Friday, January 20, 2012

American Idol 11: It Begins

Wednesday night marked the beginning of the eleventh (and final, according to Mayan Seacrest, ba-dum-bum) season of American Idol. Further proof that this year truly is our last on earth is the fact that I completely forgot that the show was premiering this week. I got home about a half hour into it and just decided to DVR it. And since I've been crazy busy at work lately, I DVRed last night's show as well so I could take a long-ass nap. I'm finally up to speed, so now it's time to bring you there with me.

Interestingly enough, the first two audition rounds were held in Savannah—where I'll be all next week on business—and Pittsburgh— my home.

Savannah Auditions
As I mentioned, I missed the beginning of Day One, but it probably went a lot like the middle and end of every audition day ever. The first auditioner I saw was Faux Seacrest, Shaun Kraisman. He was much better at impersonating Ryan than singing, so after the judges got a few laughs, he was sent back to the tanning bed from whence he came.

Shannon Magrane, a 15-year-old giant, brought her whole family into the room, including her ex-MLB pitcher father, who looked ready to bean Steven Tyler when he exclaimed that Savannah was "Hot, humid and happening...just like your daughter." Awwwkwaaard...and not really accurate, considering that she sang Queen Etta's "Something's Got a Hold on Me" with all the soul of a...well, of a 15-year-old white girl. But Idol needs plenty of 15-year-olds who the judges can constantly remind that they're only 15, so she got a golden ticket.

Next up was Amy Brumfield, who lives in a tent in the woods, which is one step up from a van down by the river, I guess. She sang Alicia Keys' "Superwoman" well enough. And I kind of liked this girl because, although the producers tried to paint her as a Very Special Constestant (VSC), she described her situation very matter-of-factly with no shame or crocodile tears. But whether she decides to play along with the whole "poor hick living in a tent" angle or not, AI would never pass up on the opportunity to milk it for a bit longer, so she got the nod for Hollywood Week. It will be interesting to see how long she lasts, because according to VFTW, she's had some run-ins with the law for alcohol-related offenses, including pissing herself at a Baskin-Robbins. Hey, some people are content to simply scream for ice cream and some people get a little more excited. Let's not judge.

Joshua Chavis was like, "I'm a dumb hick who loves NASCAR...but oh hey, y'all, surprise, I'M GAY!" Yeah, I did not see that one coming. However, I did predict that he would be terrible and throw a post-audition hissy fit for the camera.

Stephanie Renae, another girl WHO IS ONLY 15, YO—and this one was extra special because she JUST TURNED 15—shriekily reminded everyone that "Inside Your Heaven" was a real song, and the judges somehow enjoyed that. Yes, she made it through to the next round, but don't bother remembering her name.

Remember Colton Dixon from last year? You probably don't, but he showed up in Savannah to support his sister, Schyler. That's all. For realsies. He wasn't auditioning this time around. NO. He was not. What? The judges demanded to see him? Oh my God, how embarrassing. Well, you know, if the judges really wanted to see him, he had to go in. What? They wanted him to sing, too? They refused to accept that he wasn't auditioning because he's just THAT GOOD? Wow. What a shock! Who'da thunk it? And who'da thunk that both Dixons would get through to Hollywood with horribly affected voices and enunciation problems?

After that miraculous display, we were treated to a bunch of crybabies whose backstories simply weren't compelling enough to land any of them much camera time or a golden ticket—unlike last auditoner of the day, Lauren Mink, a sweet girl-next-door type who works with developmentally disabled people. All of that got her 3/4 of the way to the next round, and her country strong voice did the rest.

Day Two of the Savannah auditions began with Mawuena Kodjo, possibly the only West African who's ever aspired to be a country singer. He mangled a Rascal Flatts song, although it really wasn't much worse than listening to the real thing. Instead of just letting him leave, Ryan and the producers jumped on the opportunity to make a fool of the guy by parading him around town and making him sing in front of locals, whom they brought back to the audition room in a futile attempt to convince the judges that Mawuena deserved a shot. Upon meeting Mawuena, one of those local yahoos asked, "Are you a runner?" Just as I was waiting for Al Sharpton to pop up from behind a bush and go apeshit on Pappy Redneck, I realized that it must have been an assumption formed because of the number pinned to Mawuena's chest and not because he was a lithe black man with an African accent. Maybe. Look at me, giving hillbillies the benefit of the doubt.

