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I'm Okay, You're Okay

Having been slashed to one hour the night before to accommodate the President of the United States, "American Idol" returns with two glorious hours of I'm Okay, You're Okay auditioning in Manhattan.

And who better to join Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell as guest judge than Carole Bayer Sager, singer/songwriter of "Arthur's Theme" aka "When You Get Caught Between the Moon and New York City":

When you get caught between the Moon and New York City
I know it's crazy, but it's true
If you get caught between the Moon and New York City
The best that you can do......
The best that you can do is fall in love

I always think it's better if you don't dwell too much on the lyrics. Besides, she also penned "A Groovy Kind of Love." And yet, when Ashanti Johnson auditions on the first day of tryouts in Manhattan, Carole Bayer Sager has the balls -- and by that we mean "artistic vision" (thank you so much Tom Hanks for this useful turn of phrase) -- to jump on the other judges' "you're too old-fashioned" bandwagon which, in fairness, Carole Bayer Sager may mean to be neo-ironic, given that she is sporting blue-tinted John Lennon glasses, a beehive hairdo and a poison green-ish shawl draped over a pants suit.

Speaking of neo-ironic, Ian Benardo wears a sad little strip of what was once a chinchilla to his audition to show the world how good he would look rich. On the other hand, he also demands "as a taxpaying American" to see Cowell's work visa, announces his intention to call National Geographic to let them know the Dodo bird is not extinct -- it's in the audition room -- and reveals that "Hollywood is New Jersey with celebrities -- not that great." All of which makes him my American Idol.

Benardo also mentions he has two therapists who he, mercifully for them, does not name.

Paris Hilton/Nicole Ritchie wannabes Amanda and Antonella make it through to Hollywood. The judges pronounce Antonella the better singer, though she'd tells them her BFF has the professionally trained voice. Simon advises her "when someone's down on the floor, kick them."

"Not my best friend, Simon," she replies with simple dignity. Okay, now SHE's my American Idol.

Sarah Goldberg has a new take on lousy singing, explaining she knows she's tone deaf, but her friends make fun of her about it all the time and she loves to sing.

"Even if I don't sing I can be the next American Idol," she explains patiently, like she's talking to four people with really old-fashioned ideas about a pop-singing competition.

"I've never sung before. So you can teach me how to sing. You don't have to sing to be an American Idol. Paris Hilton can't really sing."

The judges are mystified.

"She's not an American Idol," Randy says weakly of Hilton, totally missing Goldberg's salient point.

Besides, the judges send through to Hollywood a Canadian singer. How's that American Idol?

By Lisa de Moraes  |  January 25, 2007; 12:16 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Carole Bayer Sager? Carole Bayer Sager?! None of the 18-34 audience knows who she is. Does she have a new song or cause to promote? What, was Will Jennings busy?

Posted by: Christopher Cross | January 25, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse


I wonder about the young lady (I don't remember her name) who auditoned last night and cried because her Father didn't believe in her and didn't want her to sing. He also didn't know that she was in Memphis auditioning since she had lied to him about her whereabouts for two days. She was passed on to Hollywood but when she exited the room Ryan had her call her dad to let him know where she was and that she was going to Hollywood. The father took it well but I wonder if that whole thing was staged? There is something about Ryan when he is in anyone's space that makes me wonder if everything is on the up and up.

Posted by: snoootty | January 25, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Carole Bayer Sager looks like Joan Collins. Scary!

Posted by: Phillyfilly | January 25, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Ashanti Johnson had more talent than almost anybody the judges selected from NJ/NYC (Gee the Meadowlands is in NJ right !?!), but they played the old fashion card and GASP . . . the 2 trips to Hollywood card. If they're going to hold that against her, then they should change the rules about trying out. At least she got a lot of air time and hopefully opportunities elsewhere.

Posted by: Tempo | January 25, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I missed the beginning of Idol and spent the whole evening thinking that wow, Carol Channing looks great.

