Tonight marked the premiere of the new season of American Idol. I had no interest in this show for the first 3 and a half seasons. Eventually my wife's interest i nthe show, and my interest in having an understanding of what interested her (and to be able to talk with her about her interest) got me involved.
I'll mention this before addressing the audition episode that aired tonight. One of the two worship leaders at North Metro Church (Kennesaw, GA) is a young man named Matt Solik. I don't know what season Matt auditioned, but he tried out for American Idol and did not make the cut for Hollywood. He did explain to us once at a non-church event that his awakening regarding Idol was that they are not looking for singers as much as they are looking for stories to tell, and as such, it's not really a singing competition.
As for tonight, the two-hour premiere featured auditions in Philadelphia, which was kinda cool because I grew up near there. A lot of the folks trying out were from that general area, but people will trael from all over to get an audition opportunity. Amy suggested I do a live blog like Jeff Rushing likes to do, and I might take that up.... however....since we watched it and DVR'd it at the same time.....
First audition, a STORY, dude lost 204 pounds. They didn't say how he did it or over what time period, but he looks good except a really bad haircut and a weak attempt at facial hair. He sings a Maroon 5 song which did not impress me, but they put him through having liked his whole thing.... Joey Cantolano is going to Hollywood and Ryan Seacrest is hitting on Joey's grandmothers.
Next.... an Egyptian immigrant who "loves American girls." His name (or nickname) is Uka. He sings "How Deep Is Your Love" by "Mr. BeeGees" He talks to a balck girl about waiting for the right woman, not having kids til he's married. She tells him open your eyes because that's not the story here in the USA. Uka then tells us he wants to love his woman all the way from the hair to the ______ which was either "navel" or "nipple" with his accent. Here's one of those cases where they let a guy in knowing he'll never make it because they won't pass a guy who can't sing in English with moderate clarity. No Uka, but Paula appreciates him so much...
Melanie something... another back-up singer who wants to come out front. She sang about 80 times with Taylor Hicks after he won Idol two years ago. They have had professional back-up singers before, and they have done well, but never gone all the way. Simon is indecisive, the others say yes but tell her to step it up to move to the front mic.
James Lewis, a personable, seemingly normal guy who works as a costumed tour guide in Philly (colonial dress, tri-cornered hat). He mentions singing like Eddie Veder from Pearl Jam then proceeds to sing "Go Down Moses" sounding like a 45rpm record playing on 33rpms. except for the word people. Very weird, Paula and Randy have to cover their faces as they turn away laughing.
Video segment showing a visit to Geno's steak shop a Philadelphia landmark!
Some quickies including a bad "Unchained Melody" a screaming girl they have to say "shut up to" and an Asian guy singing a monotone lullaby, which they mock in editing with piped in music.
Jeno Joyner - good personality and presentation. He sings "I Guess That's Why they Call It the Blues" by Elton John, though he calls the song "The Blues" he's through....
Quikie... Jose Candelaria - is through, singing a Spansih tune with the melody of "Unbreak My Heart" (Amy says he's playing up to Simon in an Il Divo manner) ... 17-year old Jonathan Baines, I don't know the song, but he's in....
Temptress Brown, yes, her name is Temptress. She is 16 and plays MIDDLE LINEBACKER on her HS Football team. Damn. She is about 300 lbs and she is doing this for herself and for her mother, because her mother is very sick and has trouble breathing... translation, if she makes it to Idol her mother will be able to breathe better? Mom looks to be about 400 lbs and Dad is probably sitting on about 350. Paula says she has a nice name. She has a dog, two cats, and 10 kittens and Simon likes animals (amaxing what we learn on this show). She sings a Jennifer Hudson song that I think is from Dreamgirls "I'm not going nowhere". Temptress butchers it, gets cut down by the judges, cries, gets a group hug, and the entire judging panel goes outside to meet the parents and give Big Mama a hug.
Seeing things coming up (I'm rewatching the DVR and blgging as we go) I am reminded to mention that Simon Cowell is a perve. Watch the show and you'll notice he focuses very closely on the looks of the young pretty girls, it's creepy.
Mark Hayes is interviewed because he can make a cricket chirping sound with his mouth. He butchers "White Christmas" and is told no, but first the editing crew has silence and hits the cricket-chirping sound effect. LOL
Another foreigner-singer. Udi, actually Udgit something sounding Indian/Pakistani/Arabic who cares. He is in automobile finance and they say he sounds like Manilow or Sinatra. He sings "My Way" in an unanimated monotone and they slaughter him, telling him his future is in finance and to "keep his batteries in his calculator." Huh?
