boring-ass auditions are over and we can get to the real
show. I tend to skip the William Hung weeks of American
Idol. I just can't get down with all that
"get a load of this guy who thinks he can
sing" stuff. Except for the Crime Twins. They
were fun for a while.
My TiVo subject
line reads "Twelve female ho." I know
it's middle-school of me, but that makes me
laugh. When I hit the "select" button on the
remote I get, "Twelve female hopefuls blah blah
blah," but I like the first one better.
First up is
Mandisa, 29, from Antioch, Tenn., the one Simon called fat.
This made Mandisa cry. But much like Jesus did when they
called him fat, Mandisa forgave Simon. Now,
I'm fat myself so I'm just gonna lay it
down here: Mandisa is fat. And if this woman thinks
show business is going to be all "we love you,
you big beautiful woman," she's got
another thing coming and will possibly end up hooked on
dolls and married to David Gest--after Da Brat
gets done with him. Mandisa sings Heart's
"Never" while wearing a Communism-red
Valentine's Day sex-teddy and a black skort.
She's a yeller, and Paula says, "You broke the
record for magnificent." Paula is the best
sentence-maker on this show, possibly in the history
19, from Albemarle, N.C., is shown lying on a
leopard-print bedspread talking about her messed-up
relationship with her father. That's why
she's going to sing a song about making a romantic
relationship work with a difficult man--"How
Far" by Martina McBride, the most boring female
country singer of all time, right after Faith Hill.
You can tell a lot about these AI kids from
their song choices. But KP is adorable, buttery, and petite,
and even though she squats when she sings and looks
like a "mean girl," I don't hate
her yet. She also says "Pick Pickler!" when
Seacrest gets up onstage with her. It didn't
work for her student council election banners, but it
might work here.
O'Donohue, 25, from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., has sex hair,
tangled and messy. She reminds me of Brittany from
America's Next Top Model a couple
seasons back, all porny and "here for the
party." She is the Womanimal. She sings
"Because the Night" like she's
going to jump off the stage and begin gnawing on
someone's leg. That would be appropriate for a
Womanimal, transformed by the moon into a feral
singing lady werewolf. Then it doesn't happen. None
of my fondest wishes ever come true. Paula tells her
she had some "notes off." One of these
girls has to be a dyke, right? Just statistically speaking?
I'd love it if it were Becky. I'm bad at
lezdar, though, so I'm probably wrong.
Ayla Brown, 17,
from Wrentham, Mass., is nine feet tall, gorgeous, and a
basketball jock/prom queen/senator's daughter, or
some infuriating combination like that. She's a
dullard, of course--thank God--and decides
to tackle "Reflection," a song sung by
Christina Aguilera on the Mulan soundtrack.
Mulan is one of Ayla's favorite movies. She
probably owned it on Disney DVD in elementary school and
watched it 4,000 times. She explains why Mulan is her
role model: "Mulan had to overcome so many
hardships being the only woman in the army." Oh, you
mean all those Cartoon Land hardships? The ones that
never happened? Paula tells Ayla she made the song her
own, which is Paula's way of saying, "In lieu
of a stronger prescription medication, which I am no longer
allowed to have, you might be successful in putting me
to sleep each night with your very average singing.
Let's discuss putting you on the payroll."
(pictured), 17, from Fayetteville, Ga., is my new favorite
lady. First of all, she's so cute I want to eat her
face. Plus she's got incredible Stacy Lattisaw
'79 hair, a raspy squeak of a speaking voice,
makes crazy "can you believe this shit?" faces
when she knocks "Midnight Train to
Georgia" out of the park, bounces around a lot just
like Fantasia did, and just seems SO DAMN HAPPY TO BE
ALIVE that I am now her robot servant boy. She wins.
If she doesn't win, I will go outside and start
fires in my neighborhood.
Stevie Scott, 19,
from Fair Oaks, Calif., likes to rub her opera training
in everyone's face. Yeah, big whoop, Sarah Brightman,
thanks for the awesome limp-along death march of a
Josh Groban song you just mewled for all of us. Where
can I find a screwdriver to stab myself in the ears? I
hate all music forever now. Paula comes to Stevie's
defense when Simon calls her performance a
"complete and utter mess," giving Simon that
pained "why do you have be so mean, EMILIO?"
