Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Jason Castro

“American Idol” Auditions in Atlanta on January 13, 2010

american-idol-judges2[*With thanks to all the hard-working English teachers who collated and contributed the actual analogies and metaphors from their high school students’ essays into one hilarious article, which I am going to “lift” for my analysis of January 13, 2010’s “American Idol” Atlanta tryouts. If you are the nameless student, condolences and apologies.]

Mary J. Blige joined the regulars as guest host. Ellen DeGeneres won’t join the judges until February 7th, when the contestants reach Hollywood.

First up this night was a 27-year-old African American singer (I use the term “singer” loosely) named Dawon Robinson who said that his uncle had discovered Gladys Knight and the Pips and his father was known as Motown Bobby.  Dawon kept pronouncing the word “lady” (while singing) as “lay tee.” The free associating thoughts Dawon shared tumbled in his head “like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.”

Another black male singer who sang in an extremely high voice, like someone who has undergone castration, followed Dawon. We were saved by the appearance of Keia Johnson, who wore bright lime-green pants and was once named Miss Congeniality in a preliminary to a Miss America contest. (Simon ventured that, were it him, he’d rather win the beauty part.) Keia sang the love song from “Titanic” and she sang well. Keia was given a golden ticket to Hollywood and was followed by singers named Meriam Lemnoumi and Noel Reese.

Then came one of the diamonds of the day, Tisha Holland, 18, of Georgia, a waitress. She was followed by another star, Germaine Sellers from Joliet, Illinois, a 17-year-old church singer who cares for his mother, who suffers from spina bifida. The comments? “I think that’s the best we’ve seen all day.” Germaine sang Joan Osborne’s “What If God Is One of Us.” He’s going to Hollywood. Mary J. Blige said, “You’ve got skills. Best we’ve seen of all the cities.  That was incredible. It was anointed.” Plus, Germaine has the all-important back-story that this year’s competitors seem to need. (Talent, alone, isn’t going to be enough, it seems.)

A TV hostess from “Hotlanta,” Christy Marie Agronow, then regaled the group with a Pat Benatar song. The revelation that the judges did not share her feeling that she was a great singer hit her “like a guy who goes blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.” She left in a huff. (“How dare they!”)

Next up was Vanessa Wolf, who shared the news “I jump bridges.” She is either from Baltimore, Tennessee or Vonore (population 658) and shared this sad statement: “I’m stuck in Vonore. I can’t get out.” She had purchased her dress for $4.50 at a Dollar General store in Smyrna, which I seem to remember was Julia Roberts’ birthplace. Tennessee must be so proud, at this point in time, of the way their state is being portrayed. Vanessa was very likeable, but “her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.”

Jessie Anison, 26, of Alabama, #99342, shared several near-death experiences he had recently endured, which allowed “American Idol” to make several “cheap dramatizations” related to Jessie’s riveting stories. Jessie grew on us “like he was a colony of e coli and we were room temperature beef.” As for his audition, it didn’t help that Jessie couldn’t remember any of the words in the song he had selected and had never before sung in public. Mary J. Blige collapsed in helpless mirth and had to be comforted by Kara. Jessie had a mind “like a steel trap, but one that has rusted shut.” ”The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and ‘Jeopardy’ comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m.”  Jessie, also, left in a semi-huff. He traveled down the 47 stories in the elevator, “hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.”

After Jessie and the “cheap dramatizations” (once, at band camp, Jessie was almost hit by a stray bullet or a falling flute or some damned thing) we were treated to Holly, age 27, who sang Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man.” Holly proclaimed, “I’m the next great thing.” She was as modest as Donald Trump during one of his Rosie O’Donnell rants. “She had a deep throaty voice like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.” Holly made it through to Hollywood.

