Tuesday, January 13, 2009

American Idol 8: Rise of the Phoenix

So, I stopped at the grocery store earlier tonight and, as I was reaching for the milk that will surely go bad well before the expiration date (stupid NYC), I heard a radio promo for the American Idol premiere, featuring a very excited announcer proclaiming that tonight is the moment we've all been waiting for! I rolled my eyes in disgust, then quickly checked the time and high-tailed it out of there so I could be firmly planted in front of the TV when that moment arrived.

Don't think the eye-rolling is over, though. Mine or yours. It's only just begun.

The opening montage showcases the glory of life, all set to "What a Wonderful World." I'm glad that the economic downturn and slow but sure implosion of the music business hasn't shaken the AI producers' confidence any.

Just as I'm about to wretch from all this self-aggrandizement, I see possibly the greatest thing I have ever witnessed on this show. Did they show this last year? If so, how did I miss it? "It" is a home video of a gaggle of tweentard girls anxiously awaiting the results of AI 7. They all have their David Archuleta tees on and are holding on to each other for dear life, writhing in agonizing anticipation. When David Cook's name is announced, their melodramatic reaction is priceless. I doubt they would've screamed louder had Cook been standing outside their house, lobbing grenades through the living room window.

Oh, Idol, you're my favorite mistake. How I've missed you.

Oh, House promos. How I've not.

The first stop on the audition trail this year is Phoenix, AZ, birthplace of Stevie Nicks and home to Alice Cooper, both musical legends whom most of these AI hopefuls wouldn't know from a big hole in the ground. Or a canyon, even.

The first of this future crop of Celebrity Rehab patients is Viet Cauc, so-called (by me)* because of his half Vietnamese/half white heritage. Who knew that combo could spawn a kid with such an afrotastic hairdo. I think he might be Rosann Rosanna Danna's great-grandson. V.C. makes a lackluster attempt at Jacko's "The Way You Make Me Feel," complete with awkward near-miss crotch grabs...and then...something that resembles tap dancing. He ain't bad. He ain't nothin'! He ain't nothin'! And he ain't going to Hollywood.

Cliché Lauper is up next. She's got many different shades of hair! She has tattoos and facial piercings! She's in an all-girl rock band! She's singing "Barracuda!" Simon likes her because she's "different." I'm sorry, is it 1982? Because that was the last year she was eligible for the "different" category. She has a decent enough voice, but everyone gushes way too much over her. VFTW has already outed her as one of this year's plants, so I guess the gushing makes sense.

Rockin' Randy pleads with the judges to give him a chance, since he's 28 and this is his last year to try out. I'm sorry but, again, is it 1982? Because that was the last time this guy saw 28. And age confusion is not his only problem; this dude thinks that dressing like a cool '80s rocker will actually make him one. But the weak voice and lack of anything resembling stage presence trumps the all-black wardrobe and endless supply of do-rags. Oh, not to mention that when he isn't singing, he's crying like a little girl. There's no crying in rock 'n' roll!

Some 16-year-old named D.J. or J.D. or J.B. or O.D.B. or something makes all the judges very smiley with his inoffensive voice, boring musical taste, and overall blandness. Shock of all shocks, he makes it through. He is this year's David Archuleta, minus all the squinting and lip licking.

Michael Grrrrrrr looks like the bastard child of Bilbo Baggins. But once he starts singing, I can immediately tell that he's actually the bastard child of Gollum and Cher.

A string of weirdos parade through the audition room, paving the way for Soul Glow, a really weird dude who sings a song called "Cactus Baby" for the amused panel. When his "vocals" turn into the utterings of a trained seal mid-song, they cut him off. He keeps begging for another chance until Marcellus Wallace finally has to usher him out of the room.

