The third audition city for American Idol 4 is New Orleans, one of my favorite places on earth. As I watched the show tonight, I hoped to see some of my favorite street performers auditioning; what a success story that would be. One of my favorite of all times was a man that looked to be in his sixties and had no teeth, but sang the most beautiful version of Sitting On the Dock of the Bay I have ever heard, and took Al Green requests from us. Of course, the hard living conditions for street performers in New Orleans means he was probably only in his forties, yet still way out of the new American Idol age requirements, and Simon would never let in a person that has no teeth. Regardless, the Big Easy is full of characters, and this promises to be an entertaining hour.
We join our judges Simon, Paula and Randy in the Louisiana Superdome, a mere few blocks from where we stayed visiting New Orleans back in November. They are also joined by Gene Simmons, lead singer of KISS. I don’t picture him with white and black makeup on, though; I can’t stop picturing him as the bad guy he portrayed on Third Watch not too long ago. Kudos to Faith for getting rid of that louse.
The first performer up for the evening is David Brown. Asked by Gene why he finds himself here, David says he is following his heart. He sings absolutely beautifully, and is met after with several “Wow”s. Randy says this is the best he has heard in all four Idol seasons. Simon adds “one-hundred percent, yeah,” and Paula says the real ones don’t need to do nothing but sing. Gene makes it unanimous, and David is on his way to Hollywood. Later, Ryan catches up with David at his church. Ryan announces to them that David has just been invited to Hollywood, and the congregation cheers while David tears up.
The next performer up is Bobby Barfoot, who brings with him a card collection of past American Idol performers. He has a slot empty, waiting for his own card to be in there. He starts out … yodeling. All judges shout enthusiastically at the end, “Yeehaw!” Paula is stretching to find something to say, and says he has a good voice. Simon retorts, “Where?” Paula fires back at Simon that he is being rude and they being to argue. Paula says it’s not his voice, but an image problem. He is asked to go behind the screen and sing something more current. He sings Lately and doesn’t sound as good as Paula had hoped. Gene mocks Bobby’s vibrato the whole time, and tells him the yodel has to go. Bobby is sent away, back to his dreams in his card collection, and I wonder if he met anyone this day whose card he will soon put in there.
Up next is Daron Beck who definitely has a unique look with dyed black hair hanging in his face and a suit, and says he wants to change the music industry. He sings Delilah and is quite theatrical. Gene tells him, “You’re killing me; do you have another one?” Daron sings I Put A Spell On You with the same odd theatricalness. Gene is barking after this and says, “No, no, no.” All I can picture with this is David Spade’s commercials. Simon tells Daron he should be wearing ladies underwear and red lipstick in a cabaret. Gene finally tells Daron he is peculiar, and says he himself has spent his career being peculiar, and although it can be a great way to make a living, it is not right for this. I have not ever seen this guy’s act in New Orleans, although I must admit he is very indicative of the types of people you can see performing down there.
Lindsey Cardinale enters and sings Standing Right Next To Me. Gene tells her he likes her a lot, and she made a positive impression. Paula adds a list of adjectives, saying she’s interesting, unique, hypnotic, pure and beautiful. Simon says she is one of the best in so far that day. She obviously makes it through to Hollywood.
Simon asks Robert Solomon, wearing a white t-shirt and red pants if he is a gymnast, and he says no, a projectionist at a 24-plex movie theater. He says he spends a lot of time alone, (No, really?) and has lots of time to work on his singing and reading. He sings Dancing in the Street, and Paula holds up her hand to tell him to stop. He tells her that was an interesting stop motion, reads the writing on the Idol-themed walls, and walks out.
Very tall accountant Sundeep Achreja is up next to sing Eye of the Tiger. Before he starts, we see one of his coworkers saying Sundeep dressed up for Halloween as a punk, then changes her mind to pimp. Are they really that similar, or are they just four-letter words that start with P? He sways before the song to find his beat, then sings very monotone. No one is impressed, and he is dismissed.
Michael Luizza introduces us to Bourbon Street, and says both of his parents used to be street performers, and that was how they met. Asked why he is here, he says he wants to give good love around. He sings Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans. Yes, Michael. I do. He adds he learned this from his grandmother. Gene says he sang that like an old performer from the fifites, sounding much like Rosemary Clooney. (Is that a compliment to a man?) Randy says he was different and unique. Gene votes no. As Paula begins to say he made her feel joyful, Simon cuts her off, and they argue again, with Paula saying Simon is being very obnoxious today. Simon decides to give him another chance, and lets him through to Hollywood. Even though he made it, I am thinking one of the rules should now be men shouldn’t be channeling women performers from the fifties with songs learned from their grandmother.
In a take-off of the movie The Incredibles, Ryan introduces us to the Incomprehensibles. Leading the pack is Leroy Wells. Honestly, I like to consider myself as being good with words, but I have no words for this man. I … just can’t describe it, but will try. He is spontaneously moving around, and can’t stop. A forever pee-pee dance. No one can understand a word he is saying, yet Paula can pick out bits and pieces, like “Shrimp Boat.” Simon asks if they have subtitles on American TV. As he sings, Paula, Gene and Randy clap along. Gene moves over and makes Simon’s hands clap and Randy and Paula dance. Randy tells him when he is done to tell Simon to put Jesus first. He does, and is absolutely hysterical. He shows off his Flav-A-Flav gold teeth,and says his look with them is for TV, without them for Mom and Dad. Simon is cracking himself up imagining what it would be like for Leroy to win Idol and appear on Jay Leno. Finally Paula tells him he is very entertaining and fun … but not for American Idol.
Jeffrey Johnson, who works for a ministry, is up next, and says he is shocked by what he has seen on Bourbon Street. He sings In The Still of the Night. Gene tells him he should sing country, because pop would be a problem with his ministry because of the leading lyrics. The rules are different for country, and he would be allowed to sing songs without that. Paula tells him he needs to find a direction. Simon says yes, Gene says no, and Randy says yes. Welcome to Hollywood, Jeffrey.
It’s time for the twins. The first set is Lamar and Jamar Jefferson. Simon tells them they are very good. Gene says he doesn’t know how to say it, but dons a pair of glasses in the shape of dollar signs. They obviously make it through.
Twins Rich and JP Malfetta are a different story. Randy says they both can sing, but questions why they chose Boyz 2 Men. Gene is more direct, and says they can make girls swoon singing that type of music, but he feels they are becoming too old for that. Paula disagrees, and tells them melodically the Boyz 2 Men is right there. Simon says individually they wouldn’t be interested in them. He asks the two to stand separately, and they get identical marks to how they scored as a team. Paula gets upset with Simon and says he did this for the sport of it. Rich and JP are dismissed, and are very upset after. It sounds as if they intended on signing separately, but were forced to sing together, which is why they feel they didn’t make it.
By the end of the auditions, only sixteen made it through, which is the lowest for any of the audition cities. I have seen far more entertainment and talent in New Orleans. I think they should extend the age limit to sixty year old men, and perhaps Leroy could lend them his gold teeth.
I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com