At one point, Simon actually said, to one contestant, “You sound like a cat barking; it shouldn’t happen.” The gargling noise of contestant Hansel Enriquez was not well received. Blake Smith of Covington, California came to his audition attired in a tee shirt that read “Britney Spears Changed Her Life.” (It didn’t change Blake’s).  “Guitar Girl” (attired in a guitar outfit with guitar glasses) lucked out. She caught your eye “like a wet nose hair glistening after a sneeze.”

Tony Skiboski, contestant #91870, actually could sing, but his attempts to make himself sexually appealing, in the process of singing “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye were about as enticing as “ maggots just before you fry them in hot grease.”  When it was pointed out to Tony Skiboski that he was missing a letter on his shirt, he replied, “That’s what they’ve got discounts for.” Skiboski actually made it through, which seemed “as unlikely as a little boat gently drifting across a pond, exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.”

We were treated to Loren Sanders, age 19, of Baxley, Georgia, and her BFF Carmen Turner, 19, also of Baxley, Georgia. Unfortunately, only Carmen sang well. The news that she was being cut from the competition hit Loren as a rude shock, “like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.”

Police officer Bryan Walker sang “SuperStar” and earned a golden ticket to Hollywood, but he looked very old. “He looked as old as a 60-year-old retiree.” (Or as old as General Larry Platt).

Lamar Royal sang Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” song. Before he went up in the elevator for his audition, Lamar was quite pleasant, saying how much he was looking forward to meeting Mary J. Blige. After Lamar delivered the loudest version of a Seal song ever heard and would not shut up (security had to be called to stop his audition), he changed his tune considerably and uttered the night’s most hostile remarks, yelling, “F*** Y’all” as he left. This earned him a round of applause from a passing carful of motorists. (At least Lamar said “Y’all”).

Last, and certainly least, General Larry Platt, age 62, sang his own original composition “Pants on the Ground.” “General Larry was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But, unlike Phil, General Larry actually works.” General Larry earned praise for his attempts to break dance for the judges, although, in his case, the word “break” is meant literally.

And congratulations to former contestant Jason Castro, who, in addition to his budding career as a performer, got married. I noticed his smiling dreadlocks on the “American Idol” website while scoping out the schedule, and it reminded me that I heard this news somewhere. Ah, young love.  “Jason fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.” Imagine “the star-crossed lovers racing across a grassy field toward each other, like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 66 mph; the other from Topeka at 4: 19 p.m. at a speed of 35 miles per hour.”

Stay tuned for next week’s shows on Tuesday, January 19th, from Chicago and on Wednesday, January 20th, from Orlando

Jason Castro, “the Loopster” Departs “American Idol” on May 7th

Jason Castro, AKA \

I’ve taken to calling Jason Castro “the loopster.” His loopy answers and attitude perhaps coincide well with his comment that “I’m a fun guy. I hope I can convey that to the American public.” After that video clip on the Wednesday night show, Jason is seen saying, “These are terrible answers.” He proves that his answers were, indeed, terrible, by saying (of the song from Andrew Lloyd Webber week), “I didn’t know a cat was singing it. Oh, boy!” Maybe a good idea to look into the origin of the song you are singing, from the musical “Cats!” which might have provided the Loopster with his first clue.

Earlier on May 7th‘s “American Idol,” the four contestants remaining (David Archuleta, David Cook, Syesha Mercado and Jason Castro) were flown to Las Vegas’ Mirage Hotel to see “Love,” the Beatles extravaganza on a private jet. Jason is shown reclining on a bed in the back of the private plane saying something about how it is so cool. (spelled “kewl,” in the Loopster’s case).

A large portion of the show was taken up with callers, ranging from 24-year-old Emily in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who asked David Cook out on a date when the “American Idol” tour hits her town (David said, “We’ll see.” My mom always said that when she meant no.) to 45-year-old Marla who told Simon Cowell he was “sexy and intriguing” and should be “the next James Bond.”

The performing group for the night was “Maroon Five,” and the soloist who returned to “American Idol” from a previous year’s competition was Bo Bice, who announced that he and his wife are having (or have?) a new son.

