Archive for January 24th, 2007

American Idol Auditions 4: NYC

If you are enjoying these screencaps, please be sure to head over to, where you can tell them so. And please enjoy their Idol analysis as well…because it’s a lot funnier than mine.

Ahhhh, New York. My old stomping grounds! Well, technically, I was born in Queens and stomped around in a small apartment with green carpeting in the bedrooms until my parents picked my kindergarten-bound self up and hightailed it to Florida. But the vague, vague memories linger. So let’s begin!

The first memorable contestant is the fresh-scrubbed Sarah Burgess. She pulls the “Daddy doesn’t support me” card (last seen effectively used by Minneapolis’s Matt Sato), breaks into tears, but manages to dust it off and try again. She’s good, but not phenomenal, but all right enough to get through to Hollywood. Seacrest has Sarah dial up Daddy Dearest, who is probably intently aware that his reaction to his daughter’s truancy from school (she skipped to attend auditions), and is no doubt bestowing his even-tempered praise through gritted teeth. Nevertheless it’s a touching way to begin the episode.

Ashanti Johnson has made it to Hollywood two previous seasons, but apparently never any further. She’s worked on her image, but not on her vocals, and her “Loving You” is goaty, trilly, and evokes memories of that time that John Stamos’s older brother sang it on South Park. She gets rejected and thereafter launches into a teary, impassioned, Broadway-esque soliloquy about how she’s worked hard and this is her destiny and her moment like this to fly without wings inside your heaven. It’s so hilariously over-the-top and deserves all the snarking it gets.

The Hilton Sisters (Amanda and Antonella, who are not really sisters) aren’t all that and a bag of chips, but they’re very pretty and sweet and talented enough, so they’re passed through. Clifton Buddle’s singing is horrid, and his harmonica-playing is mediocre at best. William Van Stone ushers in Super Happy Transgendered Mockery Fun Time, but thankfully it is shortlived. I was not impressed by the nasal, annoying, and incredibly overdramatic stylings of Kia Thornton, but the judges did not agree with me.

The next thing I see is the gorgeous, gorgeous visage of one Jenry Bejarano lighting up my screen. So beautiful, and when he opens his mouth, a voice like hot melted butter comes right now. Sundance has got some competition, y’all. And then comes the cruel, cruel reveal that Jenry is but a wee lad of sixteen. Oh, Idol, you tease. (ETA: Not so much a tease. His MySpace reveals that this kid is either pathetically desperate to please someone’s older, college-aged sister, or he’s an early candidate for Alcoholics Anonymous.)

Happy peppy yippie Nakia Claiborne has the type of class-clown persona that was so obviously cultivated in grade school to divert her classmates’ inevitable cruelty, shifting their focus from her weight to her sense of humor. A coping strategy isn’t a bad thing, so I can’t ding her for it, but unfortunately, her singing isn’t up to par, and she is devastated when she failes to make the final cut. She is followed by Sarah Goldberg, who knows she can’t carry a tune, but seems to think that she doesn’t need vocal talent to be the next American Idol, because the judges can, um, train her (or in her case, sprinkle magical pixie dust upon her in the hopes that she will magically develop talent). Randy tells her that the one thing that the five past winners have in common is a great singing voice (and since Simon hasn’t shown up yet, he isn’t on hand for a sniggering “Rah-ndy, don’t you mean four winners had great voices?” comment). Sarah, who is either seriously mentally unstable or is a shoo-in at the next round of auditions for Fatal Attraction 2, goes ballistic.

Next up is Jory Steinberg, who name-drops with the best of them. She’s met the Queen of England. And we care because…why? She sings boringly. Her vocal tone is similar to Katharine McPhee’s, but while she’s better on the high notes, Katharine was just better overall. They pass her through. Next, Porcelana Patino waltzes in, all shredded armwear and white tank tops and hip-slung jeans. Um, haven’t Fantasia, Ruben and Taylor all proven that you don’t need abs of steel and body glitter to win this competition? She’s so affected and needy, and I’m really going to hate her personality, but at the same time, I like her voice. So…eh.

