Wednesday, January 14, 2009

American Idol: Kansas City Auditions

So I guess I lied. Again. I said I was going to blog during American Idol last night. I didn't. I went over to the Greenehouse to watch Idol and left the apartment without my computer. I thought about re-watching it when I got home last night, but it was getting pretty late. I really didn't want to go through the good and the bad and the embarrassing all over again. But if you'd like a recap of last night's Phoenix auditions, please visit my fellow blogger, Amber, over at the News & Observer website. Once you've done that, you can come back here and read all about my thoughts on tonight's episode. The good, the bad, and the embarrassing.

Kansas City is the hometown of last year's winner, David Cook. There are more than a few scary people in Kansas City. But that's to be expected with any open casting call. First up is a 19-year-old girl named Chelsea Marquardt who toots her own horn a bit. She claims to have a powerful voice that takes people off guard. I'll admit, I was taken off guard. But not in a good way.

Ashley Anderson comes in next singing a song co-written by Simon Cowell. Let's try to keep the sucking up to a minimum this year folks. Right away, however, Cowell corrects her on the lyrics of the first line. Not a good sign, but she's got a solid voice. She's going through to Hollywood.

Casey Carlson is singing A Thousand Miles. She's got a sort of cuteness that they tend to like on this show. She's Hollywood material, but I don't know if she'll be good enough to much further. But I'm pretty sure I said the same thing about David Cook last year. Brian Hettler is on the other end of the spectrum singing some Aretha. Don't quit your day job kid. According to his back story, he's trained as an opera singer. Those lessons seem to be nothing but wasted time and wasted money. He's one of those people who won't take no and won't accept that the judges think he can't sing. Gotta say, it's not a matter of opinion. He can't sing. This leads to a montage of crying rejects.

I have to say, I feel bad for a lot of the people who get in front of the judges. I've been to one of these auditions, I can say from experience that the producers only send through those who are phenomenally awesome, or those who will make good television. The ones who are both go on to be your top 12. The ones who are just good TV go on to embarrass themselves in front of America and leave brokenhearted and with diminished self-esteem. And some of these people are just kids. How can their parents hear how awful they are and still allow them to be thrown to the lions? If they didn't have confidence issues before, they will now.

In comes Ryan from High School Musical. I mean, no, his name is really Von Smith. His voice is a little rough at first, then he goes over the top. When I say over the top, I mean he totally bypassed the top and completely missed the other side. But over the top must be something that they want, so Von is LA bound. Next we'll see Michael Castro. Wait, Castro? Could he be kin to last season's Jason Castro? Why yes, yes he is. Turns out they're brothers. I'm gonna say I don't think he's as good as his brother was last year. But Michael's good enough for the next round.

Matt Breitzke sings Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone. We find out that he's been singing most of his life, played the bar scene for awhile, but then settled down and had a kid. He put his musical dreams on hold and thought now would be a good time to give the big time a shot. Randy doesn't think he's right for the competition, but the other three send him to Hollywood. Jasmine Joseph will not be able to sway three of the judges. Fairly certain she won't sway even one of them. Not even the nice ones.

Jessica Furney, who lives with her 93-year-old grandmother in the Land of Oz, is sent by all four judges to the next round. Sisters Asia MacClain and India Morrison come in and start off with a rap. Then they sing separately. Asia's a no, but India's a yes. Good call judges. Good call, indeed. Jamar Rogers comes in with a very loud interpretation of California Dreamin'. He'll be in Hollywood for another chance.

Jamar's best friend is also in KC for the audition. Danny Gokey is a music teacher whose wife recently passed away. I don't care how he sings now, I'm pulling for him to get through. Hearing him sing, I'm impressed. The judges call him one of the best they've seen.

Tonight we have a local joining the mix. UNC Chapel Hill student Anoop Desai comes in and surprises the judges with his voice. They weren't expecting a soulful sound to come out of his mouth. He's going to the next stage of competition. Asa Barnes is a middle school band director and father who dreams of making it in music. The judges will probably tell him there were a couple pitch issues, but over all he's pretty good. He's Hollywood bound.

Michael Nicewonder is next and I already don't have high hopes. In his interview, it's revealed that he wants to prove to people that he really can sing. His own mother doesn't think he can sing. That doesn't say much for him. He's wearing a medal around his neck. It's a medal he received in elementary school for "best vocalizer" in choir. Immediately I wonder if he went to one of those elementary schools that gives awards out to every student, just so no one feels left out. When he sings I realize I'm probably right about that school. And I realize that his mom is right too.

The final audition shown from KC is with Lil Rounds, a 23-year-old mother of three. She and her family have been displaced by a tornado, so she's hoping that American Idol will be a path to a better life than what taking refuge in a hotel can offer. She has a very good voice and will next be seen in Hollywood.

From the Kansas City auditions, 27 people made it to the next level. They're calling it the most talent-packed season yet. Doesn't Seacrest make that claim every year?

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