Posted by: SMACK | January 25, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

There was a Canadian singer on AI? You know what that means: now Canadian Idol has to dredge the bottom of the barrel for its talent. And you know what THAT means: say hello to the next Celine Dion.

Posted by: byoolin | January 25, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Geography Alert:

Canada is in America, Pookie. So technically, contestants from Canada, Mexico, heck even Guatemala, El Salvador, Hondoras, et al. could rock "American Idol". Actually, for that matter, since there's no "North" in front of the title, I'm guessing, Argentineans, Brazilians, Chileans, Peruvians and all our other friends south of the Panama Canal (except for those crazy Venezuelans, of course) should also be invited. I'm still up in the air on the Caribbean countries, and, frankly, Bermuda leaves me perplexed.

Posted by: SmartyPants | January 25, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

"When you get caught between the moon and New York City..."
According to Peter Allen, one of the original lyricists for "Arthur's Song", he came up with the line flying on a plane waiting to land at the New York airport.

In that context, it makes sense.

Posted by: Eddie | January 25, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

SmartyPants, baby, you forgot Greenland.

Posted by: Thor | January 25, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't Greenland technically belong to Denmark, and therefore qualify for European Idol?

Posted by: Grrr | January 25, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Goldberg was one of the scariest contestants yet to appear.

Posted by: M.A. | January 25, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

They're showing too many auditions this year. I'm ready for the competition to start next week. I couldn't stand Ashanti's bad acting and mouth movements. Talent or not, I'm glad she's gone. Does anyone else think the judges set up the heavy-set girl with glasses from VA with the second song? I think they were trying to come up with a way to say no to her as soon as they saw her.

Posted by: db | January 25, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Having passed well beyond the age of potential coolness, I've missed out on what BFF means. Can someone fill me in?

Posted by: THS | January 25, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

"best friend forever"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm afraid Sarah Goldberg's salient point was lost on me too. Cruel and capricious though they may be, the judges were correct in pointing out that someone with no singing talent had no business expecting to be the next American Idol. By her own admission, Goldberg was tone deaf. Why on Earth would she expect to be coddled and carried through while someone taught her to sing (a VERY tall order, in her case). Oh wait, because her demeanor and actions all screamed that she is coddled and pampered in every other aspect of her life too. She gave me every impression of someone who has never heard the word 'No' and when the judges had the audacity to reject her, she reverted to type and threw a temper tantrum.

Posted by: JB | January 26, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Hey SmartyPants... do you forget that a "crazy Venezuelan" is already going to Hollywood? Yes, the last guy on the Seattle round I think

Posted by: A crazy Venezuelan | January 26, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Must agree with DB on the one who sang Aretha, only to get booted. A second song should mean salvation, not elimination. And when they got to that spoiled brat who couldn't sing, I thought, "Thank God I have to pee." But when I returned, she's still on! What a waste of electrons!

Posted by: JD | January 26, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

That's crazy. It doesn't make sense technically speaking, that Ashanti Johnson gives her all at singing and yet they reject her claiming she's an "old-school" R&B singer when they've given the "golden ticket" to so many others like that (supposedly old school) but with MUCH less talent! Let's face it people; the show is obviously biased. I think Ashanti did an amazing job regardless of the way the show played up her "melodramatic" speech. Besides I think harsh people have already picked on her enough for that; staged or not, I did listen to the context of what she was saying and she made a lot of sense. Being a singer myself, I genuinely feel bad that she didn't get a second chance-She should have a myspace Artist page though. Anyways, that Canadian girl was VERY forgettable and not all that in looks either. Although whatever His Majesty Simon says goes. He thought she was hot, so she got a spot! And what was the point of talking about the politicians and leaders she met in Canada? That's so irrelevant-but she was boring so she had to say something. I'm thinking, she's the new Ayla Brown; she probably won't make it past number 12, at most. And on that note, goodbye!

Posted by: Alisha | February 2, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

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