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January 12


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, Jason Block, Don Harpwood & Gordon Pepper, GSNN
Host Ryan Seacrest
Judges Simon Cowell
Kara dioGuardi
Randy Jackson
Creator Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP Ken Warwick
Cecile Frot-Coutaz
Simon Fuller
Packager 19 TV & FremantleMedia North America
Origins CBS Television City, Los Angeles
Web americanidol.com
Airs 8p Tues & Wed, Fox
Available In High-Definition Where AvailableStreaming Online

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Auditions: Atlanta
January 13

So it begins anew. The search for the next Superstar. The thousands of hopefuls competing for millions of dollars. The thousands of words that us recappers will be writing as we talk, predict, pander and marvel at what amazing talents America can find this season.

Right now, though, like beachcombers sifting through sand, we have to sift through the musical version of pollution, tossed out hypodermic needles, and old clothing.

eorgia Dome

The first stop on this episode is Georgia. The Paula/Ellen wanna-be judge for the week is Mary J. Blige. First up, Dewone Robinson (27, doesn't really matter where he's from, since he's not going anywhere) as his montage of how good he is already signals disaster. His cousins of 'Clive' and 'Motown Bobby' are supposedly big names and he supposedly is a diamond in the rough. He sings 'something original' called 'Lady, We're Not Together Anymore'. He sings 'It's Over', and the second that it comes out of his mouth, it truly is over. Yuck. A few things wrong here:

#1. NEVER sing anything original.
#2. Don't namedrop.
#3. Don't argue with the judges (which he does, then claims that he's shell-shocked when the judges cut him).
#4. That will get Randy Jackson to call security on him. I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of security as the show goes on.

We have...cheerleaders? Ok. They cheer into Keia Johnson (26, Memphis) who sings 'My Heart WILL Go On' (I emphasize 'Will' because she sings 'Can' instead. She does nothing for me vocally (I think she's here because she won a Miss Congeniality Award) and I agree with Simon that she's more of a Broadway Singer than a Pop Singer. He does like here, and she gets in 4-0, but she needs to improve drastically to make it further.

Keia is the first Yes. Miriam Lemnoumi (25, Atlanta, Georgia, Equestrian Trainee), has an annoying trill but a very pure voice and gets in. Noel Reece (16, Sophia, NC, Student) gets in with Whitney Houston's 'I Have Nothing'. Tisha Holland (18, Riverdale, Georgia, Hostess) has a decent R&B flavor going on.

They get in, but will Jermaine Sellers (26, Joliet, IL, Church Singer) be the first male to get in? His mom has a spinal ailment, so it's up to Jermaine to take care of her. He's a church boy who sings 'One of Us' by Joan Osbourne. I think he's too raw for this year, but he's got lyrical potential and can surprise. I like that he made it his own. We get another 4-0 from the judges and Jermaine gets through.

Christy Marie Agronow is a TV Hostess and personality for 4-1-1: The Show. I sense really bad things here. She's actually ok through the first vocal, though she falls apart in the second stanza on 'Love is a Battlefield' by Pat Benatar. She does the pleading (which seems very unorganic), but the 4-1-1 turns into 9-1-1. She complains about the judges, but I have to side with them.

We hear a montage of Mary J. Blige's 'I'm Going Down' as we get a montage of failed singers. Will the last singer of the day go down via elevator or jump down? It's Vanessa Wolf (19, Fast Food Associate), and she's a bridge jumper. She lives in Vonore, Tennessee, and visits her mom. She sees American Idol as her way out, as she wants to make something for herself. This is either going to turn out well or badly. She's got a real twangy vocal while singing 'Wagon Wheel', but she also has potential and I can see her do very well in this competition. Simon thinks she has nerves, but is ill-prepared and may be a few years away, but they want to keep her in country. It's 4-0 Yes and I think she has potential, but she has to work very very hard to get to the next round. When the audition is done, she does a little scream with her mom there in tow. AwwwwBarf. That ends Day #1.

