I hate Gene Simmons. I wish that were a non sequitur.
Tonight we visit New Orleans, LA, with our guest judge Gene Simmons, who is the KISS guy with the tongue. Paula is hella drunk (or maybe on the dolls). Everybody's kind of pissy, because that's what happens when you're stuck in a room with Gene Simmons.
The Good: David Brown (19, NOLA), gets unequivocal approval and a unanimous ticket to Hollywood; Randy says that he is the best they've seen in all the Season Four auditions, and Seacrest accompanies him to church, for real. Lindsey Cardinale (19, Ponchatoula, LA) comes from a funny-named place where they wear their underwear on the outside, and she sings beautifully. For one hundred years. Michael Luizza (22, NOLA) sings like a Muppet, and then they all agree that he is "reminiscent of the female singers from the early '50s," like Rosemary Clooney, and they are all tripping so they suddenly think that's the next big thing. Jeffrey Johnson (27, Dallas) is hot and sings "In The Still Of The Night," and Gene Simmons perpetrates some random crap on him, but it's okay because Simon is deeply in love with him. Lamar and Jamar Jefferson (23, DeSoto, TX) have their twin act together, Gene Simmons is still an idiot, and Seacrest calls them "money." Only 16 people make it through to Hollywood, but this is mainly because Gene Simmons is an asshole, I think.
The Bad: Robert Solomon (26, Macon, GA) is a retro-nerd film projectionist who likes to "bellow" when he's alone, and his deal is that he's a real-life three-way split between Eugene from Grease, Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors, and Professor Frink from The Simpsons. I'd like to be charitable and say this is a massive joke, but I cannot with full authority or complete conviction do so. Reggie Brown (26, Jackson, MS) is not so great and that's really all I can say.
Sundeep Achreja (28, Metairie, LA) is good-looking, like an Indian Judd Nelson, he's sixteen feet tall, and he's totally Business Development, and watching him sing is like watching that one guy from the Nebraska office singing, like, a Paula Cole song karaoke style, only instead of a Paula Cole song, it's "Eye Of The Tiger," and somehow, that's worse. Daniel Durham (25, Kenner, LA) has a very church-camp vibe, and I like him, but he gives up immediately. Larenda Garrett (18, Kenner, LA), dresses and looks like the "tuppence a bag" lady, and sings in a boringly bad manner. Algua Isaac (26, Duncanville, TX) looks physically like the missing member of the Jackson Five, LeVar, but sings like nothing special. There are lots and lots more twins, twins, twins, from lots of seasons of this show, all of whom are very touchy-feely with each other. Especially Rich and J.P. Molfetta (27, New Windsor, NY), who sing "I'll Make Love To You," but, like, they sing it to each other. I don't think America is ready for them.
The Ugly: Bobby Barfoot (26, Fayetteville, NC) yodels -- pretty well, but still -- and gets blasted for it; but as a separate issue, he's a little bit creepy. Paula hits a downturn in the mood swings and starts crying when Daron Beck (28, Denton, TX) walks in, but not because he's scary-looking. Well, kind of: she starts crying because of how "original" he is before he even starts singing, because he's so "original"-looking. Then he sings like a freak, but that's okay because he really only wants to be on TV and they all know it.
The Unethical: Totally racist and awful montage of "The Incomprehensibles," a group of contestants for whom the English language is not necessarily a given, with those oh-so-funny subtitles at the bottom giving one possible take on what they're saying, i.e., what is clearly "miles and miles of empty spaces between us" becomes "Mys oh mys of empty spacers between hers." Also there is a bona fide crackhead. It's utter bullshit.
Wednesday: Kenny Loggins joins us in Las Vegas. Promises to be classy.
Welcome to Las Vegas. Guest judge: Kenny Loggins, looking like a dead person. We see an inordinate number of the 24 total winners out of the 9,000 auditioneers in this episode, which is both more and less fun, for lots of different reasons. Oh, and Paula's rocking a side ponytail and a giant red Canciones De Mi Papa flower in her hair, multiplying the amount of deranged she usually looks by a thousand.
