deceiving. Looking like a cross between Harry Potter and Beaker from The Muppet Show, you wouldn't think he'd be all that powerful of a singer. However, once he opens his mouth to sing "Always and Forever", all preconceptions are thrown out the window. This boy has a powerful, strong voice, and he impresses Simon and Randy (He gets qualified approval from Simon and Randy, though. While they like his voice, they do not like his look.). Clay is going to Hollywood. We next meet Maria. Maria announces to the judges that she's going to sing a song she wrote herself. I don't know what the judges thought when she said this, but I was worried and was ready to use her audition time as my chance to go to the refrigerator and get some more iced tea. I was pleasantly surprised, though, as Maria not only has a good voice, but she has a sense of humor, too and sings her original composition, "Take Forever and Shove It up Your Ass." The judges laugh (yes, even Simon laughed!), and Maria is told she's going to Hollywood. Simon even goes so far as to say that he really thinks the song could be a legitimate hit. Mitchell enters the room and apparently has invaded Ryan Seacrest's closet to get the shirt he's wearing for his audition. I notice a striking resemblance to Jim Verraros from last year, and, as we're waiting for Mitchell to begin, I find myself hoping and praying that the similarities between Mitchell and Jim stop there. Mitchell doesn't let me down and does a good job with "Always and Forever" (what is it about this song?). He gets the thumbs-up from the judges, but Simon tells Mitchell to give the shirt back to Ryan before heading to Hollywood. Joshua is also told he's going to Hollywood, and Simon implores him to "move away as far as possible from looking like Ryan". What is this…"Pick on Ryan Day"? Of course, picking on Ryan isn't necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but I digress. We then meet Vanessa, who is apparently going for the Nikki McKibbin Look-Alike Award with her multi-colored, spiky hair. Again, I hope that the fire engine-red hair is the only thing Vanessa has in common with Nikki, and it is. Vanessa belts out Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", and she is told by the judges that she's on her way to Hollywood. Stephanie walks in, and, with her bleached blonde hair, white teeth, and tanned skin, she looks like a walking photo negative. She sings "Fallin'" (and isn't she about the four gazillionth person to sing it?) and gets rave reviews from the judges, with Simon telling her that she "would make a great pop star" and Randy saying that she "has the look." Hey, Randy, didn't you say just last week that this look was on its way out and that the pendulum was swinging back the other way (*raised eyebrow*)? Anyway, Stephanie is on her way to Hollywood.
The auditions in Atlanta weren't all peaches and cream, though, as this stop on the audition tour had its share of people whose singing should be confined to the shower and in the car with the windows rolled all the way up. Johnnie sings "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", which is one of Simon's favorite songs. Well, it was until Johnnie sang it, anyway. Johnnie, there ain't no mountain high enough for me to climb to get away from your voice. Omega (yes, that's her name) comes in and makes quite the impression. Between her bleached blonde afro and her jumping all over the place, she reminds me of Bozo the Clown on speed. She proceeds to butcher "Born to be Wild," and Simon tells her, "I would pay you to stop." Joshua is next, and he does a horrid rendition of "You Give Good Love". Joshua, the only thing you give me is a headache from having to endure your "singing" for even 30 seconds. Then, there's Keith. I don't know what kind of look Keith was going for with his turtleneck sweater and his outgrown hair, but it didn't work. But, as bad as his "look" may have been, his singing is...well, words can't describe Keith's "singing" (and, trust me, I don’t mean that in a good way). He would have better luck passing himself off as the cover boy for the next Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue than trying to pass himself off as a singer. Anyway, Keith walks in and tells the judges he's "different and unique" and will be singing Madonna's "Like a Virgin". Now, if you ask me, that song selection in and of itself is a "different and unique" song choice (especially for a guy to sing, but again I digress). But, his uniqueness doesn't stop there, as he begins to sing in a style all his own (thank God), and, quite frankly, I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or just stick my fingers in my ears until he's through. He gyrates and "dances" around—or rather he tries to gyrate and dance around—but there is absolutely no help or hope for this boy. I don't know if he is trying to make his voice sound breathy and seductive, but it is anything but. Rather, he sounds like Mickey Mouse after inhaling some helium. He segues from "Like a Virgin" to "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," but things don't get any better. Keith, you may want to dance with somebody, but trust me…there is nobody who wants to dance with you. The judges (and anyone else who is watching) are left stunned, but they certainly aren't speechless. Randy says, "Dude, that was horrific. When you said you were 'unique and different', you said a mouthful." Simon says, "Last year, I told someone they were the worst singer in the United States. Keith, you are the worst singer in the world." I can't decide if Keith's act is bad on purpose or not, but he looks genuinely dumbfounded when he hears what the judges have to say. To no one's surprise but his own, Keith is not going to Hollywood.
