"Cleveland Rocks and
Orlando Rolls" - February 1
A couple of notables in my mind from last Wednesday:
Mikailah Gordon, Amanda Avila, and Mario Vasquez.
They're on their way to Hollywood and we promise to be
eyeful and earful of them. Meanwhile, the tour rolls
We catch up with the
Idol crew as they head to the city of rock'n'roll (and
of Mike the K), Cleveland. Joining them is... a
hip-hopper, the man they call "The DEFinition," star of
stage and screen LL Cool J. Is the heart of rock'n'roll
still beating in Cleveland? Let's go to the pressure
cooker... Today, it's 15,000 bodies in Browns Stadium,
first overflowing with people, second overflowing...
First up, Jaclyn Crum,
who loves Paula and was in tears for a bit. They dry up,
and she does her thing. Apparently this year, Alicia
Keys' "If I Ain't Got You" is the song of choice to
butcher. The pitch is there (and here), but the voice is
Simon: You have
potentially a good voice. The problem is you have no
experience in performing.
Randy: You look scared to death.
LL: I think she's good enough to continue on and make
this be her beginning.
So LL and Paula, both
iconic of late 80s/early 90s pop music, give her the go.
Randy and Simon say otherwise, but are willing to give
her another shot. My advice, make the most of it,
because you're not going any further. She gets a hug
from our next contestant, Sarah Sue Kelly, who was
singing since age 5. She looks like Jack Osbourne. Which
is weird. She has her own karaoke studio... which is
weirder. She "Could Have Danced All Night". Definitely
sounds karaoke. And by that, I mean, more of a mimic
than a genuine talent. Jamie Cullum's probably going
"What the hell have I done?"
The judges? Giggling.
Never a good sign.
LL: I felt like you were
singing, you had a secret. I thought that was cute. I'm
on the fence.
Randy: I'm not. I say no, but "My Fair Lady", maybe you
should follow that road.
Simon: It's the way you look that's putting us off. But
I like you.
She says she loves
theatre. She also says that you don't have to be a
Barbie to be the American Idol. True. I mean, look at
Ruben and Clay. Thing is, that's what the public sees.
Either that or Simon's just underestimating the public.
But LL just embraced her... Not bad. But that starts a
sucking montage of Edwin Smith, Christopher Quick, Andre
Pittman, Ebony Lewis (again with "If I Ain't Got You"),
Sampson Ingram, Derek Fenningdorf... But in comes a
potential savior in the body of Scott Savol. If you
remember the promos, you remember hearing that you will
not believe what comes out of this man's mouth. And
it's... an ALIEN! Just kidding. He says he's going to
rip 150 percent. He thinks Randy's the coolest, Paula's
the sexiest, and Simon's cool. He also says his dad has
no confidence in him. Wrong show for that, but it's time
to sing. Singing "Superstar"... Wow. He's just dead on
all around. I've heard better, but for once Fox PR got
Simon: Has your dad ever
heard you sing? You've got quite a good voice. This is
where this competition is a necessity, because a) you
wouldn't get a foot in the door of a company. You've got
a good voice, I just don't think you're the American
Paula: You've got a good voice.
LL: They would never see you coming. That's a beautiful
thing. So much is based on looks and image and blah blah
blah, but I would love to give America a chance to
decide for themselves.
And with that, LL ranks
with Gene Simmons and Quentin Tarantino as one of the
best GJs ever. He gets a sweep (Simon: "You've just
proved your dad wrong.")
Next day... and the
judges are NOT pleased. And the contestants are falling
like... mimes. But perhaps I'm getting too ahead of
myself. Jennifer Page wants to prove to the world that a
mime can be the next American Idol. Good... luck... She
sings Aerosmith, judging from lip reading, it's "I Don't
Want to Miss a Thing". Or so she writes. And sure
enough, a silent sing. You know, if you want to win
this, you have to produce sound out of your mouth that
is aesthetically pleasing to the ears of America...
Hence, a mime will never win.
