At Least A Few Dodged the Bullet
After last week’s edition of “Superstar USA,” I thought that I was a hardened Recapper. I thought myself desensitized to the inherent cruelty in promoting delusions of grandeur in contestants hopelessly lacking in talent. “Bring it on, I can take it. They deserve it for signing up for a reality TV show in the first place,” I thought to myself callously.
Then I experienced tonight’s episode. I have to confess that I felt more than a couple of guilty twinges throughout. My viewing went something like this: Wince-start to laugh- squirm uncomfortably-laugh-wince-squirm. Never fear, however, as I am now as fascinated by this train wreck as the next person. At this point, I would probably watch to the bitter end whether I was writing about it or not. I’m just a glutton for punishment, I suppose.
After the extensive review of the prior episodes, we learn that the field of thousands has been narrowed to twenty-eight contestants. These contestants will be whittled down to a final twelve, who will go on to compete in Hollywood. I’ll confess to some confusion on my part during this explanation. I had been under the assumption that all of the chosen contestants were moving on to Hollywood. From their earlier cries of, “I’m going to Hollywood!” I will assume that the contestants were also confused on the point. Sadly (or thankfully), only twelve will be handpicked to continue their journey into Superstardom.
To make the final cut to go to Hollywood, we are told that the contestants need three things: a terrible singing voice, a belief that they were destined for greatness, and be extremely entertaining. I waffled over whether to include the names of all of the contestants that were considered, but figured I had better, just in case your favorite was included. So, in no particular order, those 28 were:
Robert, Claudia,Gerard, Emily
Chad, Chris, Joe, Ash
Michael, Rosa, Mario, Richard
Elle, Nicholas, Laurie, Herbert
Darren, Frank, Ryan, John-Michael
Tamara, Rochelle, Jamie, Ross
Omar, JoJo, Lance, Nina
We join the judges as they pour over photographs and decide whom to send on to Hollywood. This decision took either them or the producers a few days to figure out, judging from the numerous wardrobe changes we saw during their deliberations. They discarded several for being too talented or too good looking as the nervous contestants awaited their fates.
The “Lucky” Finalists
1. Omar- This 28-year-old caught everyone’s attention with his motorcycle-revving warm up exercise and his lyric-shouting style. We are told that he collects rocks and counts Creed and Whitney Houston as musical influences.
When surprised with the news at his apartment, Omar’s face lit up as he jumped around in pure happiness (my first squirm of the evening). He explained that he had been trying to sing professionally for six or seven years and that this was the first time anyone had said he could sing well. In his delight, Omar fails to see the inconsistency in being one of twelve chosen in a singing competition of thousands when he has never even gotten a compliment on his voice before.
2. Rosa- Memorable for her garbled lyrics and the lock of hair that kept getting in her mouth, this 22-year-old is a front-runner in the eyes of the judges. Though she confesses to not being able to understand a word she says, Vitamin C calls Rosa a true performer for being able to “draw you in”.
Interrupting her salon appointment (which is grounds for beheading for anything less than a fire in my book), the Superstar staff informs Rosa of her “good fortune”. Excited about this “boost to her career,” Rosa boasts that she will “kick” any competition.
3. Jamie- This small town Minnesota girl became infamous for her blonde hair, big breasts, and for reading the lyrics off her hand during her audition. In fact, McFayden mentions her palm-reading skills to an annoying degree. I feel like the producers are beating me about the head with the gag while screaming, “See, it’s funny! Laugh! She’s reading it off her hand! Don’t you get it? Its funny, trust us. Laugh, damn you, laugh!”
When they show up seemingly unannounced at Jamie’s apartment, I wonder if they even bothered knocking. The place was a wreck and Jamie came scrambling out of the next room, desperately pulling a bathrobe around herself. Good thing her shower was finished, I guess. Anyway, she is surprised because no one had ever really believed in her before. I’m starting to sense a pattern.
4. Mario - My own (and Bryan McFayden’s) pick for the ultimate Superstar is next on the list. Straight out of “Revenge of the Nerds”, Mario’s look was what first caught the eye of the judges. When he began to screech and fumble about the stage during his rendition of “Celebration,” his fate was sealed.
