A Dose of Reality: American Idol 4: Hollywood Week 1 - Episode 1
by The Trades Staff
Published: February 9, 2005
Ryan takes us on the journey so far. Ten thousand miles, seven cities, more than one hundred thousand people. This all leads to the Orpheum Theater in Hollywood, CA for the next round of auditions. One hundred ninety-seven contestants will be whittled down to twenty-four (twelve of each gender) over a week's time. Oh, and it'll be the most dramatic and emotional four episodes of American Idol ever. Yeah, right.
This episode covers the first two days of the Hollywood round. The contestants are divided into two groups. Each day, one group will audition and the other will get some chaperoned sight-seeing done. (I guess those who audition first and get cut are screwed out of a free day of vacation, but c'est la vie.) Since everyone who made it this far auditions during this one hour show, and since we covered so many people in the previous six columns, I'll only mention the ones that the powers that be deigned important enough to give "nameplates" to. I'll also skip over the filler personal crap that they think heightens the drama except when it really does.
We're told (for the first time, I think) how this round works. The judges have selected twelve songs that the contestants can choose from. They all have a week to get familiar with at least one of the songs. Then they collectively have a couple of hours to practice with the musicians, and they can choose from three keys.
First up is Carrie Underwood (21, Checotah, OK), a farm girl who you'll remember from St. Louis. Her choice is "Young Hearts Run Free", the great song by Candi Staton remade for Romeo + Juliet. She forgets a word or two, but otherwise does very well. Chad was right: she really does need to work on her stage presence. She waits while Jaclyn Crum (16, Gahanna, OH) from the Cleveland auditions sings "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. I agree with Molly that she's okay, but not good enough. Sarah Mather (22, Wilmington, NC), from the Washington, D.C. auditions, sings Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me." It's another okay peformance. Tamesha Foote (23, St. Louis, MO) is also in this group, telling the judges that she left her two twin babies at home to do this and she promised not to disappoint them. She breaks that promise, missing every note in "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." She blames the pianist, but the wrong key can't explain that kind of sing. Carrie, Jaclyn, and Sarah are through. When Tamesha is cut, she claims she was better than Carrie because she remembered all the words to her song.
Now comes a group of "boys." (I don't like it that Ryan calls them "boys" and "girls", but what do you expect?) First up is the one I am picking to win this year's competition, Anthony Fedorov (19, Trevose, PA). We met him in Cleveland. He sings "When You Tell Me that You Love Me" by Diana Ross well enough, but with some rough patches that I'm sure will be smoothed out over the coming weeks. Then comes Michael Liuzza (22, New Orleans, LA), the big guy with a big woman's voice from New Orleans, singing Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable." As expected, it was horrible: flat and slurry. Anthony's through, Michael's cut.
Someone named Shunta Warthen got on the wrong bus, so instead of being at the audition, she's out sight-seeing. They go through the whole episode making it all mysterious, but it ends up being The Amazing Race-type editing, so it's all a big waste of time. At least we get to see her act like a spoiled brat during the whole debacle.
Rashida Johnson (28, South Ozone Park, NY) came down with a cold getting off the plane in California and lost her voice. However, she did an amazing job with what she had, singing Aretha Franklin's "Baby Come to Me." Afterwards, she says she wants her mommy, but then she hears that she's through. She walks off the stage crying. Aww.
Now an "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" montage. We're shown Amanda Avila (23, Las Vegas, NV), the hottie from Las Vegas (note to Dan: her fellow showgirls haven't shown up yet); Travis Tucker (21, Manassas, VA), from Washington, D.C., who continued his strong showing; and Lindsey Cardinale (19, Ponchatoula, LA), from New Orleans, who wasn't quite as good this time around. They're all through.
Ryan explains to us that the contestants must give a line or two about why they think they're the next Idol, I assume to give the judges a sense of their personalities. Many say that they want to inspire and be role models, and they show some of the more unique answers. This leads up to... ah, geez, Molfetta? Come on, Groundhog's Day was last week! Anyway, we're reminded of the story (again), and then Rich (27, New Windsor, NY) listens to two other guys before he goes on. First is San Francisco "crooner" Ross Williams (26, Portland, OR) singing Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." It was okay, but I really don't think that he has the range to make it very far in a real competition. Youth pastor Sean McNeill (27, Plymoth, MA), who we met in Washington, D.C., did another Stevie Wonder song, "You Are the Sunshine of My Life." Still smiling, but still a good voice. Then, it's Rich's turn. "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" by the Bee Gees was a fitting choice. It's also fitting that he murdered it, not getting in a single good note, but still emoting in the grand Molfetta style. Ross and Sean are in, and the final chapter of the Molfetta saga is over. Sniff. Tear.
