Okay, first off, did Carol Bayer Sager always look exactly like Joan Collins? Anyway, Carol is so utterly useless as a guest judge that she makes Simon go away in between day 1 and day 2 and there is, predictably, anarchy while he's gone.
Pretend New York: Sarah Burgess makes like the storybooks and sneaks off to New York to get away from her parents, and then she makes it all the way to Hollywood on pluck and can-do spirit. Amanda Coluccio and Antonella Barba are trying to Paris-and-Nicole their way onto the show and want to win as a pair, but Simon hates that idea. Amanda gets through on collective indifference toward rejecting her, while Antonella gets much more enthusiastic props. Kia Thornton is a dynamite singer and says she agrees with Simon at all times, so I think she's Jacob's dream girl. Jenry Bejarano is the world's best young man. Like, a Friday Night Lights-worthy awesome kid. Paula manages not to jump his 16-year-old bones long enough to let his Bolivian family celebrate with him. Jory Steinberg is from Ottawa by way of Santa Monica, and she apparently knows foreign heads of state for some reason. She's almost too composed in front of the judges, but her voice is a powerhouse. Porcelana Petino represents Queens. No, she represents for Queens, and she's gone through an extended training montage to get into shape enough to dress like Dirrty Xtina. Shockingly enough, she's a good singer, enough to elicit a group hug from the non-Simon judges. Chris Richardson is dressed like House of Pain on a job interview, sings Donny Hathaway, and is compared to the almighty Timberlake. Nicholas Pedro "bowed out honorably" in Hollywood last season and I do not remember him one bit. He sings Sinatra in a refreshingly un-Sinatra way and the judges love him and he's coming back.
Actual East Rutherford: Ian Benardo is about 98 pounds of awful and takes his So You Think You Dance reject world tour to Idol. He kicks off the show so as to represent all the scary aspects of New York (gay, Jewish, gay, Jewish, and gay) that freak out the heartland. Ashanti Johnson was rejected in Hollywood the past two seasons, and the judges say enough is enough. She proceeds to go all Effie White "And I am telling you, I'm not going" about it, and the show makes fun of her for being melodramatic. Clifton Biddle is an "average Joe" who is maybe not all there. And I blame Bo Bice for him thinking he can make it on this show singing ZZ Top and Taylor for him thinking the harmonica was his claim to fame. Nakia Claiborne is the black April Walsh and nearly explodes enthusiasm all over the judges. She's crazy fun on "Dancing in the Streets" but can't handle a slow song and is tearfully bounced. Sarah Goldberg can't sing but demands to be the next American Idol anyway, and I canât decide whether that was a political statement, therapy session, attention grab, or what, but it was irritating regardless. Christopher Henry supposedly "looks like" Simon and also George Michael, none of which is true. He sings like a tubercular Broadway lady. Simon revisits his "go be a drag queen" macro, and then cue the fight with Paula and she comes the closest she ever has to holding her own. Finally, Isadora is a "clairvoyant" and doesn't seem exactly like crazy person, but she's got weird nerves that manifest, ultimately, in strange and orgasmic sounds coming out of her mouth in the guise of "Lady Marmelade."