mid-January, you grow to expect a few things... The cold
snap of a bitter winter... A disgruntled college
football fan debating the benefits of a playoff system
over the B(C)S... Your W-2s... My birthday... And a
Georgian of short stature appearing on your TV set and
saying four magic words that galvanize a nation...
But the one
thing you can't expect is the one thing that ironically
you come to expect from 10 years of reality TV... That
just when you think you know the game... you don't. This
season of AI promises to turn what you know about the
800-pound gorilla of a series on its head as we
introduce changes that will keep the players on their
you'll see tonight... a new judge. Let's meet her, shall
Archuleta, Kelly Clarkson, Jessica Simpson, Celine Dion,
P!nk, Jewel, Carrie Underwood, Enrique Iglesias, that
chick from "Doctor Who"... they've all sung songs
written by Kara DioGuardi, a professional singer &
songwriter who was a judge on "The One" three years ago.
She joins the panel of superstar producer Randy Jackson,
Grammy-winning singer/choreographer Paula Abdul, and A&R
exec extraordinaire and America's harshest critic Simon
her seat as we take the first audition city...
ARIZONA - Jobing.com Arena
technically Glendale. The home of Idol #6, Jordin
Sparks. 106 degrees. 10,000 people. Unprecedented nerves
#1 looks nothing like a Vietnamese kid... Tuan Nguyen
(20, cashier from Spring Valley, CA). He incorporates
JROTC training into his dancing. How about his singing?
This is after all a singing competition. And he has big
hair. He sings "The Way You Make Me" by Michael Jackson.
Rather horridly. The dancing's no better. And of course,
he's surprised when the judges take a pass. Tuan Nguyen
becomes Tuan Lose.
Next up, the
queen of rock, maybe.. Emily Wynne-Hughes' (21, singer
from LA) mom was a singer, and she watcher her grow up
on stage. Mom says she's always been a singer. This is
the only thing she's got going for her. Oh, and she's a
singer in a rock band. "Barracuda" by Heart is the song,
and she sounds like a rock singer alright. Will she have
the chops to make it... back to Hollywood? Simon likes
her. Paula says top 5. Kara says she's serious.
Meanwhile, the band not only doesn't know, but are
heading for a European tour. Maybe they'll hang around
once they learn that... She's THROUGH TO HOLLYWOOD.
now... how will the band take it?
(27, sales rep from Moorpark, CA) is a rock star living
in a box. His singing comes from within. He's not in a
band. He had no formal training.. He's just going to try
it. And he's looking for someone to tell him he's great.
He's "Living on a Prayer" from Bon Jovi. It was a bit
wimpy, so sayeth Simon. Randy tries a little more
chutzpah... nope. You had your chance and not only did
you blow it, you make yourself look like a drama queen.
And while Kara is acting like a judge, we have our first
Simon/Paula judge fight of the season. Sorry, dude. Next
time, try a cover band.
And cue the
Next is JB
Ahfua (16, student from Taylorsville, UT) with Ruben's
"Flying Without Wings". Simon wants him to loosen up a
bit. But it's a good vote. THROUGH TO HOLLYWOOD.
Michael Gurr (17, student from Mesa) is deathly afraid
of his audition... And he's going in not feeling so
good. He doesn't sound that good either with "Starts
with Goodbye" by Carrie Underwood. He reminds me of the
Spleen from "Mystery Men". He tries again with one of
Kara's songs... it isn't any better. And so out of the
shark tank he goes... and then to the floor. Will he
make it? Probably.
(17 from Jersey) murders "Mad World".
(22 from Seattle) breaks "It's All Coming Back to Me
Vasquez (20 from Oakland, CA) shows no love to "I'll
Never Love This Way Again".
"X-Ray" Caraway (20, "performer") hopes his own song
"Cactus Baby" and sound will seal the deal. My guess...
no. Not only does he sound "special"... He looks it. The
judges say no... X-Ray wants to dance... He's begging
now... Let's go... Yeah, cue security.
Arianna Afsar (16, student from San Diego) wants to sing
to pay it forward. She founded "Adopt-a-Grandfriend"
four years ago to service the elders amongst us. She
puts on "Put Your Records On" by Corinne Bailey Rae.
Impressive range. Simon's smiling. Paula calls her
stunning. Kara thinks she's cute as a button. Randy
likes it. Arianna's THROUGH TO HOLLYWOOD. And that's how
day 1 ends. She joins nine people on their way to the
Day 2 begins
with Elijah Scarlett (22, cashier). He's 6'9... with a
hell of a bass. This is his real voice. He sings "My
First, My Last, My Everything" by Barry White. He's got
the range of Barry White, but not the tone. Simon
thought it came from a horror movie. Wait... there's an
idea... VOICE OVERS! And his first turns out to be his
Golde (16; student from LA) says she had to audition
when she turned 16. She's a cross between Hilary Duff
and Madonna. "A little bit daring, but not too much."
She's written over 100 original songs, and she says that
she's Kara's biggest fan.... girl. She sings "Everytime
We Touch" by Cascada. Very NASALLY. Paula loves her
enthusiasm... but she has to work on her voice. Simon
thought it was annoying. Kara thought it sounded like a
high-school musical. She should stick to writing.
Lea Marie swears they're on the fence. Trust me. They're
not. "That was uncomfortable."
THAT's uncomfortable. Meet Stevie Wright (16, student
from Phelan, CA). She was named after Stevie Nicks. She
just wants to be bubbly. She won't sing "Bubbly." She'll
sing "At Last" by Etta. The song is a bit big for her...
but once she comes into it, she really comes into it.
