We've arrived in Kansas City, David Cook's hometown, for day two of auditions. Jason Castro looks high as ever. Go!
We start with Chelsea Marquardt (any relation to Girl Next Door Bridget?) She's one of my favorite types of people on this show—the overly confident girl who thinks she'll get by because of her looks. Simon told her that she sounded like a cat falling off the Empire State Building, which Paula and Kara hated—he then challenged them to say something nice to Chelsea, and they did—that she's pretty. So much for that self-described "powerful voice."
Then we met Ashley Anderson, who to me looked like a cuter clothed version of last night's Bikini Girl. She sung some song co-written by Simon and screwed up the lyrics but that didn't matter, of course.
Brian Hettler described himself as "that kid that practiced hours every night to try to get into conservatory." Oh yeah! THAT kid. Boy, if I had a dollar for every time I met one of those kids…anyway, I couldn't tell what I found more humorous, Brian’s Aretha Franklin or the look on Simon's face when he entered wearing his low-cut shirt, satin jacket and tight pants. After Simon told him not to continue, Brian belted out some Josh Groban, which only made a funny situation painfully unfunny.
Brian refused to cry on camera (good man) but we were treated to a montage of people who weren't afraid to, including a woman who doubled over with shrieking sobs, which was amusing at first, but then I was filled with the urge to kick her.
Von Smith was the guy who sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," you know, the guy whose hat told you he has lots of "personality!" His performance reminded me of those really awful National Anthems that go on too long with too many riffs and runs, but the judges gave him the go-ahead. He can sing, I suppose, but I couldn't believe that not one of them told him to down it the f down.
So then we met Jason Castro's brother Michael, whose hairdo I described in my notes as "pink thingie." He looks more like Andy Samberg than Jason Castro, but he does do that annoying "Hey I'm just mellow, man, whatever" thing. I was glad that Simon questioned whether he (or his brother) was actually into the competition, but I'd say he's actually a better singer than Jason, despite claiming he only started performing 20 days before the audition. There was absolutely no connection between his look and the country song he sang, though, but as long as he doesn't do what his brother did to "Mr. Tambourine Man" I won't complain.
Then we met Vaughn English, as a palate cleanser. You know, the dancing banana guy. I liked him.
Matt Breitzke is another one of those sensitive burly guys who put his singing career on hold for family. Simon clearly didn't want to hear his sob story, and that's why I love him. Matt sang "Ain't No Sunshine," which I'm surprised we don't hear more of during the audition process, and sang it nicely. Randy decided, I think, just to be a dick, that he didn't dig it. No reason why, of course. Matt was clearly better than a lot of other jokers Randy let through, but he had to prove something, I guess. Fortunately Simon and the girls didn't let Randy's whim carry the ultimate decision.
I liked Jessica Paige Furney, the girl who lives with her grandma (did she say "These are my crazy pills!"?) It was kind of a cliché that the gal in the plaid shirt sang Janis Joplin but she was decent and I'm rooting for her.
OK, here is where I get super-cynical so please don't read on if you believe in beating the odds and have a soft spot for men who love their dead wives. But for a guy who seemed to hate talking about his wife passing away a few weeks before the auditions, Danny Gokey kind of seemed to love talking about it, no? "I was so close to not trying out because of the grief." Yeah, the grief. Then he went through and gave "knuckle punches" to all the judges. Randy schooled Gokey on the "new way" of doing pounds—exploding them. Yeah, that's new. I learned about that two years ago from a drunk guy on the El after a baseball game, so Randy, I guess I'm cooler than you.
Simon's off-and-on race issues popped up with Anoop Desai. I'm surprised Simon didn't just call him "Kumar" and get it over with. The guy could sing but Simon proclaimed that his wardrobe was "geeky." A button-down shirt, shorts and flip-flops is geeky? Tell that to every guy I went to college with. Sure, he could have done better but we've seen worse. I'm sure that if Anoop were a white dude Simon wouldn't have found it quite so "Silicon Valley." I hope Anoop keeps it real because I hate it when clearly non-trendy guys are forced to dress "trendy" on this show.
Here, in order not to encourage future imitators, I'm going to skip over the people with the gimmicks. You know whom I'm talking about.
I liked Asa Barnes, the band director, despite his incredibly controversial goal to "Show that it's OK to be a good dad." No Asa! We're not ready for that! Simon got back in my good graces when he accepted Asa's reason for choosing "The Way You Make Me Feel"—"I like it"—with aplomb.
Then we met gay Dwight Schrute, AKA Michael Nicewonder, the kid who looked like he was out of a Christopher Guest movie. Michael sobbed afterwards about how mean Simon was to him, but I thought Simey was actually relatively gentle with him, other than saying "Good luck, whatever" as Michael explained what was written on his shirt by his classmates. It's too bad that Michael’s probably going to murder his unsupportive mother.
Why do people dance when they audition for Idol? It never works in their favor. Oh wait, with the exception of Dennis Brigham, who sang a Chris Brown song. I don't understand why the judges let him through, especially Randy, who gave him the yes and Matt Breitzke a no—Matt was a much better singer than this guy. Whatever.
Mia Conley turned up in a strapless leopard print capri jumpsuit to sing "Loving You," which is always a horrible idea, except her tiny "La la la la la"s were kind of funny. Until she threatened the judges, multiple times, that "God's going to get you" for rejecting her. Yikes. I liked the visibly uncomfortable white guy sitting beside her as she promised that her vengeful god would deliver.
And finally, we closed with Lil Rounds, who we know would get in before she even sang because she is a "mom who lost everything" (tornado). She seems nice but I thought it was funny that Simon called her "classy" and then Randy compared her to Fantasia. Make up your minds, fellows! (Note: Fantasia, I'm rooting for you and I hope you perform again this season.)
We've got six more cities to go after this, and then Hollywood Hell week, which is always the best. Otherwise, more of this to come for two weeks? I think? La la la la la.
—Why do 90% of the females on the show so far wear lavender eye shadow? And is it a good thing or bad thing that I own some?
—It was sad that the commercials for other FOX shows featured better music than on Idol itself—I highly doubt we'll ever hear Morrissey or the Boomtown Rats on the show.
—Speaking of which, why was "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" the song the KC contestants had to sing?
—Jamar Rogers, what is the name for that piercing? You know, it's not quite on your cheek and not quite on your eyeball? Quick, before you get eliminated, tell me!
—"Adult woman with a child voice."