American Idol 2006: Mynagirls American Idol Dashboard and Commentary

Posted on March 1st, 2006 in American Idol by mynagirl

Note: postings are in reverse order with the most recent listed at the top.

Who Got Voted Off This Week: Week 1, Goodbye Melissa

Week 1

Melissa McGhee
In trouble: Ace Young and Lisa Tucker

Ace is stunned when he learns it’s him and not Kevin Covais in the bottom three.

Ace Young
Um, are you sure you called the right name?

03/14/2006: American Idol — the Final Twelve Perform, Ace in the Bottom Three

Well, of all the theme nights, Stevie Wonder night is both fabulous and scary – I love Stevie Wonder’s music… well, a lot of it, but he is really really hard to sing! Every time so far I’ve heard someone sing one of his songs I think “boy, they shouldn’t really have tried to sing Stevie”.

I’ve watched American Idol long enough now to not be surprised when someone doesn’t know the music of someone as influential and timeless as Stevie Wonder… and of course, it was the two blond country folks, Kellie and Buck. It’s so wild to me to hear someone say they don’t really know his music. I’m like, “naw… you’re just joking”.

I don’t know if it was pressure from the vocal coaches or Stevie holding out some of his catalog, but I was surprised at how many obscure (to me) Stevie songs were chosen. I can understand avoiding the really well known ones like “Ma Cherie Amour” but… man, I was really hoping someone (preferably Taylor Hicks or Mandisa) would sing “Maybe Your Baby” or “You Haven’t Done Nothing”. I mean, those are groovy!

And on a fashion note, sometimes having more stylists is a bad thing. Both Ace’s and Bucky’s hair were WAY too nice and “done” for boys – I agree with Simon that Bucky’s cascading blond waves were a smidge too Jessica Simpson. And some of the outfits! Paris was utterly lost in that pink coat, lace, and ruffly yet tragically cut denim skirt. Katharine McPhee looked to be wearing a silk couch from a successful 70’s psychiatrist’s office, and Lisa Tucker was cute but that belt wore her, not the other way around. I’m never sure if the person’s own misguided fashion sense showing through, or if the stylists go crazy and some people can’t say “no”, or what. But there are some disasters happening, and somebody needs to step up and take care of business.

The girls didn’t really go to town with the Stevie. Lisa sounded stilted – she’d mentioned that Stevie was telling her to feel emotion on the uptempo songs – good advice, but I don’t think she was able to follow it.

Lisa Tucker
Signed, Sealed, Delivered… bland singing

Kellie was reasonably good at the singing but downright adorable when not singing. She’s one of those really rare and true folks who is actually cute, not just “being cute”. You just can’t help but adore her.

Kellie Pickler
Can you tell I just learned this song?

Poor sweet Melissa was pretty terrible, in addition to forgetting the words of her song.

Melissa McGhee
Can you tell I didn’t quite learn this song?

Paris was okay but I didn’t remember the performance at all, so I guess that’s pretty telling.

Paris Bennett
Somebody give me a hand here… I can hardly move in all these clothes

The boys were only slightly better, at least to begin with. Precious nerdling Kevin Covais jumped into his song with the usual gusto, but it was a bit low for him, plus completely unbelievable… part time lover? Suuuuuure.

Kevin Covais
Can you tell I don’t quite understand this song?

Ace’s performance was a little too over-the-top and sharp (as in not on pitch) for my tastes. Plus, Ace is really moving into that Constantine thin-lipped-smirky area that I like even less.

Ace Young
Can you tell I think I’m cute?

Standouts of the evening (singing-wise… check fashion note below) included Katharine McPhee… I have to admit that was a damn good rendition of an Aretha song (written by Stevie, in case you’re confused).

Katharine McPhee
Can you tell this dress used to be a loveseat?

And of course Taylor Hicks, who was smart enough to pick a semi-obscure Stevie song but that was very much in his style, was a standout with “Just Enough for the City”.

Taylor Hicks
Can you tell I love this?

The best performance of the night, however, was probably Elliott Yamin. His smooth tone was absolutely perfect for that song.

Elliott Yamin

Surprisingly, Bucky did pretty well with “Superstition”, despite it being such a well-known song (except, of course, to Bucky). Not too bad.

Bucky Covington
Surprisingly decent

Chris Daughtry didn’t surprise much at all by singing a dead-on-impression of the Chili Pepper’s version of “Higher Ground”. He was smart to stick to his range, but… kinda boring. I think Simon must not know the RHCP version, because he thought Chris “made it his own”. Hardly.

