Reviews of the first Paula-less American Idol seem to be mixed. Some really missed her presence, some thought it improved the show, and some really astute people realized that Paula wasn’t always there for the auditions anyway, meaning we won’t really be able to reach a proper verdict until Hollywood and later. Let’s see what tonight brings with guest judge Mary J. Blige, who joins Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardi in Atlanta. Auditioners have to ride the elevator to their audition, similar to the way the semi-finalists are announced at the end of Hollywood week.
The first contestant, Dewone Robinson, 27, a sales associate, Atlanta, is feeling confident, saying music is in his blood. His great uncle Clyde discovered Gladys Knight and the Pips, and and another kinfolk of his is Motown Bobby who played the drums. This isn’t going to go well, is it? He makes up songs and says it comes natural to him. From his dancing, I think I’m right that it won’t go well, as he’s no Pip.
Dewone sings one of his own compositions, and music is not in his blood. He sings falsetto, then switches to a baritone. It’s odd. Everone is laughing. Simon asks if it was written as a duet, and Dewone admits he was singing two different parts. Simon tells him he can honestly say it was one of the worst original songs he’s ever heard. He blames his failure on Simon asking what it’s called, then breaks out into some Rick James. Simon gives him an experiment, saying he won’t interrupt him at all, and after Dewone sings his original song uninterrupted, Simon tells him the resulting effort is even worse. He keeps singing his original song in the elevator on the way down.
Keia Johnson, 26, a marketing representative, Memphis, has a very sunny disposition and even sunnier yellow pants. She won Miss Congeniality in the Miss America pageant. Simon thinks he’d rather have an award that says he’s good-looking. And frankly, he would win that before he won a congeniality award. Kara tells her she’s beautiful and should have won.
With a singing voice that is just as sunny, Keia sings My Heart Goes On. Mary says vocally, she can sing. Randy likes the way she closes some of the phrases, and Kara can see how she won that contest, as her personality really comes across when she performs. She’s very genuine, and she’s nice to look at when she’s performing. Simon likes her, but imagines her standing in line and getting the part in Oklahoma. Mary points out again it’s the way she ends things. She very easily gets four yeses, and she’s our first Atlanta contestant to go to Hollywood.
Miriam Lemnouni, 25, Equestrian Trainer, Atlanta, is beautiful and has a voice to match. Noel Reese, 16, of Sophia, NC, sings a little Whitney Houston, and has a powerful voice for someone her age. Tisha Holland, 18, a hostess, Riverdale, GA, has some great control, and Kara thinks she’s the best they’ve heard all day. All three get through to Hollywood.
Jermaine Sellers, 26, Joliet, IL, is a church singer. He’s wanted this his whole life, so his mom told him to just go out and do it. She has spina bifida, and he’s been taking care of her since he was 17. If he makes it to Hollywood, he’ll be proving to himself that he can sing. He’s going to sing What if God Was One of Us, which Kara calls a great song. Both she and Mary seem to really get into it. So far, this is my favorite of the two days. Kara calls it a great interpretation of the song and is happy that he picked something he felt. Randy agrees this is the best vocal they’ve seen in all the cities so far. Mary calls it incredible with so much control and anointed. Four definite yeses and he’s in.
Christy Marie Agronow, 25, Atlanta, is a TV show hostess and producer of 411, The Show, and she does the numbers with her hands, then a scooping thing with her hand, and she actually thinks it’s cool. She says, “If the key to success it to do you, then this is doing her.” Okee. As she explains her show, Randy compares her to a walking commercial.
As Christy sings Pat Benatar, I have to ask how someone that’s in entertainment can not realize she doesn’t sing all that well. She’s way too overly dramatic as well, but that’s not so much a surprise. Afterwards, Christy says this is her battlefield today, as this is her passion. She wants to go to Hollywood. Simon tells her based on that song she won’t be. Kara tells her they have their own 411 for her, and think it should be 911 instead. This is not what she should choose for her career. Christy’s mom tells Ryan she thinks she’ll have a golden ticket. Suddenly Christy appears out of the elevator and isn’t very happy.
The last person of the day is Vanessa Wolfe, 19, a fast food associate, of Vonore, TN, who likes to jump off bridges, saying the higher the better. She figures her hometown is the probably the smallest town in Tennessee, and her mom lives right down the road. She feels stuck there, and that’s not hard to figure. She’s wearing a dress she got for $4.50 at the dollar store in Smyrna. She’s nervous and doesn’t want anyone to look down on her.
Vanessa sings a little nasally, but has some musicality and does have something they can work with. Her mom is outside waiting for her and admits to having butterflies for her. Kara tells her she’s better than she thought she was going to be, and she thinks Vanessa is very authentic to country music. Simon likes her, but thinks she’s incredibly ill-prepared. yet when she’s good, she’s really good. She stands out in a crowd, and he, too, finds her authentic. She tells him if she didn’t have a dress on, she’d throw him a backflip. She gets four yeses and starts to cry, then starts screaming and says her mom is going to have a heart attack. Simon makes her promise to practice and start believing in herself. She tells Ryan she’s going to go to Hollywood and ride on an air-o-plane, as she’s never been before. I bet she’s never had calamari either.