Did you know that
Carrie Underwood was voted World's Sexiest Vegetarian
in 2005 by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals? This
is the kind of really important information you're
privy to when you're a professional journalist like me
and Fox sends you a press release about American
Idol. It's listed there under the category
"Success of the Idol Winners." Not listed,
curiously, is "Best Thorn in Faith Hill's Side,
The press notes
even give the ratings for all five previous seasons. For
the record, it has grown from an average of 12 million
viewers to 31 million. I think it's all due to these
brutally cruel auditions. Everyone knows that it's fun
to laugh at the delusional. Ugly people too. Because
really, how dare they assume they deserve to be on
television? Don't they know that only
attractive talentless people get to do that?
I recapped the
show last season on this site and got e-mail from readers
who told me I was "hateful." Apparently, these
are people who don't watch the audition episodes where
Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson regularly tear new
buttholes in borderline-mentally challenged
people. You know, the deranged-looking ones who get
ushered past everyone else, singers who are merely
mediocre but not completely mental and therefore boring,
told they're awesome and that "the judges are
going to love you," and then get reduced to
plates of pulled pork. They haven't brought in anyone
with actual Down syndrome yet, but that's just because
the idea hasn't tested so well. When they figure out a
way to sell it, however, they're going to pull the local
short bus right up to whatever hotel lobby they're using for
preliminaries. In the first few weeks of each new season the
show should actually be called Ha! You Signed a Release.
never-ending contest to see who'll be the most cruel, Simon
or Randy. They both have their moments. This week it
has been Randy's show, mostly, coming out swinging in
what always appears to be a desperate attempt to
establish some sort of on-air personality for himself even
if it means biting Cowell's rhyme. He tried the
catchphrases, and he'll probably keep trying them,
even though you know he envies Tim Gunn and
"Make it work" to an unhealthy extent. It's a
tough job, admittedly, being the one who isn't known
for being mean or high. Simon and Paula have their
niches; Randy's is still just to call people
"Dawg." Is that how anyone wants to be
what happened this week:
We see thousands
of people standing in line, filling arenas and being
herded through preauditions. Most never even make it to see
the judges; only the best and the rock-bottom worst
do. Someone leads them in cheers of "I'm the
next American idol." My favorite guy they catch on
camera is a mook pulling a series of Laverne
and Shirley-era "Big
Ragu" faces and bugging out his eyes. I know that
doesn't narrow it down much, but he was there, I promise.
According to the best TV movie ever, Life Is Not a
Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story, this
crowd-onslaught stuff was not something Miss B. had to
put up with. The way it plays in the docudrama, she
was late, and they almost didn't let her in. But then that
might have been a fib to keep Lifetime's "human
atmosphere" budget in check. Either way, it's a
good story. I like to think she just waltzed in last, stolen
diapers from the local convenience store in her purse,
wowing the judges with a gospel screamer rendition of
Cut to a girl in
a cowboy hat making a high-pitched moaning sound. My
partner looks at me and says, "If she put out a CD,
and they chose it for Record of the Week at Aquarius
(which, by the way, is the greatest record store on
the planet, just so you know; they're in San Francisco and
they cater to weird music-loving people everywhere. I
get no money for saying that, but you should check
them out at www.aquariusrecords.org),
you'd totally buy it. Don't act like you
And he's right. I
would buy a CD of that.
So, OK, they're
in Minneapolis. In our house that's an opportunity to
shout, "Minneapolis!" for no real reason, like
the way Janet Jackson does in the song
"Nasty." And they have a guest judge, Jewel, a
woman whose body of work is the closet thing to aural
misery I've ever heard. So I'm happy to see her here.
Seacrest's voiceover talks about how she's one of the
few artists who've "earned" the right to be
known by one name. I suppose that some people do refer
to her by that one name, but in my house she and her
small praying hands of kindness come with four
syllables: That Fucking Jewel. Yes, I said four syllables.
I'm from Texas.
First up: A Mall
of America employee who is also something of a That
Fucking Jewel impersonator. She weeps over the amazing
opportunity she's about to be given. Then she goes in
and sings a That Fucking Jewel song for the object of
her affection. Uncomfortable and stunned that the
producers have already pranked her this early in the
process, that object appears ready to slit her own
throat. Then the audition girl breaks down and cries.
Then she leaves the audition room and cries some more. Moral
for the kids: Don't overidentify with the famous. You're not
their friend; you're their client.