Chris Daughtry
Sigh… c’mon man, venture a little!

The actual big surprise of the night, however, was how terrible Mandisa did, and how the judges all loved her. She was flat, and then she shouted… it was by far the worst performance (actually, the only bad performance) from her. Maybe she got freaked out by Seacrest taking off her shoes.

Lookin’ good but singin’ off

03/07/2006 – 03/09/2006: The Final Twelve have Made It…

And the final 12 are….

  1. Paris Bennett
  2. Lisa Tucker
  3. Melissa McGhee
  4. Mandisa
  5. Kellie Pickler
  6. Katharine McPhee
  7. Bucky Covington
  8. Taylor Hicks
  9. Ace Young
  10. Chris Daughtry
  11. Kevin Covais
  12. Elliot Yamin
Week 03/07/2006
Kinnik Sky
Ayla Brown
Will Makar
Gedeon McKinney
Week 02/28/2006
Brenna Gethers
Heather Cox
David Radford
Jose Sway Penala
Week 02/21/2006
Becky O’Donahue
Stevie Scott
Patrick Hall
Bobby Bennett

03/07/2006 – 03/09/2006: Mandisa is my Hero

Ok, well maybe the thumb-sucking thing was random. But still… that girl is SO GREAT. She’s just a natural voice, a natural performer, and I *love* that she appears so comfortable with who she is even though she’s a big girl. You go girl! She absolutely blew everyone else away last night… unbelievable!!

I’m every woman

I continue to be disappointed in Paris Bennett… I think my expectations were SO HIGH that it would be hard for her to meet them. That Gloria Estefan song is actually very hard to sing, and she really did a good job, but… man, she is SO great… I just wish it would show a little more in her performances. I have no magic formula in mind, but I just feel like she’s almost there but not quite hitting the extra oomph in her performance.

Paris sings Miami

For instance, I would’ve LOVED to have Paris sing “Think” by Aretha Franklin instead of boppy-awkward-white-girl Katharine McPhee. What a travesty that was… and to make it even worse the judges LIKED it! They hassle people for attempting Mariah songs but I can’t believe there were no smackdowns for that lame and very white “interpretation” of Aretha. That song has an edge to it that completely wasn’t apparent with milquetoast Katharine. Fooey!

Indeed, you should most likely think about that which you are attempting to do to me

My other big disagreement with the judges (well, Simon) was on Melissa McGhee… Engineerboy and I both thought she ROCKED THE HOUSE!! That Heart song was perfect for her, I loved the hard-rock look on her (you know me, though… I would’ve been happy with less belly), overall I thought she was great and very surprising. I couldn’t believe Simon dissed her and I have to wonder if he just doesn’t want her in the final 12 because he doesn’t see her as marketable as the other folks.

Do you think this outfit will look good in Scooby Doo III?

Of course, I did agree with the judges on some things… I am so bored with Lisa Tucker’s stuff, and I DO think her mom is picking out her songs. They’re so BORING, I couldn’t tell you one single song she’s sung. Yawn. She’s got a great voice but… quit singing torch-y songs, it’s weird for a 16-year-old.

If I change my hairstyle, will they notice the song is boring?

The boys were, as always, better than the girls, but Chris Daughtry disappointed a bit. I agree with Simon, his song was boring. I’m glad he’s not trying to do stuff that isn’t his style but… my basic feeling on it was eeennnh. I liked the Bon Jovi cover a lot more.

Really, this is the only pose I have when I sing

Taylor Hicks was wonderful as always — I couldn’t believe Simon could find fault with him. He was great and make no mistake… it is not easy to sing Michael McDonald.

I, on the other hand, have more singing poses than I know what to do with

Nerdling Kevin Covais (who is so polite and self-possessed for his age, I’m constantly amazed) did another great job as far as I’m concerned and he sang the crap outta that song. Go nerdling!!

I’m every nerd-man

Gedeon McKinney, weird as he is, has a good voice and gave a masterful if not soulful performance of “When a Man Loves a Woman”, by Percy Sledge.

When a guy sings a song

And I have to give a shout-out to Bucky Covington, because (A) he just has a fun name to say and (B) tonight’s performance was his best so far. I still agree with Simon that he’s not good enough to be in the competition, but he was pretty good tonight.

