American Idol: The Productivity-Sucking Begins

by WindUpDoll

Last week, Simon Cowell told a group of TCA reporters that he’s sure talent has slipped through the American Idol cracks. However, none of those talents have made it big. Well, tonight begins the festival of thousands that will, inevitably, slip through the cracks. Talent or no.

We’re starting off with the required shots of folks in the crowds — some talented, some delusional. This, is American Idol.

And so begins the opening “theme” music that has such a Pavlovian effect on me. It makes me want to sit on my butt and eat Cheetos. I can’t eat Cheetos and blog at the same time, though, as it would mess up the keyboard and leave crumbs all over the couch. We’re beginning in Philadelphia.

First story of the day is a guy who lost over 200 pounds. Kudos to you — here’s hoping you can sing. Uh, oh, he said he doesn’t have to fake the funk. That’s not a good sign. But, actually, he’s not bad. He’s through, and was nice enough to ask before he went up to shake their hands. Simon says he looks hungry. Ryan is schmoozing his grandmothers. The preview for after the commercial promises me some folks of questionable mental health. Sweet.

We’ve begun this section of tonight’s auditions with an immigrant — Aala from Egypt. His English is ok, and he seems like a sweet guy. He gets schooled by a woman in a white boa — she asks if he’s got kids. He replies that he’s not married. She tells him that’s not necessary. He’s definitely not the worst singer that’s ever been on American Idol. I mean, he’s not good, but he’s one of the average bad. He’s on this show because Simon & Randy are torturing Paula as she struggles to be nice to him.

Melanie is up, and she’s claiming that she sung backup for Taylor Hicks. She sings the required Natasha Bedingfield song and makes it through.

We’ve got a tour guide up next. He’s been compared to Eddie Vedder and Paul Robeson. Oh, Lord. It’s not good. He’s singing “Go Down Moses” and, well, his voice is deep like Paul Robeson. The judges lose their composure completely. Randy tries the hand & papers in front of the face thing, which never works. So, of course James starts singing again. Because if at first you don’t succeed, keep singing until they say yes. Which they’ve never done. Do these people not watch the show?

They’ve just shown me a close-up of a Philly Cheese Steak. I just ate dinner, but I totally want one.

Oh, goody! Someone just butchered “Unchained Melody,” Simon’s favorite song! It’s the montage of bad singers! Bad screamer girl. Bad expressionless Chinese guy!

So you know a good singer or two are coming up. Good black guy, good Latin guy, good White guy — it’s a rainbow of good singin’.

And we meet Temptress Brown — a 16-year-old girl middle linebacker. She says if you make her mad enough, she’ll break your bones. She’s auditioning for her mom, who’s very sick, and Temptress has to take care of her many times. So I really hope she’s at least halfway decent. At 16 she’s got a lot of time to develop as a singer, if she’s good. She’s singing “I’m Not Going Nowhere” and she mistakenly credits it to Jennifer Hudson, who did sing it, but Jennifer Holliday sang it first. She’s 16, what are you gonna do?

She’s not very good, but the judges to try to be kind to her. She’s 16, so of course she’s crying. She’s a sweet kid — she’s insisting she can’t go out to her family & say that she failed, so the judges go out with her. It’s genuinely sweet. It’s one of those moments that makes you realize there are folks who really bank on things like this to make a better life. Which is kind of a downer when you’re watching American Idol. Thankfully we’re not dwelling on it — look, there’s a guy who really can’t dance, and a girl who looks a bit rough if she’s really within the Idol age range who can’t stop flipping off the camera. I take it she doesn’t get a Golden Ticket.

Mark Hays can do a cricket impression. He can also sing…. really…. slowly…. There’s a bar here in Milwaukee called Angelo’s. If he were to go to Angelo’s on a Friday or Saturday night and sing with their keyboardist Norma, who is the older, tanned woman with fabulous blond hair, Norma would roll her eyes as she does with everyone who sings that slowly, even if they’re good.

The next guy likes to incorporate music in the workplace. He does financial work at an auto company. He thinks of dressing as MC Hammer as a creative way to lead a meeting. It’s David Brent bringing his guitar out at a staff meeting. Is it a spoiler if I tell you he can’t sing? Is it a spoiler to tell you that he actually questions the judges’ rejection? Is it?

The song everyone sings badly this episode is “I Love Rock & Roll.” There’s country-styled bad, rockin’ bad, drag queen bad, costumed freak bad, the entire stadium full of not-so-bad. We’re hoping somewhere Joan Jett is on a tour bus just raking in the cash off this.

