First night of Canadian Idol Season 4. Woohoo! What goofy geeks do the producers have lined up to entertain us tonight? And no, I'm not talking about Ben Mulroney!
They start with a new intro - a hip hop song called You're the One that I guess is supposed to show us what a kewl show this Canadian Idol is. Not my style of music but it's fairly entertaining. Is that Mex I see in the middle of the group? Next is a quick look back at Melissa winning the title last year. She gets some nice face time, and Rex, thankfully, very little, considering how TPTB seem to have opted to treat him like a co-winner this past year. A little chest thumping about the success other CI contestants have had, like Jacob Hoggard, Billy Klippert, Theresa Sokyrka, and a fleeting shot of my ultimate idol Kalan Porter. Squeeeee! Then we see thousands, thousands I tell you!, of contestants jumping, yelling, crying, laughing, cursing, hugging. You name it, they're doing it. The judges are telling us what they're looking for, and they're pretty much as crazy as all the contestants are.
The show kicks off this year out in Vancouver and tons of people have showed up. The first to try out is Innocent Kanjedzana, a 28 year old from Surrey. Yes, that is his first name, and yes he is requisitely horrible. It takes some time before I can even figure out that the song he's trying to sing is Clay's song Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me. Next is Liz Blair who persists in pawing at her own boobs while she simpers her song. She's parodying someone but it's not someone of my generation so I'm not sure who. Britney maybe? Next she nails Cher and then Shakira. It's terrifically entertaining and the judges are falling out of their chairs with laughter but they never do show whether she gets a ticket through or not. Chelsea Johnson is back for a fourth try at this Canadian Idol thing. She starts out with a gimmick probably never ever heard before on any Idol show. She rips a big one, a really really big one, and then looks at the judges and says "I farted! I totally just farted!" The judges seem mightily amused at this. Me? Not so much. They don't show her singing (I mean, really, how could any song top her lead-in?) but she did get a gold ticket. Josh Clements shows off his dancing ability and his big ego, but his singing is gawdawful, even though they bring his girlfriend in to the room so he can sing to her. He doesn't take his turndown very gracefully, to say the least. Greg Neufeld, a 22 year old from Jacob and Shane's hometown of Abbotsford is up next, and gets a pimp moment of his own video showing him wakeboarding, and oh so cooly leaning up against a tree telling us how much he loves music. He's wearing a ratty ball cap in front of the judges and sings his song, not badly, but a little too Rex like for my liking. Jake asks him to lose the hat and that seems to be the magic trick. They like him and give him his gold ticket. He's definitely one of this year's pimpees. He even gets a clip with Ben out in the foyer who calls his proud mother over to give him a hug.
After the break, we see Callie Cheveallie who's very animated as she sings. Farley asks her if she's ever seen video of herself singing because she acts out every syllable. Callie says to Farley "And that's a bad thing?" D'uh. Christina Sing, an appropriately named contestant, sings I Want To Thank You. She's got a really interesting voice but dour old Jake says it's an act and just not for him. Fortunately, Farley thinks her voice (and her jaw line) are astonishing, she's Zack's favourite so far in the trip, and Sass agrees, so Christina's off to Toronto as well. Sixteen year old Giovanni Zenone brings his whole freakin' family right into the try out room. There are about thirty of them sprawled all over the place. What is it with CI making such a big deal about Italians and their families? He's cute and has a deep strong voice for such a young fellow, but his phrasing and emoting is very immature. I think they didn't have the nerve to turn him down in front of all the mafia in the room, so regardless of Sass's no, he's through.
Idol next heads off to Yellowknife, capital of the North West Territories. Lucky Ben gets to go for a dog sleigh ride. That looks like such fun! They gave a whole slew of contestants a shot, but the crisp clear northern air obviously hasn't done much for their singing ability, and only one, Noel Taylor, a 19 year old punk rocker resplendent with multi lip and eyebrow rings gets to take the next step of trying out in Vancouver. Even though he's way out of his element, he shows off a pretty good voice, and gets his gold ticket as well. They close out the Vancouver portion by quickly showing the excitement of the 24 people who won gold tickets. I wish I could have heard more singing from those who did make it, but clearance rights were probably an issue with showing the songs on t.v., but there were definitely a few good singers in the bunch.