Kara says there's something there. Simon and Paula say
she's brilliant. Stevie thinks she's competitive... and
she's going to need to be, because she's THROUGH TO
Sarver (27; roughneck from Jasper, TX) is in the
fifth-most-dangerous job in the world... He works on an
oil-rig. He's been banged up pretty much. His work takes
him from his family a lot. He sees the job is a mean to
an end. He thinks this is his future. He'll try to tempt
fate with "Thank You" by Boyz II Men. Randy thought he
was good with his eyes closed. Kara calls him a "sweet
roughneck". Paula's surprised. Simon says he has
likability. That's going to help him THROUGH TO
HOLLYWOOD. Roughneck strikes gold.
... the next
time for... tacos. Linguine. Fettuccine. Martini.
BIKINI. Katrina Darrell (20; model from Chino Hills, CA)
got tanned and wore her best two-piece to sing "Vision
of Love" for the judges. Which is really a shame,
because she sounds rather good. She also looks like a
10. The only thing is... she can't perform for jack.
It's just B-grade Mariah Carey. Ish. Randy and Simon...
say yes. Of course. Kara... says she doesn't have the
chops. And she demonstrates "chops". "Your demonstration
wasn't any better." WRONG ANSWER. Still, she's
THROUGH? TO HOLLYWOOD? OF AMERICAN IDOL? REALLY?
and Kara say she's terrible. Here we see twist #2. All
ties go to the head judge.... Simon.
Next is Eric
"Sexual Chocolate" Thomas (17, unemployed), with the
tattoo to that effect. He sings "Ribbon in the Sky"...
and it's a bitter chocolate. At least he has a BRAND NEW
CAR! For what it's worth.
Quijada (22; college student from Tempe) has been
keeping sprits high all day. Will she keep it up in
"Let's Hear It for the Boy" by Deniece Williams? Simon
says she's got a good personality. Paula wants to hear
another song, "Killing Me Softly with His Song"... and
no. "No" means "Stop singing". The judges like her
personality... but not her voice. Randy and Kara say no.
Paula... and Simon say yes. She's THROUGH TO HOLLYWOOD.
Killing them softly... More like murdering them quickly.
a big part of the audition process. They cheer you on,
they cheer you up, but when you're on your own... like
Deanna Brown (25; bartender from Louisville, KY), who
enlists random people to be her family. She says she's
ready. She sings "(Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay" by
Otis Redding. She sounds good and commands the voice,
but is she as memorable and infectious as the judges
say? We'll see. She's THROUGH TO HOLLYWOOD.
On the other
hand, Cody Shelton (17; student from Detroit) has
brought an entourage. He likes making horror films on
the side. We'll see if his version of James Morrison's
"Wonderful World" is scary... or scary good. It's
passable. It's no James Morrison, but it's different.
Kara says the voice and the look don't add up, but the
final cut has Cody... THROUGH TO HOLLYWOOD.
entertained himself with one line of questioning... What
countries would you be popular in? That said, the
following places are NOT countries... Europe... Asia...
New York... Paris... London.. and New Turkey. Alex
Wagner-Trugman (19; college student from Studio City,
CA) would be popular in Canada, right? He's missing a
Spanish test for this. If he doesn't get to Hollywood,
he might not even graduate. Oh, and he sings in his
closet... which has mold... from which he got sick. Will
"Baby Come to Me" by James Ingram make us sick? Another
white guy with soul. Randy thinks the tone was weird,
but he sang in pitch. Simon... says it didn't work.
Randy says yes. Simon says no, saying he can't do well.
Kara says... yes. Paula says yes... THROUGH TO
HOLLYWOOD. Meanwhile, it's off to learn the words to
"God Save the Queen". Maybe.
Medley #1: "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi. Featuring
people that already made it. Come on, you're not even
trying anymore. What's up with that mess?
We have a
great story to close the show with. Meet Scott MacIntyre
(23; pianist from Scottsdale). Born almost completely
blind, he can only see "through a straw". That has led
him to explore sound, namely classical piano. He says he
hasn't let his visual impairment hold him back. He hopes
his story through music can be shared. And he graduated
high school at 14; college at 19. His audition...
"And So It Goes" by Billy Joel. Simon calls him cool.
Paula thinks he's talented. Kara says he's courageous.
It's unanimous... he's THROUGH TO HOLLYWOOD. He's going
to be one to watch.
American Idol 8 begins. In total, we have 27 from
Phoenix. And more where that came from. Here's a summary
of what to look forward to in C&G's Datebook...
through January 29: the parade of the good, the bad,
and the just plain weird continue, though Fox suits
promise more of the good and less of the weird. We'll
see what happens.
- February 3-11: The Hollywood Round. It invokes
fear. It demands respect. It gives us the top 36.
- February 17: The top 36 begin their run to Idol
Glory. With each week, three people out of 12 (one male,
one female, and a third top 3 vote-getter) are automatic
finalists. The runners-up move to...
- March 5: The return of the Wild Card round,
where the judges will complete the top 12 with three
wild card singers.
- March 10: It's showtime! One by one, the top 12
get picked off until...
- May 20: After four months of singing,
critiquing, voting, texting, and chaos-theory
grousing... the next American Idol is named.
that as we leave you with these words from my partner in
the booth this season, Gordon Pepper...
"How to get
on American Idol:
- Sing a song halfway well.
- Wear limited clothing.
- Have boobs."
think about as we head to KCMO next time.