A Dose of Reality: American Idol 4: Audition Week 3, Episode 6
by The Trades Staff
Published: February 3, 2005
The auditions for American Idol 4 wrap up in San Francisco. I'm Brian Bunton, back to finish out this round of coverage by The Trades. Will the city by the bay have as much of a freak factor as the last six cities? Or will we find another William Hung? Atlantic recording artist and erstwhile "Moesha" star Brandy joins the usual cast of characters for the two-day stretch.
This time, the prescreenings are held at a place called Cow Palace, apparently famous for music. (Hey, I'm an east coast boy!) The only thing worth mentioning in the opening bit is the guy with the hilarious homemade "I'M NOT HUNG" t-shirt. I love clever t-shirts. Yeah, it's embarrassing.
First up is Albert Minero (24, Petaluma, CA), brimming with confidence. He says he's as good as last year's finalists. Alberto, dude, that ain't saying much. Sure, there were LaToya, George, and Fantasia, but the rest were relatively subpar. Our auditioner performs Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Starting Something" with hypnotically gyrating hips. "It's hard to sing and dance at the same time," he comments later. "You just proved it," Simon quips, and we have the night's first loser. At least he's got his family to comfort him.
Matthew Miller (20, Fresno, CA) idolizes Kelly Clarkson. In fact, he sings her song "Before Your Love" in a much less masculine manner than she does. When he's done, Randy asks if anyone ever told him he sounded like a woman. "Yes, I get that a lot." Simon suggests he might consider changing his name to Martha, but Matthew says that if he were a (black) woman, he'd want to be called "Shikiki". The judges thank him for his tribute to Kelly and send him on his way. Before the break, we're treated to a quick clip of a loser: mohawked nerd James Mohr (24, Sacramento, CA) sings "I'm an Elephant" by Life Is Bonkers.
The next segment is (as far as I know) a first for American Idol: they splice two separate auditions together. They did this because they're both "crooners". Dear God, not another John Stevens! The smooth men are Jamie Koehler (28, Gillette, WY) and Ross Williams (26, Portland, OR). Jamie performs Tony Bennett's "I Left My Heart in San Francisco", somehow in honor of his uncle. They weren't clear about that, but he does a servicable job of it anyway. Ross does James Moody's "Moody's Mood for Love", and while he sings it very well, his performance gives off a creepy feel. We get alternating reactions from the judges before they let both through to Hollywood, although they were more enthusiastic about Ross than Jamie.
Next we get a peak at the freaks in San Fran. A Michael Jackson impersonator, a big buff guy with no shirt, and a guy dancing in a feather boa lead us up to Elizabeth Pha (24, Stockton, CA). And boy, what a costume. It's a skimpy outfit, solid fabric barely covering the necessary regions, with netting on the torso. But wait, there's more! Braces, some odd kind of forehead jewelry, a creaky teenager's voice, and overall immature attitude complete the look. ("Very stripper-clubbish", according to Randy.) Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" probably wasn't the best song choice, as Simon points out. She's definitely better than most, but it came across way too powerful and affected. Surprisingly, she gets through with Paula's and Simon's votes.
After some commercials, we get a funny segment on motherly support of the contestants, setting up the audition of Justin Clark (17, Atlanta, GA). We get most of the performance from his mother's perspective as she's listening through the door. He knocks "My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder out of the park. (They push in on Brandy's face, and I think she's in love.) As Justin emerges, he's celebrating with his mom, and she loses her breath and almost faints. Justin's demeanor throughout makes him easy to root for.
Next is another blast from the past. Last year, Michael Garcia (20, San Francisco, CA) got through to see the judges, but not in a good way. We go to his apartment to study his "makeover". In short, he went from hideous to worse, certainly not "trendy, hip, and in". He opts to audition with "If You're Not the One" by Daniel Bedingfield, probably the worst song choice in the history of song choices. When he sees the judges laughing, he stops abruptly and, after a pause, starts up with "Lean on Me" (Bill Withers). Needless to say he's rejected, and Randy tells him to forget about singing. As he exits the room, he tearfully tells the camera he's going to do just that. Aww, bye bye, Mario.
Christopher Noll (28, Los Angeles, CA) calls himself the Hip-Hop Nanny. Oh, dear. He "drops some ill rhymes", which apparently are original rap lyrics about the judges. Flattery gets him nowhere. He calls Randy thin, Simon wise, Brandy hot, and Paula fine. Sadly, this is a singing competition, and he's gone. He drops some decidedly non-G-rated bombs in the post-interview. "I'm sure he's great with the kids" is the only line Ryan's had since Day One of Season One that was exactly what I was thinking.
Next up is an attractive woman who looks like a cross between Kelis and Macy Gray named Nadia Turner (27, Miami, FL). She chooses Miki Howard's version of "Until You Come Back to Me" by Aretha Franklin. She's very good, and has no trouble getting through to Hollywood. She's good enough and different enough to go far in the competition.
When someone chooses "Build Me Up Buttercup" by the Foundations as his audition piece, you get a feeling that it won't be pretty. The shades-wearing Victor Mercado (23, Mercer Island, WA) speak-sings and points his way through the song, cheaply incorporating Paula's and Brandy's names into the lyrics. They all simultaneously give him a "no", launching him on a tirade about how much better he is than the others that got through. Yeah, Vic, we've heard it all before. Simon and Randy put up $150,000 if he gets a number one record in the next six months, but when interviewed later he thinks that he just has to be signed to win. Good luck on either count, kid.
Jessica Murphy (16, Watauga, TX) is next. Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" is her unoriginal choice. Simon says she's good until she gets to the upper registers, then she falls flat. "You've got potential, but you need a lot of work." It's a rejection, and she takes it very badly, misremembering Simon telling her she had the most talent of anyone. In typical AI fashion, they overplay the joke, and finally we go to commercial.
Day two. Opera-trained Rice grad and former cruise ship singer Chris Ciompi (27, West Hollywood, CA) is first. For some odd reason he sings "Chain of Fools" by Aretha Franklin, and procedes to absolutely slaughter it. Not a single straight note, and no evidence of any kind of classical education. A unanimous "no" and Chris is out the door.
Ivan Ganchev (27, Martinez, CA) performs Queen's "We Are the Champions", and he's no better than average, over-enunciating most of the lyrics. Randy and Paula think he sounds just like Freddie Mercury, and Simon thinks he's a professional karaoke-singer (which he admits that he kinda is). It's three-to-one, and he's going to Hollywood. Then comes a rapid-fire freak-fest in rememberance of William Hung. Last among the lot is a woman dressed as a cow, who isn't horrible, but they make fun of her anyway. Commercial.
Our last contestant is--oh my God, it can't be! The other Molfetta! Well, I guess if Richard auditioned again and got through to Hollywood, J.P. (27, New Windsor, NY) stands a chance. After a brief recap of the saga so far, we get to J.P.'s audition. Simon gives him some crap about his post-audition comments last time around. Then he auditions with "Never Keeping Secrets" by Babyface, and it's obvious he hasn't learned anything in the weeks since New Orleans. Dude, just chill out and sing. The performing part comes later. It comes down to a tie again, boys vs. girls, and this time Simon usurps the decision and we're done with J.P., at least for this season.
San Francisco's auditions will have thirty-two representatives in Hollywood. That phase starts next Tuesday on American Idol, which is being billed as a "boot camp" full of drama and controversy. Yep, that's FOX. Of course, we here at The Trades will continue full coverage of every minute. Tune in next week!
Earlier recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5
Other Sites: American Idol | SirLinksaLot.net