The Show That Proves We'll Watch Anything
Lines of screaming teenagers wind around city blocks, anxiously waiting to show off their singing ability to America. Greeted by a saccharin host, they engage in idle banter as he offers support through spiky hair and good teeth. Contestants sing their hearts out to a panel of judges and are either praised lavishly by the nice one, sent running for cover from the acid-tongue of another, or thrown a noncommittal, “yo” by the third. Sound familiar? Sure it does. Everyone knows this show, right? We’ve obviously stumbled into that pop phenomenon, “American Idol”.
No, my friend, I’m afraid not. Don’t you remember why you came here? Why you left your home to lug your television to this crossroad? If you will recall, your William Hung loving-self wanted to see more chicanery, more humiliation, and more laughter at the expense of delusional contestants. The WB has kindly provided that in its new show, “Superstar USA”, but it does come at a small price. I'm just here to help you with the paperwork. Such a small sacrifice, the soul of your TV. Just think, you will never have to pretend you enjoy watching the History Channel again. Now, if you will just sign on the dotted line and return the flaming pen to the inkwell, we can get started.
Brian McFayden, the show’s host, begins our journey into the abyss by merrily explaining the premise of the show. “Superstar USA” is actually a hoax perpetrated on thousands of hopeful singers, all believing that the show was looking for the next pop sensation. In auditions held nationwide, contestants were advanced not because of their singing ability, but rather for a lack of it. Completely unaware they were merely pawns being manipulated, good singers would be told that they were not good enough and poor singers would advance into the next round. He explains that it’s not good enough for a singer to merely be bad. They also need to be deluded enough to believe they are great. Teams of dancers, experts, stylists, and hundreds of fans were hired to maintain the illusion of a televised talent show. Eventually, a winner will be chosen and the truth revealed to them in a dramatic final show.
These judges will be faced with the challenge of looking bored and unaffected by the good singers while lavishing praise on the tone deaf. They need to narrow the field down to 12 finalists who will compete in Hollywood for the dubious honor of being the “Superstar”.
The judges are:
Vitamin C – Singer who insured her status as a Platinum recording artist by penning the song, “Graduation”. She says that they are looking for contestants who are cocky without “the goods to back it up.”
Tone Loc- Grammy nominated and a pioneer in the field of rap. He looks forward to turning everything we know about music upside down. He explains that the good singers will be “whack” and the “whack” singers will be good.
Briggs We aren’t told much about Briggs except that he’s a straight shooter and the show’s producer. When asked what his response is to people that find the concept offensive, Briggs flips the one finger salute to the camera and says, “**** you”.
After the judges have been introduced, we jet off to the first stop on the audition trail, Las Vegas, Nevada. This home of Elvis, slot machines, and more strippers than you can shake a stick at seems a fitting place to begin such a classy show. We see the hundreds of hopefuls standing in line for hours waiting for their shot at glory. The judges arrive and after some schmoozing with the crowd, settle into the audition room
Busty Blondes and Evil Canadians
The first audition is young Robert, who says that he sings from his heart. Robert’s heart must be full of many cats and many rocking chairs based on the wailing that escapes his lips. During his rendition of, “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” the judges sit bobbing along to whatever beat they can find. As he finishes, Vitamin C gushes that “superstardom begins with you, Robert” and Briggs questions if Robert’s manhood is still intact because of his ability to screech out high pitches (I’m afraid I cannot bring myself to type “notes”). Robert nods along in agreement and confidently chats with the host afterward about his ability to hit notes no one else can hit. He has me there.
We soon get to hear an array of the worst talent Vegas has to offer in the next several contestants. Rosa, the first of these, was probably a horrible singer. However, I was so distracted by the chunk of hair that kept curling up and getting into her mouth that it’s hard to say for sure. The sequined muscle shirt of Lance, the next competitor, similarly distracted me. Several bad singers later, and we come to Jamie. This busty blonde gyrated spastically around the stage she peeked at the lyrics of “Like A Virgin” that she had scrawled across her hand. The judges have their poker faces on, however, and pass all three to the next round.
After Brian takes us on a brief and boring tour to show us how realistic the talent show appears, we are back to the auditions. Now we are treated to Doreen, who sounds fantastic after listening to the prior auditions. The judges, of course, have to find some reason to keep her from advancing to the next round. Briggs, in a hilarious rant, claims that he is disgusted that Doreen would come to a competition for “Superstar USA” and sing the Canadian Nation Anthem. He continues his tirade by saying that we already have too many Canadians like Celine Dion stealing American superstar jobs and that he does not intend to contribute to that problem. After leaving the audition room, the stunned Doreen tells Brian that her audition didn’t go that well because “homeboy at the end just don’t like Canadians”.
Is He or Isn’t She?
After disposing of several talented singers, the judges were beginning to worry that Vegas had too much talent until they experienced another flurry of enthusiastic, but terrible singers. There was a strange, hairy man that read off the lyrics to “Heart of Rock and Roll” and another forgettable character that had drank bourbon and lemon before his audition. However, the most notable was Ross. Everything about Ross was awkward as Ross came in and asked whether Ross should remove Ross’s backpack or not. Why do I keep playing the pronoun game and referring to this contestant as Ross? Well, because Ross could have easily played one of Pat’s “companions” in a Saturday Night Live skit. The voice was decidedly feminine, but the body was masculine. Well, sort of. Anyway, the host was equally confused, because after Ross was passed through to the next round, McFayden asked if “Ross” was short for “Rose” or “Roslyn”. This time, the joke was on the stunned Brian as Ross revealed that he was indeed a “he”.
After a few other bad, sometimes just strange contestants graced the stage, we saw Kelly. We actually saw a lot of Kelly, who apparently wanted to leave no questions as to her gender. Stripping her clothes off as she walked in front of the judges, Kelly belted out, “True Colors” while showing her own. After the performance, Vitamin C suggested that Kelly just go for one breast or butt cheek the next time, as she found total nudity too, “gimmicky”.
We see several more bad performances, along with a few good. Briggs managed to make one talented singer cry by chastising her for being “disrespectful” to Gladys Knight and the Pips with her “lack of preparation”. As she was outside being comforted by the happy Brian McFayden, we saw the first crack in Brigg’s mask as he mumbled that she was “sweet” and that he felt “awful”
A Minute for Minneapolis
Something tells me that Minneapolis wasn’t bursting with entertaining performers either with or without ability, because they didn’t even venture into those auditions until almost the end of the show. Apparently, the bad singers auditioning in Minneapolis tried to make up for their lack of talent with an overabundance of drama, as showcased best by John Michael. In a performance that was a mix between a Robin Williams standup routine and a high school production of “Oklahoma”, John Michael gesticulated wildly as he belted out “War” to the delight of the judges and Minneapolis winds down without much further action.
Now we have come to the end of our first excursion into the nether regions of Reality TV. I hope you had as much fun cackling in evil glee as I did. Join me next time as the quest for America’s worst singer heads to the east coast. Until then, don’t forget to initial that last page of the contract. Remember, I need these in triplicate.
Comments? Email Stargazer@fansofrealitytv.com