Californians line up next to try to make the cut on American Idol. Olivia Newton John is the guest judge, as she was on Sunday on Grease: You're the One That I Want [exclamation point implied].
Contestant No. 1 is Martik Manoukian, aka Eccentric? He compares himself to a panther, which isn't really that endearing in a grown-up. He says he is "the most exciting entertainer on planet Earth." OK, then. Bring it on, dude. He does a totally choreographed entrance, removes his shirt, and crawls like a panther up to the judges. Then he dances and wanders around the room. He says he is going to sing "The Sweetest Princess by Eccentric." It is ... it is bad. "What the hell was that?" Simon asks. OMG, he has "panther scratches" on his chest. "Noooooo waaaay," intones Randy. It's a no.
Sholandric Stallworth wants to bring back romance and love. And a bad ponytail. And being over the age limit. (Sorry, I have been seeing a little too much of Simon lately.) He shouts the lyrics to "If Ever You're in My Arms Again," which Randy, Paula and Olivia probably don't love as much as they did before he started. It's a no.
Montage of bad and weird.
Marianna Riccio is the daughter of one of Dean Martin's "Gold Diggers." She thinks her family background is going to help her out. She sings "Should I Stay or Should I Go." Simon: "Well, we know the answer to that one." Then he says she sounds like Cher after she's gone to the dentist. She gets on her knees and begs. Because that always works. It's a no. She cries. Her mom goes back in and tells them she really is good enough. Hellooooo, stage mommy. Paula tries to make them go away by telling them how beautiful they are. Simon and Randy talk about how hot and foxy her mom is.
As opposed to Birmingham, where (most) everyone said thanks and left if it was a no, in L.A. we get a montage of people refusing to take no for an answer.
Alaina Alexander is a struggling Los Angeles performer and she had been considering giving up, but is giving it her last shot. She sings "Feelin' Good" by Michael Buble. Simon stops her to tell her it was "really, really, really great." Randy says she was pitchy all over the place. But he says yes, so does Olivia and everyone else. She makes it. They like her.
Phuong Pham things she has a lot in common with Taylor Hicks. She says she told her mom she was going to try out, and her mom sat her down and told her she wasn't "TV pretty." Ow. But, her mom is coming around, she says. She flails around in a way she thinks is like Taylor, but it looks pretty dang affected on her, and her voice is all over, too. "Honestly, I don't think this is for you," Simon says. It's a no.
Background singer (including for Anastasia and Christina Aguilera) Brandon Rogers wants to make it on his own. He sings "Always on My Mind," and let's just say experience goes a long way. He's good, people. (However, I guess being a background singer doesn't preclude him from being an amateur? I wondered that about the session musician from a couple of weeks ago, too.) Simon: "I think out of everyone we've seen today, this is by far the best audition." Olivia: "I felt you in my heart." It's a yes!
Sherman Moore is clearly outside the age limit, but shows off a petition to get on the show. We'll be back to Pore later.
Brandon Miller, who made it to Hollywood last year, is up next. He sings "A Change is Gonna Come." Simon says he's forgettable. He asks if he was better since last year, and Simon (duh) says he can't remember. Randy, Olivia and Paula say yes. Simon says no, but he goes anyway.
Sherman Pore is next. His "lady love" of 20 years was helped him petition to get on the show, but she recently passed away. They let him sing (although clearly he isn't going to make it through). He sings, in honor of his "lady love," "You Belong to Me." (Yes, I teared up, too.) He gets a lot of clapping, and handshakes and hugs. He says he is a winner.
Twenty-one from the first day made the cut.
Day 2, Randy says a winner could come from L.A.
Ever-making-out couple Cavett Carr (aka Sparkles) and Darold Gray are from Compton, Calif., and they met at the bus stop. They love each other. But can they sing? Well, she can't. She also can't flirt. But she did make Simon nervous. Darold is told that Sparkles flirted with him. He says he isn't jealous. He sings "I Wish It Would Rain." It's yet another occasion when singing is not the right verb. It's another no. But they still love each other.
Short clip of a guy who sings horribly and then when Simon says not a note was in tune, he agrees, smiles and leaves.
Next is a kind of odd guy named Eric Mueller has been preparing for two years learning to sing. But he sounds like a cartoon character. Simon says: "THAT is not serious." He says it is. He tries to sing lower. I think he should have spent two years getting training instead of training himself. Or possibly doing anything else. It's a no. He leaves, but then Simon spots that he had been training himself with the DVD "Sing Like the Stars!!" which features Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. Ha! Simon calls him back in then goes out to talk to him, and Randy and Paula try to talk to keep Simon from asking about the DVD and succeeds.
Nineteen hopefuls from day 2 made it through, of whom they showed us exactly zero. So that's an even 40 from L.A.
Next week: San Antonio.