Wednesday, January 26, 2011

American Idol 10: Smuggie's Return

Milwaukee is known for a lot of things. Cheese. Beer. The Brewers (the baseball team and the guys who make the beer). Snow. Summerfest. Happy Days. Laverne & Shirley. Weird accents. But what does American Idol think is the city's crowning achievement? Inflicting Danny Gokey upon the world. Nice. Thank God Seacrest doesn't work for the tourism board.


Yes, Smuggie has returned to AI (because, really, what else does he have to do?) as his hometown's audition ambassador. He tells everyone really important things they never could have figured out for themselves like, "Your lives can change so much" from being an Idol contestant. It's true, you could go from a complete unknown to an object of universal hatred almost overnight! And if you don't believe Hokey, just ask Kara DioGuardi.

Kicking off the Milwaukee auditions is 16-year-old Scotty, a deep-voiced country singer who's turned on to be your man. And then he sings another song about being turned on about something else. Ah, 16-year-old boys and their hormones. Steven says something about fucking a duck, which probably won't make it past the censors to become his new catchphrase. (By the way, is there an over-under on how many F-bombs he's gonna "accidentally" fire off once we get to the live shows?) All the judges love him, so he's given a golden ticket. OH, BUT WAIT! NOT YET! Randy almost forgot to remind Scotty that he was only 16. OK, error fixed. Crisis averted. Go roll in possum shit and drive your tractor to the moon, Scotty!

Up next is Joe, a wannabe radio DJ who claims to be 19 but looks more like 40. And it's not because he's fat. But because he's fat, there is already a 99% chance that he will be terrible. Because if we've learned anything from American Idol, it's that fat people are NOT talented. Unless your name is Randy Jackson. Or Ruben Studdard. And then, of course, you're fine just the way you are. As expected, Joe can't sing a lick and all the judges tell him to stick to the radio dream.

Wow, this show is dragging. Did only 20 people audition in Milwaukee? They just spent, like, half the show on this Joe fella.

Taking advantage of the new age minimum is Emma, a 15-year-old who sings "True Colors." Eh. She has one of those voices that's purposely ragged-sounding, which is kind of annoying. But she's cute and young and has two-toned hair, which means she's "edgy." Steven says yes but J.Lo says no, leaving Emma's fate up to The Dawg. After a little begging and crying, Randy gives in and gives her a golden ticket, even though he and Jen both predict that she will be swallowed whole in Hollywood. Possibly by Steven.

A parade of losers (including some goth chick in her bathrobe) whizzes by before it's Naima's turn. Naima is a maintenance worker at the Summerfest Grounds, and falls just shy of making a bid for a Very Special Contestant (VSC) spot. Cleaning toilets to provide for your kids really isn't that bad of a life. Anyway, Naima immediately gets points for doing a Donny Hathaway song that isn't "A Song for You." And she gets more points for her voice, which I really like. Yeah, I dig this girl. She has an interesting vibe. The judges are feeling it too, and Naima's on to the next round.

Now we have a montage of stupidity, like a guy doing a backflip right into another dude's face and some weirdo with a giant toothbrush. For a split second, I thought toothbrush guy was Normund Gentle. He could definitely be a cousin or something.

Jerome, a bar mitvah singer, shouts that everyone should "get it on" with him. Since he is exceptionally loud, Randy especially loves the audition. The other judges like Jerome too, so he's in. He hugs his mom (I'm assuming that was his mom - sorry if you're his wife, lady) and I see now why the guy sings so loudly. He must be going deaf, because this crazy woman is screaming directly into his ear and he's not even flinching.

Thia is a perky young Asian-American who develops the most bizarre accent while singing. Seriously, what is that??? Well, she's singing "Chasing Pavements" so I think she might just be trying to imitate Adele. It's not working. She has a decent voice, but the totally affected manner in which she's delivering it is making me ill. However, the judges aren't bothered one bit and send her off to Hollywood. Of course, it helps that she's 15. In fact, EVERY 15-year-old who's tried out today has made it through to the next round. Hmm, who do you think they want to win this year? Yep...THIS...is American Bieber.

