Tuesday, January 27, 2009

American Idol 2009: Jacksonville FL Auditions

First, an apology for missing last Wednesday's recap. I had every intention of doing it, but I got a little irritated at the show because my last three recaps somehow resulted in me being banned from the official forums. The official line is that "some of the recaps crossed the line into bashing."

The real story, of course, is that the staff at American Idol are wetting their collective Pampers over the repercussions of the Paula Goodspeed suicide. (If you hadn't read, Paula G was a contestant during season 5 who idolized and later would stalk Paula Abdul. You can see the video of her audition here. Miss Goodspeed, who got rightfully mocked during her original audition, recently pulled the retard card and offed herself at Paula Abdul's house. See my comments on her from back then here. Obviously, as happens every time Darwinism claims a moron's life, there's a threat of a lawsuit, and so Idol is trying to act like they NEVER allow anyone to make fun of their contestants (even though the audition shows still continue to do so unabashedly). And of course in their overreaction, the moderators have classified anything other than an outrageously, slobberingly positive opinion to be "bashing" and they erase it accordingly. And thus with the kind of heavy-handed censorship that would've made Joseph Stalin beam with pride, they have essentially pulled the "American" out of Idol. This is what happened to my recaps there, after which I parodied the mods, which then precipitated the drop of the ban hammer. It ticked me off for a few days, but now I'm over it, but I didn't quite feel like recapping another cattle call of hypocrisy.

Tonight, however, I'm ready to take on the challenge.

This...is American Idol, unedited, as I see it.

Interior: Limo. Cue Ryan and Simon, riding in opulence, with the exception of all the camera crew's equipment that you just know is taking up the foot room. Seacrest and Simon talk, and Simon points out that Ryan doesn't speak in his radio voice normally. Well, duh! What radio guy goes around the house saying "it's ten minutes past the hour, a chilly 35 degrees outside and now it's time for seven in a row! What's your favorite station?!" As with all Seacrest/Cowell conversations, the talking gets awkward, and it's increasingly difficult to comprehend the fact that these two guys are actually very good friends off-screen.

A huge deal is made over Randy's stint with Journey, as though he was with Journey the whole entire time, as opposed to just one album and a couple of concert tours. And yes, that one video. Simon accuses Randy of having let all the fame go to his head, what with the police escort and all, but who is he kidding? Randy has been full of himself and been King Name-Dropper since this show began.

Joshua Olloa thinks he looks like Justin Guarini. Clearly there are similarities: they both have curly hair and no record contract! (I kid, Justin, I kid.) Beyond that, Joshua and Justin have nothing in common, unless Joshua has been in a failed beach movie with Kelly Clarkson and I didn't know about it. Joshua does a very affected version of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," and Kara looks like she wants to accept the proposition. Is it me, or has Kara been a cat in heat all season? Joshua has good range, a good voice, and Blake's beatbox thingy, which I have decided is an automatic FAIL in my book from now on, but he only used it once so I'll let it slide. Simon compares him to Inspector Gadget, in the sense that he pulled this audition directly out of a hatch in his hindquarters. Randy feels he's entertaining. Simon, Randy, Kara and Paula all say yes, and we'll go on to see if Joshua can end up winning me over in Hollywood.

Ryan says the word "shih tzu" on air while I'm barely paying attention, causing me to jerk my head up from my computer screen, which then caused me to see a goofy looking dog named Sasha. Sharon Wilbur and her weird Kelly Clarkson hair brought her annoying dog with her to her audition. On a top ten list of "most annoying things you can do," owning a dog as a fashion accessory is at least number eight. Bringing it with you to inappropriate events is somewhere around number three. Of course she can't just leave the mutt outside, and so Simon gets to hold the dog. He looks aghast at having to hold the dog, as though he'd been asked to rub elephant dung in his hair. Sharon apparently went to the Britney Spears school of singing, which is to say she practices shallow breathing, nasal singing, and saying the word "baybay" a lot. I hate it. Absolutely despise it. I'd rather have a rabid scorpion in my underpants than hear another second of it. The whole audition jumps into the realm of the bizarre as Paula and Kara randomly make out. Kara very nearly pops out of her blouse, which is the kind of thing that happens when you dress in the dark and accidentally put on your curtains instead of a blouse. Almost as an afterthought, Sharon goes to Hollywood, and then we get back to the real important discussion, which is Kara expressing her ardent desire to have Simon make out with her. And the kink doesn't stop there, as we go out into the receiving room and see some gross guy tongue kissing the dog.

Cue Seacrest driving a golf cart fully laden with the camera and lighting crew. He gets lost on his way to the hotel, does some lame jokes about Jurassic Park, which makes him about as contemporary as a hoop skirt.

Dana Moreno puts our ears through the fire. She offers to take direction, and Simon programs in "Hell" on her GPS.

Kaneswa Finnie is going to sing an Anita Baker song. She's self-confident, but that confidence is mostly mis-placed when it comes to her singing style. Of course she's got the nightmarish stage mom who thinks that every single sound that comes from her baby's mouth, including burps and vomit noise, is pure musical perfection. Kaneswa is cute, but entirely off-key. Simon claims that it got progressively worse as it went along, which would mean it went from horrible to borderline criminal. Kara blames Kaneswa's mother for deluding her into such visions of vocal grandeur, and Simon has the bright idea to have the PA fetch the mom in for another exploitative moment. Simon implies that people would probably throw things at Kaneswa when she sings if she ever stopped moving. It kind of makes you wonder why Simon hasn't had more suicides in front of his house. Kaneswa's mom, still leaving in fantasy-land, is convinced that a travesty of justice greater than any O.J. verdict has occurred.

Julissa Veloz is labeled as a "beauty queen," despite the fact that she sort of looks like a tranny hooker. Her clothes are supposed to indicate that she's some kind of pageant veteran, but I think you'd find that ensemble worn more frequently by crazed bag ladies than by pageant winners. She's an okay singer, but kind of all over the place, lyrics and all. Unconcerned about possible future suicides, the judges proceed to make fun of her admittedly weird laugh, without directly claiming that Fran Drescher called and wants it back. On the same subject, Julissa's got some chompers on her, doesn't she? As a friend of mine used to say, that girl could eat corn off a cob through a picket fence. At this point, Paula goes mental and leaves the stage for some reason. Julissa chases her, and there's the second implication of Paula making out with a girl tonight. Julissa is on to Hollywood.

Darin Darnell gets to be the dancing fool. Nope, no racist caricatures on this show! No sirree! After several scenes of the comically-impaired Darin allowing himself to be exploited on camera, we get to meet his friend, whose name I forget, but as it happens it doesn't really matter since the guy got cut and left the arena in a heaving sobbing mess. So like every falsely confident person, Darin completely loses his crap and starts out his audition by crying like a little baby girl with snapping turtles in her diaper. And well he should, since once he starts singing, everyone within earshot begins weeping similar tears of torment and pain. Simon cuts him short, because it's gone past ridiculous. Kara reminds Darin that the music business is a cruel mistress, and that if he will cry like that during something as ridiculous as an American Idol audition, then he'll never be able to survive having to get coffee and donuts for a record company exec.

