If there's a sadder commentary on the state of celeb-obsessed, endlessly validated American youth than the deranged Sarah Goldberg, I have had the good fortune to avoid it thus far. You'll remember her as the 20-year-old New York City auditioner in the pink cowboy hat who butchered the Selena song. When asked by celebrity judge (and Joan Collins look-alike) Carole Bayer Sager if she thought she could sing, Goldberg said no. But to her that wasn't the point. She was special, she believed, and thus should be taught to sing and then handed the crown as American Idol. Strangely, the judges jeered this seemingly sensible proposal, at which point Goldberg went into a borderline psychotic tirade. I've seen two-year-olds handle rejection with more aplomb.
But hell, it made for great TV, as did the rest of this week's loser parade, which can be divided into people you laughed at and people you were touched by. In the former camp, there was the effete, talentless Bronx-bred Ian Bernardo and his bigoted blasts at Simon's Britishness and the soap opera exhortations of the thrice-rejected Ashanti Johnson. In the latter, there was the resolutely cheerful fireplug Nakia Claiborne, whose "Sometimes you just get tired of hearing people say 'no'" was one of the saddest things we've ever heard on TV. (As was the well-justified tantrum from Wandera Hitchye, whose "A Change is Gonna Come" really should have put her through to Hollywood.) And in the little of both category there was chubby, pathetic Topher McCain and his pitiful visions of vengeance on his cheating ex-wife. Yeah, that
Everybody plays the fool, dude, but most of us have the good sense not to do it in front of a panel of judges on national TV.
As for the so-called "Golden Ticket" crowd, a couple of strong contenders emerged, not the least of them Sundance Head, the son of local soul shouter Roy Head, both of whom have sung here in the last year or so at the Continental Club. Sundance's look might be chic up in Porter, but it could use some work now that he's famous. At any rate, his version of "Stormy Monday" was utterly flawless, as were the Stevie Wonder stylings of Nashville area backup singer Melinda Doolittle. Both her and Head are top 12 bound, barring meltdowns.
Also, we wouldn't be surprised to see Jenry Bejarano (the black teenager adopted by the Bolivian family), Chris "Lil' Timberlake" Richardson, Nicholas "The Quitter" Pedro, and that schizoid opera girl who sometimes sounds like Fiona Apple around for awhile. And Antonella Barba, the darker of the two Joizy Italian girls, is one of the prettiest contestants of the show's whole run, and she can sing, too.
So here's my early line on (part of) the Top 12. I'll flesh these predictions out as the early auditions approach their close:
1. Sundance Head
2. Melinda Doolittle
3. Sanjaya Malakar
4. Sarah Krueger
5. Jordin Sparks
6. Jenry Bejarano
-- John Nova Lomax