Reality Check: The Ambition of Angelenos on ‘American Idol’

Ambition, they always tell you, is a good thing.

It’s what makes dreams a reality, separates the men from the boys and provides the impetus for every other bumper sticker cliché about success you can imagine.

The problem with ambition is when it has the misfortune to be accompanied by a serious lack of talent. And nowhere was this dreaded combination more on display than in the Los Angeles auditions for “American Idol.”

Look, I get it. I live here. I’m used to hearing delusional folks talk about their imminent stardom at nearly every Starbucks I happen to visit.

But, thank goodness for small favors, at least I haven’t had to listen to people break into song and then earnestly ask if they can do it again.

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Our judging trio, accompanied tonight by a clearly way-too-nice-for-this-competition Olivia Newton-John, cannot say the same, as they were confronted by a series of aspiring singers utterly convinced that they could somehow say just the thing that would sway a jury still reeling in audible pain from whatever they’d heard.

There wasn’t only Marianna, who made a disastrous decision to show her midriff and didn’t seem to hesitate before dropping to her knees and begging for another chance, but also a succession of folks offering everything from “I’m sure we can work something out” to “I’ve just got one more for you” to “Just give me one more chance.”

More fundamentally upsetting than the overly aspiring folks, however, were the ones who remained wholly unfazed by the rejection.

Take Martik, who posited that he would be successful in a number of careers — acting, modeling, rapping and writing among them — before treating us to his scary but oddly mesmerizing impression of a panther.

Once rejected, after doing a bizarre striptease that even Paula didn’t seem to appreciate, Martik seemed far too convinced of his future triumphs to even bother asking for another chance.

The only aspirants not dripping with too much purpose were the cozy Compton couple, Cavett and Darold.

The two seemed to be having so much fun, as a matter of fact, that it made auditioning for “American Idol” seem like just about the most ideal date activity imaginable.

Even when Cavett made a rather unnerving pass at a thoroughly bemused Simon, Darold just laughed it off.

Whether Darold didn’t actually believe or get what he was hearing or was simply displaying his unconditional love for the girl doesn’t matter. We needed someone to give us a respite from all the emotional panhandling of the night and show us that when the judges give you the thumbs down, sometimes the best thing to do is simply flash your grill and leave.

Anna David is a freelance writer. Her first novel, "Party Girl," is coming out in June 2007 from HarperCollins.

"American Idol" airs on FOX, which is owned by the parent company of

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