Well, well, well, what do we have here? Why, it's Aqua Fresh, a cute, perky 16-year-old girl with a dazzling smile and a professional-looking coif. When she's not getting all As in school, she likes to visit the senior home! Oh goodness, will she make it through?? The suspense is killing me! Yep. She does. Even though she can carry a tune, everyone was so blinded by her teeth that they forgot to tell her that her version of "Put Your Records On" was a totally unoriginal and uninspired imitation.

There is a montage of a bunch of guys using their false, yo, followed by a bass singing - what else - a Barry White song. He sounds like a demon with a third-grade education. So not sexy.

Not only is Pinky the cowgirl Kara DioGuardi's biggest fan (and an aspiring songwriter), but she's got super spirit! I wrote her off as annoying at first glance, but she actually seems like a sweet kid. She doesn't have a great voice, but I swear she sounds exactly like Aaron Carter. So it's weird that the judges tell her no. Simon should eat that shit up. Anyway, after Pinky gushes some more over Kara and leaves the audition, Kara snipes, "That's my fan...what does that say about me?" Uhh, I don't know...that you're a bitch? Or, uhh, that you write craptastic music that only hyperactive children can tolerate?

Right about now, three big questions are weighing heavily on my mind:
1. Where the eff are all the hot guys? They couldn't find even one Aussie expat in the bunch??
2. What in the name of all that is holy is up with Cowell's flat-top? Is he trying to look like Mr. Buzzcut?
3. Is Kara DioGuardi going to continue to call everyone "sweetie" in that maddeningly condescending tone for the duration of the season??

Here comes Stevie, yet another 16-year-old. She keeps mentioning that she was named after Stevie Nicks, as if that has anything to do with whether or not she can sing. She does one of my favorites, "At Last," quite well though, thankfully not mucking it up with a bunch of Xtina-style melisma. She's my favorite so far.

Blue Collar McBuffcakes breaks out a little East Coast swing by Boyz II Men, and it's aight. Nothing earth-shattering, but a pleasant enough Southern-fried Motown Philly cheesesteak.

After all the constant hyping of her all episode long, Bikini Girl finally shows up. Obviously, this chick's hero is Megan from Rock of Love, who wore her little slutkini everywhere. So, hey, if AI doesn't work out for her, maybe she can catch up with Bret's tour bus. She's not going anywhere yet though, because the two male judges immediately put her through to Hollywood despite the fact that she's not a very good singer. Wow, all the spontaneity that was left in this show has just been sucked out with Simon and Randy's very scripted, bug-eyed, awooooogah response to Bikini Girl. Then, of course, the requisite meows and hisses are exchanged between Bikini Girl, Kara and Paula. After getting her golden ticket, Bikini Girl chases down Seacrest whom she promptly kisses on the lips, which seem to be hermetically sealed.

Next up is...hey! It's Sexual Chocolate! Wow, in the same episode as Soul Glow. Who'da thunk it? I'm suddenly having a craving for a McDowell's burger. And, even though I have a moratorium on "The Greatest Love of All," I would like to hear the Sexual Chocolate version right about now. No such luck, though.

Bubbilicious brightens the judges' world with her peppy personality, but no one is really loving her voice. It may not be the greatest I've heard, but she's better than Bikini Girl for sure. Still, it looks as if this poor girl isn't going to make the cut. Kara and Randy say no, but Paula says yes, leaving the decision up to the mean one. Bubbilicious gives Simon her best doe eyes...and what happened then? Well, in Phoenix they say that Lord Cowell's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then the true meaning of AI shone through and Simon found the strength to say, "Sweetheart, you're through!" Fah who for aze, everyone!

A quartet of pretty good singers close out the show - Southern Belle with her smoky version of "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," Emo Boi's unexpected coffeehouse hipster routine, The Standard-Issue Dorky Kid who can actually sing (but has the mannerisms of a chicken while doing so), and The Very Special Contestant (VSC) who is a Blind Guy this time around. At least he's not the usual sad sap with a sob story but not much talent, yet sticks around anyway purely for the Lifetime TV moments. He actually has a really nice voice. And it doesn't hurt that his friend/aide is totally cute. He's no Michael Johns but...*sigh*...who is?

