Oh, this ain’t your mother’s Hollywood Week. Well, actually it is, because I’m sure she’s still watching, but this ain’t the Hollywood week we all fell in love with. We got boys-only this week and …well, OK, mostly “boys” …that one kid in full make-up that made him look a little like a more feminine version of Amy Winehouse.
It was part singing-competition and part aerobics because it moved fast. First, they came in groups of ten and everyone sang for, like, 3-seconds (from what I could gather) and the judges worked quick to tell you if you get to stay for another day, or leave. It was brutal and final and it’s always a harsh reminder that a quality audition does not an Idol make.
Micah Johnson (Speech Impediment) fired off a cool “Benny and the Jetts” and stood out from his group-of-ten. Wee Nate Tao and Screeming Gabe Brown, along with The-Guy in-the-Turbin zipped through during the first 10 minutes of Fox’s 2-hour offering last night.
Meanwhile, Some Dancing Guy in a Brown Hat, a Singing Firefighter, and a Singing Doctor showed us just because you wow’d us during the auditions, it doesn’t mean you’re destined for the stage. So, my advice to them …go sing on some more stages, find some open mic nights, and get some more practice so you don’t freeze up next year in L.A.
Some were very mediocre, like Cortez Shaw, who I thought wasn’t going anywhere after belting out Whitney’s “I Will Always Love You” and hitting every huge, impossible note. but the judges made him sweat it.
And there was Stuttering Lazaro Arbos who’s still a wonder …because he doesn’t stutter when he sings. It’s crazy. Same with that kid with the Speech Impediment …smooth as silk on a Sunday morning when he sings. Can we get Dr. Phil on the phone to explain this stuff?
At the risk of sounding cruel, I don’t like the Stuttering Guy at all, and there’s not a chance he can win.
The Guy with the Cancer Survivor Wife got sent home and wondered what else he could’ve done. I hate to say this, but he could’ve lost 30 pounds. His voice was pretty great, but he looked sloppy and that made him seem disinterested. Now, I’m not saying he needs to cake on the mascara and wear high heels, but …I dunno …dress like Toby Keith with a sleeveless jean vest or something.
And just like that …poof …we were onto the group-sing …the guys-only group sing. Except for the guy in high-heels, but I’ve already made that joke.
The “twist” for the groups was fantastic …Fox and Idol chose the groups, and I couldn’t figure out if it was for our entertainment (the super gay guys with the butch country guys) or if it was because they liked the blend of the voices.
The groups came with their typical drama, language barriers, generational barriers, and personality conflicts. And, more than that, it reveals the kids that don’t have the work ethic or the brains to be a part of this show and show business. See, we all think show business (or, maybe we don’t “think” it, but we’re led to believe it by the packaging of our artists) that a prodigious young child dancing and singing with his brothers just drops from heaven and becomes the King of Pop. We believe the story that some Canadian kid posted some singing videos on YouTube and Usher saw those videos and next thing ya know, kids are bawling their eyes out, also on YouTube, because they love Justin Beiber soooooo much. But, actually, it’s not like that and it takes incredibly hard work and patience and tanacity. Yes …it’s the same hard work for someone like Justin Beiber or Beyonce as it is for Coldplay or Radiohead.
Point is …you don’t just show up to an audition, wow everyone in Hollywood, and make the Top-10 …you had better be prepared, learn how to rehearse, learn how to step outside your comfort zone, and work. Work …hard. Just because your relatives thought that Justin Groban song you sang at that wedding that one time was “really beautiful”, it doesn’t mean you’re the anointed one.
It was obvious the first group, Mathanee, which included Gabe (The Screamer) and that really short guy, were prepared enough to know the important parts of the Group Sing was (a) hit your own notes, (b) learn the lyrics, and (c) collaborate and adjust. For every diva like Aretha Franklin who, its rumored, demands any venue where she sings be kept at a temperature between 68 and 73 degrees, otherwise her vocal chords aren’t perfect, there’s also a diva-in-training like, oh, say, a Young Aretha Franklin, who rides on a bus with 10 other Motown acts from town to town, and hardly sleeps, and sometimes has to sing with a sound system on the fritz, and is told what to sing and where to sing it, and they (she) fights through it all because, in the end, she focused on one thing …making sure when her mouth opened, people would be mesmerized by her voice.
So, there’s that, but this is also an audition for Fox and Idol producers to show you can handle the grind and the machine that is this 4-month American Idol journey. In fact, some of the groups sucked, but because certain members of those groups were already through based on past performances, it showed again …just do what you do and you have a shot. Behave. Work hard. Be humble. Show that you’ll at least “try” to learn some harmonies and some stupid dance moves, but make sure you get the lyrics and your solo right. Nobody is really getting judged on their dance moves and ability to harmonize. I liked how Nikki would ask for an answer and then just shut these kids down before they could hang themselves any further. She scolded Pappa Peachez. She’s like the new Simon. But it proves my point …she knew Pappa Peachez has a nice voice, but she didn’t appreciate how complacent and aloof he was. Will he get the message? Will they all get the message?
And, some groups sucked because they couldn’t handle it.
“Adam Levine is still alive and he’s already turning in his grave.” -Keith Urban
Did we buy any part of the judges and their deliberation? Is Randy really running the show and playing the part of “elder statesman?” And how is it possible people don’t know the lyrics to One Direction’s “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful?” We all loved the group that bravely went a cappella, but here again, it only worked for three of their four because only three could actually sing.
I waited all night to see that kid from Baton Rouge (Burnell?), and even though he struggled with the group concept, he made it through.
Kayden Stephenson’s, the eternal 10-year-old, inability to remember the lyrics to Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time” reminds me I need to force my kids to listen to the legends on long road trips. And we take quite a few of them. I will not let my children hit puberty without at least some working knowledge of Billy Joel, The Beatles, Motown, and knowing the difference between Rockabilly, Reggae, and Grunge versus 80s hair metal (and the subtle differences between various types of “hair metal”) …whoa …I have lots of work to do, because my kids do know the lyrics to every One Direction song.
I was happy to see avid Nevers (returning from last season) and he was fantastic again …I still can’t believe he didn’t make it through last year.
So, that’s the first night of Hollywood (which was actually two nights, smushed into one night and two hours).
Tomorrow, we’ll weed through the 43 remaining dudes and by the end of tomorrow night, when we go to bed singing something by Sam Cooke (more than likely), 20 will be alive and 23 more will be sent home.
It’s gettin’ way good. See you tomorrow.