You know, I’ve never had strong feelings about Atlanta one way or the other. I know it’s given us Designing Women and The Waffle House, and for these two blessings I will always, always thank Atlanta, but otherwise the city itself has never rated with me. Until now, that is, this glorious moment in which I can pronounce Atlanta as the last, the very last, officially the last stop on the American Idol Auditions Tour ’08. Wooo hooo!
Stop Him. Now.
Hear the fiddles play as our establishment shots fly by; Ryan voice-overs that over 12,000 people showed up to the Atlanta cattle call, but none of them can captivate our Ryan, because his very own parents have shown up to say hello. Well what do you know, Ryan’s not a toy; he’s a real boy! With parents and everything. I won’t poke fun at them because occasionally I am a lovely girl. But, I do have to share the most priceless moment of the evening, wherein Ryan’s father attempts to grasp the concept of some fool wearing a 24-inch spinner stuck to his shirt, and it falls to the floor. Ha. That’s what you get for trying to make fashion out of automotive supplies.
But enough of people who aren’t here to
sing be on TV make fools of themselvesaudition. Let’s get down to Idol-finding business. 26 year old Josh Jones is up first; he works with glass and finds it fun! He says he’s going to show the judges something they’ve not seen in any other contestant. I guess it’s that’d be his crazy demon-laser eyes, the ones that creep Simon out so much that Josh must face backward to sing “Don’t Stop Me Now.” (Why must Freddie Mercury be dragged into this?) They’re taking some sadistic pleasure in laughing at him behind his back, and I don’t appreciate it because it means that Josh must keep singing on and on in his thin and colorless voice. When he finally stops, Simon rejects him anyway for being karaoke. Paula and Randy eventually say yes, I guess because they jerked him around so much. Simon says Josh is going to have to sing with his back to the audience all season. I don’t think that’s going to be too much of a problem.
J.P. has got a story to tell, all about his first brush with fame. Apparently, he auditioned for season 4, and believe it or not, he was sitting almost next to Carrie Underwood. I fail to see how this matters at all, but J.P. cherishes regrets of never having buddied up with Carrie or kept in touch, because they might’ve been friends … or co-superstars … or maybe more, wink-wink, even now. I wish I had the heart to tell the boy that the human personification of Upchuck from Daria never had a peanut’s chance at a circus, because someone should’ve had the courage to do that by now, but I don’t. So let’s just move to J.P.’s audition. He sings “Me and My Gang” by Rascal Flatts and I don’t even know what to call it. Garbled and … dorky? I think that sums it up. J.P. is dismayed by the judges rejection because he’s a music major, in singing even, but he doesn’t want to do school and he thinks he’s “not that bad.” What the Peter Falk? Simon says his pen has more charisma. I thought that might be taking things a bit too far, but his pen is rather shiny. Randy says no, and Simon urges Paula to actually say something direct for once, and she can’t, which ushers in a clip-fest of her greatest non-committal hits. I think Paula would’ve been better off with this as her new single.
Asia’h Apperson has just lost her father. You need to know that and keep it in your mind always when you think of her. Always. Don’t worry, the producers will help you. In front of the judges Asia’h changes her song choice to “How Do I Live,” which is really hard to understand, but maybe what she had picked before was too upbeat. I don’t know. So she sings, and it’s all right but it doesn’t really matter, and then she chokes up a little. Paula cries. The judges all put her through, and I really don’t want to write any more about it.
Let’s move on to the cheek-stretching smiles of beauty queens! A bunch of blonde girls interview about being honest-to-goodness Georgia Peaches, but Brooke Helvie has them all beat: she’s Miss South Florida blah-de-blah and has a real live crown to wear while she stands in line. Brooke’s a little worried about Simon’s well-known aversion to pageantry, and who wouldn’t be? But ultimately, she really wants to prove herself to him and give him a hug. Something’s so wrong with that I don’t even know how to deal with it. In the big blue room, Paula ribs Brooke for her automatic pageant-stance. It’s nice when Paula gets one in. Like, you feel you should pat her on the back whenever she says something funny. Or clever. Or in plain English. Anyway, Brooke sings a twanged-up, countryfied version of “Who’s Loving You.” Simon is lukewarm with his praise, which causes Brooke to smile and say, “I love you!” and Simon to say, “I know.” That’s creepy, to handle his ambivalence like that. Randy thinks she has a nice pop voice, and Paula loves her too, so bubbly little Brooke is off to Hollywood with three yeses and a hug from Simon! Once she’s left the room Simon calls Brooke the most annoying thing he’s ever seen. Better not let Brooke hear you say that; she’d probably show up at your door with a homemade Valentine and her dad holding a shotgun.
Oh, but Simon, I wanna be in the show!
Now, our very first montage of awfulness, courtesy of Fergie’s “Glamorous,” the new, hip, young, fresh American Idol, and the widespread delusions of singing and dancing skills spread among the good people of Atlanta. Nice.
