Only American Idol can make an hour-long show feel like a half-hour show, but it plays with your mind like that. I, for one, was grateful for the shorter audition show, what with various NBC sitcoms returning tonight, so I was in a happy sort of mood tonight. Maybe it was my wine (if you fill a big glass up to the very top, it’s still just one glass).
The show opened in a new way, with a dateline of October 17 and a title card introducing a lad named Blake Patterson, who was performing a tearful, hysterical, angry version of "Smile." “He is not going to Hollywood,” revealed the card. I don’t know, maybe that’s how that song is really meant to be sung. He sort of reminded me of a cross between a murderous Lloyd Dobler and a cracked out Blake Lewis.
We were in the New Easy, the City of Big Times-Rolling tonight for auditions, and to celebrate, Steven Tyler wore a tiny top hat in the style of an SNL sketch ripping off a Tim and Eric sketch. Hey, did you know that the word “head” will be bleeped out if you’re talking about a part of the body that is not your cranium? (At least I think that’s what got bleeped when Steven said "Small hat, small <bleep>." I have a feeling “Help Claire figure out what Steven Tyler said” is going to be a theme of this season.)
First up was Jordan Dorsey, a cute piano teacher whose awesome grandma told Ryan Seacrest to his face that he’s short. Jordan sang a very fancy version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” yet another example this season of someone putting too much spin on a song that doesn’t need it. I liked the song more when he took it up-tempo, but with the triple threat of him being charming, having an appealing job, and doing an OK job with a beloved song, it was a given that he was through.
It’s sorta sad that Randy Jackson lags behind the lead singer of Aerosmith when it comes to subtlety. Randy is that guy who will take a playful little joke and pet it and love it until he crushes it. Every time Steven says something slightly flirty, like “You had me sold the second you laid eyes on me,” to glasses-wearing Sarah Sellers, Randy goes “What?!” He just comes off like the uncool kid who is on the verge of not being allowed to hang out with the cool kids anymore because he's making everything so much less cool. Fortunately, Steven doesn’t seem like he feels like he has all the time in the world to help egg Randy on, but I wish Randy could just let it go sometimes.
Next came Jovany Barreto, the guy who sang in Spanish and took his shirt off for Jennifer. It kills me that so many of these kids think it’s a compliment to tell Ms. Lopez that they’ve been loving her since they were yea high, since they were babies, since you had to wind up your car and women couldn’t vote, my God, it’s been so long that I’ve loved you, Jennifer, tell me what life was like in the Civil War again?
Poor Randy had to deal with some body issues tonight. First he had to show off (a tiny sliver) of his belly next to Jovany, then Ryan asked brother Herman Jackson about Randy’s “natural athletic physique,” and then Randy had to look at old pictures of himself from high school when a hopeful named Jacquelyn Dupree brought them in (her uncle was Randy’s high school football coach in Baton Rouge). Even Coach got in a dig, saying that when they paddled Randy’s butt in school, it broke the paddle. Ah well. It just goes to show that even if you have millions of dollars, have a very respectable career in pop music and appear on a huge TV show, people will still make fun of you for not having a perfect body, and deservedly so. Anyway, I liked Jacquelyn, who was a nice singer but moreover seemed like a cute girl.
Less traditionally good-looking was Brett Loewenstern (redheaded Kenny G, i.e. Renny G.). Brett seemed like an easy mark for the show, with his big bright hair, his sad story of being bullied, and his eager asking of Steven Tyler if he remembered him from waving at him earlier that day. I don’t know if the show is more welcoming of talent in unusual packages this season or if Simon’s not around to tell people they look funny, but I like it. Renny G. did one of the better versions of “Bohemian Rhapsody” that has appeared on the show, and his family (who bore absolutely no resemblance to him) was thrilled to greet him after seeing him get through on the TV monitors.
There weren’t too many awful auditions tonight, at least not the kind that drive you crazy for wasting your precious time. There was basically just Gabriel Franks, the guy with the Jagger/Tyler mouth (“OMG YOU KNOW MICK JAGGER’S MOUTH WELL?! WTF LOL NO HOMO” was basically Randy’s reaction to Steven’s discussion of that subject) who did a sort of scary but great-for-karaoke version of “Bad Romance.” I felt for Alex Attardo, who attended Idol camp but still delivered a very strangely phrased version of “Proud Mary.” I thought his shocked and dismayed “Oh god!” after Randy suggested they close down the camp was strangely sweet and funny. Poor Alex. I bet he has it hard with that last name.
Jacee Badeaux was the other non-supermodel to blast through to Hollywood. A chubby 15 year old, Jacee sang “Dock of the Bay” beautifully—his voice still hasn’t changed, so he sounded girlish, like a choirboy, but here was an example of someone taking a few liberties with the melody but doing it just right. The kid came off as extremely serene in his audition, too. I was intrigued, and by far, he was my favorite singer of the night.
We closed the night with Paris Tassin, who I sort of want to dump on for being the sob story of the night, especially since that sob story may come off to some as an inspiring anti-abortion story, and I don’t like real issues getting mixed up in my Idol. Paris got pregnant when she was 18, and when the doctors realized her baby had hydrocephalus, they advised that she terminate, but she didn’t. (The child is now four and seems kind of healthy, though Paris described her as “special needs.”) Paris sang “Temporary Home,” “because it has meaning,” and made Jennifer cry. I think Paris was a pretty good singer, but I was feeling a little fed up with this whole scenario so I wanted to hate her a little bit (she’s no Jacee, that’s for sure). Since the show was only an hour long and otherwise pretty unobjectionable, though, the whole scenario didn’t turn out to be that nauseating, but I’ve got my eye on Paris. Trot out that “teach your daughter to go for your dreams” thing out again, and you’re on my list.
Next week Idol heads to Milwaukee, which will be wonderful for the state of Wisconsin, as it recovers from the crushing blow the Packers will receive from the Bears this Sunday.
- What with the new intro revealing the last three winners of the show, and them all being boys, I’d like to bet that the winner of this season will be a female.
- I sort of loved Kiana Cardona for waving down Randy’s hand when he waved to get her to quit singing. Sometimes you just have to be rude when you’re desperate.
- I liked the pelican that said, “Who dat!”