Los Angeles, California, described by Ryan Seacrest as “the epicenter of entertainment” was not uniformly entertaining during Tuesday, January 26th’s “American Idol” auditions. (As usual, CAPITAL LETTERS mean the contestant made it through, while lower case means the contestant was rejected.)
The very first contestant out-of-the-box was a weird guy named Neil Goldstein, 19, who, ironically, forgot the very first line of a song (by Meat Loaf) about not forgetting (“Rock ‘n Roll Dreams Come True”), causing Simon to utter the word “ironic.” Simon cautioned the would-be singer—who said he had an I.Q. of 168—“You’ve got to have a reality check.” He was less-than-macho, had a long girlish page-boy bob (which changed during the try-out film, however) and kept insisting that he was not going to leave. Neil’s response to Simon’s suggestion that he realize his singing was not that great with a “reality check”, “There’s no reality but what we make for ourselves.” Neil refused to leave the stage, until Simon threatened to have him escorted out. Guest judge Avril Lavigne said, “That was really bizarre,” when the contestant finished.
Neil Goldstein, after being cut, declared, “In the greater scheme of things, ‘American Idol’ is going to be the greater loser.
Contestant #5054, the 27-year-old married father of 3 from Bakersfield, a worship pastor, sang a song of his own entitled “Drive.” Although the judges wondered, aloud, how he was going to both tour and be a pastor, he was voted through to Hollywood.
Jayson Wilson (19, Seattle): a screamer. Jesse Cheng, 23; Martin Perez, 19: All rejected.
Damian of the sandwich store came in, declaring that “pepperoni” was the favorite sandwich at his shop and then forgot the name of the Righteous Brothers song he planned to sing. It turned out to be “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” It turned out, also, that Damian had lost any ability to sing well, in addition to the name of his song selection. Simon: “Damian, you should just go.” Damian’s response? “On my way.” (At least he left without a fight.)
Mary, from Burbank, did a Joan Jett impersonation which Simon found clichéd. The mother of an 8-year-old daughter, she still got a golden ticket. Short black hair. Punk look. Pretty. Daughter came in and Simon said, “Are you sure this isn’t my daughter?” when she turned out to have a bit of attitude.
A.J. sang “The Cult of Personality” by Living Color. From Upland, California, the 20-year-old was bad. Simon said, “It sounded like you’d gone to the dentist about 10 minutes ago and your anesthetic had worn off.”
Austin Fullmore, 19, of Glendale, California, sang “Surrender” by Cheap Trick, complete with weird posturing. Beforehand, he said, “This is my purpose in life, I think.” After Austin’s audition, Simon said, “That is one disturbed young man” and Katy Perry, who was the guest judge at this point in the program asked the question of my last column, “Are these people frisked before they come in here?”
Andrew could really sing. His parents, George and Mary Garcia, who were involved with gangs in Compton but moved the now-23-year-old father of a small boy to Moreno Valley was praised as “a genuinely good, good singer” by Simon. Katie Perry said of his audition, “You gave me chills,” Kara passed him on “110%” and Randy declared, “You’ve got mad vocals.”
The Pasadena resident who said she was a personal assistant by day and a minister by night sang Joss Stone’s “Baby, Baby, Baby” and, after getting her golden ticket, said, “I’m going to Hollywood. Now what?”
Jason Green, 21, a student sang Divinyls “I Touch Myself’ and was generally effeminate and disgusting. He ended up on the floor on his knees, causing Simon to say, “I knew you’d get down there eventually.” After that crack, Jason hit on Simon obliquely, causing Randy to protest, “Don’t hit on my friend.” Katy Perry, who was attired in a tight, red, low-cut dress, said, after Jason’s audition, “I feel dirty.” The catty Jason then said, “I’m sure it does…especially with that top.” (Snap!) As he left, doing ballet moves on his way out, he said, “But the point is, I’ll be back next year.” When he encountered Ryan Seacrest outside the door, Jason commented, “They (the judges) did enjoy this,” and proceeded to give Ryan his phone number, telling him to “call me any time.” Ryan took the folded phone number over to a very butch-looking individual, commenting, “Don’t believe everything you read” as he gave it to the bodyguard, who looked like a prison inmate.
Foster child Chris Golightly, who entered foster care at age 18 months and grew up with 25 different foster families, had reddish mop-like hair and a good voice. A Los Angeles shoe salesman, Chris said, “Music is where I always felt comfortable” and sang with a sweet tenor that seemed to polarize the panel. While Kara declared, “There’s something very interesting about you,” commenting on “your story and your pain,” Chris did not impress Katy Perry as much, as she turned to Kara and said, “This is not a Lifetime story, Kara.” Eventually, Chris Golightly earned 4 “yes” votes, 2 with a small “y,” one with a big “y,” and one (Randy) with a giant “Y.” Chris said, rather plaintively, “I’ve had nothing in life.”
All-in-all there were 22 contestants passed on to Hollywood from the Los Angeles Rose Bowl Stadium crowd of 11,000 hopefuls who made it past the regular judges, plus either Avril Lavigne or Katy Perry. We saw a few of the other “yes” votes jumping about: the cute guy, the chubby blonde, and the black guy.
On another note, one Orlando contestant (an African American) also had his golden ticket revoked when he confided to his father that he had made it through to the Final 24 and his father blabbed. Apparently, all contestants are sworn to the strictest secrecy and Dad’s loose lips sank his ship.