This yearâs auditions kick off in Washington, DC, which means lots of crazy people and lots of boring people, lots of the utterly talented, and lots of the utterly crazy and untalented, and nothing in the middle. This makes things easier for Mark McGrath, our guest judge tonight, whoâ¦yeah, heâs just exactly like I always thought he was.
The Good: Sean, a boringly charming youth pastor of 27, whoâs very smiley and very willing, as everyone seems to be tonight, to sing âIsnât She Lovely,â is let through on the well-meaning white guy front. Anwar, a music teacher of 25 from Newark (Holla!), is well-dressed and sings purely and without a lot of bullshit, which is very refreshing for the judges. Regina, 28, is going to Hollywood, which thankfully prevents her death. Marlea, a 21 year old proud single mother, who is proudly from Syracuse NY, proudly sings a Bonnie Raitt song nobody has ever heard, and the judges proudly let her through to Hollywood, which is celebrated by her 3,000 proud gay friends in the proud foyer.
Some boring girl with giant eyeballs gets through because she has British parents or something, and her name is Sarah. A crazy girl in a pink fedora screams at traffic and runs off down the street freaking out after being invited to Hollywood. The unholy baby of Scott Stapp and Michael Hutchence perpetrates some fake shit about leaving his band high and dry to be on American Idol and his name is Constantine and I think they want him to win. I do not. This utterly hot breakdancer named Travis overcomes everyone with his hotness, and sings âIsnât She Lovelyâ but gets through anyway. John of Hackensack gets into the competition and I like him but I worry itâs only by virtue of the fact that his family is hella connected and will break your legs if you displease them. Ian Holmes II does a creepy note-perfect rendition of the Mariah Carey cover of âIâll Be Thereâ but gets through anyway, because it was nice enough until he got all scary and falsetto.
The Bad: A big girl in desperate need of, um, âsupportâ boobs herself through âYMCAâ and the judges reject her once they shake the hypnotic spell of her breasts, each of which is larger than your head. A very wonderful and nice boy forgets the words to Josh Grobanâs âYou Lift Me Up,â like thatâs a bad thing, but in such a brutally embarrassing and unending way that even the judges almost start crying. Derek Braxton is the very picture of a hissing, spitting gay stereotype and nearly loses it completely, and nobody questions his claim to being Toni Braxtonâs cousin, because it would just be too sad to catch him out. Another fella, in fake blue contacts and many, many shades of purple, sings a song from Annie and holds the last note about ten minutes too long and generally makes everyone ashamed for watching. Good Will Bojangles, a janitor who dances a bomb, canât really sing all that well. The most boring girl in the entire universe slaps her own ass while wearing a shawl (sexy!) to the âtuneâ of Madonnaâs classic, âHanky Panky.â Franchon Crews, an adorable middle-weight boxer from Virginia Beach, is rejected for being too untrained, although the judges think sheâs got a great voice and hope to see her next year.
The Ugly: Two boring DC intern types first bore you and then freak you out in different ways, one by telling the judges God has sent here there and then crawling around on her hands and knees and then bursting into tears, and the other by taking her rejection pretty well, then whirling around and delivering a bizarre diatribe about how one day she is going to make a CD while hurling obscenities at the judges. Why do the crazies always go for Simon? Heâs totally the coolest one. This girl whose job is catching mosquitoes and testing them for West Nile virus sings like something way worse than West Nile virus is inside her, like maybe I know where Tsathoggua went.
The Unethical: A big scary functionally-retarded girl gives us fashion advice even though she is covered in scratches and bruises and cuts and cigarette burns and ugly jewelry. One crackhead from DC sings âPapa Was A Rolling Stoneâ in a variety of horrifying voices, and the judges canât even laugh because itâs so low to even deal with him on the TV, and Paula does her usual âI like your shoes, thoughâ thing with trying to say something nice, but all she can come up with is, âIâm glad youâre sober now.â Ouch.
Then there's Mary Guilbeaux nÃ©e Roach. I donât even want to talk about it right now.
Wednesday night: More of the same! But only half as much!
Tonight we visit St. Louis. And what do you know? Crazy and self-deluded people abound. In years past, the auditions sucked me in each year when Iâd promised myself I would not watch American Idol, because they were funny and a little mean. But this year, not so much with the ânot mean.â
The Good: Daniel (26, Washington MO), is average-to-good-looking and completely forgettable. Iâm pretty sure he gets through because you see him yelling later. Osbourne (22, St. Louis) is apparently the son of a famous baseball player and gets through. Aâayesha (16, St. Louis), whose relationship to her gender is best characterized as âestranged,â gets put through due to Paula being weirdly obsessed with her. Carrie (21, Checotah OK) is boring and adorable and lives on a farm and likes Martina McBride, with whose oeuvre I am not familiar, and is going to be in the final 4, I think. Other Hollywood-bound auditioners include: an unnamed but very tan skinny guy, a cute girl with a âRachelâ and a black scoop-neck sweater, some highlighted metro dude, yet another pretty girl in a fedora, and some guy that looks like a janitor. Thereâs a total of 32 through from St. Louis, but we donât see a whole lot of them, because these auditions are about the pain, not about the successes, really.
