This is the seventh audition episode. Kee-rist.
The Good: Ayla Brown (17, Wrentham MA) is overstuffed with back-story, but her performance (really good) and subsequent judging (she's branded mediocre, though she gets through) throw my intuition completely off track. Rebecca O'Donahue (25, Dobbs Ferry NY) and her twin sister live in Maxim, and consequently Simon and Randy turn into the tools from Entourage. Lucky for Rebecca, it's a Pills Paula week, and she squeaks in during a manic moment. Tatiana Ward (22, Hatfield PA) blows right past "adorable" and into "kind of annoying," but that could just be due to nervous overload. Seriously, though, she lays it on thick. Kevin Covais (16, Levittown NY) looks about six kinds of peculiar -- mostly because he was just born this minute -- and is the dozenth person to sing "You Raise Me Up" really, really well. Paula and Randy dig his underdog appeal, though Simon ends up agreeing with President Bush that harvesting stem cells for the purpose of a talent competition is just plain wrong.
The Bad: Irada Jafarova (22, Bethesda MD) has a whole lot of Mail-Order Minnie Driver going on, and makes me exceedingly uncomfortable. Kenneth Maccarone (21, Providence RI) sings Cher but is NOT a female impersonator, you bigots. He also sings Judy Garland, but you can shove that cocktail dress up your ass, mister. He and Simon engage in a spirited debate on the subject of disingenuousness and how sportcoats are really butch. And I hope GLAAD sends him a letter bomb addressed to "thanks for ruining everything!" Michael Sandecki (20, Washington D.C.) reminds me of a gay(er) version of someone I can't quite put my finger on. He's neither as awful nor as entertaining as I was expecting, but Simon fucks with him regardless because of some reason or another. Something tells me I'll figure this all out in time for the recap.
The Montages: The usual stupidly themed video packages (Subject: Girls! Subject: People who suck!) are joined by: a decently cool presentation of prospective Idols working their day jobs; "Three Dog Night (of the Living Freaks)"; "Vangelis Cashes a Royalty Check"; and finally, a mondo package of everything we've seen in the last nine hours of programming. Making said nine hours virtually pointless. Awesome.
Tomorrow: Hollywood! And I am appropriately ashamed at being more than a little excited for that.
Hollywood is going to be awesome, but this episode breezes by way too quickly to be interesting or suspenseful. The people you think will move on? Move on. The 175 Hollywoodites have only twelve songs to choose from this round, so it helps if you really like "We'll Never Love This Way Again." They're herded into groups of eight, perform (solo -- Jacob gets the group performances), and are pruned from there.
The Good: We haven't seen Patrick Hall (27, Gravette AR) before, but he's cute and a pretty great singer. Simon calls him a "likeable Clay Aiken," but I think he's way better than that. Paris Bennett sings "Can't Fight the Moonlight," continuing to diversify and refusing to let herself be put in a box. Taylor "Silver Foxx" Hicks fucks up a lyric on "The First Cut is the Deepest," but Simon has now upgraded him to "interesting." He still looks like he's fighting a losing battle with the Joe Cocker affectation, but who am I kidding, this dude is final five, so I'd best make my peace with it. Kellie Pickler and Lisa Tucker are both "Hopelessly Devoted" to that song from Grease, and both move on. Hot Chris Daughtry rocks the hell out of "The First Cut Is the Deepest," and I like his singing way better than I did in Denver. Katharine McPhee will "Never Love This Way Again," and is awesome.
The Bad: Joshua and Jarrett Simmons are deemed "forgettable" (the former) and too small for his song (the latter), and are finished. Crazy Dave Hoover promises to be more focused this time, then hits the stage and loses his mind. Aaaagain. He launches an aerial assault on the judges before he is euthanized.
The Bad, Yet Enjoyable: R.J. Norman and Sgt. Steven David, Jr. are grouped together, and they both get bounced, which leads to Sgt. Steven being really bitter and R.J. actually crying. It's all crazy satisfying.
