Like me, and most of America, we appreciated Fox coming out of the gate strong and fast with two nights and almost four hours of American Idol, last week. We needed, or thought we needed, as much Idol as we could handle knowing this was our last season with our dear, dear friend. What we quickly realized, however, is what amused us immensely back in the first few seasons no longer packs the same punch and we really want to get to Hollywood, and we really, really want to get into the Top-20, and Top-12, and Top-10.
Even seeing Clay Aiken, which I thought would be a real shot-in-the-arm and make me happy …well, it didn’t. And seeing has how he shot his mouth off in the press before the season about how much American Idol sucks, nowadays, and isn’t what it was, you can bet they re-edited his parts and contributions and only left the part where he asked a random person the following questions . . .
- Who wore a red leather jacket during his season?
- Who was a Wild-Card pick that made it the finale?
- Who ran for elected office?
- Who starred in Spam-A-Lot on Broadway?
And nobody knew the answers. And that was the last we saw of Clay Aiken in the episode. When we see him next, it might be in a bell tower. If he’s in your town (and your town has a bell tower), take cover.
We only had a single hour, and that was enough. Let’s talk about the stand-outs.
Giana – The daughter of Brenda K. Starr. Brenda K. (and I believe it’s fine with her if I call her by her first-name and middle initial) is known, to those of us between the ages of 38 and 46, as the chick who sang “I Still Believe”. Her daughter, Giana K?was, of course, good enough to get a ticket.
Isaac Cole – J-Lo was charmed right off the bat and I’m guessing if J-Lo was 14-years-old, she’d have a poster of Isaac Cole on her wall and she’d write him a love letter. No doubt Isaac was charming and adorable, and Fox’s audience will love him (my daughters did). But can he polish up his act, drop his phony twang, and figure out who he is and not try to be someone else …like a less-handsome Country-Justin Timberlake? We don’t want that.
Sara Sturm – A funny girl big on puns that sang “Lips are Moving” and it was marginal, but because she was charming and fun, I probably thought it was better than it was, and so did the judges. Keith Urban said, “I like your confidence.” I think she’d be better as a cast member on SNL. Loved Harry Connick’s “omelette you through to Hollywood” pun best of all.
Jenn Blosil – One of the most bizarre people ever to audition and every part of her pre-performance banter with Ryan Seacrest, and her banter with the judges I thought, “oh, Fox, why are you going to embarrass her on national TV,” and then she threw her guitar to the side, plopped down at the piano and in a complete shock, managed a nice Imagine Dragons song. We thought she might be “special” and instead, she might be a different kinda “special.” No friends or family greeted her in the lobby when she got her ticket. Hollywood will crush her, but she was fun for one night. That sounded inappropriate. Oops.
Harrison Cohen – Had a charming Grandpa, and Grandpa who’s reached an age where “creepy” became “charming.” This Grandpa had to be in his 80s and flirts with 20-something girls and gives his grandson, Harrison, tips on dating, but when I saw them laugh together I thought, hello, officer, can you get these weirdos away from me? The problem was, Harrison wrote an original piece and my two daughters, wife, and J-Lo liked it. Maybe I wouldn’t dislike him so much if it weren’t for his creepy laugh and creepier grandpa. Oh, and their weird teeth. It’s called braces and most health plans cover them …look into it.
And last but not least was John Arthur Greene, who’s brother passed away when they were young. And when I say “passed away”, I mean “was shot to death” and guess who shot him? John Arthur Greene, that’s who – and my heart just broke. J.A.G., as I’m going to call him, uses music to cope with that tragedy. I give J.A.G. credit for being here, for working to live in his brother’s memory, and I can’t imagine what that must be like living with that horrible moment and forever blaming oneself. Off to Hollywood he goes, and maybe his Broadway seasoning will be to his advantage over the other kids in Hollywood.
My Favorite Train Wrecks
It’s not that I’m don’t find the bizarre and strange entertaining, but it was exciting and new a decade ago. We’d never had a chance to see certified crazy people in such great abundance on TV. Sure, The Gong Show and 70s and 80s game shows had their share, but the insane never had a cattle-call where they could walk into a stadium, wait in line, and maybe get themselves on TV. So, when Fox comes across some true crazy, well, I’m glad they shared these two.
Derek Huffman brought a little radio into his audition and sang Shaggy’s “Angel” and went right to no-shirt when he got angry. Think “angry NASCAR fan” and hilariously hegot totally pissed and said, “I guess they’re looking for a plain, boring singer and not a performer. Guess they want a, whatever, Whitney Houston or Adam Lambert.” And he was pissed. Sure would suck to find another Whitney Houston.
The guy with the “Jesus Hairpiece” must be like about 10% of the people who audition and don’t have a chance in hell, and when Ellis Banks went into his version of “Born this Way” I wasn’t amused or entertained. So what if he was “born that way”. It’s OK that you’re “that way” but you gotta know, most of us aren’t like that and, actually, I can see through you and that’s not you at all.
I don’t care if Fox isn’t showing us everyone and rapid fire auditions. I feel confident there are plenty we aren’t seeing that are still trying their best attempt at Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston and Sam Cooke. I refuse to believe that suddenly everyone auditioning suddenly stopped trying to sing Mary J. Blige or Stevie Wonder and are singing only things in their wheelhouse. We’ll hear and see some new faces and and voices in Hollywood. But I like how, like last season, Fox is trying to make this like a true reality show and hedging their bets (or is it “going all in”) on some of these kids they think have a chance to “book end” the series. Meaning they launched this empire with Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood and now they want to go out with a bang and find someone with so much star-power and potential we’ll all scratch our heads in May and ask, “why are they cancelling this show.”
But we’ll probably just get another 20-something guy with a guitar.
That’s all for last night. See you tomorrow and all season. Thanks for reading.