Next: Gross guy
with stringy, clumpy, disgusting, possibly vermin-filled
sex-repelling beard, crumpled fedora, and purple shaded
sunglasses announces he "does not own a
broadcast television" and doesn't know the
show. Or how to dress, or how to groom himself. He probably
goes to Renaissance Faires. It is also probably a fake
audition. I'm convinced that those exist in numbers
greater than we know. He sings a song about people
pinning him to the ground and spitting on him. The lyrics
also include unveiled threats to the spitter. It's a
great song, but I'm sort of overwhelmed by the desire
to kick him in the face.
unintelligible guy who seems somewhat gay and borderline
crazy or possibly mentally not quite there, the first
of the new season. Simon calls him a
"2-year-old." This is also the first example
of a new trick they've decided to play on the
aspirants: the one where they leave one of the two
audition room doors locked, so that when the recently dissed
push it angrily, it doesn't budge. It's not a bad one,
that trick. Then comes a guy dressed as Apollo Creed.
He falls for the door trick too.
moment: 16-year-old former crack baby Denise Jackson sings
"And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" loudly
enough to be shipped off to Hollywood, where crack is
More people who
can't sing pass on through and back to their can't-sing
friend's cousin's sister comes in and begins grilling
Seacrest about his sexual orientation. "Do you like
Spanish girls?" she says.
"Yes," he says. He leaves out the part about
how he likes to go buy zapatos with them, but
"Really?" she continues the interrogation.
Then she calls him short. She talks about being from
Colombia and coming to the United States with two
backpacks and her teddy bear, as well as, I'm guessing, a
stomach full of heroin bundled into those snug-fit
condoms that she passed after cute-ing her way through
customs. She says, "Whassup, Jewel," and calls
Simon "See-mone." I kind of like her heavily
accented stereotypical ways already and hope she can
Then she sings.
She's just OK. But adorable. Coochie coochie!
More people who
can't sing make their way through, including a cowboy guy
who shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. That Fucking
Jewel asks him to his face if he's serious. He says
that he is, in fact, really serious, which is
Then a Navy guy
in uniform sings "In The Navy." OK, that's a
lie; but he sings, and he's OK. He's going to escape
being shipped off to war for now. Did you hear that,
singing people of the armed forces? You can totally
escape the pointless war you might be killed in if you have
the pipes. Take that, George W. Bush.
Then comes the
girl who impersonates the Cowardly Lion, a vocal coach
that Randy can't hate enough, a country-singing blond chick
who's like Kelly Pickler 2.0, a very pretty
African-American secretary who has to endure Simon and
Randy's wink-wink sexual harassment, a possibly gay boy
with a nose mole (maybe a zit, who knows) and some
unresolved issues with his parents, and a young female
mechanic Army Reservist. Of these, Pickler Deux, Mole
Boy, and Army Gal go through.
They end the show
with a 16-year-old juggling boy and a frightening
female superfan. Superfan says that she and Idol are
BFF. Simon has to ask what BFF means. Superfan is
shocked. "Best friends forever," she chirps.
Then she says her favorite contestant was
heart-throbbity Ace Young from last season. Randy
responds to this with, "Who's he?" Nice one,
Randy. Ace just swallowed a bottle of pills. Anyway,
Superfan also got a tattoo inspired by Ace. Then she
sings "Under Pressure." It's nasty, of course.
Then she claims to have a degree in vocal performance,
which means she should sue whatever university gave it
But it's the
16-year-old, the one who was about 11 when this show first
aired, who embodies the cultural impact of this show better
than anyone I've seen. "Fuck them," he
screams as he returns to his waiting family and
Seacrest. Then he bursts into furious sobs. "They
hate me...16-years-old...I want
to start out famous." Then, a woman I assume
is his mother says, "You'll be famous. You're going
to be famous. You are." She may or may not
be aware that she's helping to aggravate a condition
that's seriously infects the population of the United
States. I like to call it the "I deserve it all right
now, so just give it to me, on national TV
if possible" syndrome. It afflicts more people
under 30 than anyone else, but it's spreading quickly into
the older generations too. I blame Puck from Real
World Season 3 for all of it.
have moved on to Seattle. Seattle is like England minus the
awesome accents, tweed production or bragging rights to
having invented Joy Division. Mostly it just has rain,
and stinky hippies who weren't stinky or hippie enough
to cut it in Berkeley, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; or
Olympia, Wash. The camera cuts to the crowd of hopefuls
huddled under umbrellas. A damp, shrieky
African-American woman announces, "I LOVE
SEATTLE'S RAIN. IT ROCKS!" But I have no doubt that
she's lying. Every black female friend I've ever known
in my life, without exception, has been the mortal
enemy of rain because it fucked up her hair.