Next up is the token crazy dude, Nathaniel, the Civil War re-enactor. Before his bizarre rendition of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" (which, of course, doesn't earn him anything but Steven's rapt enjoyment), he goes on a weird tangent about how everyone thinks his dad is a weed-smoking hippie. Nathaniel's very angry about this implication because hippies "believe in sex." Soooo...either Nathaniel's dad is Dad in name only or he only had sex with Nathaniel's mom one time, but wasn't really into it. I don't think that Nathaniel's dad is a hippie, but I will guarantee that the guy owns at least one non-running motorcycle, a copy of Freedom Rock and a signed photo of Uncle Jesse from The Dukes of Hazzard that he got at a car show.

So much for Nathaniel being the "token" crazy. Mason shows up and is so nervous that he has to turn away from the judges to take a deep breath, but then he just keeps breathing with his back turned to the panel for what feels like an eternity. And when he finally does turn around, he just belches out some monotonous weirdness. Wow, that was worth waiting for. Who's editing this show??

Harvard grad and White House intern (ba-chicka-wow-wow) Molly wants everyone to know that Randy punched her in the face earlier today. And girl ain't lying. The footage shows that, while The Dawg was running the high-five gauntlet in the waiting room, he totally missed Molly's hand and socked her in the kisser. And she will sue if the judges don't put her through!! No, she doesn't issue any threats. And she doesn't really have to because she has a very nice voice. A little too much heavy breathing for me, but Steven digs that. Molly's golden ticket is the last one awarded on Day 1.

Day 2 finds J.Lo clearly trying to fill P-Ab's weird shoes by showing up in the "Sock Hop Girl" costume from Halloween Adventure. Also, Gokey IS STILL THERE. Oh my God, dude. Go film a Lenscrafters commercial or something. Anything. Just get off my TV screen.

Up first is Haley, a girl with long blonde hair who tried out last year but didn't make it. The kinder, gentler judges say this is her year. Meh.

Despite his wrinkled attire (didn't anyone ever tell him that white linen is bad news?), Tiwan earns a ticket to Hollywood with a very pleasant version of "Twistin' the Night Away." He sounds a lot like an old Motown singer, making it all the more surprising that he got through in this Year of the Bieb. I'm sure if he sticks around past the Hollywood round, the judges will just keep telling him that he's "too old fashioned" before finally booting him. But he's enjoying his victory for now. One of his relatives enjoys the victory a little too much and gives herself a charlie horse.

Steve the accountant surprises everyone by not just shouting a string of numbers, but instead singing "The Man Who Can't Be Moved." He has a pretty interesting voice. The judges agree. They also want someone to do their taxes for free, so Steve is in.

Vernika appears to have come straight from The Maury Povich Show to the auditions. She's one of those made-for-TV women who has just the right mix of overblown confidence and irrational indignation. Perhaps Minnie Riperton's "Loving You" is a bad choice, but does anyone really want to give her a chance to sing something else? No, not really. She assumes it's just because she's not as skinny as some of the other girls, which prompts Randy to start down the "Kelly Clarkson was a fattie" road before realizing that he's a goddamn egghead and stops himself.

After Vernika storms out, we're treated to a montage of rejected crybabies, cussers and camera-swatters.

AI finds yet another way to fill time by getting a guy named Albert to sing "Stand By Me" like it's on 33. Randy says it was terrible and "a joke." Wait, is he talking about the audition or his own wardrobe? Just why is that giant cursive "E" on his shirt? What does it mean? (looks above) Oh! Egghead!

Tired of hitting on women, Steven compliments Scott on his very red lips. Ehh, they're way too thin. Scott kind of looks like every college guy you see hanging out at the places no one else hangs out, looking like he's trying really hard to look like he didn't try too hard to try not to look cool. He has a pretty nice voice though, and Jennifer calls him her favorite so far. Randy, now out of earshot of Steve the accountant, bellows his vote: 100 MILLION PERCENT YES! Quick, Randy, turn 100 million percent into a fraction!

Some goober named Megan is running around in a gaudy American flag-emblazoned shirt, raving about the Packers, which is just one more reason to root for the Steelers in the Super Bowl. (Not that anyone should need any more reasons.) She does a demented opera version of Bieber's "Baby," which I actually find rather funny. It's certainly preferable to the original song.

