I'm sorry to tell you all that I'm back, hacking and wheezing, for Hollywood Week. Many thanks to my good buddy Leonard Pierce who handled the last week of Idol auditions in my absence. I couldn't miss Hollywood Week though because I love watching dreams get crushed. Well, not really, but it is nice to see the judges get relatively serious and quit letting people go through just because they do backflips and carry their kids in. As Randy said, "This will separate the real ones to the fake ones."
This season, in a bold new move, the singers were allowed the talents of a stylist and "glam squad" as well as a vocal coach and surprise mentor Barry Manilow. I couldn't really tell the difference, looks or singing wise. I was kind of hoping for a before-and-after America's Next Top Model makeover but I had to get real. This is deadly serious, or so the music indicated.
Lil Rounds kicked us off with "I Will Always Love You." I hate that song, even when it's very well delivered, so I was irritated that the lady judges gave her a standing ovation, but whatever. At least the judges eliminated Dennis Brigham, who had nasal voice and looked like Samuel L. Jackson at his most medieval when he sang. Simon told him as much and then Dennis lost his shit, asking Simon "What kind of message are you sending to America?" I'm not sure what he meant by this. Surely he couldn't have meant a racial thing, considering Lil's warm reception. But maybe he did, because he was one of those "America's going to be mad at you for eliminating me" types, which means he's insane.
Then we saw Nathaniel Marshall sing. In my AI shorthand I described him as "Super gay/weird. Headband, t-shirt, tie, piercings." He performed a little-known song called "The Anchor Holds," acknowledging how nobody was going to recognize the song. I loved Simon's pouty face (adopted later by Bikini Girl) as Nathaniel emotionally discussed why he chose the song and his life's tribulations. OK so this kid can sing and I feel for him as a human but he seems way, WAY too emotional to make it far in this competition. I know some of you think that the country would never vote for a gay Idol and some of you think that's b.s.—I fall somewhere in the middle. I think that America could certainly go for a gay Idol but not necessarily a hands-flutterer.
Actually, I just re-watched Nathaniel and figured out why I can't take him seriously—he reminds me exactly of Terry from Reno 911. So forget the gay thing. He's probably not even gay.
Then my man Anoop Desai auditioned and he wasn't featured very prominently but he sang solidly and made it through to the next round.
I was disappointed that Rose Flack (white dread girl), who was "struggling to find her own voice in the midst of so many talented singers" made it through with her weak-ass version of "Dock of the Bay." I found it boring and not really that close to the original version but maybe she's the lady Jason Castro.
There was a lot of that tonight, of people who I thought should have gotten weeded, and you'd think would have, based on the judge's comments, but didn't. Like Von Smith, who sang and performed way too theatrically. Simon looked irritated during his singing, and then proclaimed it "indulgent nonsense" ("Brandon Flowers without restraint" I noted) and then he was let through.
On the other hand I was glad that Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle made it to the next round. He pretended like he was going to drop the Norman Gentle schtick but he didn't, hollering to the balcony and then, hilariously, "Seacrest!" After Randy said "You can actually sing, dawg," he responded "Thank you, dawg." I was kind of pissed because Nick/Norman is entertaining and can actually sing and I thought he was squandering his chance onstage but the judges gave him another shot. I don't know how much of a chance he has in AI but I dig him. Regardless I'm sure he can make some sort of career out of entertainment.
And the blind guy made it through too. High five!
While I didn't like Jackie Tohn's gold sequined fannypack, I did like her personality. I may be wrong but it seems like there are more people on this season who seem comfortable in front of a camera and can be funny and off-the-cuff and not painfully professionally "nice" like Syesha Mercado and her [shudder] baby noises.
The dead wife guy made it through too and I have to admit he did a good job on "Kissed by a Rose.”
Then we got to Katrina Darrell/Bikini Girl. I feel hesitant to pick on her too much because when Kara does it she basically makes us all look bad. I mean, I think Katrina looks a whole lot more average with her clothes on and her Paris Hilton pigeon-toed pouty face routine is stale at best, but Kara had to go and make it look like good old-fashioned hating. Stupid Kara, for justifying Simon and his cat claw noises (which is better than the "rew" sound at least). Stupid Kara and her fake-out critique. Stupid Kara for actually proving Katrina right and being "rude" and "insecure." Stupid Kara for not keeping her trap shut and letting Katrina probably just get honestly eliminated like she could have been. Stupid Katrina, for not getting the point of singing a capella. Anyway.
Then some other people made it through, including, again, someone the judges critiqued harshly, Emily Wynne-Hughes, who on a spur of the moment decision decided to sing a No Doubt tune.
We closed with a girl named Erica who got eliminated but came back to beg for a second chance from the judges. I may be hallucinating but did she try and use the rationale that it was her cousin's birthday to try and change their mind? I think Rod Blagojevich might have tried to use that excuse when he begged for his job and you saw how far that got him.
Tomorrow: group day. Let the backstabbing begin!
—Was it me or was Paula wearing a cuff bracelet that connected, via a chain, to her choker? Is she going to rock a ball gag tomorrow night?