"American Idol": Episode Five of Season Nine: Los Angeles Auditions

1/27/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes

The second judge of one of the final audition episodes posed two important questions that I have been asking myself since day one, the first being “Are they frisked?” in reference to some of the nuttier contestants. When she asked that question, Katy Perry’s candid honesty propelled her to the rank of one of my favorite judges of the season. Although she claimed she’d be giving relevant criticism, I feel that was largely edited out in favor of showing her priceless reactions and witty, if not tough, commentary. Katy Perry had good reason to ask such a question, because while there have been plenty of over-the-top auditions throughout Season 9, they seemed to be out in droves in Los Angeles. This season in particular, I’ve found myself questioning whether security in these auditions is up to par, because it’s a genuine concern that a contestant or two can pose a security risk.

In a city where everyone is either an entertainer or attempting to become one, I wasn’t too surprised to see plenty of theatrics in the auditions. Nor was I surprised to see Adam Lambert clones, perhaps most exemplified in AJ Mendoza’s weak audition. In trying way too hard to look like and sound like Adam, AJ fell short, coming off more as the poor man’s Adam Lambert rather than an actual contender.

Mary Powers was my top female of the night. While Simon considered her outfit to be cliché, her strong, raspy voice and rocker edge gives her an appeal that many contestants, especially many female contestants, are lacking in this competition. I found her to be talented and enjoyable, and I especially liked her 8-year-old daughter who loves Simon because of his rampant cynicism.

My favorite male contestant of the night, and one of my favorite contestants to be featured thus far, if not my very favorite, was Andrew Garcia. He had one of those very likable "American Idol" back stories-- growing up in Compton, where most of his friends and family wound up joining gangs at a young age, Andrew turned to music to keep him out of a dangerous lifestyle. I tend to grow cynical to these stories, and sit through packages hoping that these contestants have true talent. Andrew did. Singing a near perfect rendition of a Maroon 5 song, Andrew became someone I fully expect to see in the Top 12, and quite honestly, is also someone I can see myself voting for.

This brings me to Katy Perry’s second key reflection--“This is not a Lifetime movie.” One thing I love about "American Idol" is that it gives anyone a chance to make their dreams a reality. In this one competition, becoming a viable musician is not based on who you know or how much you can spend on demo production, but the talent of your voice. But sometimes, the stories become a bit much. I don’t want to support a contestant I pity.  Instead, I want to support a contestant because I feel they are the most talented undiscovered voice in this country.

That being said, two more contestants to keep a close eye on in Hollywood week are Chris Golightly and Tasha Layton. Chris is a former foster child, and I firmly believe that he is more talented than the judges gave him credit for, even though he totally reminds me of Justin Guarini. Tasha is a personal assistant by day and minister by night with an impeccable style and really great voice.

Choosing my favorite over-the-top performance of the night is a much more difficult choice given the larger pool of candidates. Ultimately, I think Jason Greene, who admitted his belief in magic, before singing “I Touch Myself,” flirting with Simon, and handing his phone number to Ryan Seacrest on an Orbits gum packet was the highlight of the night. Everything about him was excessive and laughable. I also appreciated Neil Goldstein, the first audition of the night, who cited an exceptionally high IQ, who was arrogant, obnoxious and completely untalented.

While I found Katy Perry to be a strong choice as a judge, I found Avril Lavigne to be completely terrible. For starters, how is anyone supposed to take her seriously while wearing a hooded sweatshirt with horns on it? Moreover, she provided no constructive criticism and didn’t contribute to any conversation in a positive way. I was stunned to find out she’d be a judge, if only because I never thought judging a singing competition would ever be a logical place for Avril Lavigne to wind up.

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