It was an August afternoon in 1965. I was 11 years old, and I had just bought a pack of Topps baseball cards for 5 cents inside Ken’s Corner Grocery in Ashland, Ohio.
I stopped when I got outside and opened up that pack the cards and there it was — a Willie Mays. A beautiful Willie Mays card. The Say Hey Kid! After a whole summer of opening packs and getting nothing but a series of Marv Staehle, Jerry Kindall, Sandy Valdespino and other nondescript players, I had struck cardboard gold.
A Willie Mays card in way back then was like an American Idol golden ticket today.
On Wednesday night, Willie Mays returned to my life in the form of Rose Flack, an amazing 17-year-old singer who stole my heart — and Simon Cowell’s. Rose was the brightest light on an incredible night of Idol auditions in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was, by far, the best show of the season to date. And after Tuesday’s disaster in Jacksonville, Fla., it was more than welcome.
Both of Rose’s parents had died and she was living with her unofficial adopted family, who obviously adored her. Not half as much me, I’m sure, but their feelings were evident.
Rose is a quirky teenager with this great, kinky and straight blonde hair. She possesses an effervescent innocence about her, and she has the kind of voice I absolutely love. Somewhere in her family tree, it will show some day she is a distant relative of Rod Stewart. And when she smiles, it is Carrie Underwood all over again.
Rose sang “I Felt The Earth Move” by legendary Carole King from the equally legendary “Tapestry” album. A perfect choice, I felt. The judges did not agree on the song selection, but they all agreed Rose Flack is something special.
“You’re one I will remember,” Simon said. “There is something about you.”
There is, Simon. There really is.
I’m looking forward more than ever to Hollywood Week. I make no secret about it. I’m rooting for Rose.
Some other observations from Salt Lake City:
David Osmond: He’s the 29-year-old son of Alan Osmond. Yes, THOSE Osmonds. And David can sing. And he’s talented. And he’s got the perfect personality for this competition. And he also has multiple sclerosis, which at times has put him in a wheelchair. His father suffers from MS, too. This also was a great, great story and I’m rooting for David Osmond, too. (But I still love Rose Flack.)
Tara Mathews: I just don’t get the Goth look. Too old, I guess … but that’s another story that would give Tara too much space that she doesn’t deserve. Tara said she has ESP. If true, she should have known how much talent she does not possess. Sorry, no sympathy here for someone who repeatedly flips off the Idol cameraman after the judges simply told her the truth. She sucked.
Frankie Jordan: She looked exactly like that pop tramp Amy Winehouse, only without all the baggage. And make no mistake about it, Frankie can sing. And Frankie is going to Hollywood.
Austin Sisneros: He was the senior class president from Riverton, Utah, who sang “When I Look to the Sky” by Train and “It Takes a Village” by Raffi. I had never heard either of those songs and have no idea who Train and Raffi are, but I kind of like Austin. He almost reminded me of a blond-haired David Archuleta. Key word there is “almost.”
Taylor Valfuina: Only 16 and a striking 5-foot-11, she was from Samoa or one of those islands over there. She follows in the footsteps of Jasmine Trias and Ramielle Malubay, and just might have more talent than both of them put together. Hollywood may be tough for the kid, though.
Meghan Corkrey: The most amazing smile and sparkling eyes, and a voice to match. She sang “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” and the judges adored it. I can’t say it wowed me, but she has that “it” factor and with a better song choice in Hollywood she could easily be final 36 material. She’s also a recently divorced mother of one, so she’s got a lot going on in her life right now.
Wow! The new Kelly Clarkson song might be her best ever. That was pretty impressive. I wasn’t sure if it was a commercial or one of those Idol vignettes. Either way, major props for K.C.
Don’t you just love those Verizon “dead zone” commercials?
“The Uninvited” will definitely be a movie I will skip.
Did you see the teases for the New York/Puerto Rico auditions? Can’t wait for tonight’s show!
SImon: It is so nice when Simon gets to speak uninterrupted. He had some of his most revealing comments of the season. Score: 9
Kara: A total non-factor in Salt Lake City. I look for a rebound in New York. Score: 3
Paula: You never know what Paula is going to show up wearing. In Salt Lake City, she looked like a grandma. And nothing against grandmas – I’m married to one. But Paula, what the heck? Score: 4
Randy: Nothing memorable, but I’ll give him a “5″ for those boots. Score: 5
Season standings: Simon 55, Kara 45, Paula 34, Randy 31.
From those auditioners we have seen through the first six shows who have received decent air time:
1. Rose Flack, 17. (Salt Lake City audition)
2. Danny Gokey, 28. (Kansas City audition)
3. Adam Lambert, 26. (San Francisco audition)
4. Lil Rounds, 23. (Kansas City)
5. Emily Wynne-Hughes, 21. (Phoenix audition)
6. David Osmond, 29. (Salt Lake City)
7. Scott MacIntire, 22. (Phoenix)
8. Frankie Jordan, 24. (Salt Lake City)
9. Michael Sarver, 27. (Phoenix)
10. Meghan Corkrey, 23. (Salt Lake City)
Honorable mention: Jasmine Murray, 16 (Jacksonville audition); Leneshe Young, 18. (Louisville audition); Anne Marie Boskovich, 23 (Jacksonville); Bikini Girl (Katrina Darrell), 20. (Phoenix) Stevie Wright, 16. (Phoenix); Von Lee Smith, 22. (Kansas City); Jamar Rogers, 26. (Kansas City); Asa Barnes, 20. (Kansas City); Kai Kalama, 26. (San Francisco); Taylor Valfuina, 16 (Salt Lake City).
Next: New York City and Suan Juan, Puerto Rico