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American Idol, January 23rd – Sundance, Not Only a Film Festival

Still without any signs of talent in Memphis, Alexis Partee walks in. And she, too, isn’t understood by Simon. She wants to sing Square Biz by Teena Marie. She wasn’t that hard to understand, so I think Simon just didn’t know the song. That’s okay, as I didn’t either. While she sings, she takes her sweater off, dropping it down to her lower arms. Paula mockingly dances in her seat, and Randy tells Alexis no, as it was “a little strange” for him.

Ryan tells us that there in Memphis, home of the blues, they met somebody that embodied that whole persona. Jason “Sundance” Head, 27, from Porter, Texas, says he’s not sure where his unique name comes from, but his dad named him, and his parents were hippies. He adds it was hell growing up with it. Another thing his dad gave him was talent. His dad is Roy Head, who in 1965 had the #1 song in the country, until the Beatles knocked him off that spot. Ryan asks Sundance is he puts a little pressue on himself to run with success in music because of what his dad did. He says if his dad is watching, he’s a much better singer, but his dad is a dancing fool, and he doesn’t have moves. Sundance has been on stage since he can remember, and expected to be famous before he graduated high school, so didn’t put much into that, although he wishes he could do that again. He doesn’t think the judges are prepared for someone like him to walk in.

Telling the judges his name is Sundance, Simon says there’s no place to really go after that. When asked why it says in his notes that it’s a lucky year for him, he says he got married to his wife that he’s been with for seven years, he has a baby due on Christmas day, and made it to American Idol. Simon cracks that’s one out of three. Sundance sings Stormy Monday by Bobby Blue Bland, and it’s the first time I’ve had chills this audition season. After, Simon just says, “Wow,” and Paula tells Sundance he has a powerful voice, and she didn’t expect it. Randy points out the obvious, that they’re in Memphis, and Sundance comes in singing the blues, and he blew it out. He thinks Sundance is amazing, and Simon believes this is one of the best voices heard in this audition tour this year. Randy votes one hundred million yes, as Sundance is the bomb, Paula calls it a great audition and great voice, and Simon says he’ll be amazed if Sundance doesn’t make it to the finals. Wow, high praise from Simon. As Sundance walks out, Randy says again, “Wow, that guy can sing,” and Simon comments he, “blew Taylor out of the park.” Wow.

After being pleasantly surprised with Sundance, Ryan further excites us talking about the legends to come from Memphis – Al Green, BB King Elvis Presley – so when he mentions the next Memphis product, Wandera Hitchye, 23, he gets us all pumped up. She sings Change Is Gonna Come, and I’m immediately struck thinking she likes circles, as she’s wearing circles for earrings and a necklace with several circles, all of different sizes. Paula tells her when she’s done that she’s a good singer, but nothing special. Randy agrees that there’s nothing special here to take her to the next level. Wandera pleads for one more chance, but Simon says refuses, saying, “No, Sweetheart; I got the measure.” I’m not sure exactly what he means, but Wandera walks out crying, rips off her number, and swears at the camera operator to get it out of her face. Good, but no Green, King, or Presley.

Another Memphis product, Travis McKinney, 22, says he wants to do a song for his girlfriend, as they’ve had problems in the past, but they’re okay now. He says singing this song, there will just be so much emotion in the room, and he hates doing songs that make him emotional. But he’s going to bring emotion to American Idol for the first time, by himself. As I’m running to get the box of Kleenex, just to prepare myself for this momentous burst of emotion, Travis walks into his audition, and does some whacky dance that makes even the judges jump back. Watching him sing, he definitely has emotion in it, but I can’t say the same for his singing. Simon just says, “Woah.” Randy tells him, “It’s a no, Man,” and also tells him he’s crazy and that it was wild. Travis offers to sing something else, and Simon tells him it’s a “no, no, no,” it’s a “bye, bye, bye.” Travis says he put as much emotion into it as he could, and he doesn’t care if they didn’t like it. You keep telling yourself that.

Danielle McCullouch, 18, of Collierville, Tennessee, has a goal for the day, and that’s to make the judges smile and have a good time, both her and the judges. She wants to make them see things she knows are thre. Singing Baby I Love You, by Aretha Franklin, she is definitely a good performer. Paula tells her it was very nice, and said she has an old soul. Randy says he wasn’t blown away, and didn’t think it was amazing. Simon says he knows what Randy is saying, but also liked the blues sound Danielle had. Randy votes no, believing Danielle would be gone on the first day, the first minute, and Paula tells him that was harsh. She disagrees, and says yes. Simon says he will have to agree with … pausing for effect … Paula. Randy issues a warning to her as she walks out the door to come to Hollywood and “prove the Dawg wrong.”

As day two in Memphis begins, everyone is ready to start, but can’t find Paula. Simon gets on the phone, but she’s tied up downstairs, hugging seemingly everyone downstairs waiting to try out. I’m not sure if one of those was Christopher McCain, 20, of Kennesaw, Georgia, but he’s hoping it will be later. He’s really stoked to meet Paula, because she’s so hot. His wife left him recently, and that was after he found her messing around and forgave her, only for her to decide to keep doing it. He thinks she’ll be jealous when he’s named the next American Idol. He won’t take her back, though, as he wants to be with people that will stick with him in the low spots. He wants Paula to know he saw that Dr. Phil episode, and thinks he’s her answer.

Once Christopher is in to see the judges, he says he thinks he can be the next American Idol, because he has the drive, determination, and moves. Simon notes it says in his notes that his wife left him, and asks why. Christopher calls her something nasty, and Randy tells him there’s plenty of other women out there, pointing to Paula. Simon says he’d stay single. Christopher sings Footloose by Kenny Loggins, and includes the musical interludes of the song by dancing silently. Simon says he’s tempted to ask if Christopher sang that the night before his wife left, and Randy advises him not to. Simon changes it up, and compares the audition to one of those weddings where someone gets drunk up on stage, sings Footlloose, then falls off the stage. Randy agrees it was bad karaoke. Christopher says that’s okay, as he’ll still love the show, and Simon points out he got to call his wife whatever nasty thing it was was on national TV. Walking out, Christopher promises to go drink, do karaoke, and fall off the stage tonight.


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