From a mime to "Farm
Boy". Meet Patrick Norman, who lives on a small farm. He
sings "Smile" by Nat "King" Cole. too much warbling, but
the pitch is there. Definitely a talent there.
Randy: Dude, you can
blow. You were born to be a singer.
LL: I felt that in my spirit. They gotta bless it
(referring to the other judges), but you're ready.
Indeed he is. But are
the Jacksons? Yep, Lashunda and Leandra Jackson.
Lashunda's first with "Why I Love You So Much" by
Monica... Not bad.
Randy: You have a good
voice, but you need more experience.
Paula: Work on stage presence.
LL: I liked it.
Good voice, but needs to
work on stage presence, but what about Leandra, who's
comforting her sister at the moment? She sings
"Summertime". I say ditch her and bring back Lashunda.
Or better yet, put the two together and you have a whole
contender. Freaky, isn't it? It's a no from the judges.
At least she gets a group hug from the judges. And Simon
don't do that too often. Next is Bri Davis, who looks
punk from the get-go with the blue hair and fishnets and
chain. So you would expect her to sing... the Phantom?
Operatic? Definitely has projection and range, but can
that translate to ... okay, you're a soprano, we get it.
Paula: You have an
LL: I think you have an amazing voice.
Simon: She's like Sarah Brightman, this girl. So what do
you do with someone like her?
She's through. Is
Anthony Fedorov, who got a voice after being told that
he would never speak again? Based on his performance of
"Angel" (Jon Secada)... maybe? Can project. Can perform.
I'm on the fence, let's go to the judges.
Simon: You remind us of
Paula: Most amazing thing is that tracheotomy.
He's through via sweep.
And I think he'll make for an interesting mix to the
competition. Thirty-one others join him. OHIO! And from
there, we go to Orlando, home of swamps, theme parks,
pretty girls, and hanging chads... Interesting we go
from one presidential problem to the next... Anyway,
9000 screaming (protect your instrument!) singers are on
hand for their chance at Hollywood. Marissa Ganz likes
to hear feedback for once. Will she like it even more
after singing "White Boys"? Here's some... very
animated. Theatrical, even. I couldn't tell you if she
was even on pitch.
Stunned silence. They
regain their composure in time to hear Eschine Orcel
sing "The Greatest Love Of All"... Rather poorly. Then
comes Ryan Miller with "I Believe In a Thing Called
Love"... Rather poorly. So how about Vonzell Solomon,
kicking ass and taking names, looking like she came
fresh from a Power Rangers audition? She's in a "Chain
of Fools", and so am I. She's definitely one to watch as
well. She's got the voice, the moves... talk about
kicking ass and taking names! The judges give her a
three-way ("And a golden twinkle in my eye.") Cute.
With that, it's time to
Meet the Fakers... the people who look like they didn't
make it... but did. But what causes Paula to REALLY blow
up? Takes quite a bit to do that. Enter Dezmond Meeks.
He's a dancer. A SERIOUS dancer. He goes with James
Brown, "I Got You (I Feel Good)". This is what you call
being "affected." He's got a good voice, but it's being
downed out by famboyant moves.
Paula: I'm like, wow,
that was great.
Randy: Definitely entertaining, but I think you were
made for something else.
Simon: That whole audition was something I'd expect to
hear outside Magic Mountain. I thought it was a stage
And this is when Paula
completely loses it.
Paula: I feel like
quitting this show right now. I'm devastated right now!
He did James Brown and he did it better than James
Brown. He is worthy above and beyond.
Randy: You really believe in this guy?
Paula: Have you ever seen me this upset?
Yeah, I can pinpoint a
few times... Does Paula manage to convince the Basher
Brothers to give Dezmond another shot? Yes. Paula fought
the hard fight. But then, sometimes, she forgets why
she's there. She's there to judge, not to play
favorites. He joins 15 others, and we join Gordon in San
Francisco. Will he find his heart there... or just a bad
box or two of Rice-a-Roni? See you soon!