Finally, we’re getting to the good stuff.
After enduring three weeks of mixed nuts, American Idol 4 is down to just about 200 contenders. This season, there were so many finalists that the first round of solo auditions had to be split over two days. While half of the performers sweated it out in the Orpheum Theater, the other half went on a bus tour of Hollywood. The first group seemed to have it easier, and it must have been nice to get the hard part out of the way before kicking back to relax. Let’s take a look at how the singers stacked up.
Tamesha Foote started off weakly, but found her voice about halfway through her rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” While she may have promised her twin babies that she’d make it all the way, that promise didn’t hold any sway with the judges, who sent Tamesha packing. Post audition, she blamed the pianist for playing in the wrong key. Previous odds: None
Richard Molfetta has gotten plenty of airtime the past few weeks thanks to his and his twin brother J.P.’s repeated auditions, first together, then separately. While the judges were willing to give Rich a chance after his second appearance in the first round, he completely choked in Hollywood, thus closing the book on the Molfetta saga. At least until next year’s auditions. Previous odds: 50:1
Patrick Norman lost the farm boy look that he pioneered in his first appearance, and he also lost any shred of the talent he displayed then. After a lackluster performance, it was a cinch for the judges to send him home. Previous odds: 40:1
Michael Liuzza got a chance to compete when he wowed the judges in New Orleans with his unique style a voice. Unfortunately, Mike could not pull off a repeat victory with an incredibly shaky version of “Unforgettable.” Though the judges didn’t select him for the next round, he took the rejection well enough. Previous odds: 30:1
Regina Brooks was the unqualified recipient of tonight’s most heartbreaking rejection. We were reminded again of how she sold her wedding rings to make it to the first audition, which she passed after some intense scrutiny from the judges. How horrible for her then to flunk out so early in the process. It makes for a good story, but a sad one. Previous odds: 20:1
Brianna Davis was a dark horse in this race. While she has a fantastic voice for show tunes, as she showed in her first audition, her performance of “The Letter” fell flat. Sadly, she and her colorful hair and wardrobe will not be making a return appearance on AI4. Previous odds: 10:1
Scott Savol has a great voice, no question. It’s amazing to hear such an unbelievable sound come from a guy who looks like anything but a pop star. His singing was enough to get him through tonight’s round, but I still have a hard time seeing anyone actually voting for him once the power shifts from the judges to the audience. Clearly, I underestimated Scott with my previous 500:1 odds, but I still think he’s a long shot at a more reasonable 50:1.
Anthony Fedorov is clearly trying to be the next Clay Aiken, and, so far, the judges seem to be buying the act. His performance came across as rather affected tonight, even if it’s clear he does have a decent voice. The fact that he had a tracheotomy and was never expected to speak again still gets him bonus points as well. As he did a tad better tonight than previously, I’m upping his initial odds of 40:1, which may have been a bit harsh, to a more respectable 20:1.
Jaclyn Crumb lacked confidence in her initial audition. Tonight, we only got to see a few seconds of her performance of “Ain’t No Mountain,” so it’s hard to say if she truly has gotten a better grip on things. Based on what we did see, though, it’s a good bet that she has taken her performance up a notch for this round. With the right look and the right voice, she seems like she could do very, very well. Previously, she was a bit of a long shot at 18:1; tonight’s performance gets her at least 15:1 in my book, though we will need to see more of her to know for sure.
Carrie Underwood got off to a rough start with a performance that was just as timid as her first. She managed to let her great voice out enough for the judges to select her for the next round, though. My concern with Carrie at this point is that she doesn’t seem to move around at all when onstage. It is one thing to sing, which she does very well. It’s another to perform. We’ve yet to see a real performance from her, though that’s not to say she doesn’t have it in her. I had previously given her 6:1 odds, but based on questions about her ability to really deliver the whole package, I’m scaling it back to 12:1 after tonight.
Rasheda Johnson was a new face tonight. At first, it seemed she didn’t have a chance, with a horrible cold that wrecked havoc with her voice. Which made it all the more surprising when she stepped up to the mike and delivered a stellar version of “Come To Me.” What made it even more amazing was the fact that she didn’t realize just how well she did. When the judges announced that their decision was unanimous, her face fell, as she was clearly expecting the worst. There was a look of genuine shock on her face when she discovered it was a unanimous yes. This is the first we’ve seen of Rasheda, but based on tonight’s performance alone, I’m giving her 10:1 odds.
Ross Williams continues to make his play for this season’s token crooner, a la last year’s execrable John Stevens. Ross continues to do John one better, though, and he did it again tonight with a solid, if less than inspired performance. If he can stay in it through the judges’ rounds, its a good bet that the same fans who embraced John last season will feel the same way about Ross this time around. Don’t forget, though, that Stevens didn’t make it all that far in the end, which is why I’m keeping Ross’s odds the same at 10:1.
Constantine Maroulis did alright in the first round, but he really kicked butt tonight with a rocking performance of “The Letter.” There’s been some discussion over whether or not Constantine should be allowed to compete, as he seems to be a professional musician with a band, as well as a resume that includes a starring role in the musical “Rent.” But, as he doesn’t have a current recording contract, it would appear he’s fair game. And, based on tonight, he’s got a decent shot at it. I’m upping Constantine’s odds from my previous 20:1 to a respectable 8:1
Anwar Robinson was one of the very first contestants we saw this season, and tonight he continued to make a case for being one of the very best. This music teacher seems to bring a lot to the competition, and right now, he seems a virtual lock to make the top 12 at least. Previous odds of 8:1 still seem fair, but I’ll go out on a limb and move Anwar to 6:1 based on the look we got tonight at his largely less-than-impressive competition.
Nadia Turner was previously my top pick, and I saw nothing tonight to change my mind. She has a distinct style, a great voice, and seems to be quite personable to boot. Her rendition of “Sunshine Of My Life” was excellent all around. Right now, she is the one to watch in this contest. I set her odds at 4:1 initially, and I’ll keep them there for now.
Plenty more contestants were voted through, but I’ll withhold judgment until tomorrow’s group auditions, which, from the previews, look to be a virtual train wreck as egos and expectations clash. Let the drama begin…