The auditions are over! Everybody give a cheer! So, we should be moving on to Hollywood any minute now, right? Right! Except for not. This season is apparently about distilling the truest and purest of all Idol fans, thus the powers that be now require you to prove your mettle in one final test of endurance: a clip show of the best of the ‘best’ and the ‘best’ of the worst, also known as an hour of all the people who weren’t quite pretty or balls-out insane enough to show during the real auditions. But hey, at least it’s not a joust. Ryan attempts to pacify us with the promise of much drama and conflict among the 172 hopefuls that made it to next week’s Hollywood rounds. So basically if we can survive tonight’s leftovers, we will surely be rewarded with crying and catfights galore. Can we make it to the end? Eh, why not.
Do’s and What the Heck Did You Just Do’s
Tonight’s offerings are organized into a primer of sorts for making it past the judges to Hollywood; Idol’s very own Goofus and Gallant if you will. We begin with style, and Ryan helpfully exhorts all future auditioners to sport their “snappiest” gear in order not to get lost in a sea of faces. Christa Fazzino from the Birmingham auditions definitely took this advice. And then she threw it out the window. Christa shows up in front of our Tiresome Threesome wearing a cast-off hot pink corset from the “Lady Marmalade” video, and then … chef’s pants? Yeah, I’m going to say those are a chef’s signature pleated, black and white checkered pants she’s working. Like any true star, Christina has no idea how to accessorize; she’s chosen a black church-lady open-circle hat, complete with veil. Plus there’s a dumb red winter scarf and a single black glove. The glove I can defend, because that always equals ultra-superstardom. The rest of it, she’s on her own. Especially with the singing. I can’t even tell what the song is she’s singing, but it’s a warbly, garbled, awful mess. The judges each tell her how absolutely strange and awful she is. Christa asks to do something else, and Simon reminds us why we all love him at this stage of the game by telling her to juggle. Christa cries. The salt in her tears must’ve sparked some chemical reaction in Paula, because for no apparent reason she changes her vote to yes, and compliments Christa’s shoes. The two chemically unaltered guys stand firm with no’s, and poor Christa is rejected.
At least she looked good on TV.At least she’s got cool shoes.
Sans cool shoes is Tami Gosnell, from Denver, who is wasting away her youth driving a pedicab, poor thing. The reveal of this fun fact drives Paula to try (and fail at) a bit of repartee, but Tami saves the moment by offering to pick them all up in her cab some time. I give her two seconds before she’d have to drop … Simon’s ego. Ha! You thought I was going for the “Randy’s fat” joke, didn’t you? I may hate Randy, but not nearly as much as I hate lazy jokes. Anyhoodle, back to Tami, who is effervescent if plain in a black top and jeans. She gives the judges her all with “Whipping Post,” after making a bit of sly innuendo towards Simon with the title. That grossness aside, it’s a fabulous audition; Tami’s voice is lovely, just raspy enough to be interesting but not grating. No way is she dressed as awesomely as Christa, and that can only be considered a good thing. Simon loves Tami; he gushes a bit about her reminding him of a star from the 60’s. Randy compliments her tone, Paula mumbles a few sweet nothings of approval, and Tami gets her golden ticket.
Please pardon the pun, people (and the unnecessary alliteration too). This segment’s all about charting inspiration, and we begin with the Montage O’ Generic Inspirers, including La Aguilera, and Mariah Carey. Then we come upon Pool Boy Paul Kim, an LA auditioner who seems a normal enough young man, until he admits that his Idol muse is none other than career reject William Hung. But, there’s a but. Paul says he is inspired to bury William and the bad impression of Asian Americans that he left with AI viewers. Well, there’s a goal it’s hard to knock. So Paul croons Shai’s a cappella mainstay, “If I Ever Fall In Love Again, and he is very good, in a groany kind of way. I also have to mention that his slightly maroon hair is bad, in a tacky kind of way. But the style portion of the show is over, so all that really matters is the love Paul gets from Randy and Olivia Newton-John. Paula wants to put her two pills in, but she only gets to say something about Paul opening up his mouth before Simon cuts her off, perhaps fearing the inevitable media frenzy. There’s some of that bickering that makes them all so famous, and then Simon gives his own seal of approval, and it’s a unanimous golden ticket for Paul. She-bang that, William Hung!
Because every sort of madness has its method, the show must now give us the flipside of the inspiration coin: mild-mannered Jack Odanovich, of the too-gelled hair, the facial scruff and drab brown t-shirt, looking very much like he’s just got off from his after-school job at the cat hospital. Jack shuffles in front of the judges’ dais and talks a bit about loving him some Bo before launching into a terribly unfortunate performance of “In A Dream.” I can’t even say how bad … just let your imagination take you to the most horrible act ever at your kid’s 8th grade talent show, and you won’t be very far from the truth. Simon doesn’t mince any words as he calls Jack incredibly deluded. Paula and Randy agree in much kinder, gentler tones, and Jack quickly apologizes and slinks away with a little tear or two in his eyes. Aww. I bet all the cats still love him though.
