A Dose of Reality: American Idol 4: Men's Auditions Week 1
by The Trades Staff
Published: February 22, 2005
After weeks of waiting on the sidelines, America can finally provide their input to the folks at American Idol. The first to come under scrutiny are the twelve men, and Mary and Molly are here to tell you how they measured up.
Nikko Smith - "Part-time Lover"
Mary writes: It was a competent job, but his performance lacked energy. I was surprised with the enthusiasm that Paula and Randy showed. I think Simon is right. He doesn't have much stage presence and his voice is okay, but not great. My feeling is: meh
Molly writes: I liked this performance, but wasn't blown away by it. It was an interesting song choice -- I think he could have done a better job singing something else, but it lent itself to a crowd-pleasing performance.
Scott Savol - "You Are My Lady"
Mary writes: I have really liked this guy since auditions. He isn't particularly handsome, but he has a great voice and I'm really rooting for him. I hope the U.S. audiences keep him around for awhile. Randy was lukewarm on Scott and I think he did a much better job than Nikko. It wasn't my favorite performance of his, but I think he did a nice job.
Molly writes: I have the opposite reaction to Scott. I can take or leave his voice, and between him and Nikko, I preferred Nikko's performance. He engaged me, and I found Scott dull. Of course, part of that was due to song choice -- can anyone make this song sound interesting?
Anthony Federov - "Hold On To The Night"
Mary writes: This is the man who will probably go far in the competition because of his "story" -- he had a tracheotomy when he was young and they didn't think he would speak. He has a great voice. So far, his has been the best performance. He was a little nervous, but I am surprised that Simon called his performance "dull as dishwater." It wasn't the most exciting, but I think he did a nice job.
Molly writes: I agree that he did a good job, but I also agree with the judges that it was "safe". I can't blame him -- it's the first night of auditions, and he played to his strength. But he really is going to have to find more of a spark to live up to the potential that everyone (including me) sees in him.
Bo Brice - "Drift Away"
Mary writes: I think he did a good job, but his performance seemed a little canned to me. He is a better performer than the previous three, but I don't think he is particularly original. I am feeling at this stage of the game
that I am at odds with the judges. The judges really liked him (even Simon), but I think I liked Anthony a bit better.
Molly writes: I have a soft spot for the rockers (Patrick Lake! Peter Evrard!), and I really want to see Bo do well. I wasn't thrilled with his rendition of the verse, but I think he really poured it on in the chorus, and showed performance skills. I'm hoping he's around long enough for us to see him in different styles.
Travis Tucker - "My Cherie Amour"
Mary writes: Oh, this one is a cutie! What an attractive man! Anyway, I enjoyed his performance, although he didn't have a lot of energy. I don't think he sounded out of tune to me (like Simon said), but he wasn't the best of the night.
Molly writes: Oh, my! This one can sing to me any time! I thought he did a very nice job, and I disagreed with the judges. I thought it was a perfect song choice for Travis, and was one of the best renditions I've heard of the many Stevie songs over the seasons of American Idol. Yes, some of his notes sounded a little off to me, but he had a lovely upper register, and I thought the overall effect was quite good.
Constantine Maroulis - "Kiss From A Rose"
Mary writes: I like Seal as much as the next person, but he kind of mumbled his way through this song. He did better on the chorus, but I think this was a weak vocal performance. He is a better performer, but man, he needs to get in better vocal form quickly.
Molly writes: Did I mention I have a soft spot for the rockers? I should also mention that Constantine is the exception that proves the rule. I haven't been impressed with him in the audition process, no matter how much the producers have tried to sell him. And I thought he was all over the board on this song -- a very sloppy and unsatisfying performance.
David Brown - "Never Can Say Goodbye"
Mary writes: Whoa. This song did not start well. Fortunately, the performance got better around the chorus. Maybe he just had a weak start, because I liked the song a lot better after the shaky beginning. I wish Randy would stop telling everyone they chose a "very safe song." What the heck does that mean?