The Good: Seacrest finally took a nap, and looks relatively fantastic. Boy was looking a mess. A "real Vegas showgirl" named Amanda Avila (23, The Vegas) hotties herself right into the judges' hearts, as if she even needed to sing. Twin Richard M. (the slightly hotter one) from last night comes back and sings gorgeously, in my opinion, which was all set to "snark." This year's first Punky Colors girl, Emily Neves (22, Houston), cutes on in and sings first a Cyndi Lauper and then a Linda Ronstadt song, winning me over easily, and she gets through on personality. Then a stereotypical 1970s streetwalker comes in and busts it right out, blowing everyone's mind, and she's great. Her name is Sharon Galvez (28), and the deal is that she's a Vegas cocktail waitress, so she unavoidably has Vegas all over her, and that's why she looks like that, but really she has a heart of gold. The lovely Jennifer Todd (27, Ontario, CA) makes it through based on her incredible voice, but unavoidable image issues will clearly preclude her moving forward from there. Finally, the last of the 24 Vegas people is Mario Vasquez (27, NYC), who is cool, and well-mannered, and nice-looking, and Paula barks right up that wrong, wrong tree, but we are unanimous on the awesomeness of Mario.
The Bad: Trevor (20, Winnemucca, NV) shamelessly sings "Footloose" to the writer/guest judge, and literally "kicks off his Sunday shoes." This pale, corpse-like girl sings Sarah MacLachlan, as usual. There's lots of high-pitched vibrato chipmunk singing and bullshit montages of bad singing, but not like notably bad, justâ¦not good. Vegas singers range mediocre-to-awesome, on the whole. This built Asian guy in a sleeveless jersey is not so good, and we don't even see this goth chick in Heidi braids perform, or a tired-looking old blonde porn star lady, just their disappointment. Dorky Christopher Tamura (25, The Vegas) wants to "represent Las Vegas" with his Elvis stylings. If you're auditioning in Vegas and you sing Elvis? You're fired. Christina Jordan (27, The Vegas) dances like there's an earthquake, but it's just her, losing her shit, and then Joey DeLovino (28, Seattle) makes Kenny giggle with his cheesiness. I mean to say that Kenny Loggins finds him cheesy.
Natasha Robinson (24, Chicago) comes in dressed as a giant choir lady with an Afro, and then strips off to this whole other outfit, and this gives Paula the fantods for some reason. Joshua Mareko (23, Kona, HI) sings and hums and moans and you eventually figure out that he's singing a Kate Bush song (albeit probably via the note-perfect Maxwell cover, but still). Lovely, awesome Karl Roberts (20, Fairfax, VA) "performs" "Superfreak," robo-Gary-Numan-style, while wearing plastic gloves of blue. Andrew Waffenschmidt (20, Holmen, WI) sings an Elvis song. Fired. Trevor Gordon (24, Medford, OR) refuses to get it together for me and sings only every other word of "I'm So Excited." The disarming Matthew Falber (21, Casper, WY) begs to be taken seriously as an artist, choosing a song from the Disney animated feature, The Lion King.
The Ugly: Technically she got through, but Mikalah Gordon (16, The Vegas) is so tore up I had to put her here. She is technically 16, but those eyes have seen things you've never imagined went on, even in your most grody mental moments. She gives me 128 different kinds of heebie-jeebies and really wants to buy her mom implants, okay, and to be black. Like, not in the JT or Eminem way where they don't really know the difference, but explicitly. She's like if you took that nasty chick from the Black-Eyed Peas and brainwashed her, this is how she would look on that last day when her resistance is completely gone. This stupid old man lies that he's 28, then caves under Simon's interrogation and reveals that he is 256 years old. Valentin Zamarripa (20, Merced, CA) sings all crappy, and then startles you by ripping off his wig just like Dr. Kimberly Shaw. Then Simon makes out with Paula. This whole episode does the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, basically.
Moments I Won't Ever Get Back: Jeffrey "J.C." Gray (24, The Vegas) started life deaf, and then was miraculously cured by the closing credits of The Jazz Singer, and is now the cook at a mini-golf course. Randall Jason (16, The Vegas) isâ¦so many things are wrong here that I cannot describe it adequately to you right now, but suffice to say that I don't think these bastards should have put this kid on the TV because he's just 16 and hasn't even gotten dealt his cards yet, much less started putting together a decent hand. Merely through his presence the judges are driven to rampages and infighting, like the things you put in your yard that make moles stop digging and run.