Naomi Sykes is excited, though. She compares herself to Mariah Carey. Simon says that means she's a "talented looney," again showcasing this show's empathy for performers with mental health issues. Naomi's friend wants to meet Randy. She's called in and they do some weird running thing that should be scored by Vangelis' "Chariots of Fire". The friend, Samantha, gets to sit on Randy's lap, now that he's lost weight and actually has one. Naomi sings Minnie Riperton's "Loving You". Paula sits on Simon's lap, and Ryan sits on Kara's lap. Kara actually grabs Seacrest by the man-boobs, and I've rarely seen a supposedly-heterosexual man look so out of his element. And as soon as Naomi starts singing, all the oxygen leaves the room. Paula passes out. The outcome is predictable. Naomi cries and here comes all the hugging.

Day 2 is on, with no reduction in stupid auditions to be found in this season, despite all the pre-season claims.

Jasmine Murray is a very pretty sixteen year old with a lovely family. She sings Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry," which is a song that's much too big for even Fergie. Jasmine sings it well, though, even though she projects a bit too much through the nose instead of reaching deep. Simon finds her very commercial, and she's going to Hollywood. Good luck!

George Ramirez and his beard are given the whole homeless college student treatment. You can tell he's going to be awful, and it's barely even worth going into, because you just know that he's just jockeying for more camera time. George loves physics and music equally, as we discover in his interminable feature package. Simon asks where George would see himself in 11 years, and I get the feeling that Simon sees George upgrading from cardboard box to full-fledged dumpster in that time frame. George obviously didn't write a script for this character he's playing and as a result has absolutely no answer for an excruciatingly long time, and then he says he wants a simple house with the exception of marble floors, which is sort of like saying you want a studio apartment with a three car garage. On with the awful... Well what can I say, but he's awful. Mary Roach awful, in the sense that he's an actor who is hamming it up for the camera. Dismissed!

At this time, Kara would like to announce to the world that she has cleavage. She was afraid you might not have noticed.

Anne Marie Boskovich, 24, is awestruck by Kara, whom she actually saw performing once at an expo in Nashville. Apparently the impression was so great that Anne Marie actually knows the words to one of Kara's more obscure songs. Within only a second or two, Simon automatically has a problem with Ann Marie's self-effacing attitude. Some people might call it endearing, and some recappers like myself might be absolutely enchanted with her without any change at all, but apparently the judges are really looking for the Jerk Factor this year. She's tasked with the mission of coming back as a whored-up superstar diva.

T.K. Hash is back this year after not quite making it last year. He sings an adaptation of John Lennon's "Imagine," which is barely recognizable, but quite frankly better than the original. (I hate that song. It's one of the most over-rated and least inventive songs ever.) Paula thinks he's improved from last year. Randy agrees, but thinks he improved maybe just a bit too much and is going over the top. Simon says no. Randy says yes. Paula says yes. Kara, who hasn't had her name pronounced correctly thus far by Simon OR Randy, tips the scales in favor of Hollywood.

Families butter up the contestants. Really, folks, STOP. You know your child can't sing. You've known it since your kid was five years old, belting out showtunes in the supermarket and garnering evil stares from other shoppers. You've known it since they've been rejected from every single local talent show that you consistently enter them in. STOP LYING TO YOUR CHILDREN. If your kid can't handle his physics homework, do you tell him to become an engineer?? If your child can't spell to save his life, do you encourage him to become a journalist?? No. Why would it be different with singing? It is much more kind to let them know early on in life what they are and are not able to do.

One such family surrounds Michael Perelli, who carries his guitar everywhere he goes. You just know that he is one of those guys who annoys everyone everywhere he goes. He's that guy who you stopped inviting to your parties because he would always bring that stupid guitar and start playing his ridiculous insipid songs and make everyone go home early. He's the guy whose dates never worked out because he brought the guitar and felt the need to serenade with an alarming frequency. Apparently being a musician is Michael's full time job, in the sense that he sits on the street corner and people throw money into his case to make him stop. The producers won't allow him to use the guitar in his audition, and he goes through a separation anxiety appropriate for the deaths of everyone he knows and loves. He sings Third Eye Blind's "Jumper", and its obvious that the reason he needs his guitar is to drown out his voice. It's very wrong. He's not a terrible singer, but he isn't anywhere near good either. Michael cries and cries about his stupid guitar, which fails to impress Simon, who proceeds to condemn him to garage-band-dom. Michael comes up with a ton of excuses, whines a bunch, and gets on everyone's nerves, including the judges and pretty much all of America. He gets rejected and then storms off into the holding room in a fit of self-pity and unrighteous indignance. His mother attempts to console him, to which he responds by yelling at his mother not to touch him, which makes him look like a huge jerk, so much so that Ryan Seacrest tells him off. Ryan doesn't tolerate disrespect of one's mother.

Anne Marie Boskovich is back. She elects to do Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly." She performs it quite well. She's got a fan here! She needs to work on her stage presence, but she's entirely likable, and the transformation works out in her favor. Hollywood.

A crowd of people sing us out with Katrina and the Waves' "Walkin' on Sunshine." And I'm now blind because of the guy who flashed his chest at the camera. Yikes. Later!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday Night A.I. recap...

...will be posted tomorrow. I'll be tape-delaying all the Wednesday recaps this year. Hold your horses :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

American Idol 2009: San Francisco CA Auditions

It's time again for American Idol. Priscilla is out on the town tonight, so my dog Shorty and I have our Pringles and cranberry juice ready to go, and are settling in to watch and give our commentary. Tonight we're only in for one hour, so without further ado...well...here we go!

We're in San Francisco tonight, and if the search is on for weirdos, this city has no shortage of them. It's home to Katharine McPhee and William Hung, which is possibly the biggest talent gap in all of musical history.

We're treated to shots of the cattle calls, which are as always filled with a wide variety of freaks and geeks, most of whom fully realize that the nanosecond that they're on the screen will probably be their last and ham it up thusly. There was a proposal and marriage performed in the line. The divorce will be conducted at the Rock of Love auditions next year.

Seacrest points out the seven cameras, the boom mic, and the season 1 set that the judges appear to have reverted to. I actually quite prefer this, as it makes the audition room appear much more open, and there's this awkward fantasy that several have entertained regarding a certain British judge being attacked and pushed out of the windows, only to bounce off the awning immediately prior to the ground below and land safely immediately prior to being devoured by a lion. (Okay, that was the second Naked Gun movie, but admit it, you'd laugh if it happened.)