Too Punk Rock For This
Remember Gina Glocksen? I sure don’t. But apparently this is her third time in Idol Country, including one previous trip all the way to Hollywoodland, so she introduces tonight’s lesson in perseverance. Gina looks like Kathleen Hanna, if Kathleen Hanna were Brittany from Top Model. She’s wearing a shirt with a bug stupid bumblebee on it, and she walks into the judging proclaiming her long-standing crush on Simon. Obviously Gina knows how to milk that airtime out of Uncle Nigel and company. Paula gets in a well-placed dig about Gina being a suck-up, and then Gina sings that celebrated karaoke bar burner, “Black Velvet” pretty darned well, although it was a bit squeaky in parts. Simon thinks Gina’s a little slice of heaven. Loves validation, that one does. Randy doesn’t like that Gina likes Simon. I don’t like Randy. He gives her a yes anyway, and Gina’s through yet again! Girl knows how to earn herself a free trip, that’s for sure.
Hey, Hey, Paula …
Ryan guides us through a brief montage of Simon love, and corresponding Randy hate, which is awesome. Seriously, I loathe The Dawg. Next we see tons and tons of Paula love, which is sweet, right up until we segue into Edward Sanchez, who seriously loves him some Paula. In a scary, genuine way. Edward gushes on for a second about admiring Paula and her old videos; he refers to “watching her with the cat." Paula pauses a moment before her synapses can break through the fog and spark the nod of recognition required. She then gets up to give him a little hug and kiss on the cheek, and Ed gets all giddy while Simon and Randy amuse themselves by sarcastically remarking that Ed and Paula look alike. How is that even funny? Oh, yeah … it’s not.
For some reason I totally see Ed as one of those kids in the front of the school bus, with the run-over shoes and the brown-sack lunch of leftovers in old Tupperware containers. So I don’t like Simon and Randy making uninspired jokes about him. Until after he favors us with “Donna.” The singing? She is horrible. Edward does definitely commit, with the finger snaps and the closed eyes and everything. But horrible, still. Simon cuts him off pretty quickly, and says he’s tone deaf as well as blind, which … burn, Paula! Paula ignores Simon, hems and haws for a while over Edward being a nice guy, and then she gives him her no. Randy’s there, but I loathe him. Ed takes his rejection gracefully, and says that Paula’s still hot. He’s not disappointed in the least. Why, I’m beginning to suspect he never wanted to be an American Idol at all!
Ready To Roll
Now we get a montage of job quitting auditioners, so I guess this next segment is about dedication to dreams. Or wanting to be poor and homeless. Whichever. Ryan helpfully hints that keeping those day jobs isn’t such a bad idea, and uses the example of Kellie Pickler serving burgers right up until she became
famous for mispronouncing words and looking dima household name. This remembrance leads us to LA and three roller-waitresses in cornykitschy pink and black poodle-skirted uniforms, and they all just looooove each other. Not that way, you pervs.
There’s a lengthy package of the gals fooling around on the job (Nope, still not that way.), and then they all skate in together to face the judges. Heather goes first with “God Bless the Broken Road,” and she’s definitely the carhop who just came along for the ride. It’s not that she’s bad, exactly. Just that she’s not good. The judges wave her off dismissively, and then Ashley steps up with Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” She’s certainly better than Heather; I could at least picture her singing backup for Mandy Moore. Not that Mandy Moore needs backup singers, because she’s so a serious actress now; forgive me for implying that she was ever anything like a pop tart. Meanwhile, back on the show, Ebony is the last of the Hot Wheels to sing, and she gives a very pretty version of Whitney Houston’s “I Believe in You and Me,” effectively blowing (or rolling) those other girls away. Ebony ain’t all that, but Heather and Ashley certainly make her look way good. Simon tells her she’s much too good to have come in with that silly roller-trio gimmick, and says that she’s on a different level than her gal pals. Ebony puts on a not-so-convincing anxious-for-her-friends face as they all regroup to hear their fates. It’s all easy no’s for Heather. Randy gives a yes to Ashley, and Paula tells her she wears too much makeup. Which is true; Ashley’s face sort of wouldn’t be out of place in a wax museum. Ashley tries to be gracious and accept Paula’s “motherly advice,” and that comment hurts Paula’s inner-child or something. She tries to laugh it off exuberantly, but I can see into her soul. (Yup, I have the power. Fear me.) The misunderstanding passes, and then Paula votes Ashley through. Of course it’s all yeah, yeah, yeahs for Ebony, whom Ryan conspicuously calls “the real star.” Was that … was that foreshadowing? Oh! how the excitement is growing a little bit!
(By the way, product placement does occasionally rule, as the preview of Shrek the Third that airs immediately after this segment is the absolute best thing about this whole show. I mean all six seasons of it.)