A boisterous young lady with blonde dreadlocks named Eva Miller knows she has a “special edge,” and can’t wait to show it to Simon. We hear this while Eva shows off some of her fly dance moves; according to Eva, she has the look, the voice, the presence, and the everything to be the next American Idol. The judges are not instantly convinced, and what do you know, they’re right. Eva sings Vanessa Carlton’s angsty-teen-girl anthem “A Thousand Miles” in what’s almost not a singing voice at all, but more like a chant, while flailing around. The judges are bewildered so she stops, but then starts again. Then she slips on her own contestant number and falls. Kind of symbolic, that. Simon says she can’t be serious, and Eva thinks he’s only talking about her fall, and now she’s on the verge of tears explaining her wide background in choirs and church. Simon, bless his heart, is shocked by the utter realness of her self-deception and turns gentle, telling her she’s entertaining but not a good singer. It's sad when the delusion is honest. They hug, and Eva is shunted, and then outside with Ryan she frowns and rips up her number. Also symbolic, I think.
Joy and Lame
16 year old Alexandra Lushinton had better never turn into a drunk, such an easy target she’d make. Also, because it’s not a great life choice. Alexandra brought a whole caravan of love down to the auditions with her, including her great-grandmother. Much like a politician, Ryan is never able to pass up the cute kids, puppies, or old folks; he makes a beeline for Great-grandma and gets her to talk and be adorable about how excited she is, while her granddaughter sings “My Funny Valentine” for the judges. It’s a very pretty audition, but like everyone who ever auditions for AI Alexandra slows the song up like nobody’s business and adds a lot of dramatic pauses and runs. Randy is totally impressed, and it’s all easy yeses for Alexandra, who eagerly rejoins the entire town she brought with her.
Remember Clay Aiken’s audition, when Simon called Clay ugly but said he had a great voice? Well, this is the show’s roundabout way of reminding you that there’s a Clay Aiken in the world, while also implying that this year the people in Atlanta are ugly but can’t sing. Montage ahoy! There’s a creepy guy in a kilt, one bearing a striking resemblance to Raggedy Andy, a kid with a visible lisp, lots of girls crying from the heartache of rejection. The usual. But young Nathan Hite, a hard-boiled “ninth-grade repeater,” has a plan for success. He’s come equipped with “witty retorts,” he has, so he’s not nervous of the judges at all. In fact, he flips off the camera preemptively. Nice touch, but he loses points for the lack of leather jacket. Nathan sings something called “Paralyzer” and points and stares a lot at Paula. So, no, he can’t sing. Simon takes care to point this out, saying it’s like any goober sitting alone in his room singing to the radio. Nathan asks if Simon keeps his insults written down on a sheet of paper. (Ooooooh, burn.) Yeah, Nathan. Kind of like how you practiced your own “witty” retort, and then had nothing to say when it fell flat. Way to go. Simon brushes him off with sarcasm, Nathan pantomimes Simon writing a list, and is pretty much worthless, so I’m done with him. You know though, I bet Simon keeps an Excel spreadsheet for all of his favorite barbs. He’s a professional.
Lions and Lambs
Amanda Overmeyer is a nurse who helps people. Until she’s off the clock, then it’s time to rock! Her loves include leather, the look of black with blonde streaks, wearing bandanas and eyeliner, sticking out her tongue, and being an all-around biker chick. Also, American Idol. She roars out Janis Joplin’s “Turtle Blues,” and it’s not bad in an “I have practiced every affectation of this song so long that I can do nothing else” kind of way. Simon asks her to sing something different, and she obliges with CCR’s “Traveling Band,” it comes out in the same growly way, but hey, the girl’s got a style that works. Paula is delighted; she calls Amanda authentic and real, which I think is a sign that Paula’s never seen a real live leather-studded collar on a girl before. Oh, Paula. Randy loves her too, and Simon makes the love unanimous, winking at Amanda as she picks up her golden ticket.
We see lots of others getting golden tickets, but we don’t see why. Then, we meet 18 year old Josiah Leming, who lives in a van down by the river! Okay, it’s a car, but when else am I going to get the chance to say that? Sorry, back to the tragedy. Josiah left school and home a year ago, and now he sleeps in his car and travels and does shows, and it’s like some romantic tale from the carefree 60s, except this is now and everyone knows it’s awful to live out of your car. Josiah eventually realizes this, and sheds tears about how Idol is his chance for a big break, and I’m sure as we speak, some kind old lady is setting up a web charity or a chain of free showers for him to use. Josiah finds his position in front of the judges a bit surreal, but he convinces them he has more ambition and all that than anyone ever had. He sings a song of his own, and it’s not crappy like that usually implies. Simon and Randy note that he has a British accent when he sings, and asks him to sing “Chasing Cars,” which draws out the same strange inflection. Weirdness. It’s almost lamb-like. Yes, that’s it. He sings like a lamb. Paula starts to ramble about how he’d be a good frontman; Simon cuts her off. Randy eventually gives him a yes, and Simon too, so it’s off to Hollywood for Josiah. What’s he gonna do with his car?
I don’t know, but thanks to Ryan, I am aware that nineteen people made it through the Atlanta auditions. They’re all screaming and jumping, and dancing for joy, but I’m not really feeling it. I think this was a weird episode, a little too full of downers, not enough crazy. But no matter, next up is the Best of the Rest, wherein we are sure to see some good old-fashioned fools to make fun of. AJane is the lucky gal that gets to bring you all that news, and then next week, we’re off to Hollywood!
Think you've got a witty retort to best Simon? PM me; I'm compiling a list.