This week's first audition episode starts off with a stark statement of apology from Idol about Steven Tyler's “outrageous behavior” from last week. They promise he won't be doing it ever again. Scout's honor. Say, what? I confess to only watching every other episode of this show so I may have missed some crazy antics but are we talking mild stuff like kissing another dude or heavy duty shock like biting off a dove's head? Or worst of all: Did he sing something out of tune? I guess I could google it but I don't really care. And whatever it was he won't to be doing it on my watch now. Bummer. Moving on because Ryan... But, wait! There's a montage of Steve telling some dude called Jake Muck that his name rhymes with... Hee! I miss all the good stuff.
Booty and Climb
Idol is in Austin, TX tonight, home of cows and scary fashions involving wide-brimmed hats. The first serving of the night is Corey Lavoy, 21, and his sister Brooks from whom he's been tragically separated during their childhood, blah, blah, blah. Cory gets a lovely montage of himself with his sister riding horses in slo-mo and laughing sweetly in a heartwarming picture of sibling love that is meant to endear you to the country boy. I mean, it looked loving at double speed! Once in the judging room, the pimping starts right away as the judges ask for the sister to come and join them as a judge before Cory even opens his mouth to sing. Once he launches into “I can't make you love me” the voice turns out to be decent but nothing special. He also uses every vocal flourish known to man in his 20 second audition. He gets four heck yeahs but not before he can show off his JLo booty to the judges. Dude, you just lost all credibility.
Not even ten minutes into the show we get our first teen, 17 year old Hollie Cavanagh, who delivers a messy version of “At last” which has been pretty much par for the course for the teens so far, especially the girls because decent female voices are not a rarity and few are truly special. Not that the next Bieberette will need to be able to sing at all. The judges think she is not ready, they hem and haw, the girl bursts into tears. Randy says no, the girl bawls some more and JLo wants one more song from her if she can get it together. After a break to pay the bills, Hollie squeezes out a tear soaked Miley Cyrus cover which she sings better than Miley does. We will all see Hollie in Hollywood.
The reject reel is filled with fairly normal looking people, a definite break from what I've seen last week, which makes me think they were either too old, as in, over 20, male, or couldn't carry a tune. Or all three.
Rodolfo Ochoa, sweet with braces and weird hair, causes ear damage with “The circle of life” but at least he seems unique in a sea of dudes in cowboy hats who all want to be the next Garth Brooks but the most they can hope for is being extras in a bad western movie.
None is quite as qualified for that role as John Wayne Schulz, 23, who resembles the real John Wayne not at all except for his name. In a weird exchange between Daddy Schulz and Ryan we find out that Daddy wanted a “rough and tumble” son, hence the name. When Ryan quips that he would have been a disappointment to Mr. Schulz, Daddy says Ryan wouldn't have ended up the way he is now had he been his son. When is this show getting out of Texas? I've had just about enough. I fast forward through John Wayne's pimp reel that seems to be filled with smelly cattle and get straight to his audition, which he dedicates to his momma. John Wayne's song is some country song I don't recognize – not that I'd recognize any of them, of course – and he twangs through it in what I assume is the standard country emo way. The judges “feel him” enough to drag in the parental units, which seems to be the new modus operandi this season for everyone Idol really wants to push. Five bucks says cattle dude owns a guitar.
Love is in the air
Day two. The judges are ready, the contestants are angsty and the day Ryan Seacrest lives for during every season of Idol is finally here. You see, while most people show up to audition because they want to impress the judges, a select few just want to get closer to Ryan's hot bod. One such pitiful creature is Courtney Pentry who lets loose a barrage of tears as soon as she claps eyes on her future husband and love of her life. Ryan indulges her with a hug, probably hoping she won't jump him on national television. The sight is touching and restraining order worthy at the same time. Courtney starts off her audition by imitating a chicken and closes it up by covering a song called “Stay” that I've never heard before. Must be some country thing. The judges are divided because her voice is only so-so and her mannerisms are truly frightening but in the end JLo and Steven say yes and she is through. I hope they have an animal week in Hollywood. Ryan, better call his lawyer.
Shauntel Campos, Alex Carr, Caleb Johnson are all over 20 and they are all through to Hollywood along with a slew of other lucky nameless Texans who will probably not make the final cut unless they're young enough but every season needs good padding.
Speaking of what every season needs, but often lacks, is a good love story. Austin has so far delivered cowboys, potential stalkers, farm kings and now they even have a real life Romeo and Juliet situation to show the world. Under a bright blue sky, a pair of Arizona lovebirds twirl away like two carefree birds who wish to become Idol's first power couple. Jacqueline Dunford goes first singing a shouty “Mercy” cover that is all over the place. Her boyfriend Nick Fink is considerably smoother and more polished with his cover of “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5. Neither are exceptional but due to their cutesy story, sweet faces and good voices they're going to Hollywood. Any bets on which one of them will be dramatically eliminated on a future episode in order to up the ratings? My bet is on the dude.
Farm girl, Janelle Arthur from Tennessee – with her entire family in tow - wants to battle stereotypes about country people by proving... Well, not exactly sure what she wants to prove by singing a twangy country song that caters to the exact country stereotypes she abhors but she has a sweet falsetto, big country hair, cute farm girl looks and therefore a ticket to Hollywood. She was also shown wielding a guitar in her pimp package but since guitars have wisely been verboten during these auditions, Janelle has no opportunity to parade that particular talent. I suspect Idol will allow some limited use of that time honored crutch but we can probably all say goodbye to such insulting stunts as the harp and the didgeridoo. And if I never see another guitar on Idol it will be a good thing.
After this relative winning streak, things were bound to go downhill sometime and there's hardly any lower you can go than a girl in a creepy armadillo suit. Not to mention the girl in the angel costume and an assorted collection of the mentally deficient and the famewhorish. It never ceases to amaze me what some people will do for two seconds of airtime on American Idol, even if said two seconds of airtime will ensure that they'll never get laid ever again. Of course some of them weren't going to anyway...
Closing the night is Casey Abrams, 19, melodica player, Seth Rogen lookalike and hopeful future Idol. He starts of his audition by finding his pitch on the melodica – a weird cross between a keyboard and a flute – and then launches into a cover of “I don't need no doctor” by Ray Charles. His voice is a bit manic and gritty impressing the judges in just a right way. Seth Rogen's doppelganger will be fighting it out in Hollywood with the more photogenic people and the 15 year old girls. It will be a shocker if he makes it to the top 20 but stranger things have happened.
All in all, 50 people got golden tickets in Austin. The action moves to LA next and Arielflies will be here to give you a rundown on the Idol hometown flavor in all its glory. I understand there's an end in sight to the audition episodes. Hope it's soon because next time I might start making up stuff to stay awake.