The Loopster got in a few good lines before departing. As Ryan Seacrest introduced him as having sung “most of Tambourine Man,” he said, “Somebody told me I shot the Tambourine Man,” (a reference to the two songs he selected on Rock & Roll Week, “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.”)

Jason seemed genuinely glad to be leaving and left with the comment that he thought “My inexperience has just been coming through” and “Dreams do come true, so dream big.”

David Archuleta Emerges as Frontrunner After May 6th “Idol”

david_archuleta36_large4 David Archuleta Emerges As Clear Front-Runner After May 6th “Idol”

Not that this will surprise anyone, but David Archuleta has to be considered the front-runner after all three judges praised his vocal prowess and he blew away the competition with his renditions of “Love Me Tender” and “Stand By Me” during Rock & Roll Hall of Fame week. The big loser: the dreadlocked Jason Castro, who forgot the words to Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” looked as awful as usual, and earned, from Simon this succinct review: “Jason, I’d pack your suitcase.” (Ouch!)

Most of us have been saying, “Jason, pack your suitcase for weeks now, so the Castro kid is beginning to remind a bit of that lesser talent, Sanjia Malakar, who consistently made it through after inferior performances. His gimmick: his hair. I’d think about a haircut, were I Jason, but, failing that, at least get Bob Marley’s music right. Simon summed up his performance of Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” as “utterly atrocious” and something that was more like the open auditions days, not the final four. The ending of the “Mr. Tambourine Man” song sounded horrible, the guitar Jason clutched seem to really be just a prop, and from his breathy opening to his weak close, Jason was outclasses. The lyric he sang that applies? “If I am guilty, I will pay.” He was definitely guilty of all the above, and I have a feeling he will pay.

Most improved of the four remaining performers, as was the case last week, was Syesha Mercado, who came out and did “Proud Mary” proud, followed by Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna’ Come.” Randy reduced Syesha to tears by brusquely criticizing her red-hot vocals, and Ryan Seacrest got a laugh by saying, “Well, Randy. Thanks for the buzz kill.” When Randy attempted to explain his overly harsh criticism of one of the night’s outstanding performers and two of the night’s most consistently good performances (2nd only to David Archuleta’s), Seacrest cut him off, saying, “We’re running out of time. ‘Hell’s Kitchen”s gonna start.”

David Cook performed his first song, Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” to criticism from Randy (“Just an OK choice”) that was echoed by the others, and, later, said he agreed with the judges and would wipe the memory of his first song away by performing more strongly on his second song, which, unfortunately, was a Who song that, aside from it use on “C.S.I.” episodes, is not that big a crowd-pleaser and ended with the words “Teenage waste” or “Teen waste,” hardly an uplifting image.

For me, there was no stronger performer for the evening than the other David (Archuleta), followed by Syesha, David Cook and…last and certainly least, Jason Castro, who has overstayed his welcome and should have been gone long before Carly Smithson, Michael Johns and/or Brooke White.

The Davids Stay On Top on April 29th’s “American Idol”

The \"American Idols\" Davids, Cook & ArchuletaJason Castro and Brooke White Struggle with their Selections…

Jason Castro drew the short stick, apparently, on April 29th‘s “American Idol” show featuring songs written by Neil Diamond and had to sing first. Since Jason always seems as though the next word out of his mouth is going to be “duh,” he performed “just OK” according to Randy, and his renditions of “Forever in Blue Jeans” and “September Morn” were proclaimed to be “definitely not the best,” “safe,” and “you struggled through both songs”(Simon). To me, Jason’s performance this week seemed to be more of the same: light, insipid, wimpy, and inferior to either of the other boys remaining or, on this night, one of the two worst performers. His fan club may feel differently.

