Bikini Girl has no clothes
She created big drama at her audition by showing up in a two-piece and clashing with Kara over who did a better cover of ”Vision of Love.” So it was not a huge surprise then, when Bikini Girl* turned out to be a less-than-cooperative presence during the group-performance phase of Hell Week. Citing back problems, the controversial trollop hid under the comforter in her hotel bedroom and threatened not to perform, much to the chagrin of her teammates, Lauren Barnes (pictured, yellow dress), hippie chick Rose Flack (orange sweater), and eventual finalist Jasmine Murray (red blouse). In the end, though, Bikini Girl couldn’t resist the spotlight, taking the stage in a shoulder-less ensemble that was not quite distracting enough to prevent the judges from noticing her woeful rendition of Duffy’s ”Mercy.” And just like that, a fameosexual’s ”journey” came to a sputtering end.
* Not her real name, but does that matter?
‘White Chocolate’ is sweet
Sometimes, Hollywood Week’s seemingly insignificant moments turn out to have major ramifications later in the season. Take the boppy, well-harmonized performance of ”I Want You Back” by a group that dubbed themselves ”White Chocolate.” Two members of the quartet, Kris Allen and Matt Giraud, would go on to respective first- and fifth-place finishes, while eventual evictee Justin Williams recently returned to our TV screens with a much-hyped season 9 audition. White Chocolate’s lone female member, India Morrison, is still flying under-the-radar, but given the success of her cohorts, perhaps it’s just a matter of time before she makes good, too?
The rise and fall of Josiah Leming
Viewers knew him from auditions as the emotional Tennessee teen who’d been living in his car. But after rocking Mika’s ”Grace Kelly,” Josiah’s self-destruct button went off. Working on less than two hours of sleep, Josiah breezily dismissed the band and offered a croaky, creaky ”Stand By Me,” then irritated Simon by insisting it had taken ”a hell of a lot of guts” to go a capella. Perhaps it was his inconsistency, or maybe his emotional instability, but when the field narrowed to 24, the kid missed the cut. Cue sad background music. Cue encouraging platitudes from Ryan. And cue Josiah’s uncontrollable sobbing. Welcome to ”Hell Week”!
Battle of the Blondes (AKA The One Where Simon Loses)
On Idol, you’re more likely to find Ryan sans hair product than see Simon fight on a contestant’s behalf but lose out to the remaining judges. Yet that’s exactly how it went down during a sing-off between Jenn Korbee and Kristen McNamara for a spot in the season 8 semifinals. The cranky British judge argued that the ”very attractive blonde girl” (Jenn) should beat out streaky-haired Kristen, even though the former’s ”Not Ready to Make Nice” paled in comparison to her rival’s unique, powerful twist on ”I Will Always Love You.” Fortunately, Paula, Kara, and Randy saw Kristen’s beauty — both physical and vocal — and while she only managed one semifinal performance before getting ousted, it turned out to be a memorable twist on Tracy Chapman’s ”Give Me One Reason” that’s still fun to play back almost a year later.
Frenchie and Kimberley’s ”Gold”-medal duet
Anyone who wondered why Frenchie Davis and eventual third-place finisher Kimberley Locke performed as a duo — instead of the usual Hollywood Week quartet or trio — got a pre-performance run-down from Locke: ”Frenchie has a big voice. I have a big voice. It’s not that [the other female contestants] didn’t want to sing the song, or that the song was in the wrong key, they just didn’t want to sing the song with us.” But really, no explanation was needed after seeing the sexy soul sisters in action: Their red-hot take on ”Band of Gold” came with shimmying choreography and pitch-perfect backing support. Hello, make that a double!
Watch the legendary ”Band of Gold” duet here.
You can’t spell Team Compromise without an f-bomb
Take three melodramatic Idol wannabes, add some sleep deprivation and a high-pressure group performance, and you’ve got the recipe for expletive-spewing, trumped-up, reality-show drama. Indeed, that was the case when the self-dubbed ”Team Compromise” — Kristen McNamara, Nathaniel Marshall, and Nancy Wilson — butted heads over their rehearsal schedule for and execution of Duffy’s ”Mercy.” In the end, Kristen and Nathaniel survived the judges’ cuts, but caterwauling Nancy got booted, which led her to deliver a few more sour notes — ”bleep,” ”bleep,” and ”bleepity-bleep” — in Kristen’s direction.