Tomorrow night, it's off to Kansas City to hunt for another David Cook. Who wants to bet that all of the rejects will be forced to sing off-key versions of "Time of My Life" for the public's amusement?

*I can't be bothered with learning all of these auditioners names at this point in the game.


stive said...

Kara Ddioguardi songs online!
american idol songs link
Free within 2 weeks, even for non-premium users!

Bubs said...

I am so glad I don't have to work tomorrow night so I can watch the whole show. I caught the first 20 minutes or so tonight on my lunch break. You want funny? Sit in the break room at a police station and listen to a bunch of cops handicapping American Idol.

katrocket said...

Holy crap this is funny, Becks - especially the Grinch reference.

You thought Pink Cowgirl was sweet? I thought she was kinda psychotic, but perhaps it was just 'nerves'.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Last night was great for a laugh or two.
-hate the new judge-Kara-can you say DIVA trying too hard??
-bikini girl is endearingly annoying. Gotta give it to her for showing up in her bikini AND getting the sexually challenged Seacrest to make out with her. I predict the judges will have her for breakfast when she hits Hollywood.
-I like the Lauperesque chick. She should be interesting.
-blind man looks to be a better musician than singer. We'll see.
-I want more of those "get out my face" moments with the camera.
Freaks and geeks-gotta love it!!

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

I caught moments of it during the breaks in The Biggest Loser (when Future Mrs Imaginary Reviewer has the remote, there's no wresting it off her).

I've got to say, Aqua Fresh really had me torn. Her resemblance to Kelly Kapowski brought back many happy teenage memories, despite the fact that she was highly annoying. And I was expecting her to be followed in the auditions by Jesse Spano, singing "I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so...scared..."

Of course, if you didn't watch Saved by the Bell religiously, you'll have no idea what I'm talking about.

Movie Maven said...

Wait - can we talk about the random moment in the "It's a Wonderful World" montage where Simon and Paula make out? And it's never addressed? What's up with that? I mean, obviously it's staged, but WHY?

But once he starts singing, I can immediately tell that he's actually the bastard child of Gollum and Cher.

Nothing has ever been more apt. Except maybe "Cliché Lauper."

Falwless said...

God, Beck, I could just cry right now with joy. But I won't, as I am at work and it would be awkward for all involved.

I loved your recap and I am so glad AI is back to bring entertainment to my life of loserdom. You haven't lost that caustic spirit and I simply adore you. Here's to a whole season of judgment and pettiness! YESSSS!

CDP said...

Oh, how I missed this. There's so much funny here that I don't know where to begin.

cube said...

Why do I even bother to watch AI when your recaps are so much better?


I'm hoping Kansas City fares better than Phoenix.

BTW the word verification for this comment is sheap.


pistols at dawn said...

Ah, American Idol season, where I have absolutely nothing to say in comment form on your blog but feel obliged to write something anyway.

From now on, this sentiment will be encapsulated in the two-word phrase "Obligatory comment."

BeckEye said...

Pistols - As opposed to I'm Bad At Dating season on your blog which ends...when does it end again? The 12th of Never? Yet I can usually muster up something resembling a custom-made and halfway funny comment for YOU. *sigh* I have to do all the work in this relationship.

Les Becker said...

Thanks for the lo-down... I will have to to try and hunt up this Stevie Nicks-Alike and hear her version of one of my favourite songs.

SkylersDad said...

I turned on the end of the show to catch Seacrest offer up a high 5 to THE BLIND DUDE!! Nice work Ryan, can you say awkward?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It does my heart good to see from your sidebar pic that you and Drunky are besty friends again.

popsavant said...

The high five was only slightly more awkward than Ryan's kiss. Anyway, It seemed like they cut him out a lot last night.

Deanna (no-family-blonde-girl) was, IMHO, the best of the lot, but none of them were really very interesting, although the betrayal angle on Pink Hair was fun.