Montage of people trying to sing "I Love Rock & Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Just filler as you see people who audtioned with other songs singing this tune. A break now to also comment on the costumed people. What the Hell is this about. No one costumed (that I can remember) has ever made it past the regional auditions, and I saw a lady dressed as an angel complete with wings and a group of three ladies dressed in WWII era army uniforms like the Andrews Sisters.
About this time I switched to Fox Sports South to se the Thrashers/RedWings game. Thrashers are up 4-0!!!!!!
Alexis Cohen, 23 , weird make-up, weird earrings, says she dresses like this every day and likes that people look at her "with 12 heads." Ryan discovers that SHE is the one that "smells like incense." She tells us she's from Allentown and there's a song about the town, she believes by Bon Jovi (it's really by Billy Joel, but I can see where she could confuse short fuzzy Billy with NJ studly guy Jon Bon Jovi). Her video segment leads up to an untra-inspirational speech about being victorious. Finally the audition. She thinks she sings like Janice Joplin, Grace Slick, and Pat Benatar and tries "Somebody to Love." Simon says it was "posessed, like she's channeling the voices." He is genuinely nice in his criticism and denial. Randy agrees and says perhaps a 60's-70's cover band is the place for her. She takes it well and leaves, then the real performance begins with the shouting and shooting the finger, telling Simon to kiss her rear. She says Somin is a "big fat bad word." After she leaves, Simon compares her to Willem Dafoe in Spiderman as the Green Goblin. Back to Alexis going off and saying she's leaving with her dignity (which actually left on its own about 5 minutes ago. Now she says she's going for "acressing." Her mother tries to defend Simon by saying he is English... so the cameras follow her more and she continues to rant, thankfully a commercial break.
Montage of families waiting for people exiting either celebrating or comforting.
Next, another story, Angela Martin from Chicago, got knocked up (she calles it getting pregnant) during her Senior Year of HS, guess she never met Uka. Now her kid is disabled, so she's doing it for her baby, and all 37 or so family members and friends travelled from Chicago to Philly for the audition., so on with the singing after the single-mom, minority member with a sick kid story. Oh yeah, "Her baby's doctors said her baby would never walk or talk, and she's going to get that for her." Translation - being on American Idol will CURE her child.
She has a band in Chicgo playing bar mitzvahs and corporate events. She does "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" and passes, but with the advice to tone it down and de-wedding-singer-ize her performance. She leaves and is tackled by her entourage who are all wearing shirst with her picture on them, and FOX had to blur out half of the picture on the shirts.
Simon's commentary. In the USA people are genuinely happy for their friends when something good happens for that person.
Second Hour - Day 2 in Philadelphia
Elise Wodjakowski - little blond who dances like Taylor Hicks, inspired by Eva Cassidy, Lauren Hill, Alicia Keys, and Regina Spector. She starts shouting the song like Alicia Keys sings and the judges cringe. Simon compares it to a nightmare from last week.
Bad ones Teresa Anello, Brandi Park ("Alone" by Heart, sings "How do I get you alone" and stops. Simon says, "you wouldn't" LOL)
Milo Turk, balding guy with glasses and a bushy moustache and a leopard skin vest. He says he's a guidance counselor and wants to sing a song he wrote, dedicated to Simon. He says he writes songs you've never heard before. He claims to be 39 (which is outside the contest range). He sings his song, called "No Sex Allowed" and he is told to leave. Simon, "In Britain, we call it creepy."
Christie Lee Cook - 23 y/o badd ass. She's really pretty, lives in a log cabin, raises and trains horses, and trains for kickboxing and CAGE FIGHTING! She sold one of her best horses to pay to come to Philly. She's got a country music inspiration. Simon asks if cage fighting involves Jell-o (perve). She sings "Amazing Grace" and she is in.
Ben Harr - My Favorite Audition of the Night. Ben is wearing a black cloak from neck to toe. Randy laughs and Simon is skeptical. The claok coems off and he is wearing a harem outfit. Simon holds up his hand, Paula averts her eyes and says she can't get past his chest hair. He offers to wax it and come back and they agree to let him!