Shunta finally arrives "with minutes to spare." Yeah, probably several hundred of them. Another song montage, this time "You Are the Sunshine of My Life." Hottie Nadia Turner (27, Miami, FL) who blew us away in Orlando, predictably did it again. David Brown (19, New Orleans, LA), who we last saw crying in his church in the Big Easy, and Scott Savol (28, Shaker Heights, OH), who took us all by surprise in Cleveland, also turned in fantastic performances. Anwar Robinson (26, Neward, NJ) reprised his fantastic audition from D.C. Jeffrey Johnson (27, Irving, TX), however, wasn't able to show the spark he had in New Orleans. Nadia, David, Scott, and Anwar are in, and Jeff goes back home.
Finally, the well-travelled Shunta Warthen (23, Burlington, NJ) performs. She goes with "Young Hearts Run Free", and while it was a good vocal act, it was over the top. She makes it through, but this is probably the last time.
Melissa Figueroa (26, Cleveland, OH) barely makes it through Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know", whereas Vonzell Solomon (20, Fort Myers, FL) from Cleveland does an expectedly very good job of it. Finally, Regina Brooks (28, Belpre, OH), the woman from D.C. that sold her wedding rings for the show, has lost forty pounds. Good for her, but her version of "This Thing Called Love" wasn't even worth a friendship bracelet. Melissa and Vonzell make it through while Regina goes home dejected.
Now, on Day Two, the roles are reversed. The first day's winners visit the set of The O.C. while the others audition.
The first guy of the day is Patrick Norman (18, Cleveland, OH) who we met in Cleveland. Molly didn't like his performance of "Smile" then, and I expect she'd have the same reaction to his "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." Las Vegas's Mario Vazquez (27, New York, NY) also sang that tune, but his was much more polished. Francisco Torres (26, Brooklyn, NY) carried a small towel while singing "Baby Come to Me" for some reason... perhaps it had the lyrics written on it. Mario is through; Patrick and Francisco goes home.
The next audition is Natalie Cole's "Let There Be Love" by Marlea Stroman (21, Syracuse, NY), who looked about as dead as she did during her Washington performance. It turns out she's a bit of a basketcase. She starts buckling under the pressure and later tells the producers that although she made it to the next round, she wants to quit. This is a good thing, because this is probably the least pressure she would've been in until she got cut.
Next is the "rocker guys" segment, all singing "The Letter" by the Box Tops. Andrew W.K. look-alike Aaron Kelly (24, St. Louis, MO) sang it with a Southern flair, while Bo Bice (28, Helena, AL) was a little softer with it. Constantine Maroulis (28, New York, NY), who left his band during the Washington auditions, had a quite odd style, drawing out some of the vowel sounds. It kinda worked, and they're all in.
Cleveland's opera-singing goth girl Briana Davis (18, Thornville, OH) also tried her hand with "The Letter", but wasn't nearly as successful. This was due to both nerves and the simple fact that her voice really is more suited for things other than pop music. She took the cut very well.
Annoying little so-and-so Mikalah Gordon (16, Las Vegas, NV) didn't do much better with "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me", but that wasn't what was noteworthy about the performance. When Simon whispered something to Randy during it, she called him out while still singing the song. That got his attention, and a few really bad jokes on her part later, she gets through somehow. It was the one truly questionable decision of the night.
Janay Castine (17, Lawrenceville, GA) is the last audition of the night. She also sings "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" servicably and gets through.
Ninety-seven are left. Tomorrow brings performances in groups of three. Of course, it promises to be the most can't-miss show of the season--until next Monday, that is. There does seem to be a bit of drama, despite my kidding: judges bickering, ambulance sirens wailing, and intragroup strife. I'm getting chills.
Earlier recaps: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6
Other Sites: American Idol | SirLinksaLot.net