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
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
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!