Next up is Alyson, the token "rocker chick" who is in looooove with Steven. Although, when asked whose songs she likes to sing, she first mentions the Beatles and says nothing about Aerosmith until Randy brings them up. She gets a hug from Steven anyway, and then auditions with "Come Together." She's good, but sounds like pretty much any chick bar singer. Then the judges prod her to sing an Aerosmith song, so she chooses "Dream On." Wow, way to prove your knowledge of your idol's catalog there, Aly! When she warns that she can't do the high wails at the end, Steven helps out. (But what a missed opportunity! Gokey is still there! Surely, he could have returned to re-enact the Screech Heard 'Round the World!) When the judges vote, Randy gives her a no and J.Lo gives her a yes, which means...dun dun DUNNNN! Steven, HER IDOL, holds her fate in his hands! What will happen??? OH THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME!! PLEASE JUST TELL...oh, Steven said yes. Great.

If you thought that was exciting, just wait. Seacrest informs us that, after the break, the final auditioner will sing. AND HE IS GOING TO BE THE MOST INCREDIBLE VSC OF ALL TIME! Gokey, prepare to have your story of triumph over tragedy trumped.

Meet VSC Chris Medina. He's been engaged for nearly three years. Not long before he and his fiancee, Juliana, were supposed to get married in 2009, she was in an accident, from which she suffered major brain damage. She is now confined to a wheelchair and Chris is her caretaker. OK. Now, I have to give this guy some respect because, obviously, this is a tough thing to face and a lot of people wouldn't be able to handle it. So yes, he's most certainly a good guy and yes, this is a sad story and yes, I feel bad for everyone involved. But mostly I feel bad for Juliana, who is clearly being exploited by the Idol machine. Now, I'm sure that she wanted to be there to support Chris, which is great. I'm not saying that he shouldn't have brought her along to the audition. I'm not saying that the girl should be "hidden away" because of her disability. I am saying that she deserves to be treated like a human being rather than a museum exhibit. I am saying that Chris should protect his fiancee's privacy and not allow their tragedy to be used by a bunch of scumbag producers as a means of attracting viewers. Seriously, I'm so tired of this shit. If all it took to make it big was a story of hardship or loss, we'd ALL be famous. I can barely remember the guy's actual audition because of the focus on his backstory. As far as I can tell, he's a decent singer but nothing I haven't heard before. Still, because of his situation, he will sail through to the finals, just like Gokey did.

The most uncomfortable few minutes I've ever witnessed on this show took place after the judges put Chris through to Hollywood, when they asked him to bring Juliana in so they could meet her. The judges all swarmed her wheelchair and spoke to her like she was a five-year-old who just went poop in the big toilet for the first time. (Steven was the only one who seemed to be genuinely moved. J.Lo will cry if you sing her a Carrie Underwood song, yet somehow managed to stay dry for this experience.) God, this shameless display just made me want to vomit. Using a disabled woman as a prop to make the judges look good and boost the show's dismal ratings is a new low.

I'm gonna try to wash that disturbing scene out of my brain and ready myself for the Nashville auditions tomorrow night. Please don't let there be a guy there with one arm, one leg and no sense of smell whose whole family died in a shipwreck.

(PS - I'm so pleased to have the opportunity to recycle one of my favorite old Photoshops.)


Find more Idol news and recaps at SirLinksaLot.

6 comments:

The Vegetable Assassin said...

The Smuggie pic just warmed my tired, cold cockles, thanks for that! I too am sick to death of the tragic contestants being wheeled out with their respective losses or tragedies and condescended to all in the name of garnering audience sympathy. It's cringe worthy. Not as cringeworthy as the Gokemonster clearly, but still up there. :)

J.J. in L.A. said...

I don't watch the show, and it's a good thing. Because I hate seeing disabled people being used. From your description, if I was Juliana I would've found a way to kick the men in the nards and the women in the ass.

Scope said...

I think Molly will do well. What I thought was funny was Randy asking her, "Where have you been?" Like at 22, a Havard grad and a White House intern, she was obviously wasting her life by not auditioning on AI when she was 16!

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

I missed last night, but agree 100 Billion Percent (fraction would be ummm...OH go ask Randy!)
that the back stories are so wrong and that they seem to be taking every third contestant...there will be 600 people in Hollywood for goodness sake.

SkylersDad said...

I didn't watch it, and have no intention of watching. Your description of using the women in the chair made me feel sick to my stomach, what is wrong with people.

Thanks for the reviews so I don't have to sit through this.

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