Tatiana Del Toro is a wannabe actress whose psychic friend and psychotic laugh have made the producers physiologically unable to refrain from featuring her. She wears a cross around her neck, as opposed to her usual wreath of garlic, which I can only assume is to keep the demons quelled within her. She has a gift to show the judges, and Simon, in one of his more blatant acts of lechery, stares at her chest, heartily agreeing. The gift turns out to be naughty pictures of Tatiana, which makes the female judges vomit in their mouth just a bit. Tatiana launches into some sort of cabaret performance. She's a decent singer, but a bit of a tramp, and even though she has some talent, her overall demeanor and attitude are off-putting, which will undoubtedly make for bad singing but great TV moments. Remember, this is a reality show, and one which doesn't do well without that one completely objectionable person. Simon doesn't think she's a good singer at all and gets a bit hissy when Tatiana cuts him off by breaking into a second song. Tatiana cops an attitude, strikes some weird pose, and then just when you think she's about to hush and listen to the judges, she breaks into a third song. Paula, who came dressed in her "Forever Your Girl" video outfit tonight, says yes. Randy says yes. Kara doesn't think Tatiana's all that, but the final verdict is to send Tatiana on to Hollywood, and we have our first real Hollywood week villain. Simon acknowledges that she ONLY got through based on the "naughty" factor. Yay. Can't wait for the inevitable meltdown. At this point, Shorty (my dog, in case you missed it before) tries to bite the TV.

Nick Reed played here by a hung-over Blake Lewis's reflection in a mud puddle fails to amuse the judges with his beat-boxing. Was that a trend last year? The beat-boxing, I mean. I was hoping we'd be done with that.

Wardrobe-challenged Dean-Anthony Bradford cut the upholstery off of a sofa from a 1970's pool hall and fashioned it into a smoking jacket. He then proceeds to ham up a version of Simply Red's "Stars," a song which is so awesome that it ought to be at least a misdemeanor to do what Dean-Anthony is doing. Simon, who fully recognizes this isn't a serious audition, is aching to move on. Randy rambles, Simon cuts straight to the chase and challenges Dean-Anthony's natural hair color, leading Dean-Anthony to say one of the creepiest things ever uttered on the show. And with that, the drapes are pulled and Dean-Anthony is tossed out onto the carpet.

Jesus Valenzuela is YET ANOTHER family man, which is becoming quite the theme with this show lately. This show is in danger of turning from a reality show into a sitcom. I can see it now: "Three Idols and a Baby". Or maybe "Full House Music." In any case, Jesus gets the nice-guy setup, and he's singing a very difficult Usher song, "Nice and Slow". He sings it too slow, too deliberately, and gets cut short by Simon who doesn't think he's cut out for the show. The judges exploit bring in the children. Simon lies to the one kid and tells him that Paula said no to his dad and that he was really adopted. Paula, naturally, is horified. Randy solicits another song, which is a mistake, because Jesus begins to sing a horridly melismatic version of the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody." Simon says no, Paula says yes, Kara says yes, and Randy tips the boat in favor of Hollywood in one of the more anti-climactic moments in this show's history (especially given the suggestion of the music bed before the final word.) The shortest kid hugs Simon, causing Simon's heart to grow three sizes, and Simon officially relinquishes his Grinch-dom for approximately five seconds, after which his heart once again freezes over, and he returns to torturing squirrels in his parents' basement. Shorty, duly impressed by this performance, returns to a corner of the living room where he proceeds to administer himself some intimate personal hygiene.

Dalton Powell is the master of the Rubik's cube. Assuming that there was no camera trickery, I'm amazed, as I've never figured out one of those blasted things. Dalton pauses for a moment, balances his chi, and summons his energy to sing a Smokey Robinson song, and the build-up turns out to be all for naught. Clearly, his skill lies in solving intricate puzzles in complete and utter silence. I can't bring myself to say too many bad things about Dalton, because he's strangely likable, and his attitude seems to be, more or less, "awww shucks, well, that was fun anyway." He goes home with props for being able to solve the world's kitschiest puzzle, but not as a singing sensation.

James Smith plays to the female judges rather well, but sings rather poorly. Trading on marginal good looks, he attempts to slip through based on showmanship. In the ensuing melodrama, Randy accuses Paula of liking James because she wants to be impregnated, completely forgetting that Paula passed menopause on-air at least two years ago. Paula immediately gets offended, gives Randy a look that tells him exactly which side of eternity he can immediately retreat to, and just like that, the audition is over and James can return to being just one of ten James Smiths in his phone book alone.

Seacrest refers back to the Summer of Love, Haight Street, and all that hippie crap, and then we're jerked back into reality, which is that music nowadays REALLY is nothing compared to what it used to be.

Kara and Simon fight. A lot. And yet you know that he probably hits on her behind the scenes. And you totally know she wants him.

Akila Askew-Gholdson is featured with Oingo Boingo's "Weird Science" as the music bed. She shows us her science class notes, and I don't think I could mock her any worse than the show is doing. In my mind, this is one of the biggest ironies about the show's website. "Don't mock the contestants! They're people too!" screams the rules thread on the Idol message board. Look...I could write all day and not make as big a fool out of everyone as the show itself does. I couldn't be any more racist, gay-bashing, or cruel than this show is by virtue of their editing of these clips. But I digress. Back to the audition: Simon thinks Akilah has a naughty face, and after studying her face for a while, I still have no idea what in the universe he's talking about. Akila sings an original song which, well, let's just say she's not going to get into BMI or ASCAP by virtue of writing it. She switches over to "Natural Woman" and Simon calls her "AH-kuh-la" which precipitates everyone talking over one another for a solid minute. After the din dies down, she proceeds to butter the heck out of the judges, calling Kara the best singer ever, and giving Paula one of the most backhanded compliments of the whole year. Suddenly I'm not watching American Idol anymore, as it appears an episode of The Maury Povich Show has broken out, what with everyone yelling and screaming to be heard over one another. Akilah falls into the trap, gets off the script and Kara then bodily shoves her out the door. Akilah has a real problem knowing when it's time to go, and her backroom confessional interview lets slip one of the secrets of Idol: this isn't her original audition. She's been asked to come back, probably more than once, on different days, and she's legitimately confused about whether or not it's okay for her to leave yet. Meanwhile, Shorty has left the living room and has taken this opportunity to go outside and fertilize the grass.

John Twiford, Allison Iraherta and Rachael Haughton are all going to Hollywild. I hope I got their names right, because that was FAST.

Annie Murdoch plays the violin and the piano. She wants to sing a Bonnie Raitt song but can't decide which one. I'd prefer none, especially if you're an Idol contestant and your last name isn't Underwood or Cardinale. I mean Annie's got a modicum of talent, but she oversings the living spit out of the song. Simon says it sounds like she's been turning too many bottles of tequila upside down, and the rest of the judges fall straight in line in dismissing her.

