In honor of the passing of Heath Ledger, American Idol has decided to open tonight's episode with two old dudes in fishing hats with their arms around each other, welcoming us to the San Diego auditions. Man, I wish Ennis had stayed alive long enough to grow fat and old with Jack, too. Anyway, it's either accidentally sweet or accidentally creepy, which is how this show turns out sometimes. This...has been a really weird day.
The theme of Ryan's introductory voice-over is all about how American Idol went and spoiled the idyllic San Diego beaches and clear blue skies with its corporate awfulness. Which I guess makes Idol the Red Mango of SoCal. Then it's a lot of what you normally see -- crowd of enthusiastic freaks lining up for a chance to be ridiculed on TV.
First up: Tetiana Ostapowych, who is clearly a Good Audition, but whose staying power is, I think, limited because though she tries to mask it, there isn't a ton of heft behind her voice. She's either got breath control problems or else she's shortening up her phrasing too much, but whatever it is, I'm slightly underwhelmed. Simon is too, as he tells her she's not as good as she thinks she is, though he passes her on through. Once she exits screaming into the hallway, though, he proclaims: "Ob. Noxious." I don't know if I'd go that far, but she does like to prance around for the camera a lot.
Up next is single father Perrie Cataldo. Take that, single-mom brigade! Perry's son, Avion, shares his daddy's unfortunate slicked-back ponytail, but I think he also caught a touch of the adorable from him as well. With the kid on his lap, Perrie carefully avoids telling Ryan the specifics of Avion's mom's passing away, only that she was in the "wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong people, doing the wrong things." So it wasn't lupus. Seriously, though, if you're of the belief that American Idol ultimately comes down to whose backstory can most successfully manipulate people into voting for you, then...well, you're probably a Diana DeGarmo fan, but also you gotta figure this guy's gonna take a whole army full of orphans to take him down. Inside with the judges, he sings "I'll Make Love To You," and I can't tell if he's super nervous or has a lot of vibrato or both. But he's got a real voice in there, and all the judges love him, so he's sailing on through to Hollywood. Ryan brings the kid in to cute things up for a bit, and I'd expect to see him in Hollywood too.