I went to a party tonight in which the public relations coordinator promised celebs. There were none (unless you count the singer Monica) before I left at 9 p.m.
Anyway, Jacksonville was not quite as entertaining as Louisville but was far better than San Francisco. And it was slightly less fruitful too with 16 total tickets to Hollywood. We heard only six of them and none of them looks like the next Kelly Clarkson — yet. After five cities, we have 100 people through, a bit fewer than typical. We’ve seen 45 of them so far. (Mike S counted 44. I may have miscounted somewhere.)
First up: Joshua Ulloa from Beverly Hills, Fla. has a great voice but throws in silly sound effects a la Blake Lewis with more personality. I actually like this guy. He’s like Dustin Diamond meets Justin Guarini. Simon said it was “gimmicky and corny, like out of Inspector Gadget.” “I like the crazy and wild. At least it was entertaining,” Randy said. He’s on his way!
Jacksonville’s Sharon Wilbur brought along a prop – Sasha, the shih-tzu. She’s very affected doing “Superstar.” I don’t like her at all. No heart. Simon says yes. So does Randy. “I like your tone,” Randy said. I have no clue why she got through. Maybe it was the dog. Or Kara and Paula fake kissing?
After Ryan gets lost in a golf cart, we get Dana Moreno, who kills Chaka Khan. Kaneswa Finnie obliterates Anita Baker. Jelissa Veloz, a beauty queen, is surprisingly good doing Whitney. “You didn’t actually make the song sound nice,” Simon said. It did lack a level of warmth or something. I also felt like Kara did, that we were waiting for her to hit a really bad note.
Darin Darnell, from Houston, is overcome with emotion and sucks, too.
Naomi Sykes pops up with her best friend Samantha. Samantha gets to sit on Randy’s lap. Paula sits on Simon’s lap. Ryan sits on Kara’s lap and bounces him. Eeeww. “The bizarre season continues,” Randy said. Naomi Sykes from Tampa tries Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin’ You” and ruins it in an amusing way. “Everyone tells me I’m great,” she said. She isn’t. The party is over.
Day one is over and nine contestants made it through. The judges weren’t deeply impressed.
Sixteen year old Jasmine Murray of Starksville, Miss. is beautiful and is pretty good, if a bit nasally. “Cute, commercial and a very good singer,” Simon said. She’s in.
George Ramirez, the oddly bearded 18 year old physics student from Jacksonvilile, is singing… something. It’s Monotone Idol! I can’t even recognize the song. My girlfriend ID’d it as “Walking on Sunshine.” Sheesh.
T.K. Hash from Concord, N.C. does a soulful take on “Imagine.” He’s darn good. I really like him. “You sound even better this year,” said Paula, who remembers him from last year, when he didn’t make it through. “It was too over the top, too many runs,’ Randy said. Simon says no but three say yes.
Michael Perrelli is a man who loves his guitar but was bummed he couldn’t use it for his audition. He panics a bit. He goes guitar-less doing Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper.” He’s decent, a bit nervous. “You’re quite interesting but your voice isn’t,” Simon said. “I think you’d struggle within the parameters of this competition.” I would tend to agree. But I’d give him a shot. The judges don’t. Oh, well.
Anne Marie Boskovich from Nashville, the judges felt, lacked star quality the first time around. So she did a minor makeover and did “Bubbly.” She’s a quality singer. “I love the whole vibe, the way you twist the notes,” Randy said. She’s through!