Pedro Rivera - can't sing. Shekhinah Bathyehudah (who I think is the one who rold Uka that people have sex and kids without being married) is butchering God Bless America. And more people crying and cursing on camera as they leave.
Paul Monterano - This guy is straight off the Dateline NBC to Catch a Predator episodes. He is learing at Paula in a really creepy manor, and starts singing a song he wrote about her...
"There is this girl I follow around. She hasn't noticed me it really gets me down. I broke into her house when she wasn't there. Took off all my clothes and tried on her underwear. I'm always thinking of her. I really think that I love her. I'm not much of a talker, so I guess that I'll just stalk her. And I'll stalk her, and if she were a doggie, I'd walk her. If she were a blackboard, I would chalk her. If I were Columbo I'd Peter Falk her, but I'm not so I'd just stalk her. something about baseball anad balk her. If she were on Good Times I'd JJ Walker, if she were a bathtub I would caulk her.
All the time he's stepping closer and closer to the table, immediately in front of Paula Abdul. They get him to stop singing and get security to help him leave.
Beth Stalker is here. It's her final year to qualify, she's a stay-at-home mom who sings in clubs and restaurants at night. She sings"Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" I like it. Simon says she won't stand out in the crowd, but Paula and Randy override him.
Video of Ben Harr getting his chest waxed. It is as bad as the scene with Steve Carrel in 40-year-old Virgin, just no shouting for Kelly Clarkson.
Amy is happy to see a new movie with Matthew McCaunaghey and Kate Hudson. They are shown in a plane with Matthew piloting. Kate asks how'd you learn to fly? Matthew replies Playstation! as the plane crashes.
Ben is back, sounfing like Kevin Smith and bare as a baby's bottom. They ask waht he had planned to sing, and it's "Dontcha." He gets 3 words into it and they stop him. He leaves, waxed the front, the back, looks like everything.
Chris Watson, nice-looking well-spoken guy with dredlocks influenced by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana. He goes to Delaware Tech and says "represent" to which I say "what?" DT Represent?!?!? He sings "Follow Me" by Uncle Cracker and he is in!
Final trainwreck of the night, Christina Telesano. This is a Star Wars geek. SHe is in costume including fishnet hose, a Star Wars belt buckle, and Princess Leia. She say's if you don't recognize her hairstyle you've been living on an M-Class planet in Star Trek and she plans to use Star Wars-inspired names for any kids she has. Her costume is something she put together for the 30th Anniversary Star Wars convention in Los Angeles last year. Men love her though she doesn't consider herself sexy, but they wanted her picture in the costume and she does not wear much make-up just some concealer for her acne. TMI. Before going in Ryan says to her "You know what I want to be with you." She responds "you want to be with me?!?!?" He clarifies he was NOT hitting on her, he wants the Force to be with her.
Finally, in the audition room.She tries the Who's version of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" She can not sing (despite telling us previously that she has a natural talent). Randy "strange audition" both the hair and the singing. Chritina taqkes being called a Dork a positive thing and says she's a goofball. All three judges are polite and pass. Simon says "Give my love to the wookie." LOL
She goes outside and says they think I'm a dork as usual, and she does a video tirade about how they only want girl who make themselves look pretty and wear make-up and do their hair and they don't want anything different. Later we'll see her on the phone still going off about hwo she didn't make it because she is plain and did not try to look pretty. The true problem is she can not sing. They need something different fo rthe show and they are not allowing it.
Brooke White - 24 y/o nanny of 1 y/o twin baby girls. She is married three years and she has NEVER seen an R-rated movie in her life, parents' guidance and continued choice. She says her husband has not either, but Simon jokes that he does watch them after she goes up to bed. Brooke sings "Like a Star" by Corrine Bailey Ray. I don't know the song, but she passes the judges and Simon promises to corrupt this otherwise good girl.
I am liking Simon a lot this year, but there must be comments he makes to the contestants that we don't hear, based on how some of the people go off on Simon when shot down.
Back to Princess Leia and she is still on the phone, saying they need diversity and don't want it, that all they want are girls that look the same and sound the same (yeah, those that can sing).
Tomorrow they are in Dallas. We see a really fat transvestite-looking guy and a number of other weirdos in the previews, including a guy in a Disney prince style coat and cape, and a pimp hat who looks like he could be the grandson of Yao-man from last year's Survivor.
and I'm off to bed.