What's in Greensboro, you ask? According to AI, there are tales of woe, a montage-worthy amount of ugly dudes, and several poor misguided souls who feel Michael Jackson is still relevant in some way.
Kellie Pickler (19, Albemare NC) is a roller-skating waitress who lives in Capeside with her sister Bessie and has a crush on the boy down the Creek. The back-story is seriously that egregious, but Kelly is also cute as a button in a very Carrie Underwood way, right down to the inability to do anything with her body while she performs. Obviously, we'll see her in Hollywood. Richard Garland (25, Mooresboro NC) puts himself behind the world's largest 8-ball by busting out his ventriloquist act in front of the judges, which means his perfectly nice voice is suddenly not enough to overcome the fact that he billed himself second to a gimmick, and he's denied. Steven David, Jr. (28, Dalzell SC) gets ridiculously up in Paula's grill with a whole bag of date-rapey bullshit, and since Paula's fight-or-flight response is on the fritz (along with the rest of her faculties), she responds by dancing with him. When Simon and Randy play along and pass him on to Hollywood, Steven and his wife, Karla Homolka, attempt to abscond with our Ms. Abdul, while Simon and Randy sit there like the two non-abducted kids from Mystic River. Halicia Thompson (27, Eden NC) has enough family on hand to stage a proper rumble with Rochelle Elaine's family from last week. She works it out, and sings "A Different World," which makes me think she was a ringer placed by the show to curry my favor. Adorable Donny Meacham (19, Alpharetta GA) hasn't sung in eleven years, and considering his audition consists of a decent impression of what a blow dart gun would sing like, I'll venture to say that it showed. Kendra Winston (24, Greensboro NC) trumps the hell out of Kelly Pickler's sob story by uttering four little words: "ward of the state." I quickly come to adore her divisive ass, and she handles Seacrest as well as anybody this side of Nadia Turner, and she's going to Hollywood, despite Simon's "nay" vote.
Paris Bennett (17, Fayetteville GA) is the granddaughter of gospel singer Ann Nesby, and clearly a ringer. She's also my favorite audition of the season this far, getting her shit done with both the Dixie Chicks and Billie Holiday. Marcus Behling (22, Powder Spring GA) sings some Michael Jackson song, awfully, and mentions how he took instruction from Paula and Randy's DVD, which makes Simon's millennium and sets off a never-ending sequence that is both hilarious and excruciating, and probably would have gone a whole lot better if Marcus would have realized how much he ceased to exist once he uttered the phrase "Paula and Randy's DVD." Sammy Neighbors (22, Providence NC) tries to haul us back into the gender identity breach once more, but nobody feels like playing that again. Tyra Juliette Schwartz (24, New York NY) has some hair issues which are probably what lead Simon to think she can't be a "star." But she sings with great control (thanks, Randy), so she's in. Finally, Rhonetta goddamn Johnson (24, Charlotte NC) gets her awful ass pimped from the very first commercial break and is sold to us as the greatest train-wreck auditioner ever, as well as the reason television was invented in the first place. Then we finally see her, and she's basically every shitty singer with a regrettable tube top who ever delusionally bitched about getting the boot, flashed her cooter, and talked shit about Paula that this show has ever had, just with the words ad nauseam attached. Yeah, totally worth the wait and not at all a waste of time.
Tomorrow, we're in San Francisco. You know how I know? Because ten of my motherfucking psychic friends told me!
So the theme in San Francisco is that Simon is having an "off night" and is thus judging good singers too harshly. Or else Simon is perfectly fine and Randy and Paula woke up and decided to fuck with him all day. Regardless, they argue endlessly over half the auditioners we see, and they all act like assholes, but we'll get to that in a second.
First off, the purely good: Katharine McPhee (21, Sherman Oaks CA) has a voice coach for a mom and a mom for a voice coach. She sings a version of "God Bless the Child" that is at first weighed down in glory notes, but then clears up and is beautiful. Simon adores her, and all the judges generally over-praise her, but she's still good, and we'll meet again in Hollywood. Jose "Sway" Penala (27, South San Francisco CA) shares a nickname with that awful MTV News guy, but sings "Superstar" awesomely and is in. And that's it for the good ones. It was that kind of show.