When they (oddly) catch him eating in a mall Food Court, Mario is surprisingly subdued when he hears the news of his advancement. Citing his belief in himself, Mario is sure he will do well.
5. Nina- A self-proclaimed “Asian American Rock Pop Babe,” the vivacious Nina stole the show with her high leg kicks and stripper attire during the auditions. Tone Loc muses that if you are going to sing badly, you can at least look good, and he considers Nina, “one fly diva”.
They soon track Nina down to break the news and she is ready to go on to LA to crush the competition.
6. John-Michael- This excitable fellow scared small children everywhere with his explosive, over the top rendition of “War”. Briggs says that if he ever produces regional dinner theater, he’s giving John-Michael a call because, “you gotta love the jazz hands”.
To add immediate insult to his eventual injury, the staff surprises John-Michael (which is annoying to type, by the way) as he exits a port-a-potty. I’m hoping that John-Michael gave whoever informed them he was in said potty a good slap on the back of the head later on. He, again, is excited and surprised.
7. Ross-Confusing the judges with his gender bending ways, Ross became an immediate contender at his audition.
When he is informed that he is moving on to Hollywood, Ross exudes pure happiness and says that he gets a high from performing. He also shows us his homemade pants collection and sings into a Britney-styled headpiece.
8. Tamara- The girl who showed she could act like a diva, Tamara believes that her voice makes people happy.
Ambushed at a restaurant, Tamara explains that she has the look, sound and determination to be a Superstar
9. JoJo -Best known for his large, booming voice and pink beret, JoJo wowed the judges with his rendition of “Sweet Chariot”
When he is given the news at the gym, JoJo says something that I’ll have to share, because it might be important. I’m not sure of that fact, because I’m not sure what he said. Sipping a appletini-type drink (always essential for post-workout), JoJo says, “For all you guys out there that said I couldn’t do it, you’re gonna pull your lips cause I’m gonna bring it and y’all look moose. So tell em that JoJo is comin and he’s comin strong.”
10. Emily- I don’t remember this girl at all. Her profile says she's a belly dancer and they show a clip of her audition where she is wearing a midriff-bearing shirt, even though she’s rather,….er…husky.
11. Ash, The Anglo Assassin Well, his name should explain why he was chosen. The only rapper, he dished out the “Butt” ditty for the judges.
12. Frank This male Britney Spears clone (disturbing I know) finally brings us to the end of our chosen twelve. Echoing my sentiments from the other day, Vitamin C says that sometimes Franks singing was “so bizarre, I didn’t even notice his dancing,” and that at other times his dancing was “so odd, I couldn’t even hear him singing.”
The Dirty Dozen Gets A Makeover
Arriving in Hollywood, the contestant reiterate why they believe they are there. Most feel that it is their time to be famous and that they are facing their destiny. Rosa’s excited screams are subtitled so that we can understand her mumbling. Mario wants to dedicate his win to his girlfriend (yes, I was surprised too), but tells us that he is not blind to the dangers of other women who might want a “piece of” him now. They are all jazzed about having this shot at fame.
The contestants meet with the judges to brainstorm ideas for their new “look”. They are then hustled off to the salon, where they all want to be made to look like Britney Spears or Alicia Keyes. I’m always happy to go to the salon for any reason, so I’m pretty interested in the makeover montage. For the price of being humiliated, at least they get to acquire some righteous hairstyles out of the deal.
Rosa, for some inexplicable reason, hates her salon trip. She is tired and grumpy and sits there looking mad at the world. Nina also complains about how long the process takes, but both are happy with the results. Come on ladies! Enjoy yourselves! You’ll appreciate several hours sitting quietly in a chair if you ever have kids.
Some of the makeovers are subtle changes (Jamie, Tamara), and some are more dramatic (Mario, JoJo), but they all come out looking more glamorous. Now that they look the part, all of the contestants are anxious to begin the competition.
Join me tomorrow as we follow the newly polished Superstar contenders into the first round of the competition. Together, we’ll check our conscience at the door and reach for the earplugs.
Contact the writer at Stargazer@fansofrealitytv.com