American Idol: Charleston Auditions
Simon: "Do you mean the crowd disappears?"
Aretha: "Hey, you know what, they come closer."
Simon: "Holding anything?"
At first I thought it was just me, but on the start of "Day Two" in Charleston, the judges even said that they were hoping it would get better. Unfortunately, it didn't. And I guess there must have been a lot of out-of-towners to the city, recently crowned "The Nicest City in America," because there was enough bitching going on to make Simon look sweet. Aretha wasn't even the worst of it. Twenty-one people out of a crowd of 10,000 made it through, and I'll bet some of those were just because the judges standards got lower and lower as they thought "We're gonna have to let someone through." But they did manage to find one of my favorite contestants of the season thus far.
Gallery: AI '08 Charleston Auditions
Picture Michael Jackson's speaking voice on Ruben Studdard's physique with a voice that encompasses the best of both, and then some. Jeffrey Lampkin (24, Newberry, SC) auditioned with his older sister Michelle (26, Charlotte, NC). Both were a ton of fun, but Jeffrey was almost completely out of control. They harmonized beautifully on "I'm Your Angel" (R. Kelly & Celine Dion), but Jeffrey was clearly the superior vocal. Randy voted to split them up, sending Jeffrey through but rejecting Michelle, but Paula and Simon couldn't split them up, calling them "a breath of fresh air." Certainly their joy was infectious as it gave me hope that Charleston maybe did have some really amazing talent. I'm most definitely looking forward to what they can do in Hollywood and beyond.
Unfortunately, it looks like that may be as good as South Carolina could give. Of the 23 people who made it through we only got to see four of them. Amy Flynn (16, Knoxville, TN) was certainly one of the more interesting contestants of the night. She sang a nice and "innocent," according to Paula, rendition of Christina Aguilera's "Reflections." There were some nice moments in it, but the most memorable thing about her was that she travels around Knoxville teaching abstinence (from sex, drugs and alcohol) to her fellow teens. And she smiles. A lot. I scheduled a dentist appointment for tomorrow because I think she gave me cavities.
The final "Yes" of the day came reluctantly to London Weinburg (24, Charleston, SC). The most exciting thing about her is her name. They tried to pump a sad and sympathetic story about how she put her music on hold to help care for her father, but even that couldn't make her "Good Morning Heartache" (Billie Holiday) more than completely forgettable. London has all the trappings of someone who will get cut in the Hollywood rounds. That's right, I said it. So prove me wrong, London. Prove me wrong! What's that? They already taped those? Oh. Well. Did you prove me wrong? What do you mean you can't tell me, don't you know who I am!? No? ... Fair enough.
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Yes, South Carolina was so piss-poor in talent, based on what we were shown, that I'm giving a whole separate category to those who weren't bad, per se, but still weren't quite good enough. Raysharde Henderson (27, Atlanta, GA) had a beautiful, fluffy bunny on his head. I kept expecting the ears to pop out and it to twitch its nose at us. That would have been better than his version of Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me." It's a shame, really, because Raysharde has a good quality to his voice, but very little control of where it goes and what notes it finds. He called himself "The black Clay Aiken." Black, I'll give him. Aiken, not so much. Sorry, dude.
Why do we need to know all about how Lyndsey Goodman (28, Charleston, SC) flies C-17s for the Air Force? Why do we need a camera crew to go follow her around? Because it's cool that a chick can do that? Sure, but she didn't make it so why did you waste my time. You showed me four people who did make it and only one of them wowed me. Cut this extraneous crap for rejects and show me more of the good singers. That said, Lyndsey wasn't terrible, she was just very amateur lounge singer, or "cabaret" as Simon so loves to say. Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet" is a passionate song to sing, and Lyndsey sang it like she was standing on a stage in high school reading her sheet music with band geeks in accompaniment trying to not to drool into their instruments as they stare at her ass.
"Dude, I think she's wearing a thong."
"I know! *snort snort* That's so frikkin' hot."
"She has boobs, too."
"No way! That is so hot!"
After chronicling the story of Oliver Highman (27, Cornelius, NC) throughout the episode, we finally got to see his audition at the end. So while he was supposed to be the first audition of "Day One," instead he was the last one of "Day Two," or at least that's how they made it look. Granted, he had a fairly reasonable excuse, what with his wife going into labor and all. I don't know if it was that we got to see the baby and hear that sweet story, but I liked Oliver a lot more than the judges did. He oversang Brenda Russell's "Get Here," but I still thought he had a nice voice. I thought he was a shoe-in for Hollywood; he at least showed that much potential to me; but he was cut. "Do you guys want to at least see my baby," he said after hearing the news. And they did and his wife brought in the baby one day after delivering it. After they left, Paula wanted to change her vote. But it was too late and Oliver was off to let his wife get some much needed rest.
