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.