We open this episode with Ryan and Simon sitting cozily in the back seat of a car (probably not for the first time). They’re driving through Florida, looking for Swamp Thing or whatever, and Simon gives Ryan crap for talking funny. I don’t know what he’s on about. I think Simon just said it to start a fight so they can have makeup sex before the show. They bicker adorably, but before any lip-lockage happens, we go to credits. Sometimes TV is about what you don’t see, get it? This is American Idol. Buckle up, it’s the law.
Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” plays on the soundtrack, and we’re reminded that Randy Jackson was once a member of the group. Or that he toured with them. Or that he’s a big fan of The Sopranos. This hubub serves to notify us that tonight’s auditions take place in Jacksonville, Florida. And since “Jackson” is Randy’s last name, the vague coincidence is worth filling three minutes of airtime rather than show us another audition.
Joshua Ulloa often gets compared to Justin Guarini, and it’s very obvious, except for the part where they look completely different. He comes in like a bouncing jackhole, but shocks everyone by singing “Let’s Get It On” with in a halfway decent voice. Joshua is good, but I don’t think he’s good enough. It doesn’t matter. He rubs his stomach while he sings, causing Paula to ovulate. He’s through to Hollywood.
Sharon Wilbur brought her dog, Sasha, to her audition, and for the amount of airplay the animal gets, you’d think it was going to sing. It couldn’t be any worse than what we usually hear on this show, anyway. Sharon sings Carpenters’ “Superstar” and is breathy, occasionally hoarse, and only seems to know the lyrics to the chorus. But she’s adequate and…aw, cute doggie. After Paula, for reasons unknown to the universe, pretends to kiss Judge Kara, Sharon is randomly given a Golden Ticket. It had to be the dog. This is gonna be one of those nights.
Kaneswa Finnie auditions, but my cable glitches up beautifully, and I don’t know what happens. I can tell you this: She loves her mother. Her mother loves her back. Her mother came to the audition. And Kaneswa is through to Hollywood. They should all be this easy.
Julissa Veloz sports a tiara, a sash reading “CANDIDATA” (translation: “CANDIDATE”), and bangs that threaten to eat her face. Apparently, Julissa is something called a “Miss Florida Latina USA,” which, based on her appearance, must be an event held in a treehouse. Or maybe it’s just a more cerebral competition. Yeah, that’s it. She sings some Whitney, and has a pretty good voice, considering it’s one of those much-maligned copycat performances. But this girl is a hot mess, and worse, she’s weird. Not in a quirky, endearing way, but in an “I’m gonna back away from you slowly” kind of way. There’s endless insanity as Paula “walks out,” returns, and hugs Julissa as my soul hemorrhages into the night sky. Three years later, Julissa gets her Golden Ticket.
This one guy, Darin somebody, shows up, and the people in the audition hall love, love, love him. It’s true because the show says so. Darin is funny and charming and lovable and he dances crazy! But when some stranger he met five minutes earlier doesn’t make it to Hollywood, Darin starts crying. He weeps right in front of the judges, as if somebody put his pet hamster in a meat grinder. There’s some woefully off-key singing but ultimately, the judges use Darin’s own tears against him. Judge Kara keeps it real: “The music business is not for you, because it is paved with heartache.” And fame costs, and right here’s where you start payin’. In sweat. Darin is out.
Naomi Sykes is playing the role of Phoebe Buffay. She’s blonde and spacey, and remarkably less talented, if that’s possible. There’s hijinks, of course. Naomi’s BFF is a huge Idol fan, so BFF is invited in, and before you know it, she’s sitting in Randy’s lap. Then Paula is sitting in Simon’s lap. Then Seacrest is sitting in Kara’s lap. I’m not even making this up. Naomi sings Minnie Ripperton’s “Loving You,” managing to miss every single note but the high one. This must be what’s known as a “one-note performance.” She and her BFF are dismissed.
Jasmine Murray looks like sassy comedian/reality show host Mo’Nique, if Mo’Nique had all of the air sucked out of her. Or, if you prefer, the fat. Really, the facial resemblance is like the X-Men: Uncanny. But Jasmine is a lovely and talented girl. A little nasal in the singing department, but Simon adorns her with the “commercial” crown, and if she can sell, she’s in. Hollywood for her.
George Ramirez looks like a contestant from the late, lamented Beauty and the Geek. All “potentially cute nerd under a thick beard with a mild, with an awkward, but not untreatable, social disorder.” Seacrest engages George in a conversation about physics, because, among Ryan’s many talents, he knows a lot about black holes. Simon wants to know where George, in his wildest dreams, sees himself in 11 years. George: “In my wildest dreams? Ooo…I’d probably have a simple house. With nice floors.” Because a person needs nice floors. He sings “Walking On Sunshine” sounding like the Tim Calhoun character from Saturday Night Live, super-soft-spoken and hesitant and nervous. “I didn’t know how loudly I should have done it,” says George, before being discharged. Very enjoyable!
In other news, Seacrest has really been working on his biceps!
Annoying Audition: Part 1. Anne Marie Boskovich shows up singing the praises, or rather, kissing the ass, of Judge Kara. Anne Marie did her homework, actually performing part of a song Kara wrote or worked on, or heard on the radio one time. Who really knows what the fuck Kara did before coming here? Simon and Randy like Anne Marie’s voice but they…don’t like her looks? Randy says she needs to see herself as “the star.” And apparently not as this broken down haggy-ass hunchback we see before us. Honestly, every year I question Randy’s value on this show, and tonight he’s reached new lows of sheer pointlessness. He and Simon send Anne Marie off to get a makeover — and she goes. What the hell now are you kidding me for serious?!? She looks fine. Absolutely fine. And rather than tell Randy and Simon to suck her left teat in Walmart’s front window, she runs off to find the hair and makeup department.
T.K. Hash auditioned last year (he did?), and the judges claim to remember him (they do?). I like his stripe-y shirt. He sings the David Archuleta version of “Imagine,” which I swear, I pointed out before Paula brings it up because I’ve watch the Little Archie version, like, 20 times on the VHS tape where I recorded it to keep forever, and oh, why didn’t he win?! Then Randy says T.K. “changed the melody too much.” But it was fine when Archuleta did it last year? Don’t be a douchebag, Randy. At least T.K. gets a Golden Ticket for his trouble.
Michael Perrelli’s mother is so proud of him and his guitar-playing and his little white bandanna and greasy boyband charm. She’s proud. That’s important, so don’t forget it. Michael plays guitar everywhere he goes, he says, and is floored when he learns that he can’t play it during his audition. And thus, there are tears. Michael puts his guitar down so he can essentially sing to it, but the separation anxiety is overwhelming. His performance of Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” (a fine, but obscure choice), is…ah….let’s say lacking. There’s something there…some hint of talent…but the audition just ain’t good. So Michael starts begging to sing again, to perform something else. The judges refuse and he pesters them till they’re essentially like, “Get the hell out, Rico Suave.” He exits the room, grief-stricken, and as his mother attempts to hug him and offer some comfort, he pulls away like she has cootie-skeeves. “Don’t touch me!” he hatefully tells her. Hey, Michael Perrelli, if you’re reading this, please know: You’re a cock.
Annoying Audition: Part 2. Anne Marie Boskovich returns, having “accidentally” run into a stylist somewhere on the premises. This new look somehow makes her worthy of the judges’ time and attention. Through no fault of her own — well, through some fault of her own, because the Kara ass-kissery has not been forgotten. And ya know, she did ask “how high” when Randy told her to jump. So Anne Marie, almost entