After three brutal weeks, we’ve finally reached the end of the longest round of American Idol auditions to date. The show wrapped up its opening round in San Francisco tonight with guest judge Brandi. Aside from the usual crop of rejects, there were at least a few singers who’ll be worth watching in the next stage of the competition.
Last season, young John Stevens proved that, to a certain extent, crooners can do well on American Idol. Two contestants picked up tonight where John left off with old school stylings and more than a bit of talent.
The first was Jamie Koehler, who sang, appropriately enough, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.” Jamie did a decent job, but he didn’t have much of a look to go with his voice. It’s doubtful he’ll make it far in the next round.
Likely to fare better is Ross Williams, whose Fedora added just a bit of personality to what ultimately was an above-average performance. Ross seems different enough from the other contestants we’ve seen so far that he could carve out a niche for himself in this contest. Still, if he wants to make it far, he’ll need to find a way to acquire a significant fan base.
Dressed like a hooker in a too-short-skirt and body fishnet, it seemed at first as if Elizabeth Pha didn’t stand a chance. She looked far younger than her actual age of 24, but the biggest surprise was the powerful voice than came out of such a small person. The judges were split, with both Randy and Brandi turning her down. Paula, ever the softy, decided that Elizabeth deserved a chance. Simon, ever a sucker for a girl in a short skirt, sent her through to the next round. We’ll see if she cleans up her look enough to make a decent showing.
Justin Clark’s audition was not so much notable for his rendition of “Ma Cherie Amour” as his mother’s reaction when he made it on to Hollywood. The poor woman was so excited she nearly fainted.
The night’s star was unquestionably Nadia Turner, who had both the look and the voice down pat. With killer hair and a tasteful outfit, she belted out “Until You Come Back To Me” like a pro, but it was her impeccable style and stage presence that put her over the top. By a unanimous decision, Nadia was on to Hollywood, where she’ll surely make a big splash.
The auditions ended with two questionable calls that both could have quite easily gone the other way.
Ivan Ganchev seemed to be Freddie Mercury reincarnated with his version of “We Are The Champions.” The performance was good, but not great. The judges, however, seemed impressed with Ivan’s ability to mimic Queen’s late lead singer. With only Simon dissenting, Ivan made it to the next round, where he’ll surely get eaten alive by the more talented, better-looking contestants.
Finally, we came to the end of the road for the auditions, and also the end of the road for the Molfetta twin saga. Rich and JP Molfetta auditioned together in New Orleans, where they were turned down. Not to be dissuaded, Richard showed up again in Las Vegas, where he did well enough to make it through to the next round. So, it wasn’t entirely surprising when JP showed up in San Francisco to give it a go on his own. Unfortunately, he fared worse than his brother. With Randy and Simon overruling Paula and Brandi, JP exited the competition for good.
Next week: Hollywood. The competition will be whittled down from 193 contestants to just 12. There’s sure to be plenty of tears, drama, and mayhem–and hopefully some decent singing as well.
Complete recaps of the first seven episodes of “American Idol” Season Four:
- Episode 401/402 – Washington DC Auditions
- Episode 403 – St. Louis Auditions
- Episode 404 – New Orleans Auditions
- Episode 405 – Las Vegas Auditions
- Episode 406 – Cleveland/Orlando Auditions
- Episode 407 – San Francisco Auditions
Coverage of the next round will continue next week.