Baylie Brown’s memory lapse
Simon called her ”Commercial with a capital C” during her audition, but after Baylie Brown completely whiffed on the lyrics to ”This Old Heart of Mine” — her pretty smile failing to disguise the fact that not a single word was emerging from her mouth — she went from the top of the season 6 charts straight into the bargain bin. Add a nasty feud with her mean-girl singing partners, atrocious Amanda Coluccio and eventual semifinalist Antonella ”photo scandal” Barba, in which the former attributed Baylie’s downfall to the fact that ”God likes good people,” and you had a plotline every bit as riveting as a scripted soap.
The Littlest Cowboy’s big-city sojourn
He came from a four-person town in Wyoming, and because of his slight size, his wide-eyed demeanor, and his flair for Western wear, Garet Layne Johnson scored a trip to California from softie judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. Unfortunately, once he got there, ”The Littlest Cowboy” and his singing comrades (hunky Matthew Buckstein and affable Michael Evans) received a ”ghastly” review from Simon for their group rendition of ”Do Wah Diddy Diddy,” and their story got packaged in a mock movie trailer called ”Brokenote Idol.” Yet all was not lost: Thanks to a sweet display of post-elimination kindness toward one another, Johnson, Buckstein, and Evans won over the Idol audience — and apparently the show’s producers — resulting in a return engagement at the season 5 finale.
The bursting of Aa’shia Jackson’s balloon
Sometimes, you’ve just got to admire the pure, unfiltered craziness of Idol hopefuls. After wildly overconfident Aa’shia Jackson got the axe — in one of those brutal ”room three…you’re all going home!” scenarios — the pint-sized teen refused to be broken, shouting: ”I’m the hottest thing in this country! I wasn’t fed with no silver spoon — but I’m rich.” As I asked in my TV Watch column that week: Rich in what? Delusions? Misplaced vanity? The ability to sound like an animated rodent?
Moving day arrives for Tatiana Del Toro
It’s Hollywood Week tradition to divvie up contestants into various holding rooms, then either advance or eliminate in massive packs. The producers milked extra hysterics from drama-queen contestant Tatiana Del Toro by moving her from room to room, driving her to the brink of an emotional break. Amazingly, she survived the cut, and later, advanced all the way to the top 36, at which time she tore screaming through the ”judges’ mansion,” then declared: ”I’m gonna prove it to every guy who told me I had to sleep with him to get my album out. This is for all of you.’
Four-part harmony + Bee Gees = Awesomeness
Let’s be honest: Considering the way Chris Sligh, Thomas Lowe, Rudy Cardenas, and eventual runner-up Blake Lewis floored Idol viewers with their rendition of ”How Deep Is Your Love,” and considering the fact that none of ’em have exactly achieved huge post-Idol sales success — despite Blake’s first two discs being all kinds of awesome, and Mr. Sligh achieving some notoriety as a writer and Christian-rock vocalist — maybe these guys ought to boost their fortunes with some type of group collaboration.
The Brittenum Twins’ double dose of drama
You kind of knew the producers were setting up Derrell and Terrell Brittenum to take a fall, the way they showed Terrell berating his group-audition partners for failing to rehearse till 5:30 a.m., then carping about it to the judges. But it was pure poetry when Derrell, under the misguided impression Terrell had been eliminated, quit the competition with a long-winded monologue about the breaking of his spirit, prompting Simon’s genius response: ”Okay, see you later, bye-bye.” Sure, an hour later, the producers let Derrell rejoin the race, but who can blame them? Why string along only one deluded hopeful when you can toy with his twin as well?
Double Doors from Amanda and Michael
You don’t tune into Idol expecting to hear the Doors, but when Amanda Overmyer and Michael Johns each offered up gritty, passionate covers of ”Light My Fire,” they positioned themselves as some of the coolest cats in the competition. Is it any wonder the hard-rocking nurse and the dashing Aussie both went on to crack the top 12?
Corey Clark: Party Boy
In early seasons of Idol, it was a Hollywood Week tradition to focus on at least one contestant who blew off evening rehearsals and instead chose to hit the clubs and party like a rock star. In season 2, that misguided soul was Corey Clark, who managed to survive Simon’s wrath and eventually crack the top 12. Of course, Corey would eventually get disqualified by producers for failing to disclose a prior arrest, and years later, create an uproar by claiming to 20/20 that he’d had a sexual relationship with judge Paula Abdul during his tenure on the show. Hey, you can’t say the Idol folks didn’t have some warning signs that the guy would turn out to be trouble.
Shunta Warthen’s cab ride
To make it in Hollywood, you’ve got to be able to take direction. Unfortunately for Shunta Warthen, she hopped on the wrong bus and ended up on a Hollywood shopping tour instead of at her audition. A frantic taxi ride and many frayed nerves later, Shunta made it to the stage and delivered a lovely cover of ”Young Hearts” that earned unanimous praise from the judges.