Idol Thoughts — 01.26.10

Separated at birth: Sideshow Bob and Chris Golightly

Wow. Who knew Sideshow Bob could sing like that?

Last night’s American Idol auditions were held in Los Angeles, where we met 25-year old Chris Golightly, who delivered a strong version of “Stand By Me,” channeling the original by Sam Cooke. We also learned Chris’s compelling backstory: since age 18-months, he bounced around from foster home to foster home. That he shares a hairstyle with an evil genius on The Simpsons unfortunately went unaddressed and remains a mystery.

Chris got a “yes” from each of the four judges. But Simon Cowell and Katy Perry emphasized that theirs were “yes with a small y.” Katy went as far as to say that Idol isn’t “a Lifetime movie,” as she reluctantly agreed to move Chris on to the next round. Looks like Chris will need to show he’s contemporary and relevant to win over all of the judges.

“You’re going to Hollywood! Which is, uh, ten miles from here.”

And how ’bout that Katy Perry? I’m a big fan. But depending on your point-of-view, as an Idol guest judge she was either a straight shot of music industry truth–or a cynical pro who’s forgotten what it was like breaking into the biz. I say it was a little of both. The guest judge duties were actually split over the two-day audition between Katy and Avril Lavigne, whose approach was similar.

The other big audition came from Andrew Garcia, who’s a kind of Latino Danny Gokey. Andrew gave what was probably the best vocal of the night on Maroon 5‘s, “Sunday Morning.” He’s got a look that stands out (cool glasses). He’s a devoted family guy. And has a backstory that will earn him fans (his parents were gang members who moved to the ‘burbs to give their kids the life they didn’t have).

Others moving on to Hollywood: Jim Ranger, another dad who sang an original song (“Drive”), which almost never impresses the judges, but this time it did; Mary Powers (“Love Is A Battlefield”), who’s edgy voice and looks got punk rock props from Avril, even as Simon suggested she didn’t need the costume; And Tasha Layton, who sounded a lot her idol, Joss Stone–maybe a little too much.

It’s early in the process. But as always, carving out their own identities will be crucial to sticking around.

On the freak show side of the festivities, I gotta bestow a few words upon the following.  Austin Fulmer, who was like Mick Jagger without the swagger. Austin sang Cheap Trick‘s, “Surrender,” and has apparently mastered a dance move that I can only describe as “sitting down jumping jacks.” The judges didn’t go for Austin’s tricks, nor did they surrender. Early in the show, Neil Goldstein sang a Meatloaf song and matched the notoriously glistening Mr. Loaf bead of sweat for bead of sweat. And then there was the mess that is Jason Green, whose long locks, feminine mannerisms, and scary, Broadway take on the Divynals, “I Touch Myself,” made Katy feel “dirty” and Simon “uncomfortable.” I gotta a feeling if Katy kissed this guy–she’d still be kissing a girl.

That’s what me thinks this morning. Your thoughts?

Greg Valentine
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