The "Best": Tami Gosnell (29, Lafayette CO) drives a pedicab for a living, and the judges appreciate her gorgeous voice and handsome features. I'm pretty sure Simon saying she reminds him of the '60s is code for "lesbian," but he looked like he was crushing on her regardless. Paul Kim (25, Saratoga CA) hates William Hung so goddamned much, which is enough to get me on his side immediately, even when his voice -- while good -- proves breathy and affected. Gina Glocksen (that was her I saw back in Memphis!) loves Simon Cowell even more than last time, and she'll get another opportunity to be rejected in Hollywood. Heather, Ashley, and Ebony audition together as tarted-up roller-waitresses. Ebony is almost comically more talented than the other two, but Ashley makes it through as well, though Paula advises that she stop applying her makeup with a trowel. Lakisha Jones (26, Fort Meade MD) isn't as good as any of the judges seem to think she is (says the guy with no experience and questionable taste, but whatever, you know I'm right) as she shouts her way through some Aretha.
The "Of The Rest": Christa Fazzino's hook is that she dresses like a crazy person, or at least one obsessed with Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More" video. Edward Sanchez is utterly and adorably in love with Paula, and the fact that he gets to hug her trumps the fact that he warbled his way through a painful rendition of "Donna." W.E.S. is a bald alien from the planet Tangerine Satin; he composed his own song, and we'll assume he wrote all the stomping in there on purpose. Alexander Nazario murders the hell out of "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All," and I may never forgive him for it.
Also: there's going to be a songwriting contest this year, so if you have any strong feelings about inspiration, ambition, and how blessed you feel to have flown to the mountaintop on wings made of dreams, well, you might want to start putting pen to paper. And finally...was that Matthew Buckstein I saw? Light the Bucksignal -- Sars must be made aware!
Next week: Seacrest's voice-over, as usual, makes the Hollywood round look like the most awesome apocalypse ever. Jacob gets to have all the fun.
I don't think it says a whole lot about the hour we're about to be subjected to when it starts off with a big ol' preview for how cool next week's Hollywood round is going to be. Ryan's voice-over tells us that 172 contestants will battle it out next week, "withstanding the very worst that our judges can throw at them." I'm pretty sure we're only seeing footage from this season in the clips that are flying by, but the dead-on doppelgangers for Fantasia, Kellie Pickler, and Constantine are having fun making me second-guess myself. Crying people, crying people, crying people. Ryan's VO tells us that, believe it or not, some people want to be put through this (cue a crying girl from auditions). So many people, in fact, that the previous seven episodes were not nearly enough to contain all the awesome and hilarious and mind-blowing auditions. So they've cobbled together one more hour out of bits and pieces from the seven audition cities. And just in case you thought this was a catch-all episode so that we'd be able to see some of the eventual Top 24 before they actually Elliott Yamin their way into our living rooms, sight unseen, Ryan assures us that we'll be seeing "some of the very best" and "the very worst." And as the flip-book parade of contestants speeds by and the quarter-second snippets of auditioneers pass, I could swear that I see...was that...Matthew? Matthew Buckstein? Couldn't be.
In an effort to lend a bit of structure to what is an inherently unstructured mishmash of leftovers, Ryan's VO will be providing us with handy title cards, all precipitated on the concept of giving us, the home viewers, "a lesson in auditioning."
Lesson 1: The Look
Ryan's VO says Lesson 1: The Look is about standing out among a crowd of...indeterminate number. Random people in random cities take wild guesses as to how many people there are -- including goddamn Sarah Goldberg, who I still hate. The freakiest dressed include some dude in a purple suit (with hat), "Eccentric" the sex panther, man in an afro wig, purple glitter platform shoes guy, angel wings guy, and then some dude with a truly AWESOME t-shirt. Check it: it's a giant photo of Randy Jackson from his Journey days -- high-top fade up to Jesus, whacked-out late 1980s shoulder-padded jacket with the sleeves scrunched up, keytar slung over his shoulder -- that says "Journey to American Idol" on the front, and then on the back: "Don't Stop Believin'." Randy yells that it's the best shirt he's ever seen, and I'm not inclined to disagree. Then, more freaks: leather pants and wrestling boots guy. Lady in a nun costume...that she rips off to reveal some Coyote Fugly trashy number. The usual.