Adam Lambert, having been out of work since A Flock of Seagulls broke up, wants to lay it all on the line for the judges. But this time, methinks, I will not want to run (so far away). Adam has been doing musical theater, which is about as surprising as getting herpes after using Paris Hilton's toilet seat, and everything about this man screams Constantine Part Deux. He sings "Bohemian Rhapsody," further invoking Mr. Maroulis. Simon thinks he's theatrical, which is never a compliment coming from Mr. Cowell. It's a unanimous yes. Adam kisses Paula and Kara on the hand, shakes hands with the two male judges, and after he leaves the PA's rush onto the floor to dispense Purell.

Kai Kalama, who I'm almost certain made up his name, has a mom who has a seizure disorder. Kai takes care of her, doesn't date, doesn't go out, and basically lives to fluff his mom's pillows. We get the whole tear-jerker treatment, but somehow this one doesn't seem nearly as sincere as some others. I mean it's a great story and sad, but the heartbreak story seems to be another over-worked theme this year. We've got the one with the dead wife and now this one, and I'm wondering if A.I. doesn't turn out to be a sitcom that it might turn out to be a telethon for the downtrodden. Kai sings "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," and he does a decent job of it. He does need to do something with that hair and clean up that messy beard, but I do enjoy his performance. He's very personable and confident while singing, but he doesn't quite pop. Kara snipes at Simon because he won't let her go on and on interminably with a dissertation on the sum total of her musical knowledge, when the only input required of her at this moment is a simple yes or no. Kai gets through to Hollywood and "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe now owns the title of the most inappropriate audition-out song ever. Shorty yawns and curls up into a ball to sleep.

Well, only one hour tonight and it's over! See you tomorrow night!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In honor of American Idol's premiere, Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 hosted by PAULA ABDUL - 9/24/1995

Here's yet another Rick Dees show that won't be on XM. This show is from September 24, 1995 and is co-hosted by Paula Abdul.

(I posted an earlier show from 1989 with Paula co-hosting, which can be found here. This is not the same show.)

One thing I didn't like: Number 38, "This Is How We Do It" by Montell Jordan is omitted. Paula announces the song's rank, and then moves on. This was one of the things that Rick did occasionally that I didn't like.

But, there's a lot else to enjoy about this show. For one thing, Paula has gotten much better at "talkin' on the radio" since the late 80's, though she's not quite as articulate (??) as she is today on American Idol. (It's fairly obvious she's reading from the script.) I did find it interesting that in one segment Rick talks about her taking kickboxing lessons, and Paula goes on and talks about this small, quiet, family owned workout place owned by Billy Blanks, who would shortly thereafter invent TAE-BO and become anything but. (Apparently Billy used to be a softspoken individual.)

Rick also heavily promotes "The National O.J." which is a courtroom parody periodical, in the style of the Onion, which was written by himself and Peter Green.

There's also an ad campaign by AT&T that asks us if we've ever played video games online with our friends, sent a fax from the beach, or any number of other things that are routine for us in 2009, but in 1995 when folks were still pretty new to the internet these things MUST have sounded like stuff the Jetsons would do. "You will," promises AT&T, though I'm somewhat sure they weren't entirely the pioneers of any of it.

It's things like those that make these shows fascinating for me.

Anyway, here ya go. Ripped directly from the original CDs, all network ads and promos included.

Hour 1

Hour 2

Hour 3

Hour 4

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

American Idol 2009: Kansas City MO Audition

It's time for the second night of the 2009 American Idol premiere. In preparation for this momentous event, I decided it would be advantageous to become very sick, so as not to have a clear head. That's somewhat of an understatement, actually, since at this point I'm weighing the options between sawing my head completely off or just Tylenol PM'ing myself into a coma. Instead, I'm sitting here entombed in a comforter, fighting off chills, and watching the most over-hyped show in the universe and hoping that recapping it will take my mind off of the rest of my body.

Last night was...special, but about ten percent less people experienced that special-ness. Yup, the ratings dipped, but even at that loss, A.I. still murdered every other show in its time slot. After 8 years, the locomotive has lost steam, but it's still barreling down the track. So let's see what we get.

For only the second time in 2009, THIS is American Idol.

In keeping with Idol's promise to cut down on the silly audition shows, we have two entire hours of people embarrassing themselves and a smattering of people who will cause us to retain our faith in humanity. We're in the home of David Cook, Kansas City, MO. I've only had the opportunity to be in that city three or four times, but I've never made it a priority to return, though I do enjoy their baseball stadium. A lot of folks showed up including some guy who forget half his dentures. "Oh freakin' yeah, my orthodontist graduated last in his class!" he yells at the camera.

Jason Castro is here tonight, and apparently he's one of the delights I missed last year. His brother Michael will attempt to entertain us later on tonight.

Chelsea Marquardt is cute enough, and she gets a nice little video package, but it's all for naught as she is the exact reverse of last night's Michael Sarver (pretty, but horrible voice.) She strikes me as someone who truly is deluded into thinking she can sing. Sadly, she sounds like a constipated spider monkey with a five pound salami in its colon. Simon compares her to a cat jumping off the Empire State Building and its screech before reaching its penultimate end on an expensive sports car below, a la the auto insurance commercials I've been seeing lately. Unable to come up with his own witticisms, Randy piggybacks on Simon's joke with siren noises. The girls get all righteously indignant, tell the guys what awful jerks they are for telling the truth, and then they proceed to patronize the living tar out of Chelsea with the usual fluff. I'll grant Kara that she is somewhat more direct than Paula, but I really haven't seen what use she's going to be this season. Because Chelsea's decent-looking, they don't completely destroy her, but they don't waste a lot of time dismissing her either.

Ashley Anderson is singing "Footsteps in the Sand" as sung by Leona Lewis and co-written by Simon Cowell, who can't resist being egomaniacal and correcting her when she mis-quotes the lyrics in her hypnotic and beautiful voice. Seriously, footsteps, footprints, who really cares? At least it's not "Bleeding Love" for the billionth time. Ashley has great vocal control, perhaps not a lot of depth on the lower end, but she's still an amazing vocalist. She reminds me of a more mature sounding Katharine McPhee. She gets all four judges to approve, and I'm interested to see what this girl will do in Hollywood. Apparently American Idol bought all their music licensing on wholesale this year, and Ashley exits to a Sara Bareilles song.

Casey Carlson is 20 years old, owns stock in a push-up bra company and sings Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles." First of all, the dress? No. As for the performance, this song REALLY needs the piano backing track, which is really the star of the song. The vocal part of the song isn't all that complex and doesn't show much range. Still, Casey does well enough with it and goes on to Hollywood. She's okay, but my annoyance meter with her is pegged just a bit.

And now it's on to a group of people who think gymnastics might get them on camera. Because, you know, Idol isn't going to be all about that silly stuff this year. Still, let's look at a bunch of idiots doing backflips, dancing or basically doing anything to draw attention to themselves short of stripping naked and dropping a deuce in the middle of the pavement.

