“We’ve seen drama before, but never like this.” The speaker? Ryan Seacrest. The event? Tuesday, February 3rd’s episode of “American Idol.” Nothing like a little hyperbole to get things rocking and rolling on the television show that has become our national obsession, which continues tomorrow night with group auditions.
The evening’s auditions put some truly outstanding singers through to the next round, such as Stephen Fowler of Beachwood and Jorge Nunez of Puerto Rico and David Osmond (son of Wayne Osmond, one of the Osmond Brothers until multiple sclerosis cut short his career). M.S. also threatens to cut short the career of his son, David, but, for the moment, David is looking and sounding like a star.
We, the audience, didn’t get to see and hear all of the talent…yet. For example, Adam Lambert, a standout from the San Francisco try-outs, was on for about 2 seconds as the program ended. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing quite a bit more of the handsome Lambert. If he can sing, that would be nice, too.
There were some funny moments on tonight’s show. Case in point: rocker Jackie Tohn of Silver Lake, California tells the camera that an attractive blonde girl standing near her is “my best friend for life” and then says, “What’s your name again?” while high-fiving Deanna, her new BFF.
There is footage of Ryan Seacrest makng out with the candidate dubbed “bikini girl: (real name, Katrina Darrell of Chino, California). Bikini Girl made it through, despite seemingly alienating both female judges and so did the kitschy Norman Gentle/Nick Mitchell, whose Richard Simmons-like schtick made him “ridiculous” and “hilarious,” according to Judges Randy (“You are hilarious.”) and Simon (“It’s just ridiculous.”) Norman/Nick’s schtick also led to an unintentionally hilarious gaffe from Paula Abdul, who said, “It would be very interesting to hear you sing a song all stripped down.” (No, Paula, I don’t think the at-home viewers are up to the task of watching candidate # 95437 “stripped down.” It’s bad enough as it is. Randy’s pronouncement that Norman/Nick “has skills” has not yet been put to the test. I’m inclined to agree with Simon, whose opinion was, “It’s just ridiculous.”
One individual who struck Simon as fairly “annoying” (#70090) was Von Smith of Greenwood, Missouri. Simon declared Von’s audition to be “indulgent nonsense, a horrible song, a horrible performance.” You almost wanted to say, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?” when he got done trashing the contestant, who was then put through. (I doubt that he will last long if he doesn’t tone it down.) Von took it all with what seemed like humility, declaring “it is very humbling. I’ll have to work really hard because I really want this.” I feel that this is akin to saying to the leopard, “Lose the spots.” Von can sing, but he was annoying this night.
A few candidates were less-than-thrilled with the auditioning experience. Contestant # 34070 is seen and heard on camera saying, “I screwed myself over. I picked the wrong damn song.” The North Highlands, California fleet manager (age 29), Jeeno Valenzuela, having been cut, said, “I need to catch the first flight out of here and get to Sacramento and get back to work. I’m done with this.”
Erika Wesley of Oregon—who, I felt, got somewhat shortchanged when co-contestant Emily Wynn Hughes was passed on and she was not, although Emily had arguably done a better job…showed a great deal of determination and maturity in asking the judges to hear her out one last time. She was pulling out all the stops (“It’s my husband’s birthday.”) but it was all for naught. The judges were having none of it, and Erika was gone, for this year, anyway. She left In a mature way, which was nice for a change.
Emily, meanwhile, a tattooed pop rocker, sailed through on the strength of a song she did only so-so on, which she picked at the last minute, dumping the original song choice, “I put a spell on you.” The song title may explain why Emily is through and Erika, who was arguably better, is not. (Better luck next year, Erika!)
Contestant #36762, Jeremy Michael Sarver of Jasper, Texas, a good old country boy from the oil fields, made it through. I was not blown away by his audition, but the panel seemed to be.
We didn’t get to know enough about all of the contestants. Candidates like Scott McIntrye and Frankie Jordan (a new mom) and Alexis Grace, Brent Keece Smith, Anne Marie Boskoeicz were mere mentions, while Jamar Rogers of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a 26-year-old bartender, sang a Mamas and a Papas song that had the ironic lyric, “I’d be safe and warm, if I was in L.A.” Jamar is the main cheering squad for his Milwaukee friend Danny Gokey (age 28), who is a recent widower and sang a Seal song (“Kiss from a Rose”). For me, personally, neither one seemed to be the very best singers of those that were showcased, but we will only know by staying tuned for “American Idol.”