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!


At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kai Kalama, stole my vote. He is a wonderful person and has a great voice. I hope he goes far in this competition.. I will watch and vote just for him...

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a questions for you...was it Tuesday or Wednesday night that the gentleman with the blue suit and tie sang in a low voice...and drank out of Paula Coke cup. He was the man who also knew how to speak and write in Chinese? I have a bet going with someone for which night it was on...Let me know...Thanks

At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is Randy allowed to "boo" Simon week after week? It really shows his immature, unprofessional side and has become quite annoying.


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