Brian Hettler will in no way be any good, since his video package does little more than make a fool of him, an act in which he is completely complicit. He does a stylized version of Aretha's "Think." Thinking, apparently, is a biological process that Brian has never experienced, at least not when preparing for this audition, or for that matter when putting on his clothes this morning. That being said, I don't believe for a moment that this is a serious audition. It can't possibly be. I wonder which radio station this guy works for, because obviously this is just some guy who's trying his best to act the complete and utter fool just to get seen on TV. I've always wondered why contestants do this. I mean, yes, you can have fun being an absolute retard on Idol, but don't you have to return home after the fact? Don't you know that people in the supermarket are going to be pointing and laughing at you for the rest of the year? You can tell from Brian's performance that he has a marginal talent for singing. If he'd just calm himself down and be serious about it he might actually be okay. But he's exaggerating it for shock value. Watch his face. He's just being a jerk about it. Move along, big guy. And peel some of that goatee off so you can glue it to your chest. The camera follows him as he pretends to be surprised about the outcome.

Several others following him can't contain their emotions, including one tantrum-thrower with an afro puff who loses her mind screaming "NO!!!! NO!!!" though what the show has failed to tell us is that this was her reaction to seeing Ryan Seacrest emerge from his hotel room wearing a speedo and a smile.

David Cook's parents just happen to show up magically. The producers didn't plan this at all. No. No possible way. Have any of you noticed yet who the show is REALLY REALLY trying to sell this year?? He was even the focus of a show promo earlier tonight.

James Michael Avance is barely worth comment, beyond the irony of his song choice "When You Say Nothing At All." Pardon, I need to reach over and get my vomit bowl. Not that I have to puke, but I thought maybe if I put it over my head it would deflect the sound. Billy Vinson, who is as wide as he is tall, achieves little more in terms of audio excellence, nor did Chris Jones, who appears to have a uni-eye.

Von Smith promises to be the weird crooner this year, which makes him about as unique as finding a black guy in Nigeria. He's going to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," but the first attempt is aborted with a gust of phlegm. I feel ya, dude. My head is about to explode even as I type this, and I couldn't sing right now if you stuck a pair of jumper cables down my shorts and threatened to start your car. After clearing his throat, Von tears into a screaming jag appropriate for situations in which one has discovered a piranha in one's toilet. Dude, screaming only magnifies your vocal shortcomings. It doesn't erase them. Further pegging my annoyance meter, I get to wait a whole commercial break before I can find out the disposition of this case. Fast forward five minutes and Randy likes his vocals, as does Simon. Paula says "absolutely yes," and Kara likes him too. I'm going to get the speakers on my TV checked tomorrow, because I obviously heard a different audition than these four.

4th runner-up Jason Castro, who hasn't washed his hair since sometime before last season escorts the lead singer from A Flock of Seagulls into the audition room. Apparently Jason is "more girly" than his brother, which is a huge feat considering that Michael is sporting pink hair. Michael Castro allegedly didn't start singing till 20 days before the auditions, and if you believe that, then I'll start the paperwork on that bridge that I'm going to sell you. He's going to sing Gavin DeGraw's "In Love With a Girl." He's good, but I don't know if he's good enough for the show. Simon thinks it's "good-ish," which is Simon for "bloody awful, but you're related to one of our alumni, so I can't say what I really feel." Kara calls him "ballsy." The judges unanimously say yes. They comment on his cockiness, which is apparently the new word for confident, and I totally didn't pick that up from him.

Vaughn English, played here by Big Bird, does some ridiculous thing which gets him immediately dismissed.

Time for another married dude with kids. Chris Daughtry, you're such a trendsetter. Matt Breitzke is a welder/fabricator, which puts him slightly below the oil-derrick guy from last night on the manliness scale, but in terms of Clay Aiken, this guy is a river of testosterone. Paula giggles a bit, which is her first tell that the Coke is still spiked this year. Matt sings "Ain't No Sunshine" and does it well. He really needs to work on his stage presence. Open your eyes, dude! Matt doesn't exactly do well when he gets off the script, either. Randy doesn't care for him, but Paula and Kara just want to rub oil on that big bald head there. Simon kicks in with the girls, and Matt is going to Hollywood.

Jasmine Joseph is somewhere over the rainbow, not just in song, but in hair color. I'm not over the moon about her version of Judy Garland's classic. And it's bye bye time as the judges silently dismiss her.

Jessica Paige Furney lives in a place that really really identifies with the Wizard of Oz. Paula inquires about what kind of head shops there are in Jessica's town. Jess lives there with her crazy grandma, who is positively adorable, if not completely senile. "These are my crazy pills," she screams at the camera, which is just a little too easy to crack a joke about, and she's like 103, so I'll leave her alone. Jessica sings Janis Joplin's "Crybaby," and she does it quite well. I think Jessica has the look, style and personality that will get her a lot of fans among the girls, and she's "girl next door" enough to hook the guys too. She's not skinny, not fat, cute, bubbly and likable. She's confident in her performance, comfortable in her own skin, and I'm curious to see what happens with her as she inexplicably exits to Lifehouse's "You & Me." Seriously, song choice should not just apply to the contestants.

Ah, the friendships that are formed within the Idol experience. They are very real, and I say that with no touch of sarcasm, as I've witnessed some good ones. Carrie and Lindsey, Will and Kevin, Ruben and himself...

Asia and India McClain are sisters, though they don't seem to share one single genetic trait. They claim they're not twins, which is true. They're actually triplets, but Asia ate the third one while waiting in line for auditions. They rap together, which is goofy and all, but now it's time for the real nitty gritty. Asia goes first. As a singer, she's a much better rapper. India, on the other hand, does have some talent. Again, no genetic similarity between the two. But the big one is gonna have to go. India, on the other hand, is on to Hollywood, so long as Asia doesn't eat the golden ticket on the way out.

This last audition actually displays a rather brilliant tactic for passing the auditions: bring someone who is worse than you to make yourself look better. Quite simply, if they suck, then you sound better than you might've if you auditioned solo.

Jamar Rogers is singing "California Dreamin," which is more of a nightmare than a dream. He screams a song that should be kind of mellow. He's got a good voice, but it's WAY overmodulated. Inexplicably, he gets a unanimous yes. I'm not sure if the universe inverted on me, or if it's Opposite Day, but wow. I don't dislike him as a person, but... sigh.

Danny Gokey is a music teacher, and he must be pretty good, since he's been teased before each commercial break. His heartbreaking story is that his wife passed away a few months before this audition. She looks like a beautiful person, and I'm actually very moved by his story. I'm not kidding. I cried. I looked over at my beautiful wife of 2 years, Priscilla, and I thought about how devastating it would be if I ever lost her. I hope I never have to find out what that feels like. God bless you, Danny Gokey. Danny's audition is very good. He reminds me of another music teacher, season 4's Anwar Robinson. I love his voice, and I really want him to succeed. The judges do, as well. This guy is top 10 material, all the way. I really have an issue with the song they played during his exit, though. Did it really have to be The Fray's "How to Save a Life"?? That's not only incredibly tacky; it's incredibly insensitive and borderline cruel. That's just wrong.

