San Francisco…City by the Bay! Well kids, we’ve made it; final audition night before we begin Hollywood Week. We learned a few things from this episode; Adam Lambert came from the San Francisco auditions (insert collective, “of course” here), there is a LOT of talent waiting to be discovered, and “just because somebody farts, let them finish singin’!”
And with that, I bring you the highlights from the American Idol San Francisco auditions. This first contestant was more a lowlight but such an entertaining one, I could not leave her out. Her name is Inessa and she’s from the Ukraine and likes to make YouTube videos of herself doing nothing of interest to anyone. She tells us she’s a cross between Katy Perry, Shakira, early Madonna and Kylie Minogue. She has built herself up to be so fabulous, we all know this can only equal a colossal fail. She bounces into the room, Steven Tyler is captivated, she reveals her belly-dancing abilities and anyone who has either been reading this review weekly, or watching AI for themselves, knows she’ll be asked to show us. She does, then sings and as expected it’s nothing spectacular. ST was rooting for her because his Grandfather was Ukrainian, she speaks in a weird Betty Boop/baby talk voice at this point and I just grow highly annoyed. Few things irk me like ANYONE doing baby talk, I’m so ready for her to be gone. Her parting words to the judges are, “How can you give me no, you’ll see me soon, I promise!” in that same baby voice, she seems in high-spirits until she runs outside to her aging Asian husband (mail-order-bride anyone?) and declares through tears that, “They will never see anything more beautiful, even when they’re crying!”
Next we see a short montage of good singers who must not have had an interesting enough back story to garner much airtime but all earn tickets to Hollywood. Stefano Langone however, has an interesting, albeit sad story to tell. He was in a horrible car accident and was thought to be dead when EMTs arrived on the scene. He was given a grim prognosis, and told that he was probably not going to walk or ever even hold a pencil again. What Stefano heard was “you will never sing or play piano again” and used that as his motivation to fight and prove them wrong. He has horrible scars but he’s alive and doing well and ready to make his dreams come true. He sings “Heard It Through The Grapevine” and not only has a pretty good voice but also “movie star good looks” and star quality, according to JLo. He gets 3 yeses and will be in Hollywood.
Clint “Junebug” Gamboa is a Karaoke Host at a dive bar, and everyone tells him he’s already a star and he should go try out for American idol. Clint believes the hype and sings “Billionaire” to very impressed judges. They love him, think it’s beautiful, and JLo even says “very nice” two times. Golden ticket in hand, he runs out and jumps in the air, clicking his heels together. I love San Francisco!
Next, a Transformer walks in, in robot form, then turns into his red Mustang car form, then back to robot. I’m so shocked during this whole fiasco I am not even taking notes- just watching it all go so horribly wrong for him. He sings (I could not makes this up) “Born To Be Wild” which to refresh your memory includes the lyrics, ”Get your motor runnin’/head out on the highway.” He gets three fast nos and as he’s walking out Steven Tyler asks him how many gallons it gets per mile. Nice, rubbing a little salt in the wound, I like it.
Julie Zorilla turned 20 on the day of her audition, she’s adorable, gorgeous, sweet and from Columbia. She had a very nice life there, and judging by her designer shoes that JLo couldn’t keep her eyes off of, her parents were fairly wealthy. Due to war and crime, they had to relocate to America and her parents tell us they are still haunted by the memories. Julie sings and butchers “Summertime." Her tone is pretty and you can tell her voice is quite good but that arrangement was atrocious. Steven says she’s a star and he loves her sparkly shoes, Randy said her changes were “ interesting” but “good” and says yes, JLo gives her a “big sparkly shoe yes!” We will see her in Hollywood and I can’t wait because I know there’s a lot more she can do with her voice.
\Emily Ann Reid’s house burned down last week, and tells us it was the first home she was really excited to live in. She has such a strong spirit and instead of letting that tragedy keep her down she says she has “decided to live a better life.” Here we go again with the baby voice, only this is her actual speaking voice. I’m not sure how long I can handle her. She sings “You’re Getting To be A Habit With Me” and who cares what her speaking voice sounds like because her singing voice is unparalleled. I am sure my jaw dropped. It sounds like something you would hear coming out of a phonograph, not at an American Idol audition in 2011. Steven Tyler loves her “old-timey voice” but determines she needs more vocal work. Randy says yes because she’s unique and JLo as the deciding vote gives her a reluctant yes. She picks up the guitar she set down before her audition and sings something that sounds one-million times better than her audition. I cannot wait to see more of this girl!
Our final contestant of the night is James Durbin. His dad was a bass player and died of an overdose when James was very young. As a result he had a sleep disorder and even had to be medicated for it. He was a little different in school and because of his Tourette’s syndrome and Asperger’s (high-functioning Autism). He got made fun of and beat up regularly. He’s definitely the grand finale sad story of the evening. He lights up when talking about the “angel” who came into his life and who he has a young son with. They are living in low-income housing, barely scraping by, and James is unemployed. I’m SO pulling for this kid and he hasn’t even sung yet. When he opens his mouth to sing, I start to cry. I have no other way to describe his voice other than, “WOW!” He sings a very Adam Lambert-esque version of “You Shook Me All Night Long” then, before they even vote, asks the judges if he can sing “Dream On.” It’s a gutsy move that more than pays off. ST loves it, Randy says he’s got “crazy, crazy range,” and JLo talks very tenderly to him saying he sings from a special place that most people don’t sing from but are supposed to. With three stunned yeses, James is going to Hollywood and Season 10 auditions are DONE!
Tonight begins Hollywood Week and I am eager to see if it’s a different format, who stays, who goes, who rises to the occasion and who buckles under pressure!