The show started with a recap of great talent from weeks past – Brett Lowenstern, Lauren Alaina, and Casey Abrams all got another few seconds in the sun (you have to think that bodes well for them in Hollywood). We got one more shot of Steven’s now infamous “let’s see what hatches” duck assault, and then Ryan did his best Phil Keoghan impression, starting the show from high atop a skyscraper in downtown LA.
The judges all made grand entrances this week – Randy doing his best Michael Johnson, Jennifer in her high fashion bike shorts, and Steven puffing a huge stogie. When a producer questions the propriety of showing a cigar on camera, Steven does a retake – and comes out puffing it even harder. “You didn’t really think I was going to come out without one, did you?” Brilliant.
- Victoria Garrett – Ushered in by the voices of an angelic choir, the first hopeful of the night was Victoria Garrett. She looked like Rudy Huxtable – unfortunately, she left her talent back in 1986. It was a painful, bleating audition that prompted Steven to shout – “You’re going to…Siberia.” Randy observed that she sounded more like the “Lamb” in her song than a singer. Steven told her she wasn’t “baaa-aaa-aaaad”. That’s right – we started the night with sheep jokes. Thankfully, no one made any Little Bo Peep cracks, and Victoria was allowed to exit the room, back to obscurity. She told Ryan her nerves got the best of her. I think it was more like her milk curdling voice got the best of all of us.
- Tim Halperin – I assume the reason they decided to show Tim was his massive crush on Jennifer. He didn’t start off strong, making her feel old by telling her he had a crush on her “while growing up”. After telling them he was 23, he added insult to injury by asking Jennifer how old she was. NEVER ask a woman how old she is. “Young enough for you – don’t worry.” Tim’s voice was okay, but nothing to write home about. It was another yes/no split – with Jennifer left to break the tie. I’ll give you three guesses as to whether he made it, and the first two don’t count. Every single split this year has gone through to Hollywood. How about a little massive disappointment and the crushing of someone’s heart? Where’s the drama? As for Tim – I don’t think we’ll be seeing much more of him in the live shows.
- Justin Carter – He looked homeless, but had a nice voice. Jennifer thought his voice lacked “balls” (or if you’re Fox – lacked “bleeps”). Seems that was the only thing of consequence that came out of his audition. By the way, it wasn’t clear on the show, but he did make it through to Hollywood.
- Isaac Rodriguez and Daniel Gomez – These two friends came to support each other in the auditions. Were they this year’s Danny Gokey and Jamar Rogers? Not so much. To make it even better, Isaac had just dropped out of college to pursue his American Idol dream – without telling his parents. When interviewed on camera, what was the one thing his mom was most proud of? You guessed it – that Isaac was in college. “Coming up next, a two-fer of disappointment: both Isaac and his mom have their hearts broken!” Daniel was up first. He managed to sing “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain using only two notes for the entire melody. To call it listless would be a compliment. Maybe if someone hooked a car battery up to the two studs in his bottom lip, they could jumpstart his “singing” into something resembling life. Isaac was up next with “Build Me Up Buttercup” – at least that’s what he claimed it was. The immediate feedback he got? “You have a nice smile”, from Jennifer. Uh-oh – not good. Here’s the thing – Isaac was one of those people who GENUIENLY believed that he had talent. Alas, he was wrong. What he had was passion – but that’s not enough. Butchers have passion about their jobs as well, but 40MM people are not going to tune in to Fox each week to watch them slaughter cattle. (Although, that might be preferable to Daniel and Isaac’s slaughter of “When You Believe” at the end of their clip.) My son’s verdict? “Okay – that was wrong.”
- Break Dancing Grampa to start off day two in LA? His grandkids must be proud.
- Karen Rodriquez – The night’s first (and only shown) MySpace singer was Karen Rodriquez. Her voice was nice, but her facial gymnastics wore me out. I got tired just watching her. She got through with three yeses and proclaimed that she wanted to be the first Latina American Idol. If that doesn’t work out, I guess there’s always the Supreme Court.