Seacrest's voiceover, the judges hate Seattle because it's
providing them with fewer viable contenders than they've
ever encountered in a major American city, and all
they've found is a lot of loonies who can't sing. This
means two things: 1. The producers and story editors
love it here; 2. Because the Pacific Northwest is the
national capital of suicide, we can expect to finally
hear about an
-related self-delivery sooner rather than
later. So far there have been none besides the fake William
Hung heroin overdose story that has been going around. I
know this because I Googled "American
Idol" and "suicide" together
and spent, like, 30 minutes hunting.
announces that about 9,000 people have come out to audition.
I make my partner do the math because I'm sort of
numbers dyslexic: it comes out to 2,250 Hacky Sacks.
The camera pans the crowd. There's a woman holding a
homemade sign that reads "Dream Chaser." If
anything can make me depressed about this show, it's
Here's who stays:
1. A cute,
baby-faced guy with a giant afro who talks about how he
wants to win on this show, so he doesn't have to
"bust [his] butt" to get famous. Hey,
man, I have Kelly Clarkson on the phone. Yeah, she's
laughing out loud right now, but hang on because she really
wants to talk to you about something, I don't know
spiky-haired human beatbox boy. The gays will love this one.
3. The Indian
brother and sister.
4. The tall guy
5. The chick
who's almost 7 feet tall.
6. The girl with
the curly hair who sang the Celine Dion song and made
my partner's ears bleed when she hit the high notes.
I suppose I could
have given you all their names; but really, until they
get chopped down to a manageable number I don't see the
point. If you're watching, you remember these people
as the air pockets of sanity in the sinking, capsized
boat of auditory canal scraping provided by...
1. The nearly
toothless red-haired bearded guy who said, "Not many
redheads on TV in this day and age. I look like Carrot Top,
but everyone says I'm way cooler than him."
Sadly for Carrot Top, this guy is way cooler.
bug-eyed guy that Simon calls a monkey.
4. A Taylor
Hicks-like hairstylist freak who tries to pomade
Simon and gets rousted by the bouncers who stand
alongside the judges off-camera. This makes me happy
because earlier in the episode I wondered aloud to my
partner, "When will they show someone getting violent
or trying to touch the judges?" So I got my
5. The second
Uncle Sam/Apollo Creed-dressed person in two nights. Maybe
it's going to be a bit like the one-door-locked thing.
6. The guy who
sings the Misfits song "Die, Die, My Darling."
7. The weeping
mom who values the opinion of her tone-deaf 6-year-old
over that of her husband. Her husband was right.
frightening serial-killer-stare guy
9. The Grey
Gardens-y mom-daughter team who also happened to
write a novella about Simon Cowell. Speaking of that, is
there American Idol erotic fan fiction out
there? If you're reading this and you know of any, please
e-mail me at my Web site, listed at the end of this
recap. I've got to see it.
Hotness." She's my favorite person so far. Why is
this? Well, for starters, she calls herself
"The Hotness." Apparently it was a name
she earned in high school from people that I can only assume
were mocking her. She's got those fish lips that curl
up and cause an under-the-nose shadow that resembles a
lady 'stache. Or it might actually be a lady 'stache.
She's got her www.gofugyourself.com outfit on, and she sings
"Tenderoni." But it's her postsinging
commentary, a string of defiant nonsequiturs lobbed at
Simon ("[Your] opinion don't mean nuttin'... You
don't leave no stone unturned... Whatchoo know 'bout
music... Why am I here? Why are you
here?... I'm here to sing") that really
make my night. Simon responds with, "I don't think
you should have come here today." And then she
slam-dunks him with the best Idol-sponsored sentence
of the week: "Well, that's your matter of
opinion." When does Amy Poehler unzip this girl and
climb out, hop around on one leg, and yell,
here's the thing, contestants, if you really want to crack
on Simon, you just have to say one of the following:
1. Didn't you
create Il Divo?
2. Didn't you
used to have sex with Sinitta?
Either one of
them. That's all it takes. He won't feel insulted at
all. But trust me, they're both solid burns.