Remember my face, I don’t think you’ll see me much longer

Oh, and here’s a picture of Ace for those of you who like him. I think he sang something.

Young hams it up in his pubescent ceremonial garb

02/28/2006 – 03/01/2006: Let’s Define what Diva Means

The girls proved again that it’s a fine line to walk between “doing something more exciting than a Top 40 diva song” and “picking something so raucous that they can’t hear your voice”. Kinnik Sky at least tried to go for the fun factor, but I wasn’t into her performance at all, unfortunately… she just didn’t quite pull off the Gretchen Wilson song.

Let’s kick it up a notch

But I liked her enthusiasm, at least. Same goes for Melissa McGhee. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the belly shirt, I was very pleasantly surprised by her rendition of a Reba McEntire song (albeit an undemanding pop-y one).

They kept wanting me to sing from my diaphragm…

On the diva (and to me, boring) side of the house, Katharine McPhee proved yet again that being soulless and having a critical voice-coach mother don’t a star make. Her voice is great but it’s like watching Katie Holmes play a singing star up there — I’m bored and I don’t really believe the performance.

Really, Tom and I are very in love

Hmm, I should’ve had the Stepford folks make her a little more pixie-ish

Similarly, the beautiful but playing-it-too-safe-and-risking-comparison-to-a-diva-singer Heather Cox was …. well, beautiful but boring. It is too risky to sing a Mariah Carey song, and the song is SO unexciting! It’s like watching a high school talent show, only with better earrings.

Hey, the Stepford folks did everything right for me except that whole vocal originality thing

Picking a song from a different type of diva, beyond-full-of-herself Brenna Gethers worked her way around the Donna Summer song ‘Last Dance’. At least I got to be reassured that her singing is almost as bad as her attitude, so I feel better about disliking her. She truly is hard to even watch on the screen as she constantly pouts, poses, and talks about making money.

And when I’m bad, I’m oh so… voted off

The actual diva in the whole thing was the incomparable Mandisa… boy can that girl sing. I just love her.

This girl can sing it

And of the young girl prodigies, I still like Paris over Lisa (speaking of stage mothers). Lisa is really good but I just can’t really get into a girl her age singing such torch songs. Although there are 16-year-olds with that much life experience at that age, I don’t think cute tiny Lisa Tucker is one of them.

The battle of the cute and tiny… Paris Bennett and Lisa Tucker

The guys were once again great. I am having to be constantly and consistently amazed by Elliot Yamin. He may not have classic good looks, but that guy has one of the smoothest and best voices I’ve ever heard in my life. As Engineerboy points out, it’s harder for a person to sing a note without doing “runs” on it… you can’t mask any imperfections when you’re going for pure tone. And boy can Yamin nail that kind of stuff.

Smooth voice

Taylor Hicks is still wonderful… hard to sing Lionel Richie and he was great. The judges weren’t too impressed but pooh-pooh on them. I still loved it.

Because I’m Easy…on the ears

And Daughtry lived up to expectations, and I liked his somewhat risky (for an Idol audience) choice of a Fuel song.

Not far away… from the American Idol finals

Plucky little Kevin Covais continues to just be fun… I mean, it’s pretty damn daring for a skinny little white kid to conquer “Heard it through the Grapevine”… I mean, you have to live up to either Marvin Gaye or John Fogarty… and very few people should even think about wanting to maybe attempt that. But, you know what… he was adorable and he was having a good time. Bravo little nerdmuffin Kevin!!

C’mon… how can you not vote for this kid?

Gedeon McKinney is a strange one but can actually sing, so I have to give him some props.

Is it possible to get all of my hair in the frame?

Local boy Will Makar sang a horrible Kenny Rogers song, and not too well at that. I have to admit, local or not, he’s not on my favorites list.

I don’t care if you don’t like my singing… ’cause I’ll get the 12-year-old-girl vote anyway

Crooner David Radford is just atrocious and I hope he gets voted off. Bucky Covington was a little better — his voice is probably too weak to be in the competition but I like that he has heart and he seems sincere. Oh, and Ace sang, too, but I refuse to give him any more pixels on my web site.

Overall, the guys are still better than the girls, though.

02/21/2006 – 02/22/2006: The Boys Rock…

Well, now we get down to business!! America gets to vote, we get to hear big snippets of singing from each of the final 24. Man, I love this show!!