On to CI's first ever stop in Kitchener Waterloo, but loads of people have shown up for the auditions. Elizabeth Bly gets us going with a really horrific rendition of a Whitney song. Major ouch on that one! Wendy Blok-Kehoe is making me nervous with her nervousness. Be still already! The judges tell her to take off her hat. "Take if ooffff???" she whispers, as if they've told her to strip down to her skivvies. She does, and then promptly pulls a different one out of her pocket to plunk on her head. She belts out Old Time Rock and Roll pretty smartly but I think all the tics skeeved out a couple of the judges and they turn her down. Tyanna Thorrington, a cute 19 year old from Whitby learned what 'tripe' meant from a snarky Zack who's obviously reaching the limits of his patience today. Erin Tipping gets a dollop of his nastiness as well, but Lauren Ward really puts him round the bend. He grabs a broom and dustpan and starts sweeping the floor all around her as she gamely tries to carry on, her awful voice trailing off into even worse awfulness. Things don't improve when Mike Lorbetski gives it a try. Zack starts rolling around on his chair, doing wheelies to try and break the monotony, and nearly wheels off the back of the stage. That, at least, brought a bit of a smile to his face. We get a shot of Zack zipping around behind the curtains as even Farley, our dear sweet Farley, joins in on the contestant bashing. As he's telling Mike how bad he is, we hear this mighty crash, and it seems like Zack has really and truly, this time, gone over the edge. He grins up at us from the spot offstage where he's landed on his backside. The chagrin looks good on ya, Zack! Outside, Ben catches up with Mike and asks him if he really is, as the judges said, the worst singer in Kitchener Waterloo. "Nah! I don't even live here man." was Mike's unintentionally hilarious reply!
Tim Cooper, 17, has come all the way from Fort McMurray, Alberta to try out. His House of the Rising Sun sounds dreadful to me, but maybe by now the judges have totally lost it, and they give him a ticket. They all love him, think he's wonderfully wacky. Huh? I thought this was a singing competition. Ashley Coulter, 22, from London is up next and gets the first video of the day. She's a cute little thing from a family of seven kids who sang all the time because they couldn't afford to do much else. Awww. She does House of the Rising Sun as well (Kalan really started something with his audition), but this little gal can belt it. I'm impressed. She even bites her lip nervously like Kalan did. Farley's not sold but Jake loves her. Poor Suzi Rahn, last year's rocker, gets dissed in Jake's lovin' when he says Ashley is way better than Suzi, waayyy better. Ouch! She gets her gold ticket and outside, Ben asks her how tall she is. She hedges a bit and says, not very convincingly, that she's 5' um 2" and giggles that she rounds up. Cute. Really cute. I like her. Katie gets a pimp video as well. She's an attractive blonde who works at a job that requires steel toed boots, but she tells us how much she loves to sing from her heart for the people. She does Leaving on a Jet Plane and it's an admirable job, although I hear some shaky moments in the lower register and she either had her eyes closed or was looking off into the distance while she was singing. But at this point, my opinion doesn't count, and the judges fall all over themselves with their praise of her. Goosebumps! Wonderfulness! Magical! Best we've heard! And this year's first prediction that someone could go all the way. Prescient? Guess we'll see. We see some very short clips of Thor Bonfig, Mario Deangelis, Heidi Joshua, Alisha Nauth (she really caught my eye, I loved the tone of her voice), and Ashley Coles all getting their gold tickets, plus a bunch of other unnamed contestants, twenty-nine of them in all from Kitchener Waterloo. Quite a debut in that part of the country.
Elena Juatco's introduction to Canadian Idol is up next. She finished sixth in the second season of Idol and and was often goofy and silly and exuberant. With John Dore off to bigger and better things in the world of standup comedy, they've brought Elena on for comic relief from Ben's incessant smarminess. She's checking out all the wild and wacky clothing styles Idol contestants rig themselves up in. Hmm. Let's just say I miss wacky old John Dore already.
Next stop. Edmonton, a place that has been a gold mine for Canadian Idol what with Season 1's third place finisher Billy Klippert, Season 2's dreamy winner Kalan Porter, and last year's winner, the cute and perky Melissa O'Neill. Let's see what they've got for us this year. First up is Dennis Deveaux. You know how sometimes you take a dislike to someone almost before they've even so much as opened their mouth? Well, meet Dennis, an entirely too earnest wannabe. Bye Dennis. Kayla Albrecht from Panoka? I've heard of Ponoka, but not Panoka. Bye Kayla. Billy Coo came to Edmonton from Barrie, Ontario. There must have been a seat sale to the audition cities this year. His four days in the music business doesn't do the trick for him either, although he was came close with a 2/2 split, and he was pretty cute. The juggler and the cha cha dancer and way too many other really bad performers got more t.v. time than they deserved, but it sounded like the judges made them pay dearly for their moment too. Some of their comments were downright mean! And did we really need that Extravaganza of the Unusual, a second look at some of the most eccentric performers that have tried out? I didn't, that's for sure.
But finally, Jesse Lipscombe, a fine looking dude who has competed for Canada in high jump and who loves the game of basketball, gets his moment. Despite a pretty sketchy performance, they like him and let him through. Jinting Zhao, Mariam Farook, and Nevada Von Bieker also get their gold tickets. Twenty-eight excited contestants in total are booked for Toronto.
Unfortunately, at this point, my tape cuts out. I know they did some kind of an homage to the oil rig workers in Northern Alberta. It was probably pretty good, but I must admit, I wasn't paying too much attention. So Season 4 is off and running. I could have done with more actual singing and less of the horror numbers. I don't understand why the producers think that's what their audience wants to see. I haven't heard or read of anyone who thought that was a terrific show. I liked quite a few of the contestants who were put through though, so I'd say at this point, this season looks more promising than last, and I'm looking forward to it.