The Good: As usual in this phase of the show, this category is weak sauce. There's Tatiana, a tiny little songster you can barely remember; Bernard, who I actually don't remember; and Chris, who combines the violent charm of Jonah Hill with a Jack Osbourne cuteness, and also can actually sing. Look for him to get no further than Hollywood, although if I had my way he'd be in the Final Two with Blake from Seattle.
The Merely Bad: There's Ericka, singing like a chipmunk while looking like Taylor Dayne's little sister; Diana, a big girl with an ugly voice and more pink netting; Lakia, who's like if Fantasia and Theodore the Chipmunk had a deluded baby; and Team Nichole -- even her creepy Pageant-Mom mom can't support the noises she makes.
The Horribly Exploitative: Jamie Lynn, whose father's murder/suicide of mom has left him unable to care for himself. Gross me out. JL provides material evidence for the importance of personal discretion, and also why Kellie Pickler is bad for America.
The Weirdly Good: I really liked Katie, who talks like Maria Bamford and sings like Britney Spears. Which is to say poorly. There was also Victoria, who sings like she's in choir with my girl Stevie Scott, and whose decade-long hair whispers softly, "My family is in a cult."
The Weirdly Bad: First there's Big Bird-looking Margaret "Mag Wildwood" Fowler, who lies about both her age (fifty) and her talent (nonexistent) but is refreshingly upfront about her craziness (a sight to behold). Then there's Brandy, who speaks at half speed like a person cruelly imitating the hard of hearing. She's gross and the segment goes on too long, but the plus side is that Simon's reaction to her is the cutest thing I've ever seen. I swear he gets more charming every year.
Ryan's much happier in Birmingham, which is nice. I believe twenty-one total made it through, of the entire hour, though I only would recognize two of them at best. Join me tonight for LA, where I'm sure it'll be weird but fun. Only four more months of auditions to go!
Seacrest dips into a weird non-native Queens place deep inside telling us how some people "cwall" Birmingham "Idol Country," due to the storied Alabamian preoccupation with the adoration and propitiation of golden calves, mutant M&Ms, and the patron gods of high school football, Daterapius and Homophoboton, with a meaty mix of sacrifices ranging from transfat-laden fast food and Dixie Chicks CDs flambÃ© to the upper range of your classic jerkies: beef, venison, libertarian. Also, though, because of Bo and Ruben, and "of course, Taylor." That phrase is at the bottom of so much that is wrong: "Cervical cancer is on the rise due to an uptick in STDs, and of course, Taylor Hicks." Ryan says this year, they figured out that they should just go to Birmingham directly instead of taking part in the national joke that is this show, where a newly minted crooning pothead with gross dad flab and a whole snooze-inducing trashy family story would be waiting and ready to be our next American Idol. Sadly, this did not happen. More sadly, we're spending an hour in Birmingham anyway.
Since so much talent has come from here, we thought, "Why not come to them?" And then proceed to pretend there is no talent here, because that's how Audition Month (month) works. The Mayor of Birmingham, who looks like a very nice homeless person, calls his town "the place where Idols are born," and Moses delivers just then a mighty bitchslap, and dude's like, "I'm the Mayor!" Paula looks totally cute, Simon's totally sweet to everybody, Ryan giggles in the voiceover about how Simon changed into a black sweater, and everybody cheers the judges as they arrive. Why?
Erica Skye (19, Auburn AL): Stripper dancing and talking I don't understand -- is she speaking English? Did she put something in her mouth? Was it pharmaceutical? Am I being hateful toward Alabama or toward the motor skill-compromised? I remember I had trouble understanding Bo sometimes too. She says she's studying "biological science," which...? And that she hopes to do something "in the dental field," and in addition to sounding either high or like she has a softball in her mouth, she also sounds like she's going to cry, all the time. Which is how it is, in Alabama, like all the time. Or so Oprah has taught me, through her many books. She's cute, I mean, this girl is cute, with wild hair that says "I'll totally make out with you, thanks for asking!" and makeup that says, "I look fifty!" Her impenetrable accent goes away somewhat while she's singing, but that doesn't help, really. She sings "Unchained Melody," which as we all know was written and first performed by Leanne Rimes, and it's almost there? But it's not really there. Randy is embarrassed for her, and he wigs out with Paula about how loud the girl is.