S11E5: Are we there yet? I never seem to realize how dreadful and dragging the first handful of episodes of the Idol cycle are until we hit the fourth or fifth audition episode. And here it is, the point where I hit the wall in Galveston, Texas. Why have the producers not killed this long audition process? Because even though critics the world over are whining about it just like I am and the show’s ratings are “plummeting,” there are still almost 20 million people tuning in for each set of warlbers, belters, and completely delusional Idol hopefuls. So while it starts to become a bit of a chore around this point – Hollywood week, oh Hollywood week, wherefore art thou, Hollywood week? – we’re stuck watching the joke contestants and Carrie Underwood sound-a-likes for the next few episodes, unfortunately.
Fortunately, while all this dragged on, there was a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of Ramiro Garcia, but let's get through these other folks first. ”I wanna be the next American Idol. It feels so good inside.” –Phong Yu Phong Yu Age 25 This poor guy is just the first of many sad sacks that the Idol producers are determined to embarrass for our entertainment. He attempts “Unbreak My Heart” by Toni Braxton and it’s Season One all over again. The poor guy cries and says he feels Toni channeling through him. Jennifer – bless her – tries her best to apologize, but I like to think she’s not saying sorry for turning him down, but sorry that the producers sent him through when he’s actually terrible. Randy doesn’t seem to care, but he has been putting up with this for over 10 years. And at least he tried to be nice after the kid left the room. I’m sorry to say it didn’t get much better from here, continuing the episode with other bad singers: one guy with bear slippers and a handful of singers trying to sing Scotty McCreery’s classic audition song. Idol is pain, folks. “Now it’s time to get changed and go kill a deer.” –Skyler Laine Skyler Laine Age 17 After the hell we just went through, there was no way this girl wasn’t going to be good – and if she wasn’t I was going to turn off the TV and start eating ice cream out of the carton – recap be damned. She belted out “Hell on Heels” and she’s great, but she sounds just like Lauren Alaina, Carrie Underwood, etc. But hey, at least she wasn’t delusional and tone deaf! (This is what I’ve been reduced to.) She does manage to help continue the Steven Tyler as a tourist attraction trend when her golden ticket also gets her friend a hug from the loud-mouthed singer. That’s not getting old either. At all. ”Baylie is back.” –Randy Baylie Brown Age 21 This girl auditioned in San Antonio five years ago, only to make it to Hollywood and forget the words during her group performance. She’s older and from what Randy tells us, her voice has improved – and since I couldn’t recall a single pre-top-12 contestant from five years ago if you held a gun to my head, my only choice is to believe him. Whatever Randy says, all that matters is that she’s great now, singing “Lay You Down On a Bed of Roses” with talent and conviction. And she remembered all the words. Bonus points? ”I love when you go upstairs, your tenderness is beautiful.” –Steven Kristine Osorio Age 28 This woman has three kids at home, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to audition for the show before she passed the age limit. She’s going through a divorce, and can’t find work so she took out a loan, but instead of paying her divorce lawyer, she got a ticket to go to Idol. Look, I’m all for second chances, but something tells me paying your divorce lawyer when you’re living on loans is a big deal. But, surprise! She was good! No way! She’s got a background in singing and it’s obvious when she opens her mouth – Steven especially loves her, I’m just not sure she can win this thing and that’s what it would take to make that whole owing money in order to get there bit worth it. “Wake up! I feel like somebody slipped you something.” –Jennifer And now for the battle that I’m not even sure was real. We get a few short glimpses of a girls singing just as good as anyone did in Aspen and both Randy and Steven are turning them down left and right. Then comes Linda Williams who is terrible. She’s got the pipes, but she really, really can’t use them. She is like a sideshow caricature of a karaoke singer. Still, Steven and Randy send her through, singing her praises along the way. This upsets Jennifer (and me) and the only logical explanation is that someone did slip them something – like maybe a note that said, “I pay your salary, do what I say, the ratings depend on it”. Things apparently weren’t interesting enough (they aren’t, but neither is this), so the powers that be asked Randy and Steven to pick the hot girl and send the average or just cute girls home. This is the only explanation that makes sense and it's just too nuts to spend any more time worrying about it. “Steven, grant me the power to bring revolution to the world.” –Alejandro Cazares Alejandro Cazares Age 27 Let’s just start by pointing out that this guy’s OWN girlfriend told him not to audition. But he disowns her on national television and shows up anyway. If these bits of trivia weren’t enough of an indication, I’ll point out the obvious: he was terrible. They tell him no as graciously as possible, saying “not now.” Randy, being the tactless soul he is, straight up tells him he’ll never be a singer as Cazaro is begging while kneeling like a knight at the round table of terrible singers. This short, dorky guy is the first contestant all year who merits a visit from security to get him to leave. Aren’t you glad we’re at least enduring this nonsense together? ”Listen, you’re good-looking, you’re sweet, you have a great voice.” –Jennifer Cortez Shaw Age 20 Normally I’d say no one should attempt Adele, but that’s because girls sing it and try to sound like her. This guy took “Someone Like You” and turned it into his own thing – plus he was actually able to hit all the big notes. Of course, I was immediately distracted from his talent as soon as Jennifer made her signature move: “you’re so cute!” ”I bet you’re crazy in…on the dance floor.” –Steven Julie Shuman Age 28 And to go with the good Adele cover, Idol delivers a few terrible ones. Julie is followed by two girls, and they all attempt terrible versions of “Rolling in the Deep,” but Julie is the only one interesting enough to talk about. And she’s only interesting enough to talk about because she shows up in shiny gold leggings like she thinks she’s Cindy Lauper. That’s literally the only reason I bothered to mention her. This is what we’re dealing with, folks.
”I like your insides.” –Steven Ramiro Garcia Age 28 Luckily, we were rewarded for sitting through an hour of almost intolerable antics with the last contestant of the day. He had a sob story, but he actually has the talent to go with it. It looks like we won’t have to witness another crying fit when Jennifer helps announce the top 12, because he could go all the way. While his video starts with the age-old Idol backstory phrase, “Growing up it was really tough,” it’s an understatement for Ramiro. When he was born, he didn’t have ears and the doctors said he’d never speak, let alone sing, but thanks to a series of surgeries he can now hear and sing. He sings “Amazing Grace” and brings character to the very well-known song, much like John Legend does when he sings. It took an hour, but the show finally gave us a reason to watch. Are you growing restless with these audition shows? Can you believe it’s not Hollywood week yet? But, in the spirit of positivity, let’s discuss the good. Who was your favorite from good ol’ Texas? Let us know in the comments or get at me on Twitter. @KelseaStahler