Ashlee Altise was one of those auditioners who seemed much too wacky and confident to actually be good, but her version of "Come Together" (punctuated by her patented dance move, the joy hop) was pretty entertaining. And even though she didn't shriek a bunch of glory notes or reveal a rare disease or recent death in the family, she got a golden ticket!

W.T. Thompson's wife is pregnant, so he made the responsible choice to quit his government job to try out for Idol. And since he sounds like 5,000 other wannabe country singers, this was obviously a really good idea. After some debate, the judges decided to give him a chance in the next round. Never one to pass up the chance to be an idiot, W.T. opted for the good ol' "I didn't make it" fake-out upon emerging from the audition room. Toying with a pregnant woman's emotions is another great idea.

A montage of weird women hot for Steven Tyler flashed by, before settling on the most psycho fan of all, Erica Nowak. She got to cop a feel (on Steven AND Randy) before yelling a Joss Stone song to no one's delight.

Next up was a blonde NBA dancer. Of course her name was Brittany! This Brittany (Kerr) looked like a cross between Carrie Underwood and any random porn star and did a pretty passable impression of Joss Stone. It was a no from J.Lo, but thanks to the guys, Brittany got her ticket to Hollywood.

Finally, things wrapped up in Savannah with Philip Phillips, who was outrageously pimped for reasons I can't quite understand. He flailed about like Joe Cocker while scatting and grunting his way through "Supersition," much to the panel's approval. Steven called him "Casey (Abrams) with a lightning rod." Then Philip grabbed his guitar for an acoustic version of "Thriller," which was better, but this whole "watch me turn a well-known pop song into a coffeehouse jam" schtick is becoming something of a cliche. But I might as well get used to this kid, because I'm sure he'll be around for a while.

Pittsburgh Auditions
As a Pittsburgher, I was dismayed but not at all shocked that some loud, fat slob was chosen to represent my fair city at the top of the show. *sigh* And then it was right to the Yinzers 'n 'at.

The auditions kicked off with Heejun Han, a Korean-born nerd who seemed exactly like the kind of guy this show loves to make fun of, so imagine my surprise when he actually had a really good voice and was unanimously voted through to the next round.

Next up was Wisconsinite Reed Grimm, who had me at hello. Actually, he had me at the video clip of himself as a little kid onstage in a white suit playing air guitar. And he kept me with the messy hair, general air of dorkiness and ridiculous song choice: the theme song from Family Matters. It didn't hurt that the guy could actually sing, too. I'm calling this one as my Season 11 crush. Hopefully, he'll fare better than last season's Caleb Hawley, who also got the nod very early in the game, only to be cut during Hollywood Week.

A bunch of people we'll probably never see again were shown getting golden tickets. Apparently, Pittsburgh is loaded with talent. No matter that most of these people who auditioned weren't from here. CITY OF CHAMPIONS, YINZ GUYS!!!

One girl who is from the 'Burgh is Patty the Pittsburgh Planker, who claimed to be something of a local celebrity. I've never heard of her. Nor did I know that people were still planking. But Patty planked away while her sister, country wannabe Samantha Novacek, auditioned. She was good enough to make it through to the next round, helping her to finally step out of the shadow of her much more famous sibling. It's Sammi the Steel Town Singer's time to shine!!

Creighton Fraker is just another weird New Yorker with a dream. He sang (and scatted) an amusing little tune that he wrote for the judges, in a performance that Jen described as what would happen if "Jamiroquai and Justin Timberlake had a baby." Creighton followed up with The Jackson 5's "Who's Loving You" in a high-pitched, flamboyant style that reminded both J.Lo and I of someone that neither of us could quite put our fingers on. The judges all broke out the mathematically impossible percentages to enthusiastically describe how sure they were that Creighton belongs in Hollywood.

