To be honest, I actually feel a little embarrassed blogging about American Idol on a day as auspicious as this. But hey, the show must go on. Sure, we've got a new American president...but we've yet to find a new American Idol. So, let's get to it. And let's have HOPE that there are some genuinely talented singers in tonight's audition city, San Francisco.
First up in Frisco, hoping to go from Golden Gate to golden ticket, was Puerto Rican bombshell Tatiana Del Toro. She certainly was full of confidence, rattling off a long list of her alleged talents (model, singer, writer, musician, actress...she can probably bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, too). She also claimed that "one of the world's most powerful psychics" told her she'd make the Idol top 12 this season, and she strutted pageant-style into the judges' room bearing "gifts" (that is, her press kit and DVD--oh, how generous). Tatiana wasn't the worst singer--she somehow won Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson's votes--but she was overdramatic and over-reaching, and she continuously interrupted Simon Cowell's totally valid critique by oversinging one overambitious R&B song after another. Keep in mind "toro" means "bull," and well, I thought Tatiana was full of it. But Kara DioGuardi bizarrely cast the pro-Toro deciding vote because she (insert dreamy hippie Frisco voice here) dug Tatiana's "vibe." (Kara freely admitted she didn't like Tatiana's actual voice). So, I guess Tatiana's success is proof that confidence is sometimes all a singer really needs. Either that, or all the judges (except Simon) were high on some rancid hippie acid they'd purchased on Haight Street. Because I thought Tatiana's performance was a bad trip indeed.
The next notable hopeful was Dean-Anthony Bradford, a mutton-chopped weirdo who was mad for plaid. Wearing what appeared to be an entire skinned-alive '70s sofa on his back, this self-described "failed entrepreneur" (guess he won't be auditioning for Simon Cowell's American Inventor show any time soon) seemed convinced that his "magic jacket of life" would all but guarantee him a ticket to Hollywood. But it turned out his technicolor dreamcoat was more of a nightmare. His singing was, in Randy's words, "over-the-top torture," and his upholstery-minded comment that his "carpet matches the drapes" (in response to Simon's comments about his "weird hair") was OTT and torturous too. Ugh.
Family man Jesus Valenzuela was next, using his exceptionally cute offspring to detract attention away from his somewhat unexceptional voice. At first it seemed that the judges were going to pass on Jesus, but after his sign-toting tots were trotted in and started making puppy-eyes at ole softies Kara and Paula, it was all over. There was no way Jesus could lose. Simon held fast to his original verdict ("NO"), but Randy was somehow swayed. I suppose Randy didn't want to be the one to crush those kids' dreams. So, I guess that's another way to compensate for vocal shortcomings: You can either be an overconfident showboat like Tatiana Del Toro, or you can play the kiddie card like Jesus. Or you can wear a bikini.
Those kiddos were pretty dang cute, though.
Up next was Rubik's Cube whiz Dalton Powell, who wowed Ryan Seacrest with his lightning-fast puzzle-solving skills but then downright puzzled the judges with his eunuch-esque falsetto on "Oh Baby Baby." With no cute kids to wheel out, absolutely no confidence at all (he sang most of his audition with his eyes seemingly sewn shut, he was so nervous), and no bikini to put on, Dalton resorted to complimenting Simon as a last-ditch effort. (He said, "Simon keeps the show interesting." Well, the guy wasn't wrong.) Simon was clearly delighted by the flattery, but it wasn't enough to win his favor. Dalton and his Rubik's Cube were sent out the door.
A very un-Summery Of Love montage of Kara and Simon bickering like an old married couple followed (I want to see more of that; it certainly kept things interesting), then came some crazy gospel singer named Akilah Askew-Gholston. Akilah, an "aspiring songwriter" (emphasis on the word "aspiring"), was certainly Askew, I'll give her that. She had all sorts of cockamamie medical theories about how to train her voice, arriving at the audition with reams of med-school textbook printouts and mispronouncing almost every word on them. She mangled more medical terms than Dr. Nick Riviera from The Simpsons. And then she mistook Randy for Simon! (Oddly, though, she pronounced Kara's oft-mispoken name correctly. Go figure.) Simon didn't seem to mind being confused with Randy, as he practically flirted with Akilah and even told her she had a "naughty face." Yikes. I therefore assumed Simon would dig Akilah's original slow-jam, "Make Sweet Love," but unfortunately her voice was not so sweet. So much for miracles of modern medical science, huh? A unanimously rejected Akilah stormed out of the judges' chambers, griping, "They made me feel one of those auditioners that couldn't sing!" Gee, like that'd be sooo hard to do...
Another montage then ran, this one of people who actually could sing and had made it through to Hollywood. But it whizzed by so fast, with no background on any of them, that I guess they'll all be gone by Hollywood Week's end. A little more screen time was oddly given to Annie Murdoch, a multi-instrumentalist with an Ella Fitzgerald fetish. Unfortunately, she didn't have an Ella Fitzgerald voice. Simon said her wackjob performance of Fantasia's signature song, "Summertime," made her seem like she was drunk--"And I'm not talking one or two bottles, I'm talking a crate!" Maybe Annie's weird, orthopedic-looking necklace/neckbrace was just strangulating her vocals. Or cutting off air to her brain.
And...then...finally...ADAM LAMBERT. Move over, Cody Sheldon from Phoenix, and maybe even move over Danny Noriega as well...because I've got a new favorite goth-boy contestant now. To be honest, I'd been reading spoilers about Adam all over the Interweb for weeks now--he'd been described as a seriously flamboyant, theater-schooled emo/ glam dude who can sing the bejeezus out of Queen songs. Well, that description was accurate, all right. A hyperactive theater kid from the cast of Wicked, he belted out the granddaddy of all showoffy Idol songs, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," and put Constantine Maroulis's version to shame. To shame! It was wicked indeed. Adam lived up to his legend in my own mind, and I thought he was the best San Franciscan so far, by far. He was really the only auditioner tonight that made any impression on me at all, really. I do wish Adam had looked more like the guylinered Clockwork Orange wannabe that I'd already seen in viral Internet pics--for his audition he certainly toned his look down, going for more of a rugged David Cook image--so I cannot wait to see more of him. Please let Adam get past Hollywood Week! I have HOPE!
On a more serious note, the final contestant was Kai Kalama, a mild-mannered fellow who--if he won--would use his Idol prize money to help his ailing mom, whom he cares for full-time. Kai had a sob story, but thankfully he also had a nice, non-sob-inducing voice. And though his stage presence needed some work--the guy was a little too nice--the judges gave him a shot. The post-audition scene, in which Kai called him long-suffering mother to tell her the good news, was a warm and fuzzy TV moment, for sure.
So, will there be more warm and fuzzy moments tomorrow night? I think not, since previews of Wednesday's Louisville audition episode reveal that one kookoo contestant will actually threaten the judges! So come back tomorrow for more details on that.