25, from "money-earnin' Mt. Vernon,"
N.Y., is this year's Kimberly Caldwell. If you
watch AI in the same obsessive manner in which
I watch AI, then you remember Kimberly C. as
the blond aggressive camera hog to end all blond
aggressive camera hogs. Brenna is very "Tits
Up!" at all times and super into herself. I
don't remember anything about her song, just
her pouting, vogueing, and tongue-flicking at--ew,
gross--Simon. I feel sexually harassed by her
and worry that she exists in the same city that
I'm in right now. When the Pussycat Dolls start
thinking they're all talented enough to have
solo careers, she could be first in line to replace
one of them.
Heather Cox, 22,
from Jonesville, N.C., is very, very nice. And sucky. So
is Melissa McGhee, 21, from Tampa, Fla., who
chooses--ACK--a Faith Hill song after
announcing that it was going to be the moment that
"America will finally see just who I really
am." The revelation, in song, of
Melissa's true inner self inspires me to go to the
kitchen in search of a snack, but a certain domestic
partner of mine has already polished off the last of
the Karamel Sutra Ben & Jerry's. "You made
it your own," says Paula [see translation
above], who by the way is looking rad tonight with
teased-up June Carter hair.
Lisa Tucker, 16,
from Anaheim, Calif., goes for Jennifer Holliday's
"I Am Changing." I get the feeling this
kid is already "in the biz" and has
probably sung in a few McDonald's ads or something.
vibrations coming out of every pore like too much
Mary-Kate and Ashley perfume. Also that old-school
vibrato that shouts Broadway and makes me want to go listen
to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to cleanse my palette.
Kinnik Sky, 28,
from Duluth, Ga., eases her way into "Get
Here" by Oleta Adams. Kinnik, however,
ain't gonna get there if she keeps bringing the
"fancy lady at the cabaret in an elegant gown and
sparkling diamante tiara" moments. Ask
LaToya London how well it worked for her.
Katharine McPhee, 21, from Sherman Oaks, Calif., makes an
old Barbra Streisand song--she says, anyway;
I've never heard it before--into
something resembling a blues number. Well, blues via a
21-year-old white-girl graduate of Ridgemont High. Anyway,
she's cute and should be allowed to stick
around. She's slightly less boring than almost
all of these other young women.
Patrick Hall, 27,
from Gravette, Ark., is first up here. He has a pretty
voice that he decides to abandon in favor of trying to growl
out Melissa Etheridge's "Come to My
Window." He fails as a lesbian blues-rocker but
has the support of two very interesting friends in the
audience: a dapper senior gentleman who appears to be
the basis for Scott Thompson's Buddy Cole
character and a woman with wacky Hindenburg-size collagen
lips. I want Patrick to sing all night so I can keep
looking at these friends.
17, from Crystal Lake, Ill., is a...excuse me while I
barf this word up...crooner. Here is my letter to
all you kids who bought a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy CD once
and decided that you were going to do that for
the rest of your life:
pelvis has Down syndrome. He moves like Jet Screamer and
Liza Minnelli all at once while burping out
Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called
Love." I replay it on TiVo three times in a row just
to make sure I saw it all correctly and wasn't
imagining the mind-bending insanity. Paula loves him.
Unlike the first
two male singers tonight, who both read supergay to
me--and no, that's not the same thing as
"outing" someone--Bucky Covington,
28, from Rockingham, N.C., kicks it like the kind of young
man who's already been on Ricky Lake a
few times over his baby-mama drama, only to be
surprised by a mystery lady guest who informs the crowd that
he's been responsible for two of her three abortions.
Naturally, he chooses a Lynyrd Skynyrd song and
attacks it like Killdozer. I like him because
Will Makar, 16,
from the Woodlands, Texas, in a too-big jacket from the
boys' section of Brooks Brothers, spaz-dances to
"I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5.
He's what would happen if Steve Guttenberg and Fred
Savage had a baby. He yells the song and stinks up the
place, but he's a-dork-able. I feel perverted
for writing that. But whatever.
"Sway" Penala, 28, is from South San
Francisco, Calif. I never knew there was a different
city called South San Francisco. Is this just a way of
saying, "I'm not a homo," or is it a
real place? Someone tell me, because I'm too
lazy to go look it up. Sway likes pimpy Babydaddy hats
and velveteen jackets. Sway also likes to screech his way
through Earth, Wind & Fire songs. He is not an
easy lover. He sets off car alarms.