Molly writes: I remember liking David in auditions, but he is not off to a good start in the voting phase of competitions. He did improve as the song went on; I hope it'll be enough to keep him around. And I don't know what Randy meant by a "safe song" this time -- I think that was a difficult song to open with. A safe song would have been a peppy song with a definite beat (lookin' at you, Nikko).
Jared Yates - "How Could I?"
Mary writes: Wow. This one is attractive too! Too bad he can't sing very well. I think he has a good voice, but his song choice was atrocious. Maybe it is because I don't recall hearing this song before. But he seemed all over the place when he sang the song. His was definitely the weakest performance I've seen so far. Okay. That was an ugly performance. Ouch.
Molly writes: I wasn't familiar with this song either. I didn't think he was great, but I didn't think he was that bad. I'd be interested to hear him sing something else. But ye heavens, he needs to stop with that outstretched finger wave he did for "good-bye".
Anwar Robinson - "Moon River"
Mary writes: Oh good gracious. I absolutely detest this song. I think was a bad arrangement of the song on top of it. He sounded like he was a tad off tune during the whole performance. I'm not sure why the judges liked his performance so much. I thought it was just so-so, but he had good stage presence.
Molly writes: Wow. Well, this one was not a safe song choice. Nor was it a good song choice. I have no idea what Anwar was thinking. I just didn't enjoy that (despite the judges' effusive praise). I think he'll make it to the next round, based on all of his good will built up during the auditions, but he's lucky that he has good karma.
Judd Harris - "Traveling Band"
Mary writes: This is a fun song, but he displayed no subtlety when singing this song. He started off kind of screaming and that was what he did during the whole song. Whew. It was an okay performance, but not a standout by any means. He is a good entertainer (as Simon said), but he didn't display good vocal range.
Molly writes: I totally agree that this was a performance lacking in subtlety. He had a lot of energy and seemed to be having fun, but if he wants to make it far he'll have to switch it up soon. That type of performance is fun once, but will get old fast.
Joseph Murena - "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You"
Mary writes: Hmm. He has a nice voice and a good vocal tone. This is not one of my favorite songs at all, but he did a nice job with the song. Randy I'm sure considers it a "safe song", but he sings with great control and stage presence. I think Joseph is going to go far; he is in my top 5 for sure.
Molly writes: Joseph came on a little strong for me. He did a good job with the notes, though, and maybe the overemotionalism was because of the song choice. It's hard to do Michael Bolton and be subtle. I agreed with Simon that it just wasn't exciting.
Mario Vazquez- "Do I Do"
Mary writes: Okay, this man has a really nice voice. It is another Stevie Wonder song, but I think he did the best of all the men with Stevie. Stevie Wonder can be so difficult to sing, I wonder why they allowed these contestants to sing from his songbook. Mario did a great job though. I'm with Randy. It was the best performance of the night. I really do agree. I also agree with Simon that he didn't have the best vocals of the night, but he put his heart into that performance.
Molly writes: I'm not crazy about this song, and I was really disappointed by Mario's vocals. I agree that he had a lot of charisma, but I really liked his vocals in the audition, and had thought he'd sing better tonight.
Mary writes: Okay here are the people I want to make it through to the next round: Anthony Fedorov, Scott Savol, Travis Tucker, Joseph Murena, and Mario Vazquez. I really liked these 5 and will be disappointed if they don't make it. The men who will probably eliminated soon: Nikko Smith and Jared Yates.
Molly writes: Every year, the judges hype the season with "best ever" language, and this year they're saying they have the "best ever group of men." In a way, I agree, because even guys who I didn't think hit it out of the park still got me curious to hear more from them. But in a way I disagree, because I'd been expecting more "wow" out of these twelve performances. Travis and Bo were the standouts for me. My two picks to leave would be Scott Savol and Constantine Maroulis, but I suspect the two to go will be Nikko Smith and Jared Yates.
Tuesday night, the top twelve women take their turn under the spotlight.
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