Desi Yazzie (27, Kykotsmovi, AZ), the even gayer brother of Season Two's "Greatest Love Of All" guy, sings "I Have Nothing," and, having sucked, runs away. Sarah Woodall (27, The Vegas) sings Elvis. Fired. There's a lame psychic girl named "Bobie." Fired.
Next week: What I did not know until tonight was "The Home Of Rock & Roll," Cleveland, OH. With L.L. Cool J!
Welcome to New Orleans, home of crawfish, drag queens, nighttime magic, and breakdowns. Especially those Seacrest-specific: "Let's break it down: first Kelly, then Ruben, then of course Fantasia." Whew, I'm glad he broke it down for us. So what he's wondering is, "Could the next American Idol be [in New Orleans]?" Short answer: No, sorry. Long answer: the next hour of your life.
In New Orleans you might find trolley cars, Bourbon Street, the French Quarter, and Mardi Gras… Thanks to Ryan for explaining it all to us. (I thought my description of New Orleans, one of the few cities in America I've actually been to, was lame!) Then there is a freaky, freaky slow motion shot of Seacrest throwing beads off a balcony at an unknown, unseen figure. I feel all of a sudden like I'm in Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil and the deeds are unfolding and sins will be visited on the people. There's lots of pointless, boring footage of lots of pointless, boring New Orleans folks. Like, there's a girl eating a hot dog. That's it. Not doing anything weird or cool or loud or interesting. Just hungry, and having a hot dog. WOOO! So yeah, lots of that, and lots of shots of lots of people pronouncing "New Orleans" in lots of different ways.
Gene Simmons will be joining us, unfortunately, and because the 86 billion people apparently watching this season are like 14 years old, we have to talk about who he is exactly. Now, I don't care who Gene Simmons is, because I fucking despise him, so if you really care to find out, that's what Google is for. We then have a collectively weird moment where there's a short video of Gene Simmons and Simon Cowell utterly making out as Seacrest asks in voice-over, "What would happen to our contestants when the rocker with the world's longest tongue and the Brit with the world's sharpest tongue got together?" I don't know, but I'm fairly sure it's a [funny joke goes here]. I'm so bored with the prospect of the judges judging, Gene being there, auditioneers from New Orleans. I can't be bothered. And even by sitting here doing nothing but telling you how I'm opting out of this, I'm still funnier than what they come up with: a superimposed crappy graphic of some KISS makeup over Simon's face. Which is better than, I don't know, them licking each other. But we'll get to that soon enough.
David Brown (19, New Orleans, working the whole Mercutio vibe hardcore) walks in, and Gene is so convinced that he himself is a badass that he totally starts talking out his ass before anyone can even say hi -- he's like somebody's irritating dad who just assumes everybody wants his opinion first and foremost. But then I guess that's what happens when you spend fifty years getting blown every night by groupies. Even if they're KISS groupies, which is shudderiffic, but anyway I imagine it takes away your real reality just as much as any non-stop ass-licking rock and roll ride. Anyhow, David Brown is lovely, he has great manners, and he sings awesomely and naturally. Gene Simmons is still the boss of everybody on earth, in his own mind. David sings Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" perfectly and beautifully and they all spaz out unanimously, Randy going so far as to say that David is the best person so far to audition for Season Four, and I agree, maybe. I'd know for sure, except we've seen so few of the audition-round winners that I don't really have the necessary information. Because the point of all this is not good singing, it's laughing at people for being something other than what we're used to being sold. More irritating horrible Gene Simmons. Where the eff is Mark McGrath?
Introducing Bobby Barfoot (26, Fayetteville, NC) involves Seacrest debasing himself by signing an autograph for a little boy who throws it on the ground because he thought Ryan was Clay Aiken, and Ryan says it's not the first time that has happened. For shame. Everybody knows that Annette Bening is the new Clay Aiken. But also, for shame anyway, because this is dumb, and the only good thing about it is how it postpones Bobby Barfoot. Who when he does appear looks like a hobbit who does drag shows on the weekends. Honestly, that's the only way to describe it. Well, like a bullfrog too.