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American Idol
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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 Chico Alexander & Gordon Pepper, GSNN


FACT FILE:

Host: Ryan Seacrest
Judges: Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson
Creator: Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP: Nigel Lythgoe, Ken Warwick, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Simon Fuller
Packager: 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America
Airs: Tuesdays at 8pm ET and Wednesdays at 9pm ET on Fox


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Web design by Jason Elliott. Logo by Chico Alexander. 

"St. Louis" - January 19

Almost a year after the last American Idol, we got our first taste of the fourth season. My take? Well, we have the same wackos as we usually get, but this time around, the people who did get the pass to Hollywood seem much better than the people who got in last year - and that can only be a good thing for the listeners. I also liked the guest judges at the beginning of the audition process, as these people had no problem saying what was on their minds.

So what did I think of the talent that did get in? The best voice from the male side, surprisingly, could be from break-dancer Travis Tucker, who would blow away any of the male finalists from American Idol 3. Anwar Robinson also has a good voice, though not as strong as Travis. Sean McNeill has got the vocal chops, and although not the strongest voice in the competition, has potential. John Zisa and Ian Holmes have potential, but they have to improve or he's not getting to the top 24. Constantine Marqueis reminds me of the next Patrick Lake (from Season 2) - good enough to get there, not good enough to get much farther.

On the women's side, the most controversial singer by far is Regina Brooks - but she has a very sweet voice and she could be a major player in this competition if she gets to the Final 24. Marlea Stroman also sounds great and I can see her at the end. Sarah Mather isn't as much of a knock out as the earlier singer, but they are good voices and they could do some damage in the competition if they improve throughout the competition. Melissa Walton could be a star if she laid off the improvisation.

With that out of the way, we now go to St. Louis, where we get to the 'Show Me' state. The question is what exactly are we going to be shown? The judges are pumped as Randy is wearing pink, Paula is excited, and Simon...isn't too thrilled.

We start with a triple threat of a different kind - we have triplets! Mandy, Erin and Melissa Raynard sing for the judges. They all sing well together, but unfortunately, American Idol is a solo show. Relatives are 0-3 in the competition so far, and it looks like they are striking out as well as Simon calls them all overweight Jessica Simpsons. Simon says he can't put them all in as a group, and Simon only keeps Erin, who is pleading to the judges. She doesn't pleas well enough to Paula and Simon, who both say no. Erin admits that they are fat, but Simon was still out of line. I agree, as I'd like to point out Kimberly Locke and Ruben Studdard.

Simon is having a bad hair day, apparently, and it's only going to get worse as he meet Kimberly Reese, a sociology meeting who eats human flesh, has a panic room and talks to mental patients as a job. She sings 'I want to Dance with Somebody', and it's not awful, but it's not nearly good enough to get her in the competition. Paula is playing the role of Simon as she and Simon say no, but Simon wants her to meet the triplets - and help them take a bite out of their weight loss. That was cruel - but funny.

We get a montage of Ryan Seacrest of throwing out the first pitch - and not having it come anywhere near the plate. We get a montage of singers who also don't come anywhere near the plate - and also not coming close to having good pitch (heh). Speaking of a baseball player reference, Osborne Smith, the son of hall-of-famer Ozzie Smith, steps up to the plate to sing 'All I Do'. He doesn't do it for me, but I can see him being good enough to get to the next round. The judges like him better than I do, as he gets to the next round. He dedicates the win for everyone who has been held back in St. Louis - and I am betting that the audition was before they got trounced by the Red Sox.

Osborne gets a hit, but other people strike out - like Johnny Hayes, who Simon says that he would pick up - if he was Walt Disney. Then there's the story of Angel the teacher and her student Jeremy. Angel is there for Jeremy's audition, but she decides to audition anyway. Jeremy is hoping that Angel will get in, as she sings Chaka Khan's 'Ain't Nobody'. She was shake at the start, but recovers and she has a great singing presence. She should get in - and the judges, despite Simon thinking that she has the wrong image, let her get in. She point to Simon as she says that she is going to prove him wrong - and then is mobbed by Jeremy outside as she comes out. We'll be seeing Jeremy's audition later on in the show.