The thing that’s always fun to watch at this point in the season is the “new” name each contest has once they’re in the final 24. I don’t know if this is just the “now that this person is going to be semi-famous, we better bother to get their name right” or if it’s “ok, our stylist thinks ‘Nikko’ is a lot snappier than ‘Ozzie Jr.'”. It’s probably a little from Column A and a little from Column B. William Makar is now “Will Makar”…. Robert Bennett is “Bobby Bennett”… Kinnik Sky was using her first name (Kinnik is her middle name) before she was in the final 24. And Stephanie Scott is now Stevie Scott. It’s kind of cute, actually.

Overall, I’m amazed and impressed at the quality of the male vocals. The boys are so much stronger than the girls this year. And just overall… there is some REAL talent this year. Not that they were all dogs last year, but this year I’m blown away… especially by the guys. You realize how hard a song “Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi when you hear Chris Daughtry NAIL it and you go… damn, any other singer might crashed and burned trying to hit that. And he thrives in the upper power register.

Strangely enough, he sounds good even though he looks like he’s shouting

And Taylor Hicks… our other big fave. I just adore him, he’s doing his thing and I love it!!

Can he get any better?

I even have to admit that Ace Young (another name change) sang well, even though that was one cheesy George Michael song. He’s a good singer but he’s too I-know-I’m-good-looking for me.

Oh, it definitely doesn’t get any better than me

Give me the honesty and natural soul of Taylor Hicks any day. The guys definitely were awesome.

The girls weren’t horrible, but my big hope there in Paris Bennett disappointed me somewhat. She is SUCH a great singer… I was saddened to see her voice get lost by her “performance” and the outer trappings… she seemed a bit too starry-eyed by all the attention and the outfits, etc… she focused so much on bopping around and making cute faces to the camera that she didn’t just SING the song… and that girl can SING!!

C’mon Paris, all we need you to do is sing

Mandisa was fabulous… I wish she’d gone on later in the show, because she really shined but I think was forgotten by the end.

Mandisa does justice to a Heart song

None of the other girls really impressed me very much, so I’m really pinning my hopes on the guys this year. Can’t wait to hear the results!

02/15/2006: And Then There Were 24…

The happy and smiling finalists pose for the camera

So, I’m so excited. Not only does the “real meat” of American Idol start, but all of my remaining favorites made it through!!! (Favorite Tyra Schwarz was cut on yesterday’s episode, much to my disappointment).

The disappointments for the contestants themselves come even harder, though. It’s hard to watch people get that news, and it’s interesting to me what some of the reactions are. I think you can tell a person’s essential character sometimes by how they react to that. Eugenia sobbed (understandable) and wailed that her career was over (sadly, she threw having a child into that equation, which hurts my heart). And then she had to have the final mouth-off parting shot at the camera.

Eugenia goes from crying to complaining

In utter contrast, plucky April Welsh was so classy when she heard a no. “Well, on to the next Audition!”. Bravo.

Sweet April Welsh

I even gained a few new favorites. Robert Bennett, Jr. is ADORABLE!! We’ve never seen him before, but his excited antics in the elevator after hearing a “yes” were not to be missed!

Bennett can’t hide his excitement

Stephanie Scott is a new favorite as well. Not only does she sing well but her “after decision” interview was so humble… “what a privilege to be on American Idol”. She is just too cute! And a heck of a voice.

Scott’s tiny frame hides a big voice and a sweet disposition

Of course, I’ve got to be proud of William Makur, a local Houston boy!! He’s so geek-but-not-too-nerdy and his voice is so full for his little boyishly charming frame.

MakUr sings for the crowd

Rounding out the geek-boy quotient is odd duck Kevin Covais… I’m interested to see how he shapes up during the following weeks.

Well, I can always be an accountant

And of course, the ones we’ve been tracking have all made it into the final 24. I still think Daughtry and Bennett (Paris, that is), have a real shot at the title.

Paris Bennett is happy and ready to go sing for the title

Chris Daughtry’s powerful voice is suprisingly artful

Wonderful Mandisa, adorable Kellie Pickler, and soulful Sway Penala are back as well.

Mandisa is reproachful yet classy with a once-snide Simon

Tiny Kellie is grateful to be in the final 24

Sway puts his whole heart into his singing

02/09/2006: Hollywood week

Early favorites are Paris (the sweet 16-year-old who’s grandma is a famous singer) and Chris (the bald rock singer with the wife and two kids). Early disklikes go to the Brittnum twins, who bad-mouthed the judges and the show after they’d been kept in the competition. No class!! (That’s okay, though, they’ve already been kicked out of the show for fraud charges pending in their home state).