Heather Matarazzo…whoops, I mean Rachel Zenita is wearing a lot of rainbow-colored clothing, and a dreamcatcher in her hair. Ugh. Her voice is very interesting an ddifferent, but good? I’m not ready to call that one. “I can sing anything,” she pronounces. Hey, weren’t you last year’s runner-up? The judges put her through, but I don’t see much of a future for her. And since we’re not going to dignify the Orgasm Girl with even a sentence, I’ll pretend that Chris Richardson wrapped up the show. He says that he’ll be singing a song as “interpretated” by Donny Hathaway, so I hate him already, and he launches into a nasal Timberlakey rendition, which isn’t winning him any points. He’s passed through.

Lots of talent tonight, but were there any stand-outs? Only time will tell…


The esteemed musical elite weighs in on Katharine.

What two respected, esteemed, cutting-edge musical publications have weighed in on Katharine’s debut album, with both evoking comparisons to the great, multi-octaved Mariah Carey? Could it be industry standby Rolling Stone? Could it be one of the New York Times’ renowned music critics? Perhaps Vibe, or even Billboard? Why no — it’s In Touch and Us Weekly, of course! Paragons of lyrical and compositional analysis, these glossy, glittery pages are not at all swayed or influenced by Katharine’s physical beauty and current status as the Big It Girl.

From In Touch (or maybe Us Weekly):

Katharine’s Hot New Sound! She won a lot of fans with her stirring rendition of “Over the Rainbow” on American Idol, but take one listen to season five runner-up Katharine McPhee’s self-titled debut album–and one look at the CD jacket’s sexy photos– and you’ll say, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto!” The first single, “Over It” sounds like she’s gone from singing for Simon to auditioning for the Pussycat Dolls. Girls’ anthem “Open Toes” is even steamier, but it’s the ballads (like the tender “Home” and “Each Other” that best bring out the voice the country fell in love with. Mariah, you have some competition!

From Us Weekly (or maybe In Touch):

Looks like American Idol viewers were right when they labeled season five runner-up Katharine McPhee a diva–not that she acts like one, but because she can sing like the best of ’em, as her major label debut proves. She channels her inner Christina on epic, dramatic ballads like “Ordinary World,” emotes Mariah on sexy, radio-ready tracks like “Everywhere I Go,” and still manages to belt like Beyonce (“Love Story”) and croon sweetly like Janet (“Over It”). (Alas, her signature ballad, “Over the Rainbow,” is not included.) In short, she’s the total package. Is it too late for a recount?” (three out of four stars)

Only a Grammy prediction by OK! can round out this trifecta of perfection. Snerk. We’ll see how Katharine does in, err, more serious publications (or at least any publication without a patronizing “Stars–They’re Just Like Us!” feature). I won’t snark on those. Much.

January 2007
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What the kids are sayin’

"I hate them all. The judges, TPTB, the blatant manipulation, the songs, the contestants, everything. I'm a die-hard Cook fan, but for the love of god, at least try to look like you're enjoying yourself up there! Please? Syesha was awesome but she ruined it by being completely shameless and disgusting. Yes, being on American Idol is exactly like the civil rights movement, except for the part where you're fighting to make the world a better place."

"All I can say after the disgusting display tonight of favoritism towards the mediocrity that is David A. - good luck trying to market and make money off of that kid, American Idol. (Not to mention good luck dealing with his father.) All the teeny boppers may buy up his American Idol coronation single, but they will quickly forget about him before the album comes out. And I shudder to think of a David A. album - song after song of unrelenting sameness and heavy breathing. Why they are pimping him for the win is beyond me."

"This show was simply a hot buttered mess tonight. And Jason "needs to be arrested for what he did to I Shot the Sheriff. But I hope he stays. He amuses me. "