And just to make sure we're not still emotional, we get to see a lot of girls who can't sing.

Anoop Desai, played by Kumar, is a master student in folklore. What does one do with such a degree? I haven't read much about folklorists in the classified ads. Well, apparently what you do with this degree is become a musician. "Anoop Dogg" sings rather well. I don't know if I'd have come to audition in the khaki shorts and flip flops, but he more than makes up for it with his voice. I sort of expected something awful, but he surprised me and the judges, and I'm again curious to see how Hollywood week treats this guy.

Where do they find all these mutants for the compilation songs? Watch "Men in Black" and tell me that these people aren't really aliens.

It's gimmick time, so bring on the ridiculous costumes, make-up, puppies, pimp suits, and yes in case you forgot last night, the token flat-chested bikini girl.

I'd fail the next contestant on principle alone, since he sends in two obnoxious cheerleaders, one played by Maggie Gyllenhaal and the other played by the planet Jupiter. Andrew Lang, aside from being painfully gay, is going to play the irony angle and sing the most affected version of "My Girl" he can possibly squeeze through his sphincter. Simon criticizes the cheerleaders, and Jabba the Hutt immediately condemns him to the Sarlacc pit. Maggie Gyllenhaal breaks down into a mess of tears, not because of the judges' decision but because she's desperately trying to be Andrew's girlfriend, despite the fact that he's got a major crush on her brother. Andrew's second performance kills any hope his audition might have once had, and believe it or not, there's another entire cheerleading squad outside waiting for him. There will be no cheers this day, alas. It's over.

Asa Barnes is a high school band director. I hope he's a cooler band director than the one I had in high school, who apparently learned his teaching skills from Mussolini. Asa seems much more chill, though. He does M.J.'s "The Way You Make Me Feel" but can anyone truly do that song as well as Michael? It stretches Asa's higher range just a bit, and he's often nasal and flat, but not altogether unpleasant. Again, the judges hear what they want to hear, and he's on to Hollyweird.

Can I just take a moment and say something about Kara's nose? That is one huge honker. It works well with the rest of her face, though. She's pretty; don't get me wrong. But I bet she could smell a fart by the time it got to your small intestine.

Michael Nicewonder is going to be just terrible. You just know it. There's no way in the universe for him NOT to be terrible. It's not the platinum blonde hair, it's not the "wish I could grow a" mustache. It's just some intangible thing about him that screams suck. Somehow he's related to Hank Williams, though the talent portion of his genes apparently went elsewhere in the lineage. Mike has a signed shirt, and Paula inquires about it, but Simon has already had a butt full of this guy and would rather pry his nails off with a butter knife than converse about it any further. Michael chooses to sing an original song, if you want to call it a song. Basically it's every single trite and cliched lyric that has ever been written (in Kara's songs) combined with the musical stylings of a garbage compactor with a crate of steel crowbars stuck in it. Simon tries to explore the soul of the song in as mocking a way as possible. He wonders who the songs have been written about, and insinuates that they might be about Mike's pets, when they're actually about festering boils and oozing wounds to the ear. Simon asks to hear yet another song, just because he needs to be a jerk about it. Kara acts like she's the best song-writer in the world, and pronounces Mike a terrible song-writer. Simon thinks it would be a great idea for this guy to work for Hallmark, and Paula criticizes Simon because that response is MUCH more patronizing than telling someone to seek out voice-over work. Mike loses his mind and starts crying after his audition, but neither you nor I still care.

Dennis Brigham comes in with a backflip and tells Simon about the dream he had last night, wherein he and Simon danced the lambada and then went with Seacrest over to Africa for Idol Gives Me A Migraine and personally licked everybody in the village before showing up to school naked. Or something like that. He sings a Chris Brown song, "Hey Li'l Mama." It's a bit all over the place, not horrible, but not the best ever either. Dennis breaks into another song, and he's got this sincere deer-in-the-headlights look that makes it hard to break his heart, but someone has to do it sooner or later. Afraid that if he is rejected he might murder them all, Paula says yes, Simon says no, Randy says yes, and Kara gets to decide it. Yellow ticket.

We're almost done, which is good, because I don't know how much longer this sick body can continue sitting up and typing.

Mia Conley looks to be crashing off a meth high and almost sleeps through her audition. She sings Minnie Riperton's "Loving You." I seriously hope she doesn't try for the high note, because my stomach is already uneasy. She should've stayed in bed. She then forgets to stop singing, but a quick punch of the mute button cures all ills. She proceeds to go off, and yet again God is going to make Simon pay for his sins. A lot. Because the Bible tells us not to reject awful singers.

Lil Rounds is from Memphis. She had tragedy strike in the form of the tornado that struck Memphis while I was still living there. I remember that quite well, actually. That tornado actually took out an entire shopping mall. It was also in one of the "bad" parts of Memphis, so we now know that this woman doesn't exactly come from money, which is endearing. Lil's going to do Stevie Wonder, and she sings the living crap out of it. Easy win. Give the girl a golden ticket. I started to compare her to Fantasia, but she's better than Ms. Barrino. The judges all love her too. No surprise that a Fantasia song plays as the mother of three exits. She doesn't need a bodyguard, because that hubby of hers is STACKED. Welcome to the gun show, indeed!

Well, that's enough for the night. Back to the Kleenex and hacking my lungs out.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

American Idol 2009: Phoenix AZ Auditions!

It's time for the new season of American Idol, which means that it's also time for a certain blogger/recapper to get his metaphorical backside in gear and come out of semi-retirement. A number of factors kept me from doing it last year, not the least of which was the fact that I didn't want to, but this year I'm psyched and ready for some auditions! Bring me your offkey, your socially retarded, your huddled masses completely devoid of talent. I have a year's worth of snark to get off my chest.

In preparation, I went to our local Chinese restaurant tonight, where I kid you not, I heard a version of Percy Faith's "When a Man Loves a Woman" played by a five year old blind and possibly deaf xylophonist, and the music was accompanied by the bleating of goats and cattle. I promise I am not making that last part up. Musically, the night can't get much worse...right??

Also I did some research on the new judge, Kara DioGuardi, who wrote a couple of measures in a lot of the worst bubblegum pop songs out there, including songs by Ashlee Simpson and Hannah Montana. I don't know how much fun I can poke at her though, because after watching the video at her website, I became very afraid that she might either own a pizzeria or have mob ties and I'd rather not wake up with a horse's head or a pile of anchovies in my bed with me.

And now...THIS is American Idol.

"In life the microphone passes your lips, but once...fart loudly, because people will appreciate that more than your nonsensical tone-deaf shriekings." Well, that's not the actual quote that was flashed on the screen, but it's going to be the theme for much of the night, I suspect. And I'm sure it's what David Foster was really thinking.