01/25/2006: Don’t Mess with Texas… They’re Messy Enough Already

Updated 02/12/2006

Abdul has already had enough of Austin

Okay, Austin is as close as I have to a hometown. I was excited about Austin’s possibilities to contribute to Idol. There is such a vibrant and wonderful music scene in Austin, I just couldn’t wait to feel pride for my hometown, especially since Houston did so abysmally last season.

Jeez, was I embarrassed. The only defense I can offer for the horrors that were on screen was that Austin’s music scene is often more mature singers and songwriters, those outside the age range for Idolers. At least, I hope that’s what the problem was — because it was definitely a problem, alright. Wailer after wailer came through — people with no smidge of vocal ability. And left the judges with a pretty bad taste of Austin, I must say.

Proud Mary would be ashamed of you

Unfortunatly, Ronny Norman was a good singer… too bad, because I really wanted him to fall on his smirky little smug face. Engineerboy and I about coughed up a lung apiece when he announced he was going to sing “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers… that is a helluva song to try. And how irritating that this beyond-over-confident self-involved jerk actually sung it pretty well. I wonder if Randy’s vote against him was voice-or personality-based?

Ain’t No Sunshine… when my mirror is gone

Funeral director / embalmer Jason Horn wasn’t the best singer in the world, but he was pretty damn good (especially by comparison), and a nice Texas boy to boot.

You Raise Me Up

Ricky Hayes also managed to give Austin some cred as well — he had a beautiful tone to his voice.

Hey, Austin has some good singers

01/31/2006: Vegas, Baby, Vegas

Updated 02/11/2006

Once again I’m struck by the…there’s no other word for it…delusion of some of these contestants. “Jamaica” man Alexia Dylon Lincheta was full of piss and vinegar coming into the audition and crying and remorseful after his lame rap got a “no” with the judges.

Jamaican Me Cringe!

And mullet-head J.C. Graham could not have possibly thought he would get on the show, could he? But the ones that really kill me are the ones that aren’t doing it for screen time — they’re really seriously thinking they can sing and that the judges will want them. It’s just heartbreaking to see someone like poor little David Mandzak announce in a monotone that he wants to “become a performer and express my talents…to the world”. Poor kid wasn’t dynamic at all, nor could his nasal voice sing even a little bit.

Dude, You’re Gettin’ Nowhere!

And sweet but talentless (singing-wise) Princess Brewer was cute but basically atonally shouted her way through Dionne Warwick. But prior to her audition she told Seacrest she thought she sounded like Aretha Franklin. You wonder if it was nerves or if she really just can’t sing and doesn’t know it. It’s hard to watch!

“That What Voice Lessons are For”

Standouts on this one include Heather Ward — and I agree with Randy: about the last thing you expect to hear out of this darling girl’s mouth is “Redneck Woman”! But she was adorable! Her speaking voice is a high titter but her singing voice is quite full. I liked her and am glad that she got through despite Paula’s objections!

Uh… Redneck Woman?

Grey-haired Taylor Hicks (with a Southern-accented speaking voice to match his last name) was also surprisingly good, if a little odd with the delivery (très Joe Cocker). I’m glad they put him through to Hollywood.

Redneck Man?

And I would’ve put adorable Jason Andino (aka Pepe the Gondola Driver) in the standouts list — I couldn’t believe he didn’t make it! (Engineerboy wanted him to make it, too!) They said he wasn’t a “star” but I thought he sang GREAT! Sheesh!

Jason, Row Your Boat Ashore

I’m starting to catch on… whenever we get the “Behind the Amateur Music” documentary on a contestant, that person is definitely going to be able to sing and almost absolutely going to get through. But it’s okay, it suckers me in anyway. Mecca Madison has the frame, look, and even the voice and control to be in the running. She’s got just the right combo of sass and sweetness.

“Really, I’m Pretty Modest. It’s Only My Hat That’s Big”

01/25/2006: Wannabes by the Bay

Updated 02/12/2006

Randy Jackson draws back in horror at one contestant’s singing

Well, San Francisco drew out quite a mix, but with very few noteworthy singers. I just had to cringe along with the judges at the poor earnest folks like Shawn Vasquez and Matthew “Wolfie” Paulson. Vasques is even taking opera lessons to further his musical endeavors but he was just earnestly terrible. These are the contestants I feel for the most. They’re sweet, nice people, but they just don’t have the ability to sing.

