"Washington" - January
for our national anthem, as performed by Leandra Jackson
of Cleveland, OH. Now please sit down. I'm talking to
you, Leandra. Damn, she should be deported for
performing that bad. And thus it begins again. Idol 4...
You know how it is. You know how it goes... Or so you
would LIKE to think that.
Sure it starts out as
the same old song-and-dance, but after last year (which
I wasn't really excited over), it was time for a bit of
a change. So this season, half of the 24 semi-finalists
you see this season are guaranteed to be male, but
before you meet them, let's go back to the end of season
three, when we pretty much knew that Fantasia was going
to take the crown. She joined the ranks of Kelly
Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Tamyra Gray, Josh
Gracin, Kimberley Locke, and yes, even William Hung that
night, and together, they scored 23 number one hits. Now
the question remains... Now that the age limit has been
raised to 28, who's next? And by that, I mean, who'll be
the ones to hear this phrase:
"God doesn't want you to
win this competition."
That would be Simon
Cowell, back with the bubbly Paula Abdul, the dawg-father
Randy Jackson, and the guy just trying to referee the
whole thing, Ryan Seacrest, as well as 100,000 of his
closest friends from seven cities. One of them will be
pop's newest darling by the end of May sweeps, I promise
you. And joining in the seven-city tour (but ONLY for
the seven-city tour) is Mark McGrath (of Sugar Ray), LL
Cool J, Gene Simmons (of Kiss), Brandy, and Kenny
First up, we go to
Washington, DC, where 21,000 shared breathing, sleeping,
and... well, sleeping space. The judges were joined here
by Mark McGrath... as he shares the pain. First off,
youth pastor Sean McNeill, a guy from "America's
hometown," Plymouth, MA (by way of Abilene). He has a
little baby on the way, and a permanent smile. Of
course, he goes for "Isn't She Lovely." Not bad. He got
the notes right. He got the words right. But he's just
Randy: I'm happy we
kinda raised the age limit.
Paula: You have a warm tone.
Simon: Not amazing, but you have what Randy doesn't
have, people like you.
All four give him the
pass to Hollywood. Which is more than I can say for this
next group of people, including Rebecca Nassar, Davon
Wright (who's singing about YMCA like she's talking
about... some... cola, I forgot the name). But what
group does entertainer Jessie Grazella of Philly fall
into? Song of choice, one of Simon's favorites, "You
Raise Me Up." Unfortunately, he doesn't get past the
first four words. That would be a killer. Yeah, over
there, buddy. Or you could step outside to ask for
lyrics. I doubt it would help, but every little bit and
all that. Even with all of the judges rooting him on...
it just doesn't come. Here's a hint: "So I can stand on
mountains." Yeah, like I said. Jessie escorts himself
out. Over there, please.
Hoping to cash in next
is a music teacher, Anwar Robinson. He understands the
universality of music to the fullest, and initially, I
see him as a guy to go all the way. He sings "You Are
The Sunshine of My Life". He had the opportunity to
really bungle it... and he didn't. That's a good thing,
by the way. Very pure. Linda reminds me of Musiq.
Randy: You can blow,
man. You just sang the melody.
Mark: You kinda look like Milli AND Vanilli. I think
you're a star, bro.
Simon: Terrific, absolutely terrific.
He gets a pass. Will
Melissa Considine get the same pleasure? We do know that
a) she doesn't spend a lot of money on wardrobe and b)
she dresses in the dark as evidenced by A) her tacky
taste and B) the claw marks on her arm. "How Do I Live"
is her song... and she doesn't get past the first two
bars. So she tries "America the Beautiful". It doesn't
get any better. It's like a BAD Stevie Nicks. "That was
horrific," she says. Well way to take the words right
out of my mouth.
Simon: You actually
dress better than you sing. That was unbelievable.
Paula: You have a wonderful personality, though.
Oh goodness. She got the
consolation prize. She insists that she isn't one of
"those stupid idiots who think they can sing..." Well...
hate to say it but... Moving on to Derek Braxton, who is
actually related to the famous Toni (she's a cousin).
While I doubt that he has the Toni Braxton pipes, he may
get by on charm. If he gets by at all. He says that he
likes to be by himself, as he drives everyone away with
"How Could An Angel Break My Heart?" Somewhere Toni
Braxton is laughing her butt off. As for the judges...
"Blank faces?" Yeah, the dot dot dot routine is usually
Simon: That's probably
the weirdest voice I've ever heard in my life.
Mark: Sounded like a different language.
