First up, in San Juan, was Adeola Adegoke, claiming she was (speaking of combo packages) Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige all wrapped into one. She was so sure of her Mary/Mariah magic, in fact, that she'd already quit her paying job, assuming she'd soon been heading to Hollywood. So then she auditioned with the big Dreamgirls ballad "And I Am Telling You," and it was more like Nightmaregirls. And I am telling you, it was awful. Or, as Simon put it, "shockingly bad."
That wasn't necessary, as Simon showed a moment of actual human-ness, for a change--feeling so bad that Adeola had walked away from a stable job in these tough economic times that he actually got Adeola's former boss on the phone and begged for the reinstatement of Adeola's gig. Luckily, the boss said yes, and so Adeola had a slightly happier ending than some other rejected contestants. Let her story serve as an example for all aspiring auditioners: It's always wise to have a backup plan.
Another contestant who seemed to have potential, based on her previous track record, was Jessika Baier, who'd supposedly won a whopping 700 singing contests (including chances for her to sing at the Rose Bowl and open for Drake Bell and Corbin Bleu in concert), and had in fact won a contest that provided her with the trip to audition for Idol in San Juan. But of course, the biggest contest of all, in the whole country, is American Idol, and it turned out that's one contest Jessika will never win. She sang a painfully shrill, histrionic rendition of Celine Dion's "I Surrender" (I'm talking shrill and histrionic by Celine Dion standards, here),
Cutting back over to New York (weird bi-city editing tonight, very disconcerting--forgive me if I forget who auditioned where at this point), Melinda Camille was ready to give it a go, psyching herself up with a bunch of hippie-dippie-trippy affirmations. "I want to uplift humanity to a place of love," she gushed ethereally. "There's a shift going on in the universe, and I want to be a part of it." She also mentioned, repeatedly, that she enjoys dancing naked in her bedroom and would like to join a nudist colony (well, that's one way to one-up Bikini Girl), although I must say she looked very nice fully clothed in her pretty pink maxidress.
Comic relief then arrived in the form of Joel, the "Human iPod," a dude who pulled out all the stops to get attention--a giant cardboard iPod costume, a lion puppet, a Danny Noriega haircut--yeah, he had everything. Everything, that is, except a good voice. But hey, he got his YouTubeable, Soup/Best Week Ever-worthy 15 seconds of fame, and I have a feeling that was all he really wanted, judging by the silly way he sprinted out of the audition room chanting and cheering,
Far funnier was Norman Gentle, aka Nick Mitchell, a cabaret comic in a terrycloth sweatband and shiny Night At The Roxbury shirt who sang his own drag-queenly version of "And I Am Telling You," pulled crazy faces during "Amazing Grace," and even managed to do what few contestants have done before: put Simon in his place and get in the last word. I admit it, Norman/Nick was hilarious. Stoopid, but hilarious. Kara was "so entertained," in fact, that she was willing to put him through, even though she knew he had "no chance in hell." And then PAULA said yes. And...then...RANDY said yes. And so, somehow Norman/Nick actually got a golden ticket, while Simon, Ryan Seacrest, and undoubtedly millions of TV viewers looked on in abject horror.
A couple montages--one of good contestants, one of not-so-good ones--followed, but I admit none of them made much of an impression on me, as I was still reeling from the Norman Gentle Experience. Then sweet-16 Monique Garcia Torres showed up, toting along her own gimmick/good-luck charm: her cute-as-heck little 9-year-old brother, Christopher. He was more interesting than she was, honestly--presenting the judges with a shell as a present, confidently talking up his sister like her was her Ari Gold-style agent, giving her singing advice--but unfortunately he's still a few years away from the minimum contestant age, so he couldn't be on the show.
Last up in New York was Alexis Cohen, aka Glitter Girl, the crazy anger-management-class flunky from last year and one of Idol's all-time most memorable sore losers. I was a little bummed to see Alexis return as a kinder, gentler version of her former furious self, all Buddhist-chanting and yoga-practicing and hand-shaking and baby-kissing. Who wants to see that? All I want to see from Glitter Girl is profanity-laden tantrums. Well, maybe her attitude had improved, but her voice had not.
The final successful audition of the evening was by Patricia Lewis Roman, who capably but somewhat forgettably sang Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and barely scraped by. Not the most exciting way to end the season 8 auditions, but that just makes me even more eager to move on to Hollywood Week, once and for all.
- Simon Cowell