Tonight, it's not bad to be bad. Because if you're bad it means you aren't "Unbelievable." DeAnna Prevatte (26, Albemarle, NC) shouted an angry version of "Fancy" (Bobbie Gentry). It was almost singing, so I'll give her props for that. She talked a little bit about how she was a waitress at an all-you-can eat restaurant and I swear she looked and sounded like a 62-year old waitress who just got off a double-shift. Not that she looked old but that she looked that much like society had been kicking her ass every day for decades. Even when she was making pleasantries, she was scowling and glaring around at everyone. Boy, it's a real shocker that she said she sometimes only gets a dollar tip. She hails from Kellie Pickler's home town, but it's just as well she didn't make it. She had the accent but Kellie must have gotten all the charm the town had. And besides, "Pick Prevatte" just sounds stupid.
Randy Stark (27, Abilene, TX) met Crystal Ortiz (26, Raleigh, NC) on the AmericanIdol.com message boards. You can tell their love is new because they can stare into each other's eyes for hours and just be lost in the beauty and bliss of their affection. If I stare at my wife like that she smacks me and tells me to take out the trash or change the kitty litter or any other activity that involves me being in another room. Then, by the time I get back, she's pretending to be fast asleep. They sing "She's More" by Andy Griggs and it is terrible. I mean painfully awful, but who cares. Crystal is cooing at Randy and he's smiling at her. Never mind that it sounds like a bobcat got trapped in a burlap sack with a bulldog, a parakeet and Mikalah Gordon, it's love. The judges feel the sweetness, but aren't fooled enough to send them through to Hollywood.
It's one thing to think you're better than you are (Hell, I think I'm pretty damned funny), but Aretha Codner (22, Buffalo, NY) takes it to a whole new level. Named after R&B legend Aretha Franklin, other than a name and an equally mammoth gift on her rib cage, the two couldn't be further apart. See, Aretha Franklin has one of the greatest voices of all time! Aretha Codner thinks she does, too, because she says she's as good as any Idol who was ever on the show and proves it by singing "I Have Nothing." And as we all know, there's no easier artist to sing than Whitney Houston.
Aretha murdered her audition. No, I mean literally. I think there were people that died tonight just from watching it. If they did, they're lucky because the end of her caterwauling was the beginning of our long national nightmare as she just kept talking and talking and talking. And she's one of those people who thinks that anyone who doesn't agree with her is completely stupid. The judges said she did not have a good singing voice. She said she does. They tried to explain to her that she doesn't and that she's not going to Hollywood. She said: "I almost don't even believe this because I really can sing. I really can sing and I heard a lot of the people that you did let through here. I heard a lot of the people because that was my strategy ... to hear other people sing and how they sung the song [This is just a beautiful use of the English language here. -ye editor]. And they weren't even that-- you know, I mean some of them was good, don't get me wrong but some of them was really not up to par."
She wasn't even done after she left the audition. She kept rambling on to Ryan. "They got bad opinions on music, totally. Honestly, I think I'm great. I have a wonderful voice. I know I do. And not only do I have a wonderful voice but my voice is--" at this point, Ryan cut her off. The show is only an hour tonight, after all.
But as bad as Aretha was, she was only too typical of so many past Idol contestants. Joshua Boson (20, Beaufort, SC), on the other hand may be the single biggest ass who has ever auditioned. Honestly, if I saw him on the street I would probably just cold-cock him. Knock him on his ass, kick his teeth in while he's down and then just walk on as if nothing happened. First of all he took one of the most emotionally heartfelt songs of all time, made famous by Jennifer Holliday and revived for a new generation by Idol's own Jennifer Hudson. But in Boson's hands, "And I Am Telling You, I'm Not Going" became a bad 1970s J.J. Walker stand-up routine. For all you youngsters out there, think of Carrot Top. Now picture him singing with conviction and passion. I know it hurts. It does.
The judges kept it real. It simply wasn't good enough. "Y'all should never ever come to South Carolina," Joshua retorted, "because this is what you gonna get."
Simon: "Joshua, you've got a great attitude."
Joshua: "This show is fake and rigged."
Simon: "What did you say?"
Joshua: "Fake and rigged. Because I can sing. I knew I was gonna be cut; I told everybody that."
Simon: "Joshua you are rude and deluded."
Joshua: "I'm not rude and deluded."
Simon: "You are."
Joshua: "Well I'll just leave it at that because I'm a good person and you're not."
Paula: "Joshua, I think you've got a lot of personality but...
At this point, while Paula was still talking, Joshua just walked out of the audition. He banged the door as hard as he could and left. He then proceeded to tell Ryan that the judges said to him that all of South Carolina had no talent; and that it was all over the news. Now granted, the judges had commented after "Day One" that the talent was a little thin to that point and they were hoping for better on "Day Two," so it is possible those comments had gotten some local media play, but Joshua just kept on going making up things they said and ranting about how horrible the judges are and how they don't know anything about music.
I can only hope that somewhere in all that bitching, Joshua heard Aretha bitching and they found one another. I think we could have a second Idol love connection on our hands with these two!
Next week we go to Omaha to see what the heartland of America has for us. I hope it has something because after Charleston, I'm depressed. I'm going to go back and watch Jeffrey Lampkin again to cheer me up. That boy is going places and should be a lock for the Top 24!