November 9, 2010, San Francisco, CA. A pretty girl walked along the bay and cried as she was interviewed.
Producer: Was this your first audition?
Girl: Yeah. I just thought I had it, you know? I just thought I was going to be famous.
IT'S OUR LAST STOP
Girl: How am I gonna go home and tell my mom I didn't make it?
AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE EVERYTHING
Girl: I'm sorry.
Producer: Do you have a message for the judges?
Girl, looking at camera: Just because somebody farts let them finish singing, okay?
Now THIS is American Idol!
The last stop on the audition tour brought Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler to San Francisco, where we met a Ukrainian girl in a pink suit. She explained that she does shower scene music videos. I hope she knows this is a family show. Named Inessa Lee, she compared her voice to Shakira + Madonna and her moves to Kylie Minogue. When she stepped into the judges' room, she showed off some belly dancing skills. It worked for Heidi Khzam at L.A. auditions, but the difference was the voice. Inessa sang Air Supply's "All Out Of Love," and it was not the soothing love song sound I want to be serenaded with on Valentine's Day. When the judges began to critique her, she used a baby voice and eventually stormed past Ryan on her exit from the facility. I guess she needs to take a cold shower.
The morning became quite the war zone when flocks of seagulls flew over AT&T Stadium and dumped on the Season 10 contestants. Appropriately, the background song was "I Ran" by the Flock of Seagulls. Proving that old saying that it's good luck if bird droppings get on you, Brittany Mazur, Lara Johnston, and Matthew Nuss soared to the next round of the competition.
Washington's Stefano Langone was in a bad accident in May of 2009. It would be great if two years later - May 2011 - he's being crowned the American Idol. The paramedics were surprised he lived, and the doctors were surprised when he was able to walk and play piano again. With a piano on his belt buckle, Stefano tackled Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through The Grapevine." By the end of his performance, he had The Dawg howling. Movie star Jennifer Lopez liked Stefano's movie star looks. As Stefano greeted his family with gold ticket in hand, Ryan asked the Langone clan where Stefano is off to. They simultaneously shouted, "The top!" "Hollywood!" and "American Idol." All were nice ideas, but it seemed like only one of these people knew their hometown audition lingo.
Somehow it was already Day 2 in San Francisco. That was fast! Long Beach's Clint Jun Gamboa looks like an adorable cartoon character...I'm going to go with Penfold from Danger Mouse. Clint is a music host at a karaoke dive bar and he calls himself "Jun Bug." His glasses and tiny stature work with that moniker too. He sang Travie McCoy's "Billionaire," and Randy loved his gospel tones. The judges all said yes, and Randy said Jun Bug was "one of the best I've seen in San Francisco!"
Kenneth Berba was dressed like a monkey for his audition. He reminded me of Mr. Peeper's from Saturday Night Live. And were you shocked to see that his occupation was "Unemployed"?
A transformer with a ridiculously good handmade costume zoomed into the room. I was hoping Drew Beaumier would sing the Transformers theme song, but he sang "Born To Be Wild" which was equally awesome with its lyrics about motors and highways. Drew's occupation was listed as "Bartender/Autobot." Although his vocals weren't good enough, he definitely has talent. Perhaps Project Runway will be a better competition show for him.
Since FOX shows love Katy Perry-her music is often on GLEE, So You Think You Can Dance, and American Idol-we got a montage of "California Gurls" who struck gold in San Francisco. Hopefully we'll hear more from them in Hollywood.
One such California girl was Julie Zorrilla. This tiny singer entered the audition room in a big skirt and big sparkly shoes that even Jennifer Lopez admired. It was Julie's birthday and we heard about her tumultuous life growing up in Colombia. Her parents left their wealthy lifestyle behind and started from scratch in America to escape the guerillas. Julie auditioned with "Summertime" for the judges. I would normally advise against this since that was the song Fantasia had her big moment with, but Julie sang it completely differently-with a lot of restraint and unique runs. Steven, also a fan of her shoes, said Julie has star quality. Jennifer liked her confidence, and Randy said he hasn't heard and liked "Summertime" since Fantasia sang it, but he liked Julie's interesting choices with notes. Summing up their personalities better than I ever could, Steven gave an "Unequivocal yes," Jennifer gave "A sparkly shoe yes," and Randy gave "A billion percent yes." Jennifer even dared to say that Julie could very well win the whole show.
When straggly haired rocker Dave Combs entered the audition room, Steven said, "Real men have long hair," to which bald Randy replied, "That's right!" Dave sang "Oh! Darling," and offended Steven who was representing The Beatles on his shirt. He wasn't great, but he wasn't bad. Steven felt very strongly and said, "You were so off the melody it was like you're on another planet." Steven was the tough judge this time, which shocked and delighted his fellow judges.
Steven asked Rick Deschamp if he hit his head on the way to his audition. Next, David Johnston entered the audition room and he looked like the love child of Season 7's Robbie Carrico and David Cook. He earned an "absolutely not" from Steven. Then Sabrina Corbett entered in a cop costume, and I figured this could go either way with Steven, but he gave her a citation: "You ought to be arrested for that voice!"
As Steven begged for someone good, in walked Emily Anne Reed. Last week, her house in San Francisco burned down. Although devastated, she is determined to move on and build a better life, which is what she's hoping to get out of American Idol. She auditioned with a Frank Sinatra song and had the voice of one of those current British songbirds. The now hard-to-please Steven liked her old timey voice but not her melody, so he gave her a no. Randy said she had one of the most interesting voices in all seven cities, so he gave her a yes. Jennifer thought she had a good voice for recording, so Emily Anne will spread her wings to Hollywood. Steven encouraged her to play a tune on her guitar, and even though she held it in an unusual way, she continued to impress Jennifer and Randy.
Hometown auditions ended with James Durbin. This Santa Cruz native grew up under the watch of his mom and two older sisters. His musician father overdosed when James was only 9, but people say he gets his musical talent from his dad. James was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and Asperger Syndrome, and has been made fun of because of it. Now a father himself, an unemployed James is hoping to use his voice to provide a better life for his son. He stood in front of the judges and belted out Led Zeppelin's "You Shook Me." Then he asked Steven Tyler for permission to sing Aerosmith's "Dream On," and by the time he was through singing, he was emotional. James explained that his Tourette's goes away when he's in his element performing. Randy was blown away by his range and Steven enjoyed his "melodic sensibility." With three yeses, James was greeted by his gaggle of Durbin relatives and said it was unbelievable to have Steven Tyler approve of him singing "Dream On." In terms of his voice, James will undoubtedly be compared to a certain Idol alumni with a killer range and scream-sing ability.
The show ended with a recap of seven cities of the good, the bad, the hilarious, the tear-inducing, the underage, and the Stevenisms.
Next up is Hollywood Week! I love Hollywood Week, and it seems like this time there will be lots of tears and singers doubled over. Stay away from the buffet!