'American Idol' Strikes Out In Los Angeles

Gutierrez brothers one of few bright spots in dismal audition night.

Sure, there was some country talent in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday night, but you'd expect to find some serious players in Los Angeles, right? I mean, it's the entertainment capital of the world.

Maybe they were trying to set us up for the good stuff to come, but Thursday night's (February 3) "American Idol" episode was mostly a parade of the kind of jokey singers we haven't seen as much of this year, from the just awful, to the seemingly certifiable and the just plain mediocre.

The painful hour opened with a classic clunker, nasal singer Victoria Garrett, who was quickly dispatched to make way for yet another contestant with a crush on a judge. Fort Worth, Texas, ad-sales guy Tim Halperin, 23, expressed his love for Jennifer Lopez then poured out some buttery vocals on Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved."

His falsetto did the trick on Lopez, and Randy Jackson said Halperin's laser focus made it seem like J.Lo was the only person in the room. Steven Tyler said Halperin needed to work on his vocals but gave him a pass, though Jackson didn't think he was ready. Whether it was the flattery or the notes, Lopez gave Halperin a pass.

We've had exes, a too-cute for words couple and Thursday night a pair of best friends vying for a spot in the next round. Unfortunately, they were both terrible, with Daniel Gomez, 18, sounding all nervous and breathy and "so far from the melody line," according to Tyler. Pal Isaac Rodriguez, 18, was just as bad, murdering the melody of "Build Me Up Buttercup."

"You have a nice smile," was all Lopez could think to say. "I hate to be the harsh one here, but you and your buddy Daniel? Neither one of you should ever sing," Randy added definitively, bringing the hammer down.

Then, finally, we had some real talent as two brothers, the hyper, super-positive substitute math teacher Mark Gutierrez, 28, and 27-year-old shoe salesman Aaron showed some sweet soul during their duet on the classic R&B staple "Lean on Me." Lopez loved it, calling their harmonies beautiful, while Tyler went a step further and dubbed their vocal interplay "godlike."

For the first time ever, the show also hit up MySpace and invited a handful of the 16,000 wannabes into the "Idol" orbit for a shot at Hollywood, with mostly disastrous results.

Day two brought the MySpace auditioners, including New York's Karen Rodriguez, 21, who had a trunk full of soul for Whitney Houston's "You Give Good Love," changing up the melody a bit to suit her higher register. "You got the confidence, you got the spit, you got the fire, you got the melody, it was sweet, it was beautiful, great voice," Steven said. "Hot," seconded Lopez, who was informed that she'd met the potential first Latina American Idol years ago when the college student sang to the star on MTV's own "TRL."

But that was about as good as it got for the online auditioners. Even though some people just know they're going to win, Hoboken, New Jersey's supremely self-confident Tynisha Roches, 25, was not one of them. She swaggered in and face-planted on a big mess of Frank Sinatra's "My Way" that just fell apart as she lost the lyrics, the melody and any semblance of star quality. "Let's not do it again," Randy begged her. "How can we get her to stop, Jennifer?" he added as he walked off the set and was chased by Roches, who would not stop singing even as security was called on her.

It's hard to tell what Mr. MSFP was thinking, as Matt "Big Stats" Frankel, 27, confounded the judges with his horrible nasal rapping, even worse singing, ill-fitting black suit, way awkward dancing and bizarre chin-strap beard and creepy mustache. Needless to say, there was no golden ticket for Mr. Big Flop.

Some got through thanks to good looks and belly-dancing skills, while others blew it with glass-shattering nose squealing, bizarre opera screeching, nerdy show-tune talk-singing, high-pitched dog calling and one dude who just dropped his pants (and seemingly his underwear) to the ground.

And we've finally found this year's signature not-a-chance loony with a shtick you can't deny, Mr. Human Tornado himself, Arkansas' Cooper Robinson, 59 (he thinks). He came dressed in a feathered pimp hat, bells on his ankles, a bedazzled jacket and a whole bucket of crazy. The street performer gave his spastic, horrifying take on James Brown's "I Feel Good," and was so out of breath he couldn't even remember what the show was called. (Hint: it's not called "American Star" or "Next Movie Star.") So look for him on finale night for some comic relief.

The show hits San Francisco next week with the promise of some actual talent and then slides right into the first night of Hollywood week.

Who was your favorite from the L.A. auditions? Let us know in the comments!

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