And now we’re up to Alexis Cohen, who claims to be 23. Please, Stacey & Clinton from What Not to Wear, have an intervention. She wants to be a vet, but she’s also an artist. I actually like some of the pieces they showed. She’s all manic before she gets into the judges room. We know that she doesn’t stay that way. She claims she’s been compared to Janis Joplin, Grace Slick and Pat Benatar. She’s singing “Somebody to Love,” the Jefferson Airplane song. She’s pretty much learned how to copy Grace Slick. Simon calls her performance possessed. Simon actually says she’ll probably be a vet or be in a small-town band, but that this competition isn’t for her.

She actually holds it together in the room. When she leaves, Simon asks who the baddy was in Spider Man. He’s told Willem Dafoe, and Simon says ‘Yes!’
And then the meltdown, and it’s a good one. She ranks on Simon, who, from what we’re shown, didn’t really say anything rude to her. I’m assuming if he said something rude to her face, we would get to see it. We’ve seen him say some pretty rude things. She tells us where she’s going next, and next she’s going for “Actressing.” Her mother tells her that acting is the hardest thing of all and that Simon’s British. What that has to do with anything, I don’t know. Alexis rants, raves, flips off the camera and gets bleeped all the way out the door.

Angela Martin came all the way from Chicago with her family. Her daughter has Retts Syndrome, so will have problems for the rest of her life. Various family members are talking about her daughter & their love for her. She wants to make it to make a better life for her daughter. She talks about working full-time as a singer in Chicago. She sings “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and is quite good, but she does the little runs & other things that annoy Simon. He tells her to de-weddingize her singing. She makes it.

Simon marvels at the American ability to celebrate in a friend’s good news. I don’t know if that’s a British thing, or just a Simon thing.

We’re at the halfway point, so of course, we need to recap the first hour — just in case you missed one second.

Alyse is a dancing fiend in the waiting room, and a screaming fiend in the audition. Volume does not necessarily equal passion, folks, and we have the montage of really loud, awful singers.

We also have the old guy who wants to sing his song “No Sex Allowed” to the judges for the teenagers of the country. He’s a social worker & a songwriter. It’s all about a boy who’s being tempted by his girlfriend. “No Sex Allowed, I don’t want to be a part of your crowd!” Simon says in Britain, they call what he does creepy. I would have to agree. He’s happy he got to be on TV.

Kristy is a cute girl from Oregon. She sold a horse to get to the audition. She also kickboxes and does martial arts, and does a nice job with “Amazing Grace.” She’s a little country for my taste, but she’s sweet and could likely kick my butt. She’s through to Hollywood.

They’ve themed the next section Star Wars. Now, I’m a huge Star Wars fan, but I don’t have a Star Wars belt buckle. Even if I did, I wouldn’t wear it to American Idol auditions. I’ll admit it, though, I have done the Princess Leia buns when I had long hair. It was Halloween, though.

You know the producers knew what Ben had under his cape, since a guy in a cape can’t go anywhere without being searched. He reveals his Princess Leia Jabba the Hutt captive bikini outfit. Yeah, he’s a guy, and he’s not in shape. Paula can’t get past the chest hair, so she tells him he can come back if he waxes his chest. He agrees & goes in search of a salon.

Hey! It’s the woman who tried to school Aala! She runs all over “America the Beautiful.” We’ve got another swearing montage from bitter rejectees.

Then we’ve got a Paula stalker. He’s singing an original song he wrote for her — it’s all about stalking her, breaking into her house and other things that rhyme with the word “stalk.” He’s really, quite creepy. Man, I hope he was doing it just to get on TV, otherwise I fear for Paula’s safety.

Beth Stalker sings “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and I really like her. Of course, I also really like the song, but she’s got a lovely voice. Simon doesn’t think she would stand out in a crowd, but Paula and Randy put her through.

Oh, man, I didn’t see this one coming. Of COURSE Idol cameras followed our weirdo Ben to the salon to get his chest waxed, so we get to witness the horror. Man, just from the little I’ve seen, Ben has selected an inexperienced waxing professional. Yikes!

So we’re back from break and Ben is back. He’s a little pink, but he’s not bleeding, so I guess he’s ok. Of course he’s going to sing “Dontcha.” He gets about 5 seconds into that song before he gets kicked out.

Wow, the next contestant is quite pretty. Chris is 20 with some nice dreadlocks. He’s singing an Uncle Kracker song, “Follow Me.” He’s got a good voice, but for me, he’s more confident & pretty than a good singer. Simon says that the girls will like him. I think Simon misses that some of the boys will like him, too. He’s not bad, and he’s through.

Christina is rockin’ the Princess Leia buns and Star Wars belt. She even gives a Star Trek rip. She believes in herself, but she’s a little Mary Katherine Gallagher. She’s singing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” and specifies the Roger Daltrey version. Of course she’s a little weird and a self-declared goofball. Of course, they don’t think she’s right for the competition. She’s convinced that it was her exterior that got her rejected. She’ll probably think that for a long time.

