January 21 - Auditions:
stops at New York, where we picked up Scooter Girl, and
Atlanta, where the curse of Keith was acted upon full
force, we head to Texas, home of oversized toast, our
current President, and a singer by the name of Kelly
Clarkson that you kids might be familiar with.
But all is not popstars and toast today, for as soon as
we roll into town, so does a Texas-sized thunderstorm.
Can't be a good sign.
Another bad sign, #12025. That belongs to Markeis
McCray, who is doing (get this) absolutely nothing. He
says he has a 1-in-4 shot and that he wants to take his
Idol prize somewhere else to see what he can do with it.
Randy, Paula, and Simon kindly invite him to take his
ass somewhere else without one note.
Lucas Dixon has more notes on him in the guise of "How
Sweet It Is". Sweet as it is, he's amazingly flat and
twangy. Too flat and twangy. And yes, the scare on
Simon's face is justified.
Simon: "Tell him the problem, Randy, from a record
Randy: "The problem from just the musical perspective is
you can't sing!"
If you've seen promos, no doubt your familiar with
Fookling Lee, who skipped high school, went to Harvard
graduate school, had a singing pedigree, and was trained
in three instruments as a child. Wait, you haven't?
Well, you remember that glittery chick in the blue shirt
that Simon said "was like listening to another
language?" Yeah, that's her! And understandably so. You
know it's bad when you have to listen to the end of the
song to figure out what song she was singing (in this
case it was "I Can't Stand the Rain"). Well, at least
she has that Harvard education to fall back on.
Moral of the story: Stay your ass in school.
Simon: "Allegedly the song was 'I Can't Stand the Rain',
and on cue, it poured with rain. I turned to Randy and
said 'No one was going to be as bad as this girl.'
Cue the bad from Keneshia Harold, Candace Sibley,
Latrice Godley, and Carlos Pacheco.
Outside, it's still raining. Harder than before, I might
say. Could it have something to do with Sarah Santiago's
performance of "That's the Way It Is?" It might. She
can't hit it on proper pitch, half step down, OR full
step down. The depth really does not shine here. She
insists it's nerves. I say, it's a frickin' maelstrom,
and the judges tend to agree with me.
Randy: "It's making me scared. It's thundering and
Wow. The worse she gets, the worse the weather gets.
Bad rain reference #3: Stephen Rainwater, who sings
"She's a Lady". He's half a step off and the dancing
isn't helping either.
Chico: "Can't you say anything besides dot dot dot?"
Randy: "What's going on, Houston? Houston, are you
Simon: "No, Houston, we have a problem."
And the problem doesn't go away on its own, as Mallory
Mayeux relies too much on her butt and less on her
actual intonation on "I'm So Excited." I'm so scared.
Simon: "That was 1.5 out of ten. If I were to say it was
mediocre, it would be the biggest compliment you've ever
Paula: "Mallory, that was... terrible."
Mallory begs to differ, and Simon takes her up,
challenging her to go to the nearest mall and round up
10 people who think otherwise. She can't even scrounge
up one. And oh my god, she's scaring the little
children! "Guys at parties like it," Mallory defends.
Guys at parties are also drunk.
Meanwhile, it's still raining down water and poor
talent. Houston, we have a SERIOUS problem. But every
cloud has a Silva lining. Enter Sarah Silva. She
actually hits a lot of the notes in "At Last." When she
doesn't elide. Don't get me wrong, I have absolute
respect for the power of the trill (as I have used it
once or twice before in performing), but there's a time
and a place, and Sarah was clearly overdoing it.
Simon: "It was just over the top."
Paula: "I think you're very talented."
Randy: "I'm cool. I'm good. I liked it."
Two out of three ain't bad. But she needs to check the
frills at the door if she's going to Hollywood. Can
Kiira Bivens follow suit? She sings Christina Aguilera's
"I Turn To You"... with Christina's voice. Ah, again
with the trills. She has one of the better voices in
Houston, but she's simply singing the song. She's not
telling the story. And by that, it just proves Jim Rome
right when he says that this is little more than just
Randy: "I liked the voice, but I hate the yodel."
Simon: "She yodeled!"
Paula: "You know what bugs me about you. You're just ...
affected. (C-Note: Hard to define, but easy to explain.
See "Performing As")"
Simon: "That's exactly the word I was looking for!"
An act-versus-talent turf war brews between Randy and
Paula, while Simon steps out for a cigarette. Paula
steps out for a refresher, while Randy is left to put
her through to Hollywood. Oh dear. I'd just say that she
better find her own niche beforehand.
The next day, and Paula is MIA with the flu. Awwwww...
Time for some harsh truth at last. None of this
sugary-sweet bull. The bastard twins Randy and Simon let
Lesley Thomas have it between the eyes. "It's a horrible
singing city! I gotta call Beyonce and see what the
problem is." You see, Beyonce's from Houston, and we're
in Houston, and... yeah.
"For once, I envied Paula Abdul. Why? Because she wasn't
there," Simon quips. "Once again, contestants proved
that they can't take criticism. Case in point: Lonnie
Hightower." Actually, he's not really that bad, but he
showboats. No room for that here. But perfect for
Next up: "It's Ryan Seacrest." "It's George!" That's
George Huff, and I've got four words for him: "What Not
to Wear." He belts out "You Are So Beautiful," which
sounds like my dad's old R&B records. Mainly Donny
Hathaway, I think. But this guy can hit.
Randy: "He might be one of these people who can grow in
But Simon and Randy are willing to hear more of him, as
he gets a golden ticket. "Be young." A few more golden
tickets later, we get Christopher Huang, who thinks that
America needs a Hong Kong superstar. His "I Can't Help
Falling in Love" is on key, but the complete and utter
lack of tone more than cancels that out. On the other
hand, the incredibly hot Cassie LeBeau only needs one
astonishingly powerful bar of "Stormy Weather" (bad rain
reference #4) to make it to the next round.
Could we be in the middle of a turnaround? Roman
Gutierrez hopes so. "I Can Love You Like That" is his
song, and all-over-the-place is his tone and pitch.
Simon: "You can't sing."
Roman: "How do you know that?"
Simon: "Because these (points to ears) work."
Another nerve rack? Hardly. Roman insists on singing
again. Which he does. Only problem? Simon and Randy had
already left the room.
And so we've come to this... the final showdown in
Houston. The last guy? Jonathan Rey. He butchers
Shakira's "You're the One I Need", and it's safe to say
that the thirteen people who did get callbacks are all
that Houston had to offer. Randy is prepping for his
trip to LA, while Simon says Jonathan's terrible. Simon
prepares to leave the room, while Jonathan prepares a
little rainstorm of his own; thanks to Simon's drinking
glass (bad rain reference #5), which, contrary to the
corporate labeling, had water. Jonathan quickly sings
for local authorities. Simon decided not to press
charges. Final tally: 13 people going to Hollywood, five
bad rain references, one ass-shakingly bad Pointer
sister, and one soaked judge.
"What an ending. Goodbye Houston."
And hello LA, next time.