American Idol: Los Angeles auditions

by Liz Finn-Arnold, posted Feb 1st 2007 12:44AM
LA Auditions(S06E06) "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" plays and we are reminded that tonight's auditions are in Los Angeles, home of Katharine McPhee. Ryan says, "Sometimes what you're looking for can be found in your own backyard." We see a crowd line up outside of the Rose Bowl, but we aren't given an official tally. Olivia Newton-John shows up as a guest judge, but she doesn't offer much besides "sweetness."

I don't know what to say about tonight's episode. It doesn't gel easily around a theme, unless "begging" is tonight's theme. And it doesn't leave a lasting impression in my mind. Still, the judges seemed pleased with the L.A. auditions and award an astounding 40 coveted golden tickets over two days. But I'm confused. If they found so much talent, why do we see so little of it? I'm not impressed by one performance tonight. Nothing blows me away. Is this really the best that L.A. has to offer?

Martik The episode starts on a low, with MARTIK MANOUKIAN (24) who calls himself "Eccentric." He says things like "I'm very fiery" and "I have fire equalling three men." He also claims to be an athlete, who will get into acting, modeling, writing, singing, songwriting, rapping, choreography, composing, and more. His greatest talent though, is his "panther impression." Oh yeah, he also claims to be "the most exciting entertainer on planet Earth." He enters the audition, shows off his bizarre panther moves, after removing sunglasses and a shirt, and it really goes on way too long. Then he sings (I think) and Simon asks "What the hell was that? The buildup was horrific, the outfit was horrific, the meowing was ridiculous, and the singing was horrendous." Paula says she loved the roaring. Olivia calls him "very original." Okay, I love Olivia Newton John (even named my daughter Olivia in her honor) but she's really way too nice for this show. You can be honest without being cruel, but you don't have to tell everyone they did well. Anywho, "Eccentric" eventually leaves our screen, and Simon says, "that set the bar." And he's right, the bar has been set very, very low tonight.

SHOLANDRIC STALLWORTH (25) says he wants to bring romance and love back into music. He sings "If Ever You're In My Arms Again" and he is actually worse than the panther dude. Simon calls it hideous, and Olivia gives him constructive criticism about his pitch.

Ryan tells us that Hollywood is getting Hollyweird and we see a montage of clowns in various costumes, including a man in a banana suit. Moving on.

MARIANNA RICCIO (20) has a showbiz background, so maybe she'll be good. She has been singing since she was four and has 16 years of training. Her mother was one of Dean Martin's Golddiggers (singing, dancing, and touring with stars). Marianna sings "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" and it becomes apparent that she REALLY SHOULD GO. She hasn't inherited her mother's singing talent, it would seem. Simon says, "You sang like Cher after she's gone to the dentist." Marianna gets on her knees and begs. Olivia tells her there will be other opportunities, and that she did really well. Okay, once again I have to interject. Olivia, I know you want to be nice, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. You might not want to encourage this girl by telling her she did well, when she didn't. Even Paula has the balls to say "it was not the best audition." And Randy says "1000 percent no." Then Marianna drags her mom into the room, and Simon and Randy start to drool over the foxy mama. Paula calls both ladies "beautiful." Yeah, it's another love fest. Uggh, maybe I DO like it better when they're MEAN.

Next we see a montage of people begging for a SECOND CHANCE. Somebody bang the Gong, and quickly move these people off the stage.

AlainaALAINA ALEXANDER (24) is a struggling L.A. performer who has been doing this for six years and is thinking about giving it all up. She calls this her last shot. And I'm thinking that "a shot" sounds good right about now. Back to Alaina, who cries in her pre-interview, and talks about hope. She sings Michael Buble's "Feeling Good" and I'm not a judge, but I don't think she quite nails all of the notes. Still, she looks like a young Marisa Tomei and the sexy tube dress distracts the boys. Simon thought it was really, really, really GREAT! By Jove, he likes her a lot. Randy takes his head out of his arse to agree with me that she was "pitchy all over the place." But of course, he still wants to put her through. The ladies say yes (because they can't say anything that isn't nice) and Alaina gets a golden ticket.