I knew that Justin Bieber wannabe Eben Franckewitz was getting a golden ticket the minute I laid eyes on him. And he had a decent voice, but "Ain't No Sunshine" was a poor choice. When will these soulless white kids ever learn to stay away from songs that require actual emotion?

Day One in Pittsburgh ended with another familiar face from last season, Travis Orlando, who decided to give Idol one more shot. Last time we saw this kid, he and his family were living in a homeless shelter in the Bronx. This time around, his sob story had gotten worse: daddy's sick, mama left and the family got evicted from their home. And much like W.T. Thompson, Travis apparently isn't great at making major life decisions, as he thought he'd improve his situation by dropping out of school to follow his dream. Luckily for him, his voice did get stronger since last year, and he got a golden ticket.

Day Two started off on a high note, with the low, sultry voice of DJ/wedding singer Erika Van Pelt. This girl is one of my favorites so far.

West Virginia coal miner Shane Bruce chose to audition with "Hallelujah." You know, "the song from Shrek." Come on, the song from Shrek? Really? Has this kid been living under a...? Ohhhh, yeah, I guess he has. All right then, I'll give him a pass on that one. Unfortunately for Shane, the judges passed on him, too, after he turned in a sub-par performance. They tried to cheer him up by reminding him that he still has time to chase his dream because he's only 19, but they don't realize that that's like 35 in West Virginia years.

The Pittsburgh auditions closed out with Hallie Day, a VSC for so many reasons: waitress, high school dropout, member of a failed girl group, drug addict. Oh, and she once tried to off herself. I could practically hear the producers salivating over this one. Although happily married now, Hallie isn't above dredging up bad memories and exploiting her suicide attempt to get ahead on Idol. I mean, she auditioned with "I Will Survive." Seriously. Well, at least it wasn't "If You Don't Love Me (I'll Kill Myself)." She did have a good voice, but honestly, without the sob story I doubt the judges would have made such a fuss over her. But they did, especially J.Lo, who compared Hallie to Debbie Harry and suggested that "she could win," which means that she will be endlessly pimped this season, Lauren Alaina-style.

The audition train rolls into San Diego next week, but I won't be around to recap it for you good folks. (But you already know this if you were paying attention earlier, when I said that I'm going to be in Savannah.) But you can probably just re-read this recap. Just plug in new names for the chosen ones, VSCs and train wrecks.


Find more Idol news and recaps at SirLinksaLot.

7 comments:

Lora Honeycutt said...

I watched about 30mins of the first show and that was enough to help me remember why I no longer watch this show.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

I didn't see five minutes of it. I'm not sure I'm going to watch it this year, but I'm a sucker for the Cinderella story so I will probably cave and watch it.

I loved the X-Factor.I think it's a better show, it has a fresher vibe and I'm not sure if it'a the Simon Cowell factor or the fact that I was ready for some Cinderella at that point in the year.

Take ove xFactor recaps Becks.
There's no one like you, babe.

SkylersDad said...

I think you are giving the hillbillies too much credit for thinking the number on his chest meant he was a runner. They only know running as chasing down your cousin for some lovin.

Heff said...

If Hallie Day ends up ANYWHERE out of this competition, she's gonna DITCH that (support system) Husband of hers.

Scope said...

I didn't really think Hallie is going anywhere in the competition.

But I did like Wisconsin boy. He's my favorite so far.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Has it really been on for 11 years? Somehow I managed to watch not a single minute of it.

Cora said...

I know exactly who Creighton Fraker reminded me of; that Paul guy with the spazzy moves and the creepy too-white teeth from last year.

*shudder*

 

Who Does This Broad Think She Is?

My photo
I am a winsome muse who was sent to Earth to inspire an artist to turn a vacant building into the world's coolest disco roller rink. We fell in love along the way, and I foolishly gave up my immortality. When the disco craze ended and all the roller rinks were shut down, that lazy bum wouldn't get a job. We broke up and I was stuck on Earth with nothing to do and no one to inspire. So, now I write a blog.

What Do Others Think of BeckEye?

"You're like an idiot savant of terrible garbage entertainment." - Falwless

"You're my hero." - Candy

"Get yourself a life. Better yet.....eff off." - Ann Onymous

"There's no one like you." - Klaus Meine