What you talkin’ ’bout, Simon?

Daughter-of-voice-teacher Katharine McPhee had a technically perfect voice but (as I think is often the case with “perfect voices”) no sould or passion when she sings. It’s as though any imperfection or personality has been whitewashed from her voice. The judges in San Francisco must have heard something different, though… they fawned over her! They said she was current, on the money, and the best voice they’d heard. But I’ve heard Simon fault other contestants for being on-pitch but off-passion, so they must’ve heard something within her that didn’t translate via TV.

Well, if Hollywood doesn’t work out, maybe I can get work as a nanny.

Jose “Sway” Penala was more like what I love — not too full of himself, strong vocals but with color in them… some passion, thought about what the song means. Bonus that he’s got a friendly, open smile as well.

Sway has soul

The standout of San Fran had to be 19-year-old Jayne Santayana, however. Beautiful, a little funky/punky with the hairstyle and color, and then a gorgeous, gorgeous voice to match. And how many 19-year-old could actually take on Anita Baker. Simon thought she didn’t conquer the song and I very very partially agree with him, but I still would’ve given her the vote. But she got through from Paula and Randy.

Thanks to Randy and Paula

01/24/2006: The Green Fields of Greensboro

Updated 02/12/2006

I am so tired of hearing people say that they’re the Total Package when asked why they’re the next American Idol. I would so much rather hear just about anything else than “I’m the total package”. #1, it’s uncreative. #2, it’s almost never somebody with any talent who says that sort of stuff, so I’ve come to dread hearing those words.

I’ve Got it All! The Squeak, the Screech, the Out-of-Tunes High Notes!

I mean, I’m sure some of these folks are multi-talented but to me the “total package” includes humility and not quite so much self-centered bragging.

I have to say though, Greensboro came extremely close to providing several “total packages” and a lot of talent. First was super-nice heartaching-back-story Kellie Pickler. As for Kelly, I’m not sure her voice is going to take her all the way (I agree with Simon that she shouted her song to some extent), but she’s tiny, blonde, cute, and has that precious North Carolina accent that’s just Southern enough to be cute but not so Southern it sounds ignorant.

I’ve Got Your Total Package Right Here

Also in the roundup of NC talent was completely upbeat Halicia Thompson. Halicia might go farther than Kellie, in my opinion. Although Kellie was sweet and precious, she was a bit nervous singing in public. Halicia, however, seemed completely unflapped by the presence of three famous judges who held her fate in their hands and she simply sung. She was completely irresistable!

It’s a Different World… Halicia’s World

…And the hits just kept coming. Kendra Winston was also a standout — cute, refreshing, and quite the public relations story. And she was another natural vocal talent with a sassy personality to match. She even cracked Simon up with her quick wit!

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough… to keep me from gettin’ to Hollywood!

On the less spectacular end of the scale Air National Guard Reservesman Steven David, Jr. did a passable job of “Let’s Get it On” by Marvin Gaye (which is pretty hard to do) but he was so darn cocky and sure of himself that I ended up not really liking him that much. But the judges sure did!

C’mon… military uniform and I can sing? You gotta vote for me.

However, no one in Greensboro or in any other city or in any other season of American Idol came even close to the jaw-dropping head-snapping surprise vocal talents of polite Paris Bennett, granddaughter of Anne Nesmond (whom I’d never heard of but Randy spoke of as singing royalty). I can’t even do her justice with the printed word: she was amazing, incredible, unbelievable, and fabulous. No lie, I give her a 60% chance of winning the comptetion, even without having seen the other folks or even getting to Hollywood yet. This girl probably doesn’t even need the competition. She’s really that good.

Paris could be really wonderful come this springtime.

01/18/2006 Mile-High Expectations

Updated 02/12/2006

Cowell contemplates a singer’s merit in Denver

Keeping pace with other cities, Denver showed some talent but also some pretty deluded or talentless folks.

Straight Up Now Tell Me Are You Sending Me Away For-ever?

Brett “Ace” Young definitely picked the smarmegy of singing to Paula for the votes. He would’ve gotten through even without Simon’s razor-thin-margin’ed yes, but I’m with Simon. This guy better prove himself because right now he’s just a pretty boy with a halfway-decent voice.

Can You Feel the Schmaltz?

