So last night in part five of eight of FOX’s “American Idol” audition rounds, the scene shifted to Jacksonville, Florida. And the producers of the show decided to have a little fun and give judge Randy Jackson some love due to the name of the city (that’s really a stretch, isn’t it?). They showed Jackson in his days performing with the rock band Journey, and basically paid tribute to him a bit. That’s okay, but still a stretch. Anyway, this city did not seem to have the talent level of other audition rounds, and it was obvious right from the start of the show last night. Here are the highlights and lowlights:


Dana Moreno was shouting a Chaka Khan song, and I do mean shouting. Next! 16 year old Kaneswa had been told her entire life by her mom what a great vocalist she was, but that is always the recipe for failure, isn’t it? Kaneswa sang Anita Baker’s “Caught Up in the Rapture,” complete with some of Anita’s vocal acrobatics. However, for Kaneswa, they were not acrobatics, but more like nasal inflections….Darren Darnell was the life of the party among contestants waiting to audition, so much so that I was thinking he could be the next Ryan Seacrest. But then when his buddy didn’t get a golden ticket, a switch went off and this guy looked depressed and started crying, right up through his own audition, which bombed anyway….A girl named Naomi sang Minnie Ripperton’s “Lovin’ You” and while she may have hit the high falsetto note at the end, it was the only note that was on key. Naomi brought along her friend who was semi-obsessed with Randy Jackson, and the friend got to sit on Randy’s lap. Anyway, Naomi was awful….George Ramirez, an 18 year old who sort of looked like a young Abe Lincoln, was a physics student who just happened to want to give singing a try, but it was more like a low rumble of off-key mess, and as Jackson pointed out, the quietest audition ever….finally, 18 year old Michael Perelli is one of those kids who lives for music and carries his guitar around everywhere, assuming music is his own gift to himself and to the world. Well, he’s not bad but he wasn’t good enough to reach the Hollywood round with his version of Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper.” But the kid kept pleading, which angered Simon Cowell. All well and good, but then Michael was shown being bratty to his family, even saying to his mom, “Don’t touch me!” Ryan Seacrest was like, “Dude, don’t talk to your mom like that.” Pretty funny.


22 year old Josh opened the show and was a Justin Guarini look-alike. Josh sang Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and I thought he was just okay, but the judges were feeling kind and let him through….same with Sharon Wilbur, who brought her dog Sasha and sang Karen Carpenter’s “Superstar” with a smoky, Britney Spears flavor. It wasn’t great, but they let her through to Hollywood too….19 year old Julissa sang a Whitney Houston song and while she did okay, she had a strange laugh that made the judges think twice about putting her through…16 year old Jasmine, who was there with her mom and several older sisters, sang Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and had a huge voice for a young girl. I would keep an eye on her, but not too close of an eye….TK Hash, a 23 year old dude who auditioned last season and did not make it, sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” almost exactly the way David Archuleta did last year, and while it was slightly copycat, there is no denying this kid can sing…..Finally, Ann-Marie had a great voice but lacked some confidence initially. She also had a pretty, but plain jane look. So the judges asked her to leave for a few hours and come back, which she did, with more confidence and a dolled up look, and she did a nice job. I say nice, because neither Ann-Marie nor anyone from Jacksonville appears to be a strong contender, at least not during this early stage of Season 8.

So we’re over the proverbial hump with these audition rounds, which get more stale as the first few weeks roll on. Thankfully, the past three episodes have only been one hour long, but I want them to go a step further…..meaning, I’m not sure they can’t condense these into four shows instead of eight. They can even extend some of the Hollywood rounds, because the last few seasons have had very short Hollywood coverage on TV. Just my two cents. See you tomorrow, as the auditions move to Salt Lake City….