26, from McLeansville, N.C., is the married one with the
stenciled-on sideburns, bald head, and wallet chain.
He's screamy and hot(ish), and I bet he has a
bar-code tattoo on the back of his neck. But then he
sings "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi, only
if Bon Jovi were actually Nickelback. He waves the
mike stand like Bo Bice and does his best to rock. Why
does anyone try this on AI? This show is the
opposite of rock. Go home and be in your band. Quit trying
to shoehorn yourself into this sanded-down version of
rock music. Would Joey Ramone humiliate himself this
way? No, he would not.
Kevin Covais, 16,
from Levittown, N.Y., is a DUDE. He's the dork in
your school everyone likes who has the cast-iron ones
to just go up to the prettiest girl in school and ask
her out on a date. And when she rejects him everyone
takes his side. Oh, and he openly declares Brian McKnight to
be his favorite singer. You're 16 and you LISTEN TO
BRIAN MCKNIGHT?! This is the gutsiest statement to
come out of a human being's mouth on live
national television since "Have you no sense of
decency?" Then he sings, panic-stricken and
pinched, but it doesn't matter. Everyone loves him.
All the girls line up to pinch his cheeks afterward.
17, from Memphis, Tenn., is going to sing
"Shout." But before he sings
"Shout," he is going to read to you from a
teleprompter like he's giving a book report.
" 'Shout' was a very big hit in
the late '50s and early '60s, and it is
a song that is still rolling and it is still putting people
right up on their feet as soon as they hear it. It is
not a song that I can just sing but I can also really,
Then he sings
"Shout," which was a very big hit in the late
'50s and early '60s. Then he grins like
a maniac. Simon tells Gedeon that his smile is
bothersome. Simon is right.
27, of Richmond, Va., stumbled in from the set of
Gummo to surprise everyone with a sweetly
enthusiastic, not-out-of-tune rendition of Stevie
Wonder's "If You Really Love Me." So
far he's my favorite guy. But I also have a thing for
jacked-up teeth and jug ears. No, seriously, I
19, of Denver, is most likely not drunk, but he barks out
Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" (for his
grandmother, by the way, always a bad idea) like
Jackie Gleason at the Tropicana. He seems to think that
Barry Manilow is also his personal friend and talks about
Barry fondly after the song is over, assuming out loud
that Barry himself would have enjoyed his performance.
Simon lays into him, but Paula rushes to Bobby's
defense, prompting a weird finger-wagging moment from Bobby
to Paula that says, "Oh, yes, you're
right about my excellence, Paula. You truly understand
Ace Young and his
groin, both age 25, from Denver, sing George
Michael's "Father Figure." Ace
has a pleading voice and a burn in his eyes like he
has every hot woman in the world, and maybe David Geffen
too, waiting for him backstage, his kittenish David
Cassidy "Love Me" face honed from
watching hours of Partridge Family reruns on TV Land.
He is going to go very far. I just wish he
wouldn't allow the stylists to half-tuck in his
T-shirt. That look is already as stupid as the
Taylor Hicks, 29,
from Birmingham, Ala., is like what happens when you
get cast as the grandfather in the high school play and they
throw white powder on your hair. His catalog of Ray
Charles-swiped affectations throws me into a homicidal
rage. When he sings, he tenses up in a
calcium-deficiency hunch, and after mush-mouthing Elton
John's "Levon" into a pulpy glop
he yells "Soul Patrol!" What does that even
mean? Is this some secret religious-cult code word?
But at least he's not boring.
And finally, the
third episode: what I like to call the "Chopped and
All 24 of them
make like Kidz Bop with a cover of the Eagles hit
"Take It Easy." Have you ever heard the
Langley Schools Music Project? It's a bunch of
1970s-era Canadian elementary school kids doing pop songs
with their music teacher. Their version of
"Desperado" will bring real tears to
your eyes. It doesn't sound much like this at all.
Anyway, first out
the door are the Womanimal, Opera Girl, Jackie Gleason
(who blames his loss on his grandmother--nice), and
the Melissa Etheridge guy with the freaky friends in
the audience. Damn. I wanted to see more of those
friends. I've already forgotten their names.