Sadly, the rejects never really crossed over the line into Idol gold.

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

I have never seen this show, but I can't resist reading about it on your blog. So glad it's back.

Cindie U. said...

Thanks for bringing up the whole Soul Glow/Sexual Chocolate/McDowall Burger reference. I told my co-worker it was like a "coming to America" reunion and she didn't understand me. Someone needs to tell Sexual Chocolate his name isn't original.

red said...

I loved that they played "I Kissed a Girl" when Bikini Girl kissed Ryan. Hilarious.

I am dog sitting and I totally freaked out the dog by talking back to the TV too much. Ah, AI. I hate to admit how much I've missed you.

words words words said...

I liked: Cliche Lauper (a lot), Deanna, Soul Glow (not as a singer, I just want to party with him), Little Joe Cocker, and Oil Rig Dude.

I didn't like: Bikini Girl (she's not even PRETTY!), that sad sack 40 year old rocker dude, and that bitchy new judge who's trying SO HARD to conceal what a bad person she is. She won't be able to keep it up for long. I predict major fights with Simon - they're both alphas. She acts way too much like a star for somebody I've never heard of. She also looks remarkably like Laura San Giacomo.

Great recap - I laughed out loud at the Marsellus Wallace reference :)

Kristi Mantoni said...

I was also disappointed in the lack of eye candy. A wish the blind guys friend would have stayed in site of the camera for the audition.

Gifted Typist said...

Just caught the opening segment as we're DRVing to watch with little typists tonight, but did my eyes deceive me or did I see Paula and Simon open-mouth kissing????? please say not, you are wrong, that was something else.

Glad to see you are in good form after the long break.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...


Every station on the radio this morning was abuzz with this American Idol thing, all the blogs were spewing forth witty comments on it, and conversations at work are revolving around it.

I came to you, Blog about Pop Culture, hoping that you'd be my sanctity. I'm so crushed.

sista #2 said...

I could not stop laughing the entire time the rocker cried! LOLOLOLOLOL I know, I am horrible LOLOL.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Was it just me or was there a severe shortage last night of truly cringeable contestants? Well apart from that one kid who looked like a greased down Crispin Glover and who whined a song through his teeth.

I think it's funny how all the guys sound the same and all the girls either think they're the next Mariah or else a carbon copy of whoever's song it is they're covering.

Alice said...

beckeye recaps of AI! oh, how i've missed you! :-)

Kimizzy said...

Ok, first and foremost, you almost made me piss myself from laughing so hard.

Secondly, I love the pic of you and Paula getting sloshed together. She's always a bit tanked, but her rosy cheeks and drool make that picture extra fun.

And third, I concur that Simon MUST do something about his stooopid haircut! (why the hell isn't Paula on that?? Did they break up? I'm so out of it.) And the lack of eye-candy for the ladies was VERY disappointing.

(And I was right there with ya on that rolling eyes thing and then running to sit down so you don't miss anything. Deep down, we're still teenie boppers sometimes.)

Travis said...

I could have done without that bit of little girl screeching. I should have known better and been prepared with the mute button.

Chancelucky said...

Great recap as always Beckeye. I'm having trouble getting excited about this season. The changes helped, but I think I've just heard too many versions of My Girl, Grapevine, Josh Groban, etc.

dguzman said...

Thank you for noting that Aqua Fresh merely did a very good impersonation of the person who really sings "Put Your Records On." And stupid Paula goes, "That was a good song for you!" DUH--she just did an imitation! So all her songs will either be in that same imitation style, or she'll just be like a cover-band singer and imitate whatever she's got. Ugh.

This was the first time I ever watched AmId, but I shouldn't have bothered, because your summary was dead on. Wake me when it's ovah!

Fancy Schmancy said...

Can't wait for Bikini Girl to get eaten alive in Hollywood!


Who Does This Broad Think She Is?

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