Last night American Idol completed the auditions with New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The show went back and forth, showing the best (and worst) of both cities.
SPOILER WARNING: PopTower has added a list of the rumored Top 36 to their pages. If you do not want to know that, and you follow the links to view the bio of any of the contestants who made it to Hollywood, do NOT scroll down below their pictures. Links to those who were cut do not contain spoilers.
At the top of the program, Adeola Adegoke was so optimistic about her chances that she gave up her job to audition, firmly believing she would become a superstar. Although she looked very contemporary, in a modern halter top, her warbling performance of "I Am Telling You" by Jennifer Hudson left the judges cold. Taking pity on her, Simon even called her boss to convince him to take her back.
Jorge Nunez in Puerto Rico was equally confident when he auditioned with an operatic-sounding Spanish version of "My Way," demonstrating nice range. Paula Abdul asked him to sing in English, so he sang "What a Wonderful World." Kara DioGuardi liked the Spanish song better and what's more, criticized his pronunciation. Simon defending him, saying they're in Puerto Rico to find someone with a Spanish accent. Jorge got four yesses and a Golden Ticket to Hollywood.
Next up was Jessika Baier [SITE HAS MUSIC - if you can call it that], who brought her own pink-and-black fan club. She auditioned in Puerto Rico, despite living in Michigan, financing the trip through sponsors who paid for her and nine family members to attend. She has sung in the Rose Bowl and participated in 700 singing contests, winning many of them. I'm not sure how good her competitors were in those singing contests, but her shrill version of "I Surrender" by Celine Dion won no prizes from the judges. In response to her assertion that she can sing, Simon said, "I can swim, but I'm not going to win 10 Olympic medals." Heartbroken, she was turned down.
Earth child Melinda Camille showed up with her hair in a very short buzz cut. She was barefoot in a salmon-colored halter dress, and talked to host Ryan Seacrest about happiness and positivity. She performed a sunny version of "Feeling Good," showing great control. Randy Jackson said she has a pleasant disposition and a nice voice, and Kara compared her to a vitamin boost. She got four yesses.
Female rocker Jackie Tohn has been singing since she was a little girl, along with her dad, who played piano. She later learned guitar. She looked a little bit like a '70s singer, with a dated haircut and striped V-neck. Her version of "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz started out really rough, so she sang a second song, "I'll Do It All." To me, it sounded like she was singing out of her range, but Paula liked the huskiness and Paula called her unpredictable. Even more unpredictable, the glass behind them used for sun-shielding fell down during the judges' assessment. She got four yesses.
Jackie joins the ranks of contestants with former entertainment careers. Check out her Wikipedia page, MySpace page, Web site, and various YouTube videos.
The judges also had to deal with Mike Perlman, who thought he'd get his 15 minutes of fame by showing up as a hair metal dude and doing air guitar. Clearly, all he wanted was attention, as he's a prospective actor whose acting reel is on YouTube, though it primarily consists of attempted comedy and bad fighting. Here's him in a very similar outfit to the one he wore at his audition, lip-synching to Queen, which is much funnier than his acting reel. He's also a member of a comedy dance troupe, 123 Party. No surprise, though, given that he's a comedian/actor and not a singer, he was turned down.
Another would-be comedian, Joel Contreras, showed up in Puerto Rico, calling himself a Rockero Loco, which he said translated into "Crazy Rocker." He showed up with a lion puppet and carrying a giant cardboard iPod, which he performed behind. That aspect of his audition was far more entertaining than his pinched singing. Simon ended the audition, saying, "I can't listen to this anymore," saying the whole act was "excruciatingly bad." He got four nos and left the audition room screaming, "I got a no!"
Nick "Norman Gentle" Mitchell showed up wearing a red sweatband, shiny disco shirt, khaki shorts, and black socks. He performed "And I'm Telling You" and then "Amazing Grace," showing some potential but getting very silly near the end. While Simon said no, the other judges voted to give him a Golden Ticket. (There's a full play-by-play of his audition here.)
Sixteen-year-old Monique Garcia Torres brought her 9-year-old kid brother, Christopher, who's very funny and charming. She turned in a sweet version of "You Can't Hurry Love" by the Supremes, wearing a modern-looking red dress. Both Randy and Kara agreed she's not quite ready, but Paula and Simon were willing to give her a chance, partly swayed by the urging of her younger brother. Simon cautioned her: "These auditions were very old-fashioned but it's a yes," then added, "Thank Christopher."
Then everybody's favorite freakazoid, Alexis Cohen, made a return appearance. Idol fans might remember her as the contestant who showed up last year as a rocker in Philadelphia, wearing glittery eye makeup. This time, she was wearing a modern dress and heels, apparently striving for a fresh-faced look. She said she's changed, but as her vibrato-heavy rendition of Madonna's "Like a Prayer" demonstrated, she hadn't changed where it counts. Simon told her that she'd gotten worse, and Kara added, "You were better when you were you." After striving a few seconds to be polite, she gave them the finger with both hands and swore all her way out the door.
Can't get enough of her? She's got some originals on her MySpace page, where she claims she's a "writter." There's also a very funny video there by a band who wrote a song based on her rant after the season seven auditions. Also, she now has a metal band, All Ryzing [SITE HAS WHAT PASSES FOR MUSIC], self-described as "3 creative artist's who are influenced by Heavy Metal, illuminating any stage with sound."
The final contestant of the night was Patricia Lewis Roman, who looked very contemporary and sang the Whitney Houston hit, "I Wanna Dance with Someone." Simon said she wasn't good enough and critiqued her "crazy song choice." Kara said, "You can sing." She sang another song in Spanish, which convinced Randy to give her another shot, and she got her Golden Ticket.
Next week: Hollywood!
Some auditions are like traffic accidents: you just can't look away.