The Bad: Some horrible blonde triplets who kind of destroy their team from the inside. Johnny (18, St. Louis), who sings through his nose and is creepy. This small-town tanorexic local theatre type named Joseph (25, Oakville MO) who ironically sings âMy Girlâ and brought his own fan club. Katrina (25, St. Louis) admits that she has eaten human flesh and that âwe taste like bacon.â
The Ugly: Maurice (25, Evanston IL) does nothing of note except have a petit mal seizure. That weird overly-tanned pink polka-dot halter-top girl from the commercials sings âSomewhere Over The Rainbow.â Justin (18, St. Louis) sings âProud Maryâ and is so gay that all of St. Louis becomes gay suddenly. And fabulously! And this whole other Maurice (28, St. Louis), is like the weirdest 40-year-old IRS worker youâve ever seen. So we learn that in St. Louis a lot of the people, um, have ears that stick out. Thereâs not a whole lot of âbadâ or âcrazy,â per se, the watchword for St. Louis is actually just more like âloser.â Thereâs not a hell of a lot else to say about it. Oh, wait. Thereâs a mime. Did you know âle mimeâ is actually Francais for âthe loser?â
The Unethical: This Mary Kay LeTourneau lady and her teenage lover-slash-music student show up and heâs all about them going to Hollywood together and itâs weird and gross and creepy. But then she gets in and he doesnât, which is like the worst possible outcome for both of them, because nobody gets what they want.
And then, in tonightâs Mary Roach Guilbeaux spot, there are Adam and Dirk (21 and 24, both from IL). Oh, Adam. Well, Dirk first, briefly: He idolizes David Hasselhoff and chooses a song from the Baywatch soundtrack, of which thing I did not know until tonight. I love Dirk, but I donât, like, love love him.
But Adam Pratt? I truly, madly, deeply love. I love him like a crazy person in the desert who desperately needs water and hallucinates a Deja Blue vending machine. I love him like Taco Bell, like Chik-Fil-A on a Sunday. I love him like that weird Spelling Bee girl that coughed a lot. I love him like Buffy. Thatâs all, itâs that simple, and I donât want to talk about it further. I donât want to sully it. Heâs a boy, and heâs my friend, and thatâs enough for me.
Next week: New Orleans, Louisiana. Thereâs going to be a goth guy with some scary Satan facial hair, and this guy whoâs a tool, andâ¦you know? Itâs American Idol auditions. Do I really have to? Some fat people, some retards, some Cajuns, a crackhead or two, and some people too talented to show us just yet because schadenfreud = ratings.
We open on Leandra Jackson, a large twenty-year-old woman from Ohio, who is singing "The Star Spangled Banner" in a weird shaky, screamy voice that keeps changing key when she bounces off the walls of her admittedly limited range, like a remote-controlled bumper car or Roomba. She seems nice, and they always get points from me for being game, which she very much is, if only because she's sadly wrong about how well she's singing and, in fact, how well-advised her current choices in life really are. Fittingly, she ends by shrieking the word "brave" in a register just light years away from where we all started at the beginning of the "song." It's like whoa, there's just so much of her, and so much of her singing…cut to Simon, who looks at her for a second, and then shuts his eyes hilariously, like he's thinking of calling it quits for good. Like Leandra has done what we all want to do, and broken him for good. And…scene.
It's nice because there's no sound other than her tortured screams -- kind of subtle and funny. Actually, kind of brilliant. Then the credits, which…not so much with the subtle, although I gather they are new. The digital AI person this year is not so androgynous and creepy -- when it's a girl it's a girl, and when it's a boy it's a boy and so forth -- although when it finally swooshes its way through its weird Tron-Game Grid-world, it's a dude. With not-at-all Guarini hair. The more fringe elements of the American Idol conspiracy contingent ("The truth is trivial!") take this to mean, and I believe they might be right, that the next winner of AI, by hook or by crook, is going to be a dude, only with, you know, a sack. We shall see. Although if it is Constantine, I will take my own life. He/she/actually he is backed up by weird neon green peacock feathers. Huh?
So it's August 18, 2004, in Washington, DC, where we lay our scene. We talk about Fantasia and some other girl who looks like somebody's short mom -- I think Diana Degarmo? Don't hate me, I'm totally your friend! -- waiting, waiting, waiting for the results from AI 2004 and it's Fantasia and she wins and then practically cries her nose ring out of her face and then Seacrest wigs in voice-over talking about how everyone ever in the history of American Idol has been mind-blowingly successful, including Kelly, Clay, Josh, Tamyra, Kimberly, Ruben, lots of album covers, Diana (yeah, so that was her), and altogether they've had 23 #1 hits (does that include "Baby Mama"? Because that's the awesomest song of all time!) and how this year is going to be bigger, better, louder, crazier, and generally more magical than everything ever. Hmm. Seems like it's in the interest of AI to think that. I'll reserve judgment.
Ryan explains that, this year, the age limit is 28 (note how he doesn't tell us about the 53 other fucked-up changes to the format that we'll hear about in a few weeks), meaning that the contestants will be, oh, lots "more sophisticated" (cut to an unsophisticated girl in a cow costume, clutching her udders troublingly and saying "Hold Onto To My Love" as she shakes her udders all over the place, and some sad unsophisticated girl in a giant red apple costume tripping over herself, and a totally weird unsophisticated girl in an '80s aerobics one-piece with a giant cardboard face over her real face, screaming, and the judges laughing) "and talented" (some funny, funny retards that aren't worth discussing). There's also an extended montage meant to explain to us that Paula will be yelling Shut Up a lot this year. I think me too.