American Idol
Pick Your Poison, Part II

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Good Karma doesn't always come back

Previously: "Sigh-yuh-lent night. I said a-sigh-yu-lent night." Also, a handful of people moved on to the next round of auditions in Hollywood.

Footage of planes and arrival monitors let us know that the aspiring idols flew into Los Angeles, as opposed to floating there on a cloud of their own sense of accomplishment. A gaggle of female contestants walks by somewhere else entirely. One of them says that they're going to have to pick more than one winner, because "[they] all are stars." How much do you want to bet that she'll be the first to talk smack about the other contestants if it will give her an advantage?

So it seems that the judges told the winners they were Hollywood-bound because declaring, "You're coming to Pasadena!" lacks the same sort of oomph. Or perhaps FOX wants us all to forget that they ever aired a show by that name. Nevertheless, the contestants are actually herded into the Pasadena Civic Center. Simon tells the collected group, "One of you here today is gonna be the most famous person in America -- The American Idol." Oh, Simon, we thought you were going to be the one to tell these kids the truth? Well, he doesn't say how long they'll be the most famous person in America. Black and Decker voice-over that the kids will be subjected to three more days of auditions, and by the end, thirty finalists will remain.

After the opening credits, Black and Decker saunter in to show us a set under construction. What a perfect place for a couple of tools. This is where the performances will take place. Then they cut back to the civic center, where the hopefuls mill around and prepare for their auditions. There's Elias, dressed like the director of a '40s musical. Eventually they begin calling the kids in for the next round of eliminations. As the camera focuses on some young woman who raided Destiny's Child's wardrobe, Black and Decker narrate that the kids will be brought on stage in groups of ten, in a "chorus line from hell." Each one will step forward and sing a verse and a chorus from a song, just like in the first round. Half of the kids will be cut, and the rest will move on to the next round.

In the very first group is Jacquette Williams, the super-extra-plus-sized woman who never thought she'd even make it past the first round. Well, I hope she liked her stay in Pasadena, because this is where the Train of Diversity disembarks. She sings a verse of "Respect" fairly well. After yanking her chain back in Chicago, Simon simply tells Jacquette that "[she doesn't] look like an American Idol." Jacquette responds, "Says who?" Simon gives another spiel about how the "record-buying audience around the world" expects a certain image from their idols. Randy asks Simon what "the look" of an American Idol is and points out that she just sang Aretha Franklin, hardly a svelte pixie of a pop icon. Simon argues that if Aretha showed up today on a show like this, she wouldn't win. Ouch. But is the problem that kids won't buy acts like Aretha, or is the problem that guys in charge like Simon have convinced themselves that kids won't buy acts like Aretha so never even give them the option? And also, why isn't anybody challenging Simon's creds? None of the acts he represents have managed to crack the American market. Why should we trust his judgment? The performers aren't the only ones here trying to make it big in America, are they, Simon?

Paula asks him if pop is just about "the look" then, as if she didn't know the answer to that question already and "the look" isn't what propelled her up the charts in the first place. Simon simply responds, "I don't make the rules." Jacquette is eliminated. I guess Paula and Randy don't disagree enough with Simon to actually overrule him; they just wanted to come off as sensitive. Cowards. Out in the hall, Jacquette is in good humor about it all and does a funny impersonation of Simon saying that she doesn't look like an American Idol. Aww. Bye, Jacquette.

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American Idol




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