Of course we get to see the obligatory recap of seasons past and moments that this recapper is mortified to remember vividly. Thanks to 19 Entertainment, I will have to somehow sleep tonight with the image of Paula kissing Simon followed by Dirk and Adam gaying out. Don't get me started on crying Ashley and Sanjayjay. Idol, what hath thou wrought?

But then there are the sweet moments with all the good singers that you really liked, which only serves to emphasize the complete void of talent that will parade before your very eyes before this two-hour stunt is done. Cut to Ryan Seacrest narrowly avoiding being justly swallowed by the earth and it's time for the opening titles.

Okay, so THIS is what I missed last year? These two guys? David Something and David Something-Else? And that one girl who severely needs elephant tranquilizers?? On the upside, Crying Ashley may now have someone she can room with at the University of Shame and Embarrassment someday.

This year's self-assuredness-fest begins. I wish I had a dollar for every non-American Idol who has said "I'm the next American Idol!" Multiply that by the number of people hamming crying on camera, and I'd have the salary from one of Ryan Seacrest's twelve jobs.

Back from the first break, and Ryan is back to being swallowed up by the Sarlacc, and he quickly tosses to Phoenix, AZ, before being sacrificed to the patron saints of metrosexuality. The judges arrive in the home of Jordin Sparks, and we get the first few shots of Kara DioGuardi, who is qualified based on the fact that Simon couldn't pronounce her name properly if his life depended on it. "Kahhhhra," he says. It's insane. Just ask Pauler and TAM-uh-ka.

Anyways, the table is set, so bring on the young impressionable ingenues whose every dream and illusion are about to be ripped from them forcibly and irrevocably within the span of sixty seconds.

Tuan Nguyen and his hair enters the building. He feels that by doing a dance he learned in JROTC--presumably part of the requisite hazing--that he'll be more marketable, but the fact is that his hair will cost at least $25 extra in the deal. Maybe Corey Clark's record label is scouting for talent? Tuan sucks down a bottle of water as though the antidote for cancer is at the bottom and he's just found out that his lymph node is swollen. If he drinks that water any harder, the bottle is going to invert, fly in and shoot out of his butt. He sings M.J.'s "The Way You Make Me Feel (Completely Naseous)" and predictably sucks at it. Randy starts out patronizing him, as if it wouldn't be kinder to just say "hey you're really bad and should never sing again," and Kara just kind of cuts the crap and goes for the jugular. At this point, nobody remaining in the hotel (or truthfully in the viewing audience) cares what Paula thinks, and we already had enough of Simon interjecting himself throughout the whole audition, so the production assistants vaseline the door so Tuan can wedge his hair through as he departs on the way to mediocrity.

Emily Wynne-Hughes gets a video package, so she's probably pretty good, even though her hair was styled by Toucan Sam. She sings "Barracuda" as made famous by Heart. She falls fairly flat on several notes, but she does ape Ann Wilson rather well. (Insert the word "karaoke" in here somewhere.) I would question her passing to Hollywood, but I wouldn't object either. We'll see how good she is in the later rounds. Thanks to Constantine Maroulis, we now have an annual American Idol Tradition: the singer who has a band, but y'know the heck with them, there'll be other friends later. Loyalty is SO over-rated. Simon's not happy with that fact, but he approves her, as do the other puppets judges. And of course Emily jumps at the opportunity, but if she doesn't make it, she's gonna have a really awkward time working with her band-mates at the Tastee Freeze every 9 to 5.

Randy Madden, played here by a coked-out Edward Norton, dresses like Tommy Lee's "special" brother and wants validation from the judges. He sings "Living on a Prayer" as made famous by Bon Jovi. Unfortunately for him, he's singing the 1994 remix version, which nobody knows and which isn't terrible, but is kinda limp at the same time. Even Jon Bon Jovi didn't sound right singing it. I'd give him a second listen if he weren't so stinking annoying and if I didn't think I'd find him sharing needles with Lindsey Lohan out back of the studio when he was supposed to be recording. Simon isn't having any of it, and Paula isn't either. Kara can't wait to jump in and destroy his dreams either. She thinks he hasn't worked hard enough (translation: is FAR too ugly for the show), and it's a unanimous NO down the line. See ya.

J.B. Ahfua has a sweet voice, which makes up for the surname that I had to retype five times before getting it right. Despite the fact that vowels outnumber consonants in his name, J.B. is an easy win. Love him. Simon tells him to loosen up, and he's going to Hollywood, and there are certainly NO uptight people in LaLa Land. As quick as J.B.'s on the screen, he's off again, because y'know who wants to dwell on someone that's actually good, right?

Michael Grrr, played here by Joaquin Phoenix on heavy medication, is scared to death, and he can't help but involve the whole room in it. Actually I didn't catch the spelling of his last name, so I went with the phonetic spelling, largely because that's the reaction that these poseur actors give me when they perform their antics just to get on the tube. And then Michael starts to sing. Ladies and gentlemen, the lost BeeGee! The one they intentionally left at a rest-stop in Kansas when they were still a garage band. Awful. Just awful. And of course after being thoroughly ridiculed, he's summarily ejected. He leaves the room, a trickle of pee running down his leg and collapses into a heap in order to get more camera exposure. He peels a banana, which others surrounding him immediately grab and start shoving in their ears.

Will Kunick reprises Michael's performance, and D.J. Bradley, a hillbilly sort of Matt Damon, screeches. Shawn Vasquez rocks the Mr. T haircut and oozes androgyny as she murders Dionne Warwick.

Aundre "X-Ray" Caraway can't remember "Karla's" name, which puts him on the same level with Simon. He bursts into the room, guitar in hand, grease in hair, and adrenaline in vein. He definitely has the energy. And y'know, his voice isn't all that terribly bad, but he didn't really choose to showcase any one talent. I thought he was fun, though. The judges don't really get it, but he's one of those guys who doesn't know when the welcome mat has literally been yanked out from under him and used to beat him about the ears. They send his jheri curl butt out via a large security guard who appears to have moons orbiting him.

Time for this year's jailbait. She gets a whole video package, and doing the A.I. math...let's see, "cute" plus "sweet" plus "does volunteer work" plus "teenaged", Arianna Afsar is a sure shot. And if nothing else, she could certainly be Vanessa Hudgens' stunt double in High School Musical 9: the Revenge. I like her choice of audition song, but it's a bit mature for her, and "Put Your Records On" sort of shoots JUST slightly outside the high side of her vocal range. Still, like I said before, she's an easy Hollywood candidate. And since she's good, we can no longer justify her having any more camera time tonight.

Day Two, and we're still in Phoenix. And there are still plenty of guys who smack themselves repeatedly in the groin prior to auditioning, apparently.