Jessica Pontius is ready to sing. She has the same last name as siblings Mark and Rebecca from the show Extreme Dodgeball, and it sounds like her larynx was nailed by one right before the audition. Jessica sits there as the judges tell her that she can do voice-over work. She walks out stunned as the judges continue to make fun of her. Way to go to help out a 16 year old, judges.

We've seen families come out in support for contestants. Joe Schoen brought his whole family with him audition, even lying to his workplace. He tells the judges that he's done a lot of work, including a television reporter and cruise ship work. He's ok on the pitch, but it seems like he has some charisma (unfortunately, it looks like he also has the ego of Michael Keown, which got him knocked out before the final 32). Randy thinks he's good and it looks like Paula would say yes, but Simon calls him a cruise ship singer and 70's variety singer. It looked like he would probably let him in if Joe would keep his mouth shut, but he argues with Simon and that never works out. Joe says that he just wants to be on the show and Simon is seeing someone with more ego than talent. Joe continues to squabble and that will cost him dearly, because Randy changes his vote to 'not good enough'. A solemn Joe leaves as Simon says that he got on his nerves.

Next up - Justin Smith, who says that he will go in with his personality. It better be better than Joe Schoen's - and it is. His vocals, unfortunately, are infinitely worse and even Randy is laughing. That turns into a montage of people singing 'Proud Mary' badly. Mary wouldn't be very proud if she was listening to these rotten renditions.

Aa'shia Jackson is 16 years old, and he thinks that he can touch the world. Well, she can sing very quickly, but the pitch isn't there for me. The pitch really isn't there when she slows down and sings 'I'll Be There'. Simon says that she sounds like a chipmunk, but Paula says that she's different and she likes her. Simon hates her, but Randy and Paula don't and she's off to Hollywood. Aa'shia thanks the lord, but she better be hoping he gives her better vocal and humility lessons if she is going to advance any further.

We get a montage of weird clothing and props, including dancing fruit, mimes and a pony head on a stick. Maurice Thomas says that he doesn't need a shtick, as he sounds like Brian McKnight. He starts singing and I think I found a shtick for him - a muzzle. The judges are stunned and they say no. Maurice comes back and says that his family has told him that he can sing Brian like Brian McKnight. Simon asks if he knows any Brian McKnight songs, and Maurice, not content with just torturing them just once, sings again. The answer from the judges, by the way, is still no.

Then we have Carrie Underwood, who is a farm girl. She talks about not being able to travel because of her life on the farm. She wants to go to Hollywood, but does she have the chops. After hearing her sing 'I Can't Make You Love Me', we have found the next Carmen Rasmussen - but without the annoying nasal tone. She loves Martina McBride and Simon loves her tone. The judges want to see more emotion, but they let her in. If she improves and gets to the final 24, she should make the top 12.

Jeremy thinks that he will get to Hollywood, and Angel is nervous for him. Jeremy tells the judges that he is going to be the next star, and he sings 'Ain't too Proud to Beg'. He starts out very well and I think he's getting in. The judges, however, ask him to sing something less affected, and he can't do it. Randy thinks he has potential and says yes. Paula says no and so does Simon as he doesn't join Angel in the trip to Hollywood. I think he got jobbed, because there were less talented people who got in, but I think that Jeremy's attitude also played a part in him not advancing. He takes the news well, but it's Angel who breaks into hysterics, as the reason why she made the trip was for Jeremy. She adds that she never should have come if this was going to be the result, but Jeremy tells her that she should go, adding that they should keep the footage, because he is going to be somebody.

Next up is a friendship called 'When Adam Met Dirk'. They met on Monday and they both think it would be cool if they got to the finals, and they both think that they have the coolest personalities. They both also think that they can dance - even though one of them is obese and the other one is as skinny as a beanpole. This just reeks of trouble - and bad acting by Adam and Dirk. Sure enough, Dirk (the obese one who selects a David Hasselhoff song) and Adam (the skinny one who does Simon Cowell impersonations - he is an excellent comedian) both fail miserably and they both unanimously get rejected. But at least they still both have each other and they will always be friends. AwwwwBarf.

So we get to be shown good and bad singers from St. Louis as a total of 32 crooners go to Hollywood. I'm off the bus and I give Chico the steering wheel as he gets to party in Mardi Gras with Gene Simmons in 6 days.

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