Our final contestant is Brooke and she’s a nanny for twins. She’s also never seen a rated R movie, drank or smoked, but she seems sincere. She is married though, and her husband hasn’t either. She’s 24. She’s got a good voice. Simon says he’s going to bring her over to the dark side. She dares him, but takes it back.

We leave with a preview of Texas auditions, where of course folks have to try and sing Kelly Clarkson songs. Do I even need to tell you that they’re sung badly?

Say goodbye to my productivity.


  1. My ponderings:

    * Was that Egyptian immigrant guy pulling a Borat? Saying he was going to sing a song from “Mr. The Bee Gees” (this was after he was able to word it correctly earlier), and professing “I want to love a girl …” (presumably searching for the words “from head to toe”) “… from the hair to the nipple”? I’m skeptical.

    * I was also skeptical when the show promised “the strangest audition ever” before going to commercial, but it did deliver a pretty strange one with that Paul “Eddie Vedder” Robeson guy. If I ever get rid of my record player and long for the days when I could play my 45s at the 33 speed, I’ll look this guy up. I also love how he said he’ll try again next year with more contemporary songs. Yes — THAT was your problem. Moses was your downfall.

    * When Temptress said that she has many animals, including 10 kittens, and Simon said “I like animals,” I halfway expected him to finish the thought with “for dinner.” Simon didn’t, and I realized that, at that moment, I was meaner than Simon Cowell.

    * Alexis Cohen. I love the strange, strange things you say, yet I would be afraid to meet you (much less put my pets in your veterinary care, after seeing your profanity-laden, middle-finger-thrusting, self-butt-grabbing tirade). I not only liked your use of the verb “to actress,” but also that you apparently think that 12-headed people are looking at you (”I like the fact that people look at me with 12 heads”), and, my favorite, that you explain about your hometown, “There was a song written about Allentown — I believe the artist was Bon Jovi.” Bon Jovi, Billy Joel. As long as there’s a B and a J, it’s all good. (We would’ve also accepted M*A*S*H’s Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt as an answer.)

    * About the 39-year-old social worker’s song to the youth of America: Ohhhh … “No Sex ALLOWED.” That makes a lot more sense than the “No Sex Aloud” message I thought he was promoting. Thanks, WindUpDoll!

    * The only two people I’m really interested in seeing again are Kristy Lee Cook (the horse-owning, country-tinged kick-boxer. I hope she stays sweet), and Brooke White (not so much for her voice, which is pleasant enough, but because I’m hoping she can stay true to herself and resist the lures of the dark side).

  2. I needed much more footage of Ben getting his body waxed. His anguish was glorious.

    Also, how does Temptress play middle linebacker? She looks more like a nose tackle.

  3. Well, dang. I missed the whole first hour. I missed Mr. Mr. The Bee Gees. And the kid whose mother, lo, some 16 years back, looked down at her freshly-borned infant and thought, “Susie? Nooo. Fifi? Noooooo. Wait! I got it! Temptress!” Which is probably good, because I am virtually certain I would have spent the rest of the night being really cranky about how a woman, lo, some 16 years back, looked down at her freshly-borned infant and thought, “I got it! Temptress!”

    Well, until we got to Chris of the Dreadlocks anyway. Or maybe that cheesesteak.

    Me, I tuned in at Angela with the kickass extended family and the little girl who went to bed one way and woke up tragically another. I have no idea what she sang, because I promptly burst into tears, snorfled all the way through her performance and then kicked ‘er up another notch when her kickass extended family took Ryan down to the floor in celebration. The commercial afterward made me cry too, but I can’t remember why. I went and fetched some beer and chocolate, and things went much smoother after that, no matter how hard the A.I. producers tried to not let that happen.

    As for the blonde girls who all made ‘er through to Hollywood, I predict they promptly get trio’d up in the Hollywood round, where Brooke Pickler promptly finds her dark side long about 3am, Kristy Lee Underwood lands a foot on her unsullied jaw line and … yeah … I don’t have anything good for what happens to Bewitched.

    As for the “No Sex Allowed” guy, the Caulker-Stalker-Peter-Falker and the smirking cheeseturd in the cape, I get that there is a vast audience out there who lives for this crap. I’m over it. Dangerously over it. Not-sure-I-can-watch-the-first-month-of-A.I. over it. Were it not for Randy grabbing his groove hard and chiming in on the No-Sex chorus, and the vindication of seeing Cheeseturd have a million little follicles ripped from his body, they may have lost me on the first pitch.

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