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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. 

February 2 - The Road to Hollywood

For two weeks, we've gone on a whistlestop tour of the country looking for the best undiscovered talent. What we found were 117 callbacks... as well as some of the biggest egos EVER to grace the small screen. No, seriously. We couldn't fit it all in five hours (and ten minutes of overrun into the premiere of MBFOF), so what's a network on a high to do? Simple. Add another hour. No, we won't get everything, but we will show the best of the best that weren't shown, and the worst of the worst, so gather your friends, put some popcorn on and ready your earmuffs.

Let's go back to New York, and the "we're gonna puke" of Elizabeth LeTendre. She sings "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" like she owns it. And in this competition, that and a night's work will get you top 32. Paula agrees with me, while Randy... disagrees?

Simon: "I think Randy, as well as losing weight, has also lost his sense of hearing."

Needless to say, she got through, but she's going to have to work hard if she wants even the prospect of my vote. Another such specimen from New York: Briana "Bree" Garcia, this year's spiky-haired multi-pierced entry. Like Nikki McKibbin and Patrick Lake before her, she can belt out a rock tune (in this case, Alanis Morissette's "Uninvited") when she wants to. Unlike Nikki and/or Patrick, though, she actually has artistic depth. Reluctant to share, but nonetheless there. Proof: "At Last", Etta James. Simon called top 12. I wouldn't be surprised.

Following on the heels of that, another wannabe rocker, Micah Reid. He blows (in a good way) on "Ol' Time Rock'n'Roll", right before blowing on (in a bad way... a VERY bad way) "A Whole New World". As anyone can tell you, on this show, you may have to sell out a bit if you're a rocker (See Evrard, Peter AKA the Belgian Idol). Obviously, Micah's not ready for that phase yet, but Randy and Paula seem to think he is, so on he goes. Me? I wouldn't have put him through, simply because he has that vocal schizo complex. At least Bree was consistent.

Big hair? Big shoes? A big mouth? Charly Lowrey in the ATL has none of those, but she has big pride in her Lumbee heritage and big talent on "Proud Mary". Way to do Tina proud, Charly. Dead on pitch, and she puts herself into the performance.

Randy: "I felt you."

But, and this is a rarity, Simon and I clash.

Simon: "Good, if you like textbook. A lot of people like yourself, good singers, do everything right, but old fashioned."

Okay, textbook, maybe, but not really that old fashioned. I'd say Tina from the "What's Love" days, you know? It's good enough for a golden ticket. But what happens when it's too good? Almost like someone from last year? Almost like Clay Aiken? Of course, Colin Leahy was NOT. Eric Yoder, though, just might be. He sings one of his songs from last year, "Somewhere Out Here" with a flawless falsetto. Hey, dude, Clay called. He wants his voice back. Me can drop it off on his way to Hollywood. He could make top 32 if, and it's a big if, he overcomes the Clay factor, because even done properly, it can bite him.

Also from Atlanta auditions is Jennifer Hudson, who, after the halftime entertainment last night, sported a digitally altered dress. She worked on a Disney cruise ship. Has to be better than that for Idol. "Share Your Love With Me" is the song. Not a bad rendition, but a little too over the top for top 12 if you ask me. All three pass her, but again, I'm not really sure of how far she'll go.

It's now time to meet the repeat offenders, like Amanda Mack (who trailed in Atlanta, NYC, and Hawaii), Elias Guardo (season 1 and 3), Lee Dominguez (seasons 2 and 3), and Edgar Nova (yes, he did come back for more this year. Thankfully, the FCC will not allow such indecency to be aired a second time). On second thought, repeat offenders Alan "Who flirts with Paula" Ritchson, Kira "You should come back as a bitch!" Scott (who delivered her own rendition - again, bombastic and attitude-laden - of "Have You Ever Been in Love"), and Lisa "You also need to lose weight" Leuschner (who was this close to overdoing it on "Vision of Love", but held back just enough without losing her little lustre) were worth a second look.

Speaking of second looks, please please PLEASE do not beg for one. Sure it's entertaining to watch, but you're just embarrassing yourself.

Meanwhile, we have Paula Abdul fanboy Warren Malone busting one of her classic grooves. We don't hear him sing, but we do see him hug. Tightly. Dude, she's turning blue.

Honey helps the throat, but when you're already as sweet as Diana Degarmo, you really don't need it. She's the youngest girl to make it to Hollywood with her sweet rendition of "Chain of Fools". Simon's problem, though: the cutesy routine. But she's actually keeping it real (hard to believe, yeah), so she goes on.

Next up: Sara Logan and Sergey Shor, who are both dating and auditioning. Sara's "Made for Lovin' You" is a bit weak at times, especially at the breaks, but her "it" factor makes up for it. Although I wouldn't have said effortless, Simon and Randy give her the nod. Sergey's "I'm Too Sexy" is anything but. Simple.

Simon: "You're a Russian in America singing an English song with a French accent."

Yeah, Cowell, I'm confused, too. But here's hoping the love lasts, because he's going to Hollywood, too... to cheer on Sara.

Let's play the Pyramid for a bit, alright? "I got strep throat last week." "I do better singing in front of a lot of people." "I got bit by a bat." "I'm hungry." "I'm so nervous." "The weather really made me nervous." "I have duct tape myself a corset." If you said "Excuses for bombing your American Idol audition", then you get the $10,000. And no, you don't get the $10,000.

Donnie Williams didn't have any excuse for "A Song For You". He didn't need one for that infused performance. It really hit. But Simon brings up a point. I'll leave it for you to gauge whether or not it's a valid one.

Simon: "You can sing very well. If you won this competition, there would be a problem. Because you come over as 10, 15, 20 years older than who you really are."

From the resident A&R head, yeah, that is a valid point. But this is what happens when you give eligibility to any American aged 16-25. Simon reluctantly gives him the go.

Again with the booty-shaking montage.

Back to Alan for a second. He knew how to flirt (which came in handy this year, as opposed to last year's ATL auditions, when Paula was MIA). Michelle Cohen... doesn't. And it hurts that she can't hold a tune.

Then there's Marque Lynche, a dancer who didn't want to dance. He didn't need to, as he delivers a flawless performance of "I Can't Make You Love Me".

Paula: "You're nervous! You have a very nice voice, and you're adorable."

Another three-for, but if he's to make top 32, he has to work on his song choice.

Another excuse readily available, the camera. But when you put the camera on someone, watch out (i.e. giving out cell number, dancing, and swearing once you get the royal arse-boot). Remember those egos I was talking to you about? Heeeeeeeere they are!

"He wanted a number one show, he ain't gonna get it without me on it."
"F(^_^) you, Simon."
"F(^_^) you, Simon. F(^_^) you."
"F(^_^) 'em"
"Idiots, idiots, idiots."
"If Simon's watching, tell him he's a loser."
"You wanna make the show good? Choose people who can actually sing."
"Simon, you robbed my son. Randy, you robbed my son."
"I hope that when they're eating it, and they have no viewers, and the next American Idol sucks, I'll be making my first CD."
"Simon wouldn't know talent if it came up and bit him right in the (^_^)."
"American Idol sucks, but I will be back next year!"

Wow. Such drama. But the drama hasn't even begun yet. Gordon's got the final 117 in Hollywood next time. Remember, positivity. There's always the Wild Card.

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