- Tanisha Roches – It was a close call; Tanisha was almost my favorite human train wreck of the night (more on my favorite in a bit). I knew we were in for something special when they showed her doing a split to start off the piece. You stay classy Tanisha! With her own microphone and personal catch phrase -“Oww” – she was tailor made for Idol. Let’s not even talk about her singing – face it, we all know she was horrendous. What I loved was the way she chased Randy out of the room singing – “There’s no way I could let you go, Randy”. When he couldn’t shut her up or pry the mic out of her hands, a man just slightly smaller than the USS Saratoga came out and ushered her off the stage, ending for now her time in the limelight. Never fear, though – we will see Tanisha again at the finale. I have a gut feeling. “Oww”, indeed.
- Heidi Khzam – Steven and Randy laid down a very convincing belly dancing track while Heidi showed off her dancing skills. I thought it would end there, but turned out she had a pretty decent voice. It was a little breathy, but still showed good control. We’ll see how she fares (if we ever even see her again…)
- Matt “Big Stats” Frankel – Hands down, my favorite contestant of the night. I am, however, refusing to use his given name. He will henceforth be known only as Chinstrap Man. It takes confidence and a healthy dose of self-delusion to rock a chinstrap beard like that – I think he needs to be recognized for it. Chinstrap Man was a veritable cornucopia of comedy gold. He has a compilation album with Chaka Kahn on it – just ask him. He has a Green Campaign – you can find him riding the city bus. He has a formal introduction to America – he’ll rap it for you. He has a chinstrap beard – just look at him. He’s like the jelly of the month club – a gift that keeps on giving. The icing on top of the Chinstrap Man cake? His “homie” Jeremy. Looking like he just showed up fresh off the set of “The Hills Have Eyes 3”, Jeremy redefined the word “awkward” and took it to an entirely new level. Unfortunately, Chinstrap Man did not make it through to Hollywood – thanks in large part to Randy. Now, according to Chinstrap Man, they are “beefin’”. What will Chinstrap Man do next? Maybe he can produce Tanisha Roches’ “three albums that are waiting to be composed.” Now there’s a collaboration that NEEDS to happen.
- It’s time again for the parade of the nicknamed singers. Tonight we had: I Can Wear A Suit But I Can’t Sing Guy, (Steven: “I hear your voice, but I don’t think you’re ready for 2011, ’12, or ’13 American Idol”), Unfortunate Blue Jean Dress Girl, “I’m Dead” Guy, Weird Mascara Dancing Woman, and One Year Too Late Guy – who performed “Pants on the Ground”, complete with a complimentary Idol logo to cover his crotch.
- Mark and Aaron Gutierrez – These brothers may be ones to watch during Hollywood week. We didn’t get to hear them sing much individually, but they sounded amazing together. They brimmed with self-confidence, without crossing over in to arrogance, and also showed a great sense of humor. I could see America really taking a liking to one of both of them. Let’s just hope they learned the lessons of the Brittenum twins, and stay on the right side of the law.
- Cooper Robinson – I know that the producers where trying really hard to create the next “Pants on the Ground” moment with Cooper – but it fell horribly flat. Instead of the endearing personality of General Larry Platt, we were left with the loud, obnoxious screaming of a bad James Brown wannabe. I don’t blame Jennifer for sneaking out of the room after the audition. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere near him either. My son’s opinion? “I don’t think he feels good, I think he’s just nuts.” I think I’ll just leave it at that.
And, after hitting that resounding low note for the evening, the show was over. I’m not sure what to think of the LA auditions. We saw six sonic root canals tonight and six decent singers. What we didn’t see where any touching stories, any bio pieces filmed with contestants families, or any visits to their hometowns. Maybe people in LA really are shallow facades with no souls underneath their glitzy exteriors. Or maybe they just wanted to save more time to explore the genius that is Chinstrap Man. I vote for the latter.
Next week sees Idol’s final audition stop in San Francisco, then the first night of Hollywood week. I can hardly wait to see the winnowing of the herd in Hollywood and the inevitable late night meltdowns from contestants. I can only hope the producers have not eliminated the group number from Hollywood this year. For me, it’s the Super Bowl of broken dreams. I’ve got my popcorn ready. Until then – Word Zombie out.
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