The purely bad: Matthew "Wolfie" Paulson (21, Elk Grove CA) wanders in from the Beauty and the Geek set, tries to sing "Measure of a Man," and is brutally terrible. And then we're asked to compare it to the Clay Aiken original and I choose to remain silent so as not to incriminate myself. Marcus Phillips (23, San Jose CA) is an "all-terrain entertainer," but sadly for him, most of that terrain resides in the salt flats of awful falsetto.
The ones who made the judges fight: John Williams (28, Sacramento CA) took a break from getting his 324th Oscar nomination to morph into a skinny black Air Force pilot with braces who sings like ass but then remixes his own damn self and wins Paula and Randy over. But it's the fact that Randy passes him on to Hollywood to spite Simon that starts this whole chain of events. Shawna White (16, Willits CA) sings both "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" and "Fallin'." Simon aint having it, Randy and Paula crazily overstate how good she was on "Fallin'," and somehow all three of them are wrong. Jayne Santayana (19, Vallejo CA) starts the freak-out in earnest when Simon seems to reject her on principle. It all comes to a head with Deborah Dawn Tilley (
57 27, Ely, NV), a "rocker" chick who gets rightly shot down by Simon (and eventually Randy). But then Paula has a 'sode about something Simon said to Clay three seasons ago, like, take it to a message board, lady (Not this one!). So Paula turns her chair away and Simon walks out and Randy is like "can't we just get through this?" even though he started it in the first place.
To sum up: Simon walks out and never comes back. Will he be there next week in Vegas? Uh, yeah, he will. Because this was all fake as hell.
Did you know that North Carolina is the state responsible for Clay Aiken and Fantasia Barrino? Ryan Seacrest would like to remind you of that. He also brings up how every American Idol contestant who has ever been worth a damn in history has emerged from the south. So this year, AI decided to take the search right to the fertile breeding grounds of Greensboro. And who do we see as the first ambassadors of the Greensboro auditions? Some dude dressed up as a fireman, a girl dressed as Rainbow Brite, and Rhonetta goddamn Johnson (who we'll get to later, a lot). First impressions, Greensboro. Can't make 'em twice.
As several pan shots would have us believe, a million bajillion people lined up to audition for Idol in North Carolina. Paula expects to find some talent. Randy makes like Paula and pretends he doesn't know where he is. Simon gets flowers, and Ryan gives him the voice-over equivalent of a yank on the ponytail. So, you know, it's Tuesday.
First into the audition room this week intros herself as "Sabrina…the teenage witch." See, here's where I wish Simon would just pull his "Next!" card and send her away. She acts all aggro-flirty with Simon but he's having none of it. So Sabrina Oakley (26, Greensboro NC) has no other recourse but to sing "Lean on Me," badly. She sings the same way she flirts, actually, which is with great volume and bluntness. Simon calls her on her "Jerry Springer" quality, which is not untrue, though Sabrina takes offense…with great volume and bluntness. You see what I mean? Lady's consistent, I'll give her that. Simon and Randy banter about how drunk you'd have to be to find Sabrina's singing appealing, before Paula calms them down long enough for the triple "no" to send Sabrina on her way. As she walks out into the lobby (and with the door behind her still open, I think) Sabrina announces that Simon is an asshole and relays the Springer comment. Which, naturally, gets a good laugh out of the peanut gallery, and Sabrina gives a peeved look, and I suddenly get the impression that the entire universe is being controlled like marionettes by the AI producers. Is everybody just resigned to playing into this pre-approved script of serving yourself up on a platter for FOX and America? Hi, this is my first year watching the audition rounds, by the way. ["I was gonna say. Just drink the Kool-Aid, it's easier than begging for a coffee." -- Sars]