Randy: Nothing about singing do you have going on.
That's definitely a no.
But at least you're still sexy... until the tirade...
Never mind. Melissa Walton of Newport News is next, and
she actually makes "America the Beautiful" work. Too bad
we can't say the same for these next guys. But if this
was Humming Idol, then 35975 would be a LOCK. And
there's Derek Braxton again.
Ryan says that it's one
thing to have a voice, but it's another to have the
heart. Enter Regina Brooks, who looks like she had the
heart. She sold her wedding ring to stay in Washington.
She got $200 for the ring, which is now gone, but she
says that she has to be able to sing. Simon calls it
"ambition over love." The husband, who didn't want her
here, just says "It's her dream." "Misty" is her song.
And she's got the heart and the voice. But it's kinda
like "been there, done that."
Mark: I love your voice,
but I don't know if you're American Idol fabric.
Randy: Very well, very old fashioned.
Simon invites husband
Mark into the room, because of his concern about being
away. He thinks she's good enough. Randy and Mark say
yes. Simon says no. He doesn't think in his guts that
he's good enough. It's down to Paula... who says yes...
and calls Mark a good man.
From one mom to another,
single mom Marlea Stroman of Syracuse, NY. She thinks
Fantasia opened up a lot of doors. She broke up with her
fiancée two years ago. She won't sing "I Will Survive",
but she goes for "All At Once" from Bonnie Raitt. Again,
nice voice, nice projection, but "been there, done
Randy: I love the whole
Mark: Your high register is wonderful.
Simon: I think you've got to inject a little bit of
But still, she's very
good. She gets a pass. Will Sarah Mather of just down
the road in Wilmington with "Rescue Me"? Will it help
that her parents are British? Very nice projection, and
she sings it straight while injecting herself. That's a
Randy: I thought it was
really good. I was pleasantly surprised.
Mark: I think some of the movements were kinda awkward.
But who really cares?
Paula: But you're stunning. You don't need to do that.
Simon: I think the whole audition is stage school from
the way you look. You're a pretty girl, but sometimes
it's better to dress down than it is to dress up.
But hey, it's good for a
pass, and once again, North Carolina is going to
Hollywood. And so are these people that just happened to
be montaged together. How convenient is that? After a
run on golden tickets, you can't help but wonder if the
judges are getting soft. Aven Moore hopes they are, as
he lays forth the longest note ever on "Tomorrow". And
it isn't even on key. Lifeless... Limp... Dead... I need
a thesaurus here.
Simon: It was so
That it was. Now here in
DC, we're proud of one thing: democracy and the power of
the vote. Okay, that's two things, but go with me here.
Season 1: Tamyra is ousted in a shocker during the round
of four. Season 2: Ruben vs. Clay was closer than Bush
vs. Kerry. Season 3... let's not talk about season
three. Anyway, so we're continuing on with ... band
footage. What if you're a hard-ass metal tribute band
member and you just found out that your lead singer is
auditioning for American Idol? That'd make you feel... a
little odd, wouldn't it? "I believe I can be the next
American Idol. It really depends on what they're looking
for." What else sets Constantine Maroulis apart: old,
NYC rocker. He sings "Cryin'" by Aerosmith. Definitely
not Aerosmith, but could pass for Scott Stapp. You
remember him, right? Right? At least he shouted in
Simon: I thought it was
all over the place.
Paula: You're what this compeition needs.
Randy: I'm impressed that you're here. The verse was all
over the place, but the chorus, you pulled it together.
Three of four give
Constantine the pass (guess who defects). Then comes
polar opposites Jillian Bennett (crazy temp) and Amanda
Hubert (preppie who's willing to get violent). Amanda of
DC sings "A Broken Wing". Kinda lifeless tone to it.
Definitely out of breath. It's all about breathing. Ask
JPL from last year. On the other side, Jillian sings
"I'm Ready" as if she's had too many espressos. No
energy control whatsoever. But back to Amanda, who says
that her minister says that "God sent you to sing."
Yeah, we'll see about that.
Mark: She's hot. God
wants her to be hot.
Well, true... But what
do the regs think when she says that "God sent me here
to do this"?
Simon: God doesn't want
you to win this competition.
And about Jillian?
Paula: It's very
So they both get cut...
but Jillian still has a few... choice words. Amanda...
just gets on all fours and begs.
Simon: If your parents
could see you now.
