American Idol: Kansas City Auditions

by Jane Boursaw, posted Jan 15th 2009 12:34AM
American Idol S8 Kansas City

(S08E02) Kona kicked off TV Squad's American Idol coverage last night, and the auditions are now in full swing. This episode found Ryan Seacrest and the judges in Kansas City, home of last year's American Idol winner David Cook. In fact, Ryan talked to David Cook's parents, who just happened to be walking down the street! Ok, not really, but they made it seem that way, which was kind of funny.

Also, included in the crowd of 11,000 people was Michael Castro, Jason Castro's brother. More on that later.

After the jump, the auditions...

The Auditions:

Chelsea Marquardt, 19, thinks she's better than she really is. In fact, she's all over the place. Simon is dumbfounded, saying it sounded like "cats jumping off the Empire State Building." Kara and Paula say she's a beautiful girl, but not a good singer, dude. Chelsea thinks she just picked the wrong song, and Ryan Seacrest tries to comfort her. I like that about Ryan. He treats all the contestants like real people, unlike the judges, who often make fun of them.

Ashley Anderson, 20, sings "Footprints in the Sand," originally sung by Leona Lewis and co-written by Simon Cowell. Only Ashley gets the words wrong, using "Footsteps" instead of "Footprints." Still, her voice is pretty, and the judges put her through to Hollywood.

Casey Carlson, 20, sings a song by Vanessa Carlton and does a nice job. She seems like a natural talent with a lot of potential. The judges agree, putting her through with flying colors.

Brian Hettler, 20, uses his classical training on Aretha Franklin's "Think." As Randy says, "It was definitely different." That's putting it kindly. Simon is not impressed, saying "everything was wrong in this audition." Brian tries to change their minds by singing a Josh Groban song, but it's just sad. This is the problem with people who think they're fantastic, but just suck at singing.

Von Smith, 22, sings "Over the Rainbow" and isn't half bad, which is surprising because he doesn't look like a singer at all. The judges are looking at him like they can't believe it either. Still, it's a good audition. Randy says he has "a dope voice," and Von goes through to Hollywood.

Michael Castro, 20, is the brother of last year's 4th runner-up Jason Castro. They've both got interesting hair. Jason is still sporting dreadlocks, and Michael has a pink mohawk thing going. This is interesting, though: Michael JUST started singing 20 days ago, and he has a great voice! The judges think so, too, because Michael is following in Jason's footsteps straight to Hollywood.

Matt Breitzke, 27, sings Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," and has a soulful, rocker-type voice, belying his wrestler-type appearance. I really hope he goes all the way, just to spite Randy, who thinks he's just a bar singer. Simon calls him "really, really good," and Matt is put through to Hollywood.

Jessica Furney, 19, celebrates her birthday by singing a rockin' rendition of Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby." She looks like a nerdy librarian (no offense to librarians at all), but she can really belt it out! I hope she improves her stage presence, because if so, she could go the distance. I love her backstory: she takes care of her 93-year-old grandma.

Asia McClain, 24, and her sister, India Morrison, 22, are next. They do this weird rap thing at first, but then sing individually. India ends up going through, and Asia is so happy for her sister. That's sweet.

Jamar Rogers, 26, sings "California Dreamin'," and has a surprisingly big voice, though you'd never know it to look at him. He goes through to Hollywood.

Danny Gokey, 28, is a church music teacher who rocks it out on "Heard it Through the Grapevine." The judges love him, and I'm glad he's headed for Hollywood, because his story is so sad! Four weeks before the audition, his wife and best friend, Sophia, passed away. Needless to say, Danny is still grief-stricken, but decided to go through with the audition anyway. Hope he goes far. I'm rooting for you, Danny.

Anoop Desai, 21, is another one of those ordinary-looking people with a great voice. Simon thinks he's geeky, like he just came out of a meeting with Bill Gates. Randy immediately dubs him "Anoop Dog," saying, "you had some crazy vocals there." Anoop Dog is on his way to Hollywood.

Andrew Lang, 19, doesn't have a bad voice, but he ruins his chances by having creepy cheerleaders introduce him. After singing "My Girl," Randy votes yes. But when Andrew sings a second song, "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," Randy changes his vote to no. Honestly, I think he deserved to go through, and probably would have if he hadn't brought the creepy cheerleaders along.

Asa Barnes, 28, is a band director at a middle school. He sings "The Way You Make Me Feel," by Michael Jackson, and does a great job. Simon isn't sure about the song choice, but Paula praises the choice, saying it wasn't the disaster that Michael Jackson songs usually are when sung by someone else. Asa goes through to Hollywood. And his 4-year-old daughter is ultra-cute! She reminds me of Raven Symone when she was on The Cosby Show.