Day #2 starts, and auditioning is...Simon? Well, no, he's fooling around, but Jesse Hamilton (26, Edison, Alabama, Welder) is serious. He said he almost died 3 times; once as a kid, once almost getting shot and he almost got run over. Jesse feels blessed by the Good Lord, and based on that he's never sang in public, I'm going to feel blessed when he stops singing...that is if he ever starts. He freezes before he starts and Mary is trying to keep it together. He starts singing and I'll feel blessed when this segment ends, and so will Mary, who's laughing hysterically and trying to disguise it as crying. Simon says he's a nice guy, but this is not the right song for him. 'If anyone's going to survive welding, it's you' says Simon, as they boot him through the door and have some more comical clips at his expense.

We have more clips from rejected contestants, and then we see Holly Harden (20, Rockmart, Ga., Office Assistant), who dresses up as a human guitar. She calls herself 'Guitar Girl'. I call her Kellie Pickler Jr. She sings 'You Ain't Woman Enough To Take My Man' by Loretta Lynn. She remarkably has a good tone, and Kara calls her ballsy with a good voice. Mary doesn't get the outfit and says no. Kara and Randy says yes, and Holly pleads in a good way, calling Simon gorgeous. Now THIS is how to plead your way into Hollywood, and Simon buys it. He says yes, and inexplicably, she gets into Hollywood. Now usually I'd be annoyed at this, but she has a really good voice. She does need to pick up her game in Hollywood, but at least she'll have a shot.

And I say that because we have a number of singers that come in and it wouldn't matter what they were wearing. Mallory Haley (20, Winter, South Carolina) countrifies 'Take Another Piece of My Heart' and she sounds pretty good. Mary calls it beautiful and Kara likes that she knows who she is. She gets in, 4-0. After that, we get the montage of ticket winners...

...but will it continue for Antonio Williams? His nick name is 'Skii Bo Ski', and he promises to blow your mind. He's blown up his own mind (he's allegedly been in jail for drug possession), so he may have been doing some skiing of his own. He singe 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine', and I don't think he's great at the beginning, but he picks it up near the end. It's passable, and passable should get him through. Simon hates the package, but Kara likes the vocals. Mary wants the package to match the vocals and Randy says to drop the rest of the package. Simon says no, but the rest of them say yes. I see a very short shelf like for Antonio - that is, if he gets to Hollywood.

Carmen Turner and Lauren Sanders are bff's, and have known each other since the 3rd grade. They spend every weekend together and demand that they be put into Hollywood together. They also audition together and claim they get into too much trouble. Simon asks who's better and they say they are equal. Simon calls them equally annoying. Lauren (Atlanta, Georgia) starts, then Carmen. Simon likes Carmen better, but he thinks they should be grouped together. He calls them the Ditz sisters. Randy says yes to Carmen and no to Lauren. So does Kara and Randy. Simon says no to both, but Carmen gets in. Simon doesn't think that Carmen will be separated that long from Lauren (meaning that she's also going to have a short shelf life). Heh. And we end the segment with 'That's what Friends are For'...

But at least Carmen gets in, unlike the next montage of people who don't get in and make Mary J. cringe. Simon has developed a migraine and leaves the audition room, leaving the other 3 judges to hear Brian Walker (25, Sevierville, TN, Police Officer). He sings 'Superstar', and though it's a little rocky, he's got a great booming voice. Brian gets in, and the police officer gets a ticket. Heh.

'Today, no matter what the judges say, I'll be here to respect their opinion'. That's what we get from Mary J. Blige fan Lamar Royal (20, Goldsboro, NC, Unemployed) before his audition. After he oversings the vocals, and after Randy tells him that he didn't sing that well. Lamar sings a few more times going through the judges, and he's not accepting criticism. After more singing, screaming and cursing from Lamar, he is led out by Security, who proceeds to curse out all 3 judges, including his idol Mary J. Blige. He sings and curses his way out of the picture, stage right.

Last up is 62 year old 'General' Larry Platt, who gives us the rap of 'Pants on the Ground'. We're going to spend as little time on this as possible because 1. it's a rap, 2. He's old enough to be my daddy and 3. I'm watching this instead of people who will be in the Top 24 that we'll be complaining about not getting any airtime. Simon is afraid that we haven't heard the last of him, and so am I.

Overall, 25 people got tickets from the Atlanta auditions. Next time: Chicago. Hopefully, they'll keep their pants on and their notes in tune. Join us next time to see if that's the case.

For more info on the Boston auditions, and to see this episode in its entirety, go to www.americanidol.com.