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In the world's ultimate talent search - where the eyes of a nation are upon the best undiscovered singers in the country, where the audience has the power to make or break you, and where a million-dollar recording contract is on the line, there is only one rule: If you can sing it, bring it.

Recaps by Gordon Pepper and Chico Alexander, GSNN

Host: Ryan Seacrest
Judges: Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson
Creator: Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP: Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller
Packager: 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America
Airs: Tuesdays at 8:00pm ET and Wednesdays at 8:30p ET on FOX

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Web design by Jason Elliott. Logo by Chico Alexander. 

January 26 - Auditions: California

The bright lights, the big hustle, the bad singing... welcome to Hollywood, and welcome to the next step in the American Idol process. It's never been a good place to get music talent - but there is a great place to get egos - and 10,000 people, who camped out on the street - and... used curlers? The women pulled out all of the stops - including using the boys latrine to get prepped up. Uhhh...ok.

Ryan, who looks and sounds like he was camping out for the weekend, takes on Hollywood to the hilt - and Simon took his sweet time to get there. Paula is still out with the flu, and Simon and Randy are alone to taking the auditioners by storm.

At the beginning of the show, singers like Randy Lim and Daniel Lee are making them with that they were in bed sick with Paula - well, Simon thinks that he shouldn't be in the same bed with Paula.

Will they feel better with Nicole Crook singing "Fever"? (which is appropriate, based on Paula's condition). It doesn't make me feel better, as she is horrendously off-pitch, and Simon agrees that it's awful. She doesn't believe it, but the judges keep on her and she is in tears when she comes out to talk to her mom.

Apparently, this is setting the tone, as no Paula means that the judges are on a rampage. We see a montage of very teary contestants. Randy says "Is this competition turning into a joke?" and I have to agree with him. In all of the episodes that I have seen so far, I still haven't seen anyone jump at me and say that they have Idol quality.

Bao Viet Nguyen is next - and he wants to be the first generation of his family to make it to Hollywood. He sings "Lately", and he is also off-pitch - but based on everyone that I've heard so far, he at least can keep somewhat on pitch, so he'll get through. He does, and he brings the family with him to celebrate.

Simon thinks that it's a turning point for him - well, maybe turning down into the sewers. So far, only 6 people have advanced for the day - and then we get Matt Rogers, who says that he's American, he's got a receding hairline and he's good for the chubby feeling - and he's the last guy. He certainly is full of himself as the ex-Washington football player - and he can carry a tune as his friend from outside the door gives him the thumbs up. The judges agree, and off to Hollywood he goes. He sings Italian opera as he goes outside, and if he can tune down the ego, he will be a serious threat to win the whole thing.

Is it just me, or is the reason why they are putting on more really bad singers this time around is because the talent level isn't as good as last time and they really need to contrast it with the worst this time to make the people that do get in sound more passable? Just a thought...

Day #2 is not much better than Day #1 as Tomomi sings that "You can reach me by hairy plane." Huh? Jasmine Arteage, with blonde curly locks who is very vertically challenged, defies her mother to sing. Once again, she isn't consistent, but she is passionate and she can hit some notes - and this time around, that's enough of a qualification. The judges let her go to Hollywood, and her mom, when she sees her come out, cries and gives her a hug. AwwwwBarf

There will be no hugs from Daeh Hancock, who wants to buy a retro Thunderbird if she wins. Simon jokes "with a pink Chihuahua", but there's no joking around with her voice, which is nice and sweet, but firm. "Almost Like Being in Love" gets her in, and she shimmies over to Ryan and - yes - he does get a hug.

Rodrigo Cortez is the next person up - and he sings "Isn't She Lovely". He does shift pitches, but it should be good enough to make it to the next round... that is, if he kept his mouth shout. Randy asks if it's good enough, and Rodrigo says that it is. Simon says that it's ok, and Rodrigo is asked what he would do with the money if he won a million dollars. Rodrigo says that he would give his money to charity - and that is not the answer that Simon wanted to hear. That kills it and he is told that he can't go on. A tearful Rodrigo says that the question will be haunting him for the rest of his life.

Maybe Simon and Randy should have kept him - as of 4pm, no guys were accepted from them. A frustrated Paula Abdul has a sneaky feeling why - that she wasn't there. Simon says that the girls got through because they were talented, while the guys didn't get through because they were awful. We get the bad male singer montage.

Gtoe Washington says that he will be the first male to get in - but it sounds like he's been singing with his toes and despite his protests, he doesn't get in. Jeffrey Dingle takes the honor of being the first male to go in, and although he doesn't knock me out, he's still solid. He comes out - just as Gtoe is complaining to the camera. That has to hurt. Gtoe says that they aren't looking for an urban guy - they are looking for a pop guy. Well, that is the theme of the show...a total of 25 people do get out of Hollywood - and yes, they had a bunch of guys get out from there.

The guys get even better news in San Francisco - Paula has returned! But not even Paula can Michael Garcia, who has gusto - but not much singing ability as he mangles "All That Jazz". Simon tells him that he can't sing - which according to him, means that Simon wants him to sing again. He does - and he gets booted.

We get a montage of people who were rejected the first time - but who come back for a second shot. Victoria is back for a second shot - and she didn't sound too bad - but she sounded cabaret - which is not pop. Jack, her advisor, is pissed - but maybe if Jack did his homework and had her sing pop music, then she would have gotten in, because she does sound good. Unfortunately, she sings pop later to the producers for a second chance, and the producers call security to escort her out of the building. The most frustrating thing here is that she could have gotten in - she had the voice and the tone - but she needed a pop song, not a lounge tune. Maybe next year...

Then there were other people who needed more than talent and a voice - but they have more than enough in the ego department, as we get a montage of people with more bologna than Oscar Meyer. Kenneth Fitzgerald, Aaron Flora and Joshua Gronner - but they all wipe out.

Simon: 'That's not good enough'
Joshua: 'What is?'
Simon: 'You leaving'.

Well, that's to the point.

Katie Webber shows up - and I don't see anything that stands her out from the other people singing - but the judges apparently saw something that I didn't and they let her advance. Simon actually agrees and says she's not great - but she's good enough to get in.

Ryan says that the next 'Keith' is Hung... well, get your mind out of the gutter - it's William Hung, who seems like someone who you could see drunk at 2 am in an Asian karaoke bar drinking down way too much Sapporo. They call him the next Keith, but I think that he's not that bad - the pitch is there, but the tone is going out and playing with the Pachinko Machine. We get a meager 10 people coming from San Fran.

We will go tomorrow to Hawaii - a tropical paradise or a nightmare in Eden? Chico comes in tomorrow to tell us if this was a Paradise Lost.

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