Before I get to the show, I wanted to mention a couple of things about the audition process:
Idol went to seven cities this year, with roughly fifteen thousand hopefuls lining the stadiums at each stop. There is a screening process, which thins the field down to roughly 200 candidates in each city. They pick something like 150 contenders and 50 non contenders, and these people get to go in front of the judges. There are also dozens of local singing contests around the country who give out, as the first prize, a fast pass to the judges. If you want to be on Idol, look for one of those contests.
The screeners tell the 200 or so finalists that they made it to the judges’ room, but they don’t tell them whether they were picked because they are good or because they are cannon fodder for the show. This might explain why so many auditioners think that they are good when they are obviously not. While Simon and company don’t see everyone, they still have to go through about 100 auditions a day. Since about 75 percent of the auditions are close calls, with some hair splitting decisions, they should be expected to be somewhat weary as each day goes on. They tend to snap and lash out when they are dealt one of the joke auditions, and I always wondered why. Now I know.
It’s because the jokers will invariably come right after they had to tell someone, someone that was serious and actually talented, that they weren’t good enough. The judges should know that this is how it is done, especially the veterans, and I think that they do. This year, with guest judges, the anger and the frustration is coming out more. Some of them handled it well. Others, like Katy Perry and Mary J Blige, didn’t. I was hard on both of those two earlier. I still don’t like how they handled themselves, but at least I can understand it a bit more. I am even more impressed with the guest judges that were able to keep their cool.
Ok, the show tonight. It was in Dallas, which has been a hotbed in the past. Kelly Clarkson came from a previous Dallas Audition. This year was productive as well, with over thirty golden tickets. I’ll just blurb on the auditioners that received some airtime, in the order that they were shown:
Julie something- Nope. She had auditioned in season one, and failed miserably. She was better, and I could hear that she had been taking lessons, but she just can’t sing in tune or in rhythm. Not everyone can sing, I guess. She sure has been trying.
Lloyd – Sang some Stevie Wonder, very nicely. Good tone, smooth rhythm. He’s completely full of crap, but in a nice way. His back story started out like he was a joke audition, but he is not a joke. There is some real stuffing in this kid, and I like him a lot. He is a very strong contender for the semifinals, and I would not be at all surprised if he made the final 12. I would really like to know this guy myself, and I think that the rest of America will feel the same way.
Kimberly Carver- This kid has a very strong voice, and good range. She has some nice vocal tricks as well, but they aren’t well developed. She’d kick butt in a Karaoke bar, but this is a national competition. I would guess that she’s fodder, but her voice is one hell of a chop to build on. She is pretty, but she’ll need some help with wardrobe to make her stand out.
Dexter- pass. I am not shallow enough to riff on someone’s speech impediment….. Well, that’s crap. I am that shallow. His voice wasn’t all that bad, just out of tune, but who in the hell could understand him? He sounded like he had a mouth full of oatmeal.
Erica Rhodes- The Barney girl. She got through easily, but I don’t really hear anything that will make her a contender. Her voice was pleasant, but weak. I’ll leave the whip thing alone. If she is serious, she’ll give up the leather. Either that, or get the helium out of her voice. I don’t remember meeting any biker chicks who sound like Jennifer Tilly other than… well, Jennifer Tilly.
Dave Pittman- He has Tourette’s syndrome. He sang ok, and his back story might give him some help. I don’t see him as being a great singer, but he might be likeable enough to make it some distance. I would be higher on him, but he just doesn’t have all that great of a voice or big chops. He sounded really green, to me.
Todrick Hall- Very nice original song and a nice, pleasant voice. I like his manner. He has a puncher’s chance, and he might pick up steam as he goes. He is experienced, savvy and an educated musician. I will call him one of the more interesting wild cards so far.
Dawntoya Thomason- She got about 4 seconds of airtime for us to listen to. It took google to figure out what song she was singing. I knew that I had played that one before, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was “Blue”, the Johnny Mack song that he wrote for Patsy Cline ( she died before she could record it) that was later made famous by Leann Rimes.
Stephanie Daulong- Rich voice, but I didn’t much like her inflections. There was something weird about her phrasing. She only sang about 6 notes on the air, so don’t take that very seriously. She might be the best singer ever; who knows?
Megan Wright- I liked her a lot, and I liked her little brother too. We can look forward to seeing him up there in about a decade. She (Megan) has a lot of charisma in a giggly girl next door sort of way, and she might have some depth that she can bring out inHollywood. I won’t call her a contender right now, but there might be something here if she can handle singing in front of a full band and deal with some harsh criticism as it comes.
Vanessa Johnston- Can’t sing, but I bet that she’s a lot of fun.
Christian Spear- She is only 16 and way too green for this right now. I would normally say go for it, and in her case there are compelling reasons not to wait, but she has real talent and real problems with inexperience. I see a real chance that she could damage any future career prospects if she is taken past her talent level. She is just too young, and they are not doing her any favors if they rush her.
I didn’t have to know her back story to guess that there had been something physiologically wrong with her. Just seeing her walk into the room it was obvious. She looks fragile, and her color is off. Her eyes look tired when she is not looking up, her hair is thin, and she looks a good bit older than she really is.
The producers showed her in several different poses, and several different angles. She has a beauty in her that even a clod like me could see. I don’t want to beat that to death, but it matters here. It will be very hard to not be moved when you see her, and hear her sing. She might end up making it much further than her current talent level deserves, or demands. It might be the worst thing that can happen to her, if it doesn’t end in her making the final 12.
Her voice is vastly underdeveloped for a competition at this level. If it was up to me I’d make sure that she didn’t make it too far. She should be able to come back and try again when she is older. That inner beauty that she has could end up being a curse, taking her too far to get back to where she needs to be.