Up second was David Cook, who, as usual, sang unknown songs, specifically “I’m Alive” and “All I Really Know Is You.” He did a good job and the judges seemed pleased. One of them even went so far as to say that he/she was “looking at the American Idol,” but that seems a bit premature. As for me, I’d like to hear a song I might recognize, but David was his usual confident self, and, in that regard, he should sail on.

Third came Brooke White, who sang “I’m a Believer” (which Simon pronounced “a nightmare”) and “I Am, I Said,” which brought faint praise from Simon when he said it was “a million times better than the first song.” Paula said, “Nice job,” and Brooke also accompanied herself (piano, guitar). Paula commented, “Everyone loves who you are,” which, while true, is not necessarily supposed to be what wins the competition. Brooke, for my money, was one of the two weakest performers of the night, but the “lovability” factor may keep her in as the last female standing, when Syesha did a superior job, vocally and in every other regard…although Simon “dissed” her efforts.

Fourth up was David Archuleta, who sang “Sweet Caroline” and “America.” The latter choice of songs was the smartest since the C&W songstress sang Lee Greenwood’s patriotic ditty. David, clad in a black-and-white horizontally striped shirt that kept me thinking of the “Peanuts” comic strip, turned in another thoroughly professional performance, and the audience reaction was far and away the most enthusiastic, keeping him firmly in first place, in my mind.

Last…but not least on this night…was Syesha, who sang “Hello” and did a very nice job, with her hair down, barefoot and going up for a great last note. Syesha is doing something down and long with her hair that is a vast improvement, and her dress was lovely. She sang and looked the best of the girls, but her fan club seems smaller than the less-vocally-talented Brooke White (Brooke’s range, which is not great, really showed up on her song selections this night, while Syesha hit some high notes and was a real diva.

So, predictions? Let me just say that, in order of, “Who was best on April 29th?” I would praise the Davids (Archuleta and Cook, in that order) as Numbers One and Two, and finish up with Syesha in third place, Jason in fourth, and Brooke in last place, vocally, but it is quite apparent that the best singer also has to be the Most Popular, and, if that is the case, I fear that Syesha has begun displaying her personality too late in the game to overcome her earlier lackluster presentations.

As far as justice…of which there has been little this season…either Jason or Brooke should leave the group on Wednesday when the numbers drop from five to four, but the popularity polls seem to favor the Davids, Jason and Brooke, not necessarily in that order, so talent may well not be rewarded as the competition loses yet another contestant on Wednesday, April 30th.

American Idol Gets It Wrong: Carly Smithson Eliminated

American Idol Gets It Wrong

Carly Smithson“American Idol’s” claim to be a singing competition and not just a popularity contest took a hit tonight (April 23), when Carly Smithson, arguably the most vocally talented female singer left, was eliminated, while the dreadlocked Jason Castro was voted on to the next round.

I have said, for some time, that Carly was going to have trouble going the distance, as she was older, married (to a guy who is tattooed over his entire body, including his face) and Irish by birth. She also couldn’t expect much of a “sympathy” vote, as she had previously had a recording contract.

The result was that a vastly inferior singer (Jason Castro) who performed poorly during his last outing sailed through, while Carly was sent packing.

Even more outrageous was the other singer given a position as “second lowest,” Syesha Mercado. It is true that Syesha’s personality has been missing in action over the past several weeks, but she flaunted it on her last outing, singing the best she has all season. To have that rewarded by placing in the bottom two must be a bitter pill. Surely Brooke White, who forgot the opening line to her song and stopped to start over, did less well on April 22nd, but that made no difference whatsoever, as Brooke is “the nice one.”

The smart money still favors “the Davids” for the Final Two, those being David Archuleta and David Cook. It probably was no coincidence that they were the first two called out onstage and told that they were “safe,” as they probably had the highest vote totals.

As Carly exited, Simon Cowell apologized for giving Carly a compliment on her last night of competition, when she sang “Jesus Christ, Superstar,” calling it “the kiss of death.” And he may just have been right, although Carly was doomed for several other reasons. But none of those reasons were vocal talent.

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