‘American Idol’ Recap: Auditions #7

S10E7: WE DID IT. Sound the little kazoos and whatever those spinning, clicking noisemakers are called because we’ve managed to get through all of the audition shows for American Idol’s 10th season. That’s right, tomorrow is the beginning of Hollywood Week. Finally, we’ll get to get down to the cutthroat competition. We’ll get to separate the decent singers from the showboats from the super-talented. But, before we can enjoy all of that, we’ve got to get through the last handful of contestants in San Francisco.

“Just because somebody farts, let them finish singing, okay?” –Contestant

Steven’s goal in San Francisco was to be mean, like really mean. Well, Mr. Tyler, mission accomplished. Maybe he was a bit angry that he had to tone down his candid commentary and decided to take it out on the unsuspecting contestants, but whatever the reason, it was hilarious. I do feel bad for those that endured his “playful” teasing, but thank God the audiences at home had more to grab onto because let’s face it, the audition stretch gets stale by the end of it.

“I did some shower scenes and that type of thing.” –Contestant

Well isn’t this special. Inessa Lee, originally hailing from the Ukraine, is convinced that she’s a pop star. She’s made tons of music videos (apparently with shower scenes, yikes) and she spent her Idol interview comparing herself to every successful pop star ever. Too bad her rendition of “All Out of Love” sounded like a 3rd grader whose parents forced her to try out for the school musical. She was tone deaf, not really singing, and she looked like a bouncy little cartoon character. She also sounded like one when they told her no. I thought she might be faking it, but those elevator tears coupled with her fierce narcissism point to DELUSIONAL.

“He was howlin’. You can relate to that.” –Steven

After that embarrassing display, two decent singers waltzed into the audition room. First up was Stefano Langone singing “Heard it Through the Grapevine.” He marked the first contestant with a saddening backstory (and get ready because there were a few toughies this time around); he survived an accident that by all odds he shouldn’t have and against the odds (again) he recovered in four months with the ability to walk despite his doctor’s predictions. He had a great voice – a no-brainer for Hollywood.

Next up, is Clint Jun Gaboa. He sang “Millionaire” by Bruno Mars and while the judges were all kinds of stoked, jumping up and down over what a great “tone” he had, I was yawning. Yeah, he kind of sounded like Bruno Mars, whose voice I can’t stand and whose voice sounds like a million other singers. The fact is, Gaboa could sing, but he wasn’t anything special or anything to get excited about. Being able to carry a tune well doesn’t mean you should be a pop star.

“Your outfit was slammin’ and I really like your voice….JOKING.” –Steven

Here’s where that mean streak I was talking about started to kick in. Idol treated us to a few little bad singer vignettes, first there was the kid dressed as a monkey, warbling some unrecognizable song about the jungle. Next. Then came the dude who sang one of the most recognizable songs out there, Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” but for the life of me I could not tell what song he was attempting to sing. The judges were so taken aback they couldn’t even speak. Finally, they’ve figured out that sometimes silence speaks louder than a few tired witticisms at a contestant’s expense.

Finally, we were treated to Drew Beaumier, the guy who showed up as an actual TRANSFORMER. I usually get annoyed at these folks who show up in costumes in hopes of getting a few minutes on TV, but the dude made an entire Transformer costume from scratch. I’m not even mad, I’m just impressed. He sang “Born to be Wild,” but who are we kidding? No one cares what the dude was singing; he was a fucking Transformer. Brownie points to that guy.

“I was right. I’m going home.” –JLo

After that slew of baddies, let’s take a little solace with some people who could carry a tune. First we’ve got Julie Zorilla who was gorgeous and sang a beautiful version of “Summertime” – and I agree with Randy here, very few people ever do that song justice, but everyone thinks they can sing it. She got her ticket to Hollywood, but not before we heard her parents’ story of escaping violence in Colombia. Someone needs to slap whoever chooses the music for these bits though because Michael Buble music does not go with a sound-bite of her mother talking about guerillas stealing her money and forcing her out of her own country. Insensitive much?

On the good side, we also saw Emily Anne Reed, whose range wasn’t spectacular, but whose voice was refreshing and a bit old fashioned. She has endured the hardship of watching her house burn down – the second sad story of the hour. The cute-as-a-button singer has a bluesy, Billy Holliday-esque quality to her voice and while some disagree with me, I think she’d be a great eventual member of the top 12. We don’t always choose the musicians we listen to because they can hit the highest notes, we choose them because they bring something interesting to their music, and this girl does that. The judges of course had to have one moment this episode when they put someone in suspense about their trip to Hollywood; this time it was JLo who got to wait those excruciating five seconds (but not really, because we knew what was going to happen) to tell her that she had a golden ticket after all. Thank goodness that’s over. Am I right? Yes, I am.

“You oughta be arrested for that voice. Do you have handcuffs?” – Steven

Steven continued his mean streak with Dave Combs, who really couldn’t sing but wasn’t the worst we’ve seen so far. When the dude asked for a chance to sing a different song (a privilege that everyone seems to get on this show whether the judges allow it or not) Steven flat out tells him no over and over until he leaves. Ouch. This continued as three more contestants swept through the audition room. I mean, I was rolling on the floor laughing as this went down but I did immediately feel a tiny bit of remorse for all the crushed dreams in the room…but then I kept watching. Hey, it’s television and it’s the 10th season of this show. If contestants don’t know what they’re in for at this point, their inabilities to sing aren’t their biggest problems.

“You sing from where you’re supposed to sing.” –JLo

Finally, the auditions ended with the sob story to end all Idol sob stories. James Durbin has had an impossibly difficult life leading up to his big break on Idol. His musician father had a drug overdose when he was 9; he was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome and Asperger’s Disorder, he and his girlfriend accidentally had a child, he has no job, and he can’t even afford diapers. Talk about a sad story. It’s almost unreal. Luckily the dude can sing, reminding me a bit of Adam Lambert, who oddly enough, was also discovered in San Francisco. The episode ended with his smiling face, so at least it wasn’t too depressing in the end.

You did it. Tomorrow is Hollywood Week and I hope you’re as pumped as I am. I look forward to seeing just how critical these judges get when it’s no longer a matter of good versus bad, but instead good versus better. It should be an interesting road – as long as Steven stops trying to use the phrase “melodic sensibilities” because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what that means.