Michael Nicewonder, 20, doesn't have much going for him as a singer. You just KNOW that when people sing an original song, it's usually not going to be that good. Hard to believe Michael is related to Hank Williams, Jr. Anyway, not surprisingly, he doesn't make it, and I'm heartbroken for him when he bursts into tears.

Dennis Brigham, 19, sings a Chris Brown song. His voice isn't bad, but I agree with Simon that it's "a bit crazy." Paula and Kara say yes, Simon says no, and it's up to Randy, who ... puts him through. I just hope Dennis shuts up, because his motor-mouth is just going to get him into trouble.

Mia Conley, 27, sings "Lovin' You" by Minnie Riperton (REALLY?!!!). She sounds like she just woke up, because, in fact, she did. Mia has been dozing in the waiting area. The judges say no to Mia, and she retaliates with a threat: "You guys are wrong, and God's gonna make you pay for it."

Lil Rounds, 23, is the best audition of the night. She sings a Stevie Wonder song, and is fantastic. Randy calls her a mixture of Fantasia and Mary J. Blige, and Simon calls her "absolutely fantastic." I love singers like Lil, who truly are super-talented, but have no idea that they are. Her backstory: she decided to pursue singing after a tornado touched down in Memphis, sending her and her husband and three kids to a motel.

So that's it for Kansas City. Still to come are auditions in San Francisco, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Salt Lake City, Utah; Jacksonville, Florida; East Rutherford, New Jersey; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Of the Idol hopefuls featured tonight, who has the best chance of being THE American Idol?
Ashley Anderson28 (4.2%)
Casey Carlson52 (7.8%)
Von Smith27 (4.1%)
Michael Castro70 (10.5%)
Matt Breitzke15 (2.3%)
Jessica Furney32 (4.8%)
India Morrison3 (0.5%)
Jamar Rogers3 (0.5%)
Danny Gokey137 (20.6%)
Anoop Desai54 (8.1%)
Asa Barnes31 (4.7%)
Dennis Brigham1 (0.2%)
Lil Rounds211 (31.8%)

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I can't believe what a resemblance the smaller cheerleader had to Maggie Gyllenhaal! They could be sisters!

January 16 2009 at 11:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know it isn't the most pc thing to say, but in the case of people like Michael Nicewonder and others, I just can't feel sorry for them at all, except in the sense that they deserved to have someone take them aside well beforehand and save them some humiliation. As for hopefuls like the first girl, she was treated like a real person. A real, completely self-delusional person. Contrary to what many like to believe, hard work can't allow everyone to be anything they want to be. For some things, such as winning a singing competition, talent is a prerequisite. That's just the way it is.

January 15 2009 at 8:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to PNK's comment

I believe these people are delusional or their families are. They should be mad at their families and friends for telling them they could sing, not the judges.

And michael nicewonder, his mom told him he couldn't sing and he didn't believe her. He should have listened to his mother. These people know what they're getting into when they audition. We shouldn't feel sorry for them. They did it to themselves.

January 16 2009 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My problem with Michael Castro is the same problem I ended up having with Jason. Neither seems to be doing this because they really want to be the next American Idol. Jason did it because he could and Michael is doing it because Jason did. Yes, he has a surprisingly good voice but he doesn't have any passion to sing.

January 15 2009 at 5:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Laura's comment

Agreed. When I saw the name Castro on the bottom of the screen, I almost turned the TV off. I understand that only women love the Castro brothers, but NOT for the right reasons. I never ever wanted to see that kid again.

There has to be another talent from the Clarkson family, if we're doing American Idol: Families Edition now.

January 15 2009 at 10:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Anoop was awesome. I totally will be rooting for him, not only because he's got a great voice, but so that he can later tell Simon to suck it for the Bill Gates comment.

January 15 2009 at 1:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought Michael Castro was just adorable. Of course, I liked Jason too. Maybe I just wish I had their laid back attitude. be so calm with the world! LOL

January 15 2009 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jane, Thank you for saying East Rutherford, NJ and not New York!

January 15 2009 at 12:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I found Ashley Anderson's real myspace page. I did some research. She is a singer/songwriter, actress and model, and also goes by Ashley Loren... visit her at

January 15 2009 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I found Ashley Anderson's real music myspace page. I did some research. She is a singer/songwriter, actress and model, and also goes by Ashley Loren... visit her at

January 15 2009 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Remember, Von was the guy who Rosie picked off of YouTube to sing "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" on The View.

We'll see if he gets through on the show.

January 15 2009 at 11:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought Michael Castro was just okay. He's probably as good a singer as his brother but I don't think he'll go very far in the competition. Jason made it as far as he did because the kid is cute in a girly way. Michael isn't attractive in my opinion, weird hair or not.

January 15 2009 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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