When all is said and done, 46 people—a record number of people from any one city—are moving on to Hollywood from Atlanta.
Our final stop on the audition tour is Nashville, also known as "Music City, USA". For the first time in the whole audition process, it looks like the guys are generally doing better than the girls. Reuben sings "Ribbon in the Sky" and impresses the judges enough to be sent through to the next round. Alden sings Edwin McCain's "I'll Be" and gets the green light from the panel. Alden, we'll be seeing you in Hollywood. Next up is Corey, this year's Justin Guarini wannabe, complete with big hair and big smile. He sings "Never Can Say Goodbye" and gets the thumbs up from all three judges, with Paula even going so far as to tell him, "You have star quality." Ricky is next. He says he's 23, but if you ask me, he sure looks older. Randy and Paula seem to think he's older, too, but they just decide that it's the way he's dressed. Ricky sings "One Last Cry," and impresses the entire panel, with Simon saying that Ricky's voice "is in the top 5% of all the ones we've heard." Ricky's going to Hollywood, but Randy advises him to "dress younger." The women do have some good representatives in the Nashville auditions. Kelly Renée sings "I Heard It through the Grapevine". It was a good job, but it seemed a bit slow to me. I'm not a judge, though, and Randy, Paula and Simon all give her a "yes" to Hollywood. Simon even notes that she has "a good personality, and that makes a difference." Kimberley belts out a very impressive version of "Somewhere over the Rainbow", and is unanimously sent on to the next round, with Simon saying, "Boy, do you have a great voice."
On the other side of the fence, we have Edwin. Now, Edwin does everything wrong that he possibly can. He walks right up to Paula and take a drink out of her cup. He brings copies of his own CD for each judge (which he's autographed for them as well, naturally). He looks like he took everything he had in his closet and put it on for the audition. He says, "Simon's sexy. I'd give him a kiss." He then proceeds to butcher Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love", prompting Randy to tell him, "Dude, you do need somebody to love." Amber tries to make her way through "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", but the only thing the bugle boy would be playing for her is Taps since her performance is dead on arrival. Jeff attempts Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart", and, after his performance, I wish somebody could unbreak my eardrums. Then there's 5-year-old Ira, who is probably the highlight of the Nashville auditions for me. He sings "Let's Get It On," and he has me laughing (in a good way…as opposed to Keith, who had me laughing because he was just so bad). Of course, he's not going to Hollywood, but Paula and Randy tell him he does a nice job. Ira has the line of the night when he tells his family afterward, "The Caucasian dude didn't like it, but the brown dude did." Hey, Ira…come back in about 10 years or so and try out again, OK?
In the end, 30 people make it to Hollywood from the Nashville auditions.
Well, that's it, everyone…the first round of auditions are done! Now, it's on to Hollywood, where the field of hopefuls will be narrowed down to the 32 semi-finalists who will compete for our votes starting next week. We'll find out who those 32 are tomorrow night. Stay tuned!
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Last edited by lobeck; 01-29-2003 at 02:36 PM.
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