How bad were the Minneapolis auditions? Well, in the first 45 minutes, the only good singer was the only (admitted) crack baby. So there's that. How drunk was Paula? So drunk that we got the beer goggles for guest judge Jewel. Who was your recapper's favorite for tonight? Um...can I choose that awesome and often metaphorical audition room door that the producers locked specifically so people could plow into it and look stupid? That was my favorite.
On to Hollywood: Denise Jackson (16, Madison WI) is the aforementioned crack baby, and though she may dress like she's auditioning for Flavor of Love, she's actually all class and quite awesome. Sings pretty well too. Perla Meneses (25, Margate, FL) is allegedly Colombian and allegedly looks like Shakira and can allegedly sing, so she squeaks on by. Jarrod Fowler (27, Peoria AZ) is a Navy man and Rascal Flatts enthusiast who can sing fairly well and was likely emboldened by Taylor Hicks's trailblazing work in the field of middle-aged-looking white dudes trying to win over teenyboppers. Michelle Steingas (19, Excelsior MN) is blonde and cute and country, and she sings "Duh, I'm Blonde and Cute and Country (Of Course I'm Going To Hollywood)." Matt Sato (16, Maplewood MN) is an adorable kid with unsupportive parents and an unfortunate zit-on-the-nose situation, and I totally thought Simon was going to hate him for looking kinda girly, but he doesn't! He's going to Hollywood! Suck it, Mom and Step-Dad! Rachel Jenkins (21, Minnetonka MN) is an Army Reservist with a husband in Baghdad, a sparkling personality, and one of the better voices of the night. Sarah Krueger (19, Eau Claire WI) is dressed like a customer service rep and has hair like Felicity and sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" very much like Kat McPhee, if Kat McPhee never had a domineering mother whose approval was ever-elusive.
Back to St. Olaf: Jessica Rhode loves Jewel and thinks she can sing and is very, very sad to learn that she cannot. Troy Benham is a self-described "urban Amish," which translates roughly to "big, fat liar with a dirty beard." Charles "Monroe" Moody is dressed like Apollo Creed and specializes in opera and wasting everyone's time. Tashawn Moore is "dressed to impress" in a men's shirt and tie and is generally the most fantastic person on this entire show. She can't sing, nor can she remember any of the words to Prince's "Kiss," but she keeps snapping and shimmy-shaking and closing her eyes, picking out lyrics from the ether as she passes. She's utterly hysterical and cute and terrible, and it goes on forever and is totally worth it. Trista Giese "sounds like" the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz. I suspect she's secretly cool, and she found a way to get on TV, and for that I applaud her. Stephen Horst is a vocal coach who sings like musical theatre and earns Randy's ire, at Simon's childish goading. Dana Dooley cannot sing very well, unless she's singing "Fever" to her boss, Gary, who she is deeply in love with (though she may or may not know it) and who flew her and her sister out to Minnesota to audition. There is innuendo everywhere. Jason Anderson juggles with the devil sticks, sucks powerfully, is rejected harshly, and cries like an actual baby. Brenna Kyner has a "degree in vocal performance" and proceeds to stab "Under Pressure" to death with her voice, but she got on TV, on her BFF of a show, so she wins, ultimately. Finally, Josh Flom is cute and awesome and sings with a sub-sub-sub-Daughtry growl, and when Simon suddenly develops the opinion that you need to have some variety in your game, he gives him 15 minutes to cobble together an Abba song to show off his "range." He sings it like the star of Muriel and Chad Kroeger's Wedding, of course, and despite making an endearing case for himself, he's rejected and told to stick things out with his garage band. Nice kid, though.
Next up: Seattle. Which is supposed to be the bad one. Yikes.
Before we know where we're going, we must know where we've been, so American Idol Season 6 begins with a flashback to Taylor Hicks winning Season 5 and then having a seizure. Or because he kept having seizures. One of the two. Then, we go back even further, as Ryan Seacrest's voice-over reminds us -- and visual evidence supports -- that Idol has been responsible for turning Clay Aiken from a gawky Howdy Doody impersonator into a gay Tilda Swinton impersonator; for taking the natural talent of Ruben Studdard and...I guess putting it into a suit, if you go by the montage here; for rescuing Fantasia from a life on the streets and making her sing for her supper by dressing like BeyoncÃ© and hawking her hard-luck story to basic cable. Kelly Clarkson's win seems even farther in the past than it usually does, and Seacrest desperately tries to get some of that "Since U Been Gone" Grammy dust on himself and the show. And, as you may have expected, he attempts the same thing with Jennifer Husdon's Dreamgirls future-Oscar dust. They're not even lying -- Idol IS ultimately the reason why we even know who Kelly and Jennifer are today. But it does serve to illustrate just how wide the chasm is between "Idol fame" and "real, actual fame." To wit, Ryan tells us about Carrie Underwood's mega-success this past year (real, actual fame), then transitions into how Kellie Pickler is a "household name" (Idol fame).
Chris Daughtry's album is rocketing up the charts (real, actual fame, or at least the beginnings of it), while Katharine McPhee is wearing hooker clothes to the American Music Awards (Idol fame). Elliott Yamin is...oh, they didn't talk about Elliott. That'll cost 'em.
As the confetti of yestermonth gives way to the teeming throngs of slightly-more-recent yestermonth, Ryan promises this season will be the "biggest and best yet." The Who, from the background, counter that it's only teenage wasteland. We're promised the usual mix of exuberance and bitterness and boys crying and girls getting violent and personality disorders and mental handicaps and gimmicks and good singers we probably won't see until semi-finals, and then...this girl with a cowboy hat makes inhuman sounds with her mouth. Is she the next American Idol? Ryan Seacrest sounds dubious.
Then it's more flashbacks. Remember when Prince performed at the Idol finale last season? I sure don't! Was that while I was passed out from seeing Toni Braxton's vagina? Or while I was passed out from seeing Meatloaf have a panic attack onstage? Or while I was sleeping from the overall boringness? Then again, everyone was on that finale show, so why not Prince too? Anyway, "Prince," in this case, is shorthand for "Minnesota," which is where tonight's auditions are taking place. "The state of 10,000 Lakes," Seacrest reminds us, "and when we showed up there were 10,000 people." So in about a half hour, when we want to drown them all, we shouldn't have much difficulty, then? Good news.