PHUONG PHAM's (17) first name is pronounced "Fong" but Simon insists on calling her Pong." She claims to be the "female Taylor Hicks." Not that she looks or sounds like him, but she has his "same passion and fire." She talks about how her mom didn't support her decision to try out for Idol and told her she wasn't TV Pretty, adding, "Let's face it, you're no Katharine McPhee." I'm rooting for this female Taylor, but she's all screechy and flailing. Simon says, "I'm not sure what was worse the singing or the dancing." She begs for a chance to prove herself. And then Olivia tells her that she did well (but she's cut off and I can't hear where she was going with that). And I have to ask, What? Olivia, sweetie, enough with the false hope. Are you one of those people who wants everyone to like them?

As Phuong walks away with her mom I wait to hear her mom say "I told you so." Instead, we hear Taylor's "Do I Make You Proud?" And you know, Taylor has never sounded better.

BRANDON ROGERS (28) looks like Lenny Kravitz, has a great personality, sings backup professionally and even toured with Christina Aguilera. He definitely has the look, and with his professional background I imagine he's going to blow our socks off. But he doesn't. I think he gives a rather generic rendition of "Always on My Mind." His voice seems flat, and I don't think he hits all the notes. Simon says, "I think out of everyone we've seen today, this is by far, the best audition... I can see this guy making the finals." I agree he is the best we've seen today, but that really isn't saying a lot. I don't think he comes close to some of the people we saw in Birmingham or New York. Olivia thinks he's gorgeous (which he is) and says she "felt him in her heart."

BRIAN MILLER (19) is back for a second chance, after going home last year during Hollywood Week. He sings "A Change is Gonna Come" and Simon says, "Nice looking guy, nice voice, forgettable" Brian asks if he's improved since last year and Simon answers, "I can't remember you." Randy likes his voice. Olivia likes his sweetness. And of course, Paula says yes. So another guy is getting through, after giving what I thought was just an "okay" performance.

SHERMAN PORE (64) is an old dude with a petition to get on the show and a sad, sad story. His lady love of 20 years became ill with cancer. Helping him with his Idol petition helped her keep a positive attitude during her illness. She died two days before the audition. In her honor, he sings "You Belong to Me" and tears flow from Paula's eyes. This is a touching story BUT it has NOTHING to do with Idol. Yet, it makes the judges seem almost human for a change, so I guess that's a good thing. Simon calls Sherman a class act and offers to shake his hand. Now, I know we're over the rainbow, Toto, because Simon just got a heart from the Wizard of Oz. (See how I tied that into the whole "Over the Rainbow" theme they played earlier).

At the end of DAY ONE, whopping 21 contestants get a golden ticket. And I can't believe we didn't see anyone truly, naturally gifted. DAY TWO begins with Simon adjusting his fly.

And we meet a couple (Cavett and Darold) who have been together for two years, met at a bus stop, and can't keep their hands off each other. What I can't figure out is how or why Ryan is stuck in the middle of them.

CAVETT CARR (26) goes by the name "Sparkles" and I'm not sure what she sings, but she adds Simon's name to it, and gets down on her knees for some reason. She's awful, but it's fun to watch her winking at Simon and licking her lips. She tells Simon she thinks he's cute, and Simon admits that she scares him. Still, he thinks she's "fabulous", although the singing was "slightly off-putting." Just like last night, Simon remains in good spirits, even calling Cavett "sweetheart" and saying it was nice to meet her.

As soon as DAROLD GRAY (20) enters the room, Simon tells him that there was some inappropriate behavior from his girlfriend, but Darold doesn't seem to mind. Singing-wise, he is just as awful as Cavett. It reminds me of Eddie Murphy singing as Buckwheat on SNL. Simon asks, "Do you and your girlfriend sing together at home? Are the police ever called?" Darold answers, "It depends on what type of music we're listening to."

Again, the judges seem really PLEASANT throughout tonight's episode. And I don't know why. Perhaps they're just happy to be home in Los Angeles. I have no problem with the lack of rudeness and cruel comments tonight. I am, however, baffled by their assessment of the talent. I still haven't seen anything great tonight.