The Jerky, But Fortunate: Megan Zieger (25, Rochester NY) goes through two days of being sick drama, sort of loses some of her voice, sings shittily, and then browbeats the judges into passing her into the next round. The Brittenum twins seem to have stolen the identities of a couple of assholes. They sport some oversized egos, hate on Carrie Underwood, pull some wheedling bullshit on the judges, and still get passed on, because they're gonna be gold next week.
The Pretty Bad, But Aw: Garet Johnson is amazed by each and everything he sees in California. He also cries a lot. He doesn't sing that well, and I'm pretty much going to be sick of him after another episode of this same thing, but for nowâ¦aw.
Seven episodes of auditions. Seven episodes of the good singers not even mattering (and half of them not even showing up on TV). Seven episodes of the exact same thing happening except in different cities (or, you know, not different cities, depending on how much San Fran can get faked up to look like Austin). I understand how the ratings aren't exactly complaining, but seven episodes is a long time to go without forward motion in the plot. Which makes me think that the perfect meta-commentary would be an AI audition round on Mystery Friggin' Island.
So Ryan's Boston VO starts out with some cops dishing about American Idol (as they are no doubt wont to do). Round Cop theorizes that the next Idol will have to come out of Boston, because they've got the World Champion Red Sox (only not so much anymore), and the World Champion Patriots (again: not really, no). So that's 0 for 2. But I'm sure if they had asked Curt Schilling he'd have told them something awesome about himself they could have used. Anyway, a jump cut to the upcoming Clay Gayken audition serves to prove that cops don't know anything about this show and takes us into the credits.
Boston, like every other damn city we've been to, consists of road signs and stadiums full of screaming idiots. It's the usual drill of landmarks and yahoos, which in Boston's case means, like, Paul Revere and "wicked awesome!" Oh, and rain. Can't hit up the northeast without reminding everyone how we get actual weather from time to time. Vegas. Simon actually debases himself enough to make a Boston Tea Party joke, like he's an actual British person and not a permanent resident of the Federated States of Whoever Signs My Cheques.
Okay, so we're taking a moment to address what the judges are wearing today. Simon has on the usual: black ribbed tee, long sleeves scrunched up, not as vacuum-sealed tight as in past years because his body isn't quite cooperating like it used to, and jeans. Everybody's wearing jeans, that's so not the point. Randy is swimming in a sea of argyle, the likes of which Duncan Kane has only dreamed. It's almost hypnotic. As for Paula…words fail me. After dropping the ball terribly last week when asked to describe the sartorial bliss that was Mecca Madison, I knew enough to ask for help this time. So here's Jacob with a recap of how Paula was dressed in Boston: "She is wearing a teal ribbed sweater with bandoleros that looks like it would fit Randy. Maybe they are not for ammo, but in fact inflatable in some way. For safety. Her hair looks very, very cute, though. Like that girl who was on Life Goes On, when she did that show where she went to the country like Dr. Quinn. Then she was on ER but got stabbed all to hell."So it would seem that the entire New England Patriots organization evaporated, condensed, and then fell as rain all over James Yokley, Jr. (23, Lynn MA). And it was an acid rain, too, or else how do you explain the jeans he's wearing? James has nicknamed himself "Ghost," even though the chyron will eventually disagree. Ghost is thugged-out and patriotic, and also a whiter shade of pale, which I don't even think is all that notable anymore in 2006, since there are officially more thugged-out white kids than thugged-out black kids in America. Which is why this whole Kanye West trend of popped collars and fratty "I just discovered Ray Charles and he was awesome on In Living Color" trend is so fantastic, to me. Anyway. For as hard as Ghost projects, he's actually really meek when he gets up in front of the judges. He marble-mouths a lot, but what he says boils down to, "I know you guys don't go for rap music, but I think it's beautiful, and I'd like an opportunity to show you that." And he can't say "melodic." So, of course, he raps this one line over and over again about "them soldiers from the U.S.A.," and at one point Paula turns to Simon and places her hand over her heart, which was probably a nod to the patriotism of it all, but could also be read as affection for this poor clueless kid. The judges like him enough to let him try actually singing "Lean on Me," and as Paula notes, it's not as horrific as you'd expect it to be. But it's still bad. Bye, Ghost! You're everything that usually annoys me, but I liked you!