If her parents can hear
her now. God, do you eat with that mouth. That's... uh..
quite unchristian to say. The lines in DC are thinning
out, as Christopher Kerney... blows it, Angela
Kennedy... blows it, and Brian Scott Bagley... well,
we'll see. He's a dancer and a janitor. Quite the
dancer, I must say. His weapons of choice: "On the Sunny
Side of the Street". Sounds Broadwayish, which isn't so
much a bad thing.
Simon: You come over as
a dancer who can sing.
Randy: I would've preferred to see you dance.
Paula: Kinda a little too old fashioned.
So it's a no. Well,
Broadway is a little bad, then. Travis Tucker shows us
another dance. He sings "Isn't She Lovely". About up
there with Sean from earlier. Actually better. Smooth.
Paula: I think you've
got all that it takes. I'd work on not powering
Simon: Very talented guy.
Randy: I say yes.
Mark: You're definitely a fun cat to walk.
So it's a yes for the
pop-and-lock windmill guy. Next is Mary Gober, who was
told that she looked like Madonna or Sharon Stone if she
was blond. Hmm... we may have a body double here...
Velma Dinkley, we have a
match! She sings "Hanky Panky". Umm... Well, I'm at a
loss for words, really. She's a masochist, and not just
because she likes a good spank now and then.
Simon: I think you spank
very well, but you sing terribly.
Mark: I'm not into the performance, but excellent
Umm... yeah. Ian Holmes
II delivers it on "I'll Be There". And by it, I mean
"range". Randy fences. Mark fences. Paula says yes.
Randy switches to yea, yeah, yeah. As does Mark. Simon
would've said no. It doesn't matter, though. Ian gets a
pass. But what about Shelly Fisher, a sister lab tech?
She sings "Kissing You"... actually, she more or less
drags it into oblivion while we all point and laugh.
Mark suggests that she sounds like she has West Nile
Virus. No pass for her.
But back to another
pressing matter. Remember, Constantine didn't tell
anyone that he auditioned for Idol. Now not only does he
have to tell the band that he got in, but he has to tell
the band that it's over. Nice drum solo, man. The front
man breaks the news. Drummer flips him off, but says
that they're still friends. "I'm just going to let it
rip, and if it's meant to be..." Good job, Constantine.
Next, Jason Joel Smith
brings his voice... all six of them... and a cheesy
Mortal Kombat reference. "I just found out that I could
sing a couple weeks ago." That's... very hopeful, 5.9.
What does that mean, anyway? Oh, it means he was a drunk
before he found Jesus. And then he got about three...
four... five... six voices for redemption.
Unfortunately, none of them gel with each other.
Simon: If this was a
group competition, I'd put you through. You are a solo
artist, but you're also a five-person group.
But hey, big ups for
getting your life back in order. Next, Franchon Crews, a
boxer who'll knock you out if you don't like her
singing. She blows on "A Woman's Worth". Reminds me of
Jennifer Hudson of last year, except without the
baked-potato suit. But then again, a little more
refinement, she'd get there... But she needs a little
Simon: I wasn't blown
away. I think it was a bit all over the place.
Paula: I can't believe you're only 17.
Mark: I like the boxing element.
Randy: Vocally, pitchwise, you were just all over the
There's always "The
Contender". And it's right on the opposite channel. Next
up out of Hackensack, NJ, John Zisa, whose family owns
the place. He sings "Baby Come To Me". Very nice, but a
Randy: Below average.
Mark: I liked your tone.
Paula: I liked your tone also.
Simon: Oh John. It's down to me... You're through to the
And finally, we have
Mary Roach, a pop-rock-meets-Broadway-meets-jazz-&-R&B
type. That would be... confusing. She plans on changing
the last name to Guilbeaux if she makes it to Hollywood,
"because it has star quality." She sings "I Feel the
Earth Move" to round us out of DC... And we have this
year's William Hung. Right down to the ridiculous
dancing and the barely intelligible lyrics. Well, at
least she won't have to worry about the last name.
Another dot dot dot
Simon: Honestly, one of
the worst I've ever heard in my life. What made you
audition for this competition?
Mary: I have a tongue of different voices.
Simon: In your head.
Well, we get to hear
what they're saying, that judges are different in person
and that Mark McGrath is a hottie. But hey, lots of luck
in beauty school. Good to have soemthing to fall back
on. Just ask Mark McGrath, who's now hosting Extra.
And Mary is a Psycho.
She's got problems... seriously. So she breaks away to
"Breakaway" while DC sends 42 people to Hollywood.
Tomorrow, Gordon travels to St. Louis, and Ryan... well,
we hope he sticks to TV presentation. See you soon!