And who could help but to root for Rochelle Elaine Dye? With her what-must-have-been her entire family there in T-shirts spelling out her name, serious Rochelle Elaine belted out a great original take on “Chain of Fools”. Anyone who can sing Aretha and get Cowell to say “Great. Can’t fault that.” has my vote as well!

Rochelle Elaine in the House!

Tiny and cute Lisa Tucker wowed the judges and me as well with her unoriginal yet perfectly executed choice of Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time”. Pretty impressive for a 16-year old. Her whole family just seems so wholesome, though. Is she for real?

“Maybe someday I’ll sing something racy, like ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand'”

Sweet but possibly a bit high-strung and tortured Garet Johnson the turkey-singing Cowboy from Wyoming was completely precious but I’m not sure he’ll stand up to the pressures of the big city.

I Normally Only Sing in Front of a Turkey

The best of the Denver audition had to be soft-spoken cowboy-hatted Chris Daughtry, who amazed me a raspy yet powerfully voiced interpretation of Joe Cocker’s “The Letter”. Simon the pop producer voted a no stating that he didn’t see much “charisma”, but luckily Randy and Paula put him through — I can’t wait to see him later in the contest!

Get Me a Ticket for an Aeroplane… to Hollywood!!

Of course, no wrap-up of the Denver auditions could possibly be complete without a footnote about definitely tortured Zachary Travis, who was only a pair of B-cups short of being a woman. It’s good that he knows himself well enough to just be “out there”, but it made me cringe that he was so clearly headed for heartbreak by offering himself up to the cruel gods of public acceptance. He even sang “Queen of the Night”, by Whitney Houston, for god’s sake.

“I got more than enough, that’s for sure”

01/17/2006: Tryouts in the The Windy City

I forgot how uncomfortable this show makes me! At least during the first few weeks of winnowing down the available pool of wannabes into the smaller group of semi- and actually-talented. I forgot how badly you feel for the earnest off-key crooners when their face falls and they dejectedly walk out of the room with only their humiliation and a few kind words from Paula ringing in their ears.

Really? You Won’t Even Let Me Sing the Chorus?

I forgot how much I’m embarrassed for those poor souls who actually think they can sing and then they go in there and screech out Celine Dion or Alicia Keys.

…and I shot the sheriff… and I shot the sheriff…and…I shot the sherriff

And, depending on whether or not they accept the reality of a triumvirate rejection, the once-hopeful comes out afterward looking as though his entire world view has crumbled, or reaffirming her belief that the world is against them — that the judges are stupid and they didn’t put her through because they didn’t like her hair/outfit/look/tan/whatever.

What’s a truly spectacular phenomena in all of this is the selective memory of some of these contestants — the willow-shaped Ukrainian girl Yuliya Matus who went in and did her best to belt out a heavily accented version of Bohemian Rhapsody flat-out just wasn’t good enough to get put through.

Mama… I just killed a song…

Simon told her her singing was absolutely awful. But Paula and Randy tried to soothe the rejection by saying what a cute look she had and she was clearly a performer. But her tear-filled post-interview just expressed disbelief that they said she was great and had a different look and “why didn’t she get put through?”. She’d completely not absorbed the actual singing feedback from Simon.

Although the bad ones were bad (c’mon, you know the screeners put some bad ones through just to be able to have some good television), the good ones were startlingly good. Again, I forget how completely amazed I become at the fact that our country has such talent out there, just waiting to be discovered lest they sing in anonymity forever. The two sets of male twins were both fabulous — one pair is only 16 or 17!

The Brittenum Twins: Ain’t Too Proud to Boast…

Joshua and Jarrett Simmons: Supah-Green!

I can’t wait to see those four when we get to Hollywood. I’ll bet you anything the producers will put them in a group of four for one of the ensemble performances. They’ll rock!

And then came Mandisa Hundley — who looked every inch the distinguished member of a Baptist choir — as soon as I saw her (she was so put together!) I thought, “I bet this woman can sing”.

The Gospel According to Mandisa

I’m glad I was right… she was fabulous. Jill Scott, look out — you might have some competition! I’m so glad they put her through, and boo hiss on Simon for cracking a snide about her weight. Oh well, I’m sure if he didn’t do things like that ratings would decline because “Simon lost his edge”. So it’s all just par for the course in the new and exciting season of American Idol.

01/16/2006: Eagerly Awaiting!

Finally, American Idol is ready to start again! Fox has been teasing us with ads of good and bad singers. Two-hour premiere is this week. I almost can’t wait!

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