Elijah Scarlett is not one of those guys. He has a voice that makes Barry White sound like Michael Jackson. I like listening to him talk, and I have had that voice only when extremely laryngitic. I like him, but Simon is of course tentative. He performs "My First, My Last, My Everything," and it's not that he's bad, but it really sounds like someone playing a 45 record at 33.3 RPM. I don't want to listen to him sing, but I do wanna shoot hoops with the guy. Paula pulls out the voice-over card, which is her stock way of patronizing the heck out of someone. Remember when she told the one guy to audition for the voice of a mouse? Who knows what she said to the guy who voiced M.C. Skat Kat?

Lea Marie Golde is annoying right out of the chute, pink Yosemite Sam hat and all. After about five seconds of listening to her, I really want to stab myself. In the heart. WITH A SPORK. A PLASTIC ONE FROM KFC. Because the pain of cutting out my aorta with that blunt instrument would be better than listening to her speak for even three scant seconds. She has a major crush on Kara DioGuardi. Admit it, y'all, you never heard of her before this either, so really, how much of this is this annoying chick putting on? She's got the jailbait skirt on, and because she's a teenager, I can't comment on the thunder thighs, but I do know where my tub of cottage cheese went to. She's not a bad singer, but she does the Kellie Pickler thing where she sings directly through her nose. Given that she's into techno and dance music, she'd be okay with Pro Tools HEAVILY applied to her voice. The judges pick up on this. Lea talks some more, and the more she talks, the more I think that I might use a bent straw instead of a spork. Kara gets the unenviable task of breaking her biggest and perhaps only fan's heart, but fortunately Lea's "talk" reflex makes her impervious to pain, and she leaves the audition room jabbering and threatening her return much like Skeletor at the end of a He-Man movie. My spork is safe for now.

Stevie Wright could've murdered someone on camera and been less objectionable than Lea, so she's got an automatic 50 points to her credit. She's likable, and she picks "At Last" to perform, which is another automatic 50 points in my book. And then she proceeds to sing the living crap out of it. The only drawback, in my opinion, is that her black and white spotted blouse makes her look like she skinned a jersey cow and wore its hide into the audition. I want this girl to do great things, and I'm a fan. The judges love her, though Simon thinks she should really try to be more of a jerk. Great advice for sixteen year olds, Simon.

Michael Sarver, played by Toby Keith on steroids, is a roughneck on an oil rig. In other words, he eats metal and craps nails, he's that tough. He and Chuck Norris get up and save the world for democracy before breakfast every morning. He's a married dude with a child, as if it already wasn't horribly in our face how unbelievably virile he is. He's also a good singer. I do see country music in this guy's future, though. Okay, okay, I'm a fan. I want him to succeed. Randy loves him, Kara wants to bear his children, Paula says yes, and you can tell that Simon really wants to hug him.

A series of bad singers vie for screen time, but nothing gets screen time like...

A miniscule bikini and a perfect body. Ryan pretends not to be gay for just a moment, but isn't convincing about it. Randy and Simon take their opportunity and have her turn around, flex, and show off the goodies. The only thing missing is the stripper pole. I'm pretty sure she'd let them feel her up if it would get her a golden ticket. Katrina Darrell is the tart's name, and she actually can sing, but I don't for one second want her to get through. And yes, the body is okay, but if you look above the neck, you realize she's a total butterface. I don't like her for the same reason I didn't like Haley Scarnato: she uses sex to sell what is deficient in her actual singing. Simon and Randy say yes, simply because she's 99 percent naked. Kara is in my camp and vociferously objects to the whoring up of the show. Kara and Katrina get into a rap battle right then and there, and Simon breaks in before they have a break-dancing competition. Slut girl makes it into Hollywood, but there's no chance she'll make it past Hollywood. She kisses Ryan outside, and he shows absolutely no reaction to it, possibly because it was his first girl smooch.

Again, Simon, it's CARE-uh, not CAHR-uh. Kara. Like Supergirl's Kara. Like how you CARE-uh about money. Maybe that'll help.

Eric "Sexual Chocolate" Thomas, played by Usher's defecation after nickel burrito night, is all about himself. Randy and Sexual go on trying to out-black each other, and the girls all want to see the mis-spelled tatt. He chooses to sing a Stevie Wonder song entirely without the use of his diaphragm (not THAT one, sicko). If S.C. fails, he gets a car, and the good news is that he can use the tape deck in his new hoopty to practice his vocals outside of range of the A.I. microphones. Bye bye, Sexual.

Brianna Quijadda is all full of energy. She's going to do a Deniece Williams song, you may have heard of it, called "Let's Hear It For the Boy." She does an okay job at it. Her voice isn't quite as strong as I'd like, but I'm okay with it. What I'm not okay with is her calling our resident British judge "Simey." That's pretty much the clincher in my vote at least. Really, she's not as bad as Simey and Randy act, but there's little chance she's getting too far in this competition, despite being more talented than Miley Cyrus or most of the other singers Kara has written for. Randy and Kara say no, Paula gives her the pity "yes" and then Simon, just to be spiteful, kicks her up to Hollywood. You know he does this just to irritate Nigel.

Now we get to see all the families that have contributed to the delusions of these misguided kids.

But not for Deanna Brown, who is a LARGE girl. Not fat, but TALL. Her family doesn't love her enough to come with her, but that doesn't stop her from adopting a family and choosing to murder "Dock of the Bay" as her audition song. I didn't care for her rendition at all, but all of the judges are only like 5'3, and they don't want to get their butts kicked, so they give her a shot. Maybe she'll win me over later.

Cody Sheldon, played by Natalie Portman, is an amateur horror film maker, whose work you might recognize from Cloverfield. He chose the song "Wonderful World" which is NOT the Louis Armstrong song. He does a decent job singing it, I guess. But he did mention that he could totally hook Paula up with some major doobage, so he gets through.

Alex Trugman is quite a bit nerdy, and Simon is desperate to prove that this kid is gay. I missed most of his intro due to the fact that I was screaming at my computer for having the audacity to shut down while I was typing just because I hadn't done some little thing like plugging it into the wall. The nerve of modern technology! Anyway, Alex plays the Randy card and sings "Baby Come to Me" and does it rather well. Alex holds his own and actually gets the last word with Simon, for now, and the other three judges vote him in just to take the mickey out of Simon.

Time for another montage that was most certainly NOT sung in front of the 4 judges. This is one of those things the producers set up every year with the bad contestants. It's not worth really commenting on, particularly because these are the same bad singers we've seen already.

Scott McIntyre is blind. I could listen to him play piano for hours. I'm not going to go easy on him because of his handicap, but come on, how could you not be impressed with what this guy has done with his life? He entered college at 14 and graduated at 19. He sings, and I don't care what song it is, because it's gorgeous. Ladies and gentlemen, this may be the winner of the whole shooting match here. I'm thinking at least top 10. And I'll call and vote for him each time.

And with that, the first night of this year's American Idol. I'll be back tomorrow night with more analysis!

In case you were still lurking and wondering...

...the answer is...