Apparently producers have just decided to completely scrap the whole “everyone has to start somewhere” theme that was supposed to make everyone’s sails feel full of fresh, sparkly air so we all feel inspired enough to cheer on all the bright and shiny faces headed to Hollywood. Oh yes, it’s still on the wall behind the contestants, and the judges make sure to repeat it now and again, but last night’s Idol episode opened with a doozie. What did we get? Not a future pop star, but a sure-fire reject with a fedora screaming/crying/attempting to sing “Smile” promptly followed by a dark screen with a simple message: this kinda stuff ain’t gonna cut it in Hollywood.
Now that we’ve been made aware just how little the new American Idol has changed the whole audition process (other than the fact that everything seems a little dirtier with Steven Tyler around) it’s back to business as usual with a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am sort of episode. We were in and an out in an hour just in time to watch The Office. (Why is everything good on Thursdays, cruel world?) Idol took this round of auditions down to the “Who Dat?” nation, New Orleans... or Nola... or Nawlins if you’re really authentic.
“You know what they say about a little hat? It’s good for a little head.” –Steven
Well here it is; the best reason to watch Idol. Steven Tyler is a total dog – and no, I don’t mean “dawg.” He proved it during the New Jersey auditions, and really comes out to play for the Nola ones. Okay, so he didn’t run too crazy this time. That hat comment was the worst of it – also, kudos to the censor for catching that. Bleeping out the word “head” just made sure all the folks at home – even the kids and ditzy folks - knew exactly how dirty that little quip was meant to be. (Can you say backfire?) How’s that five-second delay looking now, Fox?
“From my melodic sensibilities, it was delicious.” –Steven
Is anyone else still unconvinced that he’s the new Paula? If you are, clearly you’re not paying attention. This is his best comment all evening and it’s ludicrous. Of course, there were quite a few people who spouted “delicious” melodies, the first of which were Jordan Dorsee and Sarah Sellers.
Jordan shamelessly used his adorable six-year old piano student to promote his music career in the typical Idol back-story video, but when it came time to sing (what? Sing? At a singing competition?) he actually delivered surprisingly well, belting “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with a voice reminiscent of John Legend (whose voice is like buttah) and a few too many flourishes (but that’s to be expected at this point in the competition).
When it came time for Sarah’s audition, she couldn't get to the song without Tyler taking half of her audition to talk about how lovely her lips were. (See? SEE?) For the first time this season, I can proudly say that this girl is one hundred percent legit, singing “Make You Feel My Love” with a simple, bluesy elegance. We can be sure she’s one of the good ones. (You heard it here first! Of course if I’m wrong I completely retract that statement.)
“So coach did you ever paddle his ass?” –Steven
“He was too big to paddle.” –Coach
First I’d like to apologize that all my quotes are from Steven, but he’s the most interesting judge, so GET OVER IT. Being that the crew was in Randy’s hometown of New Orleans, we should have known that some history would rear it’s chuckle-worthy head. Golden ticket winner, Jaqueline Dupree, first sang a solid rendition of “I’ll Stand By You” but not before buttering up Randy by bringing his old high school football coach (and her uncle) on set. Okay Jaqueline, you were pretty good, but come on, that’s a cheap tactic even if it did totally work.
Of course she wasn’t the only one with a gimmick. Jovanny Barretto, a ship builder, brought his pretty voice, his abs and his creepy love for Jennifer (and for her non-crushworthy husband, Marc Anthony). Yeah, he could sing, but that’s the boring part. Not to be outdone by the girl with old Randy pics, he decided to show JLo his pecs. With Steven in the room, we knew this wasn’t going to stay sane, so of course Steven and Randy march up to the audition stage to shed some clothing along with the loco contestant, and between you and me, Tyler’s not looking that bad for an ancient rock star. Randy, your bellybutton was, well…it was there.
“I’m a red apple in a pile of green apples.” – Contestant
Yes, these next to contestants were just that. The first one-of-a-kind contestant was Brett Lowenstein, a dorky dude with an auburn fro and a great singing voice. Despite his ridiculous appearance, he delivered what may have been the best version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” I’ve ever seen this early on the show, even if he did add way too many flourishes. SERIOUSLY. Knock it off, people.
Of course, he wasn't the only surprise. Fifteen year old Jacee Badeaux looks like he’s 12 and sings like a sweet little angel – yes I love sarcasm, but I’m being completely serious. All I can say about Jacee is suck it Justin Bieber, this kid kicks your ass.
“I think your grandma’s losing it over here.” – Ryan
Well, it wouldn’t be Idol without a sob story, so we have Paris Tassin who sang “Temporary Home” for her miracle daughter with special needs for her golden ticket. Yes she was off here and there, but I have to agree with JLo because the girl made me cry and I swear to you, I have never, ever, ever cried while watching Idol. Ever.
“Wait, Steven. You know Mic Jagger’s mouth well?” –Randy
Well, Idol hopefuls, here's a lesson for you; looking almost exactly (but not really) like a rock star doesn’t make you a singer. Contestant Gabriel Franks claimed he’s won Steven Tyler lookalike contests, but I’m pretty sure that’s not true unless these contests happened in a very dimly lit room. Sorry, I just don’t see it. When he finally opened his mouth, it was bad. The kid butchered “Bad Romance” and I’ll spare you the details because Jennifer’s sarcastic “Awesome” and Steven’s exorcism-style eye roll said it all. A-buh-bye.
There were a slew of other baddies, including one guy who viciously held an angry, flat note so long I thought his face may explode, but the saddest of the bunch was one kid who had actually attended Idol camp a few years back. Apparently, they don’t like truth there because he just can’t sing. At all. And he chose the death-sentence audition song, “Proud Mary.” Only the delusional people who can’t sing insist on singing "Mary" in their auditions. Seriously kid, what did they even teach you at Idol camp? Randy’s quip that they should clearly “cancel that camp” was harsh (hey, is someone trying to be Simon?) but it was that bad. I still have a headache. Sorry, kiddo. Them’s the breaks.