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American Idol, January 24th – The Return

Sarah tells Ryan she just wants to show her dad she can do this, and Ryan gives her a phone to call her dad, Bob. Putting it on speakerphone, Sarah tells him to please don’t be mad at her, and he asks who it is, and she tells him Sarah. How can he not know it’s his daughter on the phone? She says she didn’t go to school today or yesterday, and she’s not at Rachel’s. She’s in New York and showed up for American Idol. She’s going to Hollywood, so please don’t be mad at her. He says he’s not mad, and that’s great. Ryan tells him he should be very proud of his beautiful girl. Bob says as long as she gets home safe. Sarah tells her dad she love shim, and he says he loves her, too. Ryan hugs her, and she walks out to celebrate getting a golden ticket with no one out there waiting for her. Honestly, it’s hours after I watched the show, and I’m still sitting here crying typing this up. It just gets you right “here.” Strangely, it’s helping my mood.

I’m not quite sure why Ryan introduces the next contestant this way, because as far as I see it, their only common trait is their Greek heritage. Nonetheless, Fania Tsakalakos, 26, from Astoria, NY is introduced to us as the female counterpart to Constantine Maroulis. She’s originally from Athens, Greece, but moved to New Jersey. She was invited to do a show that was like “American Idol but in Greece, and ended up doing background dancing for them in her concerts. Others heard her singing, and told her she should be singing on the stage.

Carole asks in the audition why Fania thinks she’s going to Hollywood, and Fania says she’s looking to come up with a more ethnic melodic pop rock sound. Simon says, he doesn’t want to be rude, but wants to hear a song. Fania sings Africa by Tota, a shocking song for anyone to do, let alone Fania. She’s told to stop, but keeps going, and Simon tells her it was appalling, everthing about it. He’s surprised she came in and said she was a dancer, as when she was dancing it didn’t look too good. Paula says she’s never seen him dance, and he shoots back he didn’t say he was a dancer. Fania thanks them and politely leaves. I feel bad for her, which puts my mood back in the dumper.

Ashanti Johnson, 28, from Cambria Heights, New York, has auditioned before for American Idol, and made it to Hollywood twice. Randy notices she’s back, and asks what she’s been doing, and she replies singing, working out, and eating more than she’s ever eaten before. She’s eating six times a day, including proteing and veggies. To steal a line from Simon, “Whoopee.” She sings Lovin’ You by Minnie Ripperton, and sounds like she is trying way too hard. Simon tells her he thinks it was very old-fashioned, cabaret, and affected. Ashanti asks if he wants to see more energy, and he says it’s not a question of that, it’s just her. Randy tells her she is that kind of old R&B singer. It’s who she is. She asks if she engaged them, yet Paula moves on passing on her, and Randy does the same, although he addds she looks amazing. Carole passes but thinks she should look to Broadway.

When Simon says no as well, that’s when Ashanti turns totally desperate. She tells him he doesn’t understand, and he says he does. She says she has fought so hard for this, and he points out she’s already taken two spots in Hollywood and didn’t make it then. She asks about her tonation and pitch, and asks what they’re looking for from her. Ryan announces “These are the days of our Idols,” and we get the full-out soap story from Ashanti. Forgive me for not catching every word of it, but I would have had to hit instant replay too many times, and at some point, it just wasn’t worth it anymore. Yet she said she has waited, struggled, and worked harder than anybody out there. She fought harder then she ever thought she was capable of fighting. She feels in the depth of her soul that they don’t have this right. If America could just get their chance, as that’s the one thing they haven’t given her yet. Simon points out to his side are three Americans, and they’re saying no. Finally walking out, she tells Carole it was a pleasure to meet her, and starts in again, but Simon cuts her off, saying she wasn’t good enough today. Get over it.

Ryan tells us this is the city that never sleeps, yet he shows us clips of auditioners sleeping outside, inside, on the ropes, and in sleeping bags. Inside, the judges are yawning, and Ryan says they need someone to get excited about. Yes, I agree. I’m falling asleep here, due to Ashanti going on and on and on.

So in walks two best friends, Amanda Coluccio, 19, of Holmdel, New Jersey, and Antonella Barba, 19, of Point Pleasant, New Jersey. They argue about who’s the best singer, and say they’ve been best friends ever since Sophomore year. They like to go to the beach together, go shopping, pick out clothes for each other. And one likes water, while they other doesn’t. Yet, I think, that’s just an excuse to show them in bikinis at the beach. They think it would be cool if two people were the Idol this year. Yeah, that’ll happen.

Amanda goes in to audition first, and when she says she’s there with her best friend, she’s asked to invite Antonella in. Looking at the two very gorgeous girls, Simon says, “God, I bet you’re popular.” Asked who they think is best, Antonella says Amanda, because she’s trained, yet Amanda says that doesn’t make a difference, as they both have different strengths. They start off with a duet that is awful, and Simon says he thought it was a bit of a mess, and advises them not to do this together.

While Antonella sits in a chair on the side, Amanda sings Crazy by Patsy Cline, and does pretty well. Randy agrees she sounded pretty good and her voice is good, but Simon says she didn’t come in and stamp her foot and say this is who I am. Paula point out she can still sing, even if she didn’t come in and give her best audition, and she should still go on. Simon says this is one where he genuinely couldn’t care one way or another, so he’ll just say yes. Carol says yes as well, wanting to see what will happen next with her, and Randy agrees her good voice is worth another shot. She’s going to Hollywood, and on her way out, stops to hug her best friend.


Freelance entertainment and tech writer, editor