Even Wedding Shoes/Come In Blue
No, that above doesn’t make any sense. At all. But it sort of rhymes, and from what I understand, that’s all I need to have a hit song. Why am I indulging you with pieces of my genius-filled composition notebook? Well, because as we return from break, Ryan announces that American Idol is sponsoring a public contest to come up with this season’s coronation tune. Neat! What’s not so neat is the way that this news segues into a montage of other amateur composers, singing their original tunes for the judges. Highlights: Faithon, singing “Do It To Ya,” a ditty comprised of only those four words, and young Brandon who demonstrates his skill at popping aaand locking while beat-boxing his song “Talk To Me Baby Girl.”
This trail of benign self-deception leads us to the holy grail of delusion: William ‘Wes’ Samland. Apparently dressed for show choir in an offensively gold shirt and black pants, ‘Wes’ considers himself a musical visionary. Singing expresses his feelings, and he’s ready to rock an “honest, soulful performance.” It’s too bad about all of that depending on him. He sings his song “Don’t Worry, Don’t Hurry,” and there’s all sorts of terrible singing, and even terribler foot-stomping and dancing. But I have to listen again to catch all the nuances of this absolutely terrible song. With a blander melody than anything Dianne Warren could ever dream up on her treadmill, and insipid lyrics that might well have been culled from various old Stuart Smalley sketches. At some point, Wes rhymes ‘towel’ with ‘trowel’ for absolutely no reason. Seriously. It’s a bad song. It earns all no’s, all well-deserved no’s from the judges for Wes.
To Simon Cowell: Thanks For Nothing, Alex Nazario
Ryan, like the little elf he is, picks up on Wes’s terrible dancing, and compares it to that of Taylor Hicks. This is the one insult that I don’t think Wes deserves. However, it does usefully introduce a clip package of completely unnecessary dancing. Always thinking about the flow, those sly producers are. The package ends with a guy who can dance, or at least is flexible. Alexander Nazario says he learned everything from Paula. He must also have learned from Paula that you don’t have to have the best voice to have the career, too. Alex talks and sings like Chi-Chi Rodriguez, and if you know who I’m talking about then two snaps for you! He does an awful number on “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All,” and after Simon makes the others toy with him a bit, he gives Alex a reality check and tells him he just doesn’t have the voice to sing. That’s putting it mildly. Paula tells him he’s a sweetheart, and he gets a little misty when he shakes Randy’s hand. Gosh. I hate it when they cry. Next!
Gold Looks Better On You Than Orange
Ryan tempts us back from break with a rousing game of Name That Tune. I’ll pass on trying to decipher the hollering and squealing, thanks, because around the bend is someone worth understanding. Twenty-six year old Lakisha Jones is first shown with her young daughter, for which thing I can forgive her. She’s also shown wearing a bright orange bias-cut top and zebra print skirt, for which she is dead to me. Until she sings Aretha Franklin’s “Think,” and then I’m all charity. Lakisha actually sounds a lot like Fantasia; she shares her soulful diction and sweet tone, but she has none of Fanny’s gravelly rasp. The judges are clearly blown away. Simon raves about her, and says that she is eminently likeable, praise I’m not sure he’s qualified to give. Randy and Paula share similar effusions, and Lakisha joyfully takes her golden ticket and joins her daughter in the waiting area. Aw, bless. Yeah, usually I hate seeing the children because of all the sympathy votes they may sway, but it’s been a long stretch of auditions, and I can’t be bothered to care now. So bless.
I’ve watched this live, on a 5 minute delay for taking notes, so as I fast-forward through this final commercial break I think I see Simon holding Paula’s hands and saying, “Get sober.” I stop to check if it’s my birthday while I rewind and play again, and it turns out he’s saying, “It’s over.” So no, it’s not my birthday. But the auditions are officially over so it is like, President’s Day or something. Yay! We can’t leave it all behind without a montage of the ‘best’ moments from auditions, because who doesn’t love living crap all over again? Me, but I’m nobody. So once again, in Technicolor and stereo, we get to see that great dame Margaret Fowler, the Urban Amish Guy, Fake Taylor, Frank the Cheerleader, The Cowardly Lion, The Panther, my girl Brandy, and the non-singing half of the Unemployed Cousins. Also, there’s Paula spitting her gum out at Simon, and Paula and Randy leaning in for a kiss. Could’ve lived a long, happy life without that one, thanks.
And that’s that! Huzzah and all such similar exclamations. Next week’s sojourn through Hollywood is sure to be a high-water mark for tears and smiles, and faces I won’t ever remember to remember. There are hands pressed to anxious foreheads, eyes bent skyward in prayer and supplication, guys showing off their smooth moves. Plus, there’s a brief flash of a very worried Sundance. Oh noez! Simon is shown bluntly cutting off many hopes and dreams, and Ryan informs us that this time the guys and girls will be throwing down against each other for spots in the top 24. The heck you say! A gender-based battle of arguments, broken friendships, broken dreams, culminating in a grand spectacle of celebration, humiliation and regret? I’m so there.
Um, I believe the preview promised me a death-rock version of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Anybody know what happened to that?