Eric MuellerERIC MUELLER (23) is a wacky gift from the producers saved for Simon for last. He claims he's been training for American Idol for two years, even cutting off his social life to do so. He wants to break out of the mold...wants to do a bunch of blah, blah, blah...yeah, I really don't care. The guy has steel blue beady eyes that scare the heck out of me. He says, people are going to hear his voice and go "I haven't heard anything like that in a long time." And he's right, because he sounds like a cat being run over by a lawnmower when he sings. Simon asks, "That is not serious, is it?" Then he tells Eric to try singing lower, and lower still. Randy just laughs. At least, Olivia doesn't tell him he did well. Simon calls it "absolutely atrocious." And that's the end of that, or so we think.

Sing Like the StarsAfter Eric leaves the room, Simon reads Eric's notes and realizes that Eric had been teaching himself to sing with Randy and Paula's "Sing Like The Stars" DVD. So, an excited Simon calls Eric back into the room to discuss. When that doesn't work, Simon goes looking for Eric with Randy and Paula in pursuit. Really, the three of them run like it's a big game of tag. Eric looks confused by all of this and leaves, but Simon continues to call out to him. And I didn't think it possible, but the three celebrity judges make Eric look quite normal in comparison to themselves.

Okay, that's it. Nineteen more people are headed to Hollywood. Why we only saw three good auditions out of this vast pool of talent is beyond me. Let's hope that the ones we missed are better than the ones we saw tonight.

Next Week: San Antonio -- the final stop on the audition tour.

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guess this topic has run its course. Just wanted to support my and those with similar opinions with what I saw on FOX network, Sunday feb 4. It was called "idol rewind" and showed previous contestants who made it to the next round where they sing with the piano, and commented on by Simon,Randy and Paula, but the audience had ultimate votes to send contestants to next round. In my opinion, this was more realistic and interesting than the previous "circus show" done at the screening round.

February 05 2007 at 8:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nana Ofei

AI Contestants: Go to You are welcome to listen for nice new effective songs to use in the competition.
Get a really nice new song to make an impact to win.
This is to offer you a good place to pick a fresh, unique song when you need one to stand out in the competition. It is more effective to make a smash with a song from our Sound Salad Series, than to struggle in vain with the style a well-known song has been stuck in listeners' minds. Thanks and good luck, Nana.

February 02 2007 at 4:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tad Low

Check out our instant analysis of the Los Angeles "American Idol" auditions at

Tell us what you think.

February 02 2007 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John F. Casey

I thought Olivia Newton John looked fabulous. But she is wearing the wrong shirt.
She should be wearing one of my shirts that are out, and has the same saying on it. My lettering is much bigger and the saying is also trade marked.
''It is what it is''TM
This would look much better on her. How can I get a shirt to her?

February 01 2007 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Starry, thanks for your compliment. You said it very well and in far fewer words than I did. LOL
And to Janine, I appreciate your comments as well. Any opinion is healthy, I think. This is one of the priviledges we have in this country and personally I am grateful we have them. And for whatever it is worth, I did finally change the channel. I found it very dissapointing that I felt I needed to do so. I was hoping there would be more REAL competition, reflective of those who actually have the ability to sing. In the future, I won't watch this segment of the process, which is too bad because I really like (or did) this program. I remember Star Search and compared to the quality of that show, I was hoping Idol would follow suit.

February 01 2007 at 5:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did I misunderstand the show? I thought 40 people made it through - 21 the first day and 19 the second. But Liz here and the AP in their article said 19. I'm pretty sure I wasn't using any illegal substances while watching, but I could be mistaken. Can anyone clear this up?

February 01 2007 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The lack of showing "good" talent on last evening's
show was extremely disappointing. I hope they do better with the San Antonio broadcast.

February 01 2007 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Janice Sharp

I think it is a mistake to have an age limit on contestants. I am certain there are a lot of talented folks out there who "missed their chance" because of very legitimate reasons, and as a result, the world is missing out on their talent.

February 01 2007 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Shirley Guess

If sad stories get you on Idol then surely the 64 year old gentleman who sang for his departed sweetheart should qualify.He had a beautiful voice and it came from the bottom of his heart.I would vote him the winner without any further ado.

February 01 2007 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

#26 and all you other complainers.. SHUT UP! u people r more annoying to us viewers who r trying to enjoy this 1st part of the show.. than the bad singers are to you! u don't like it.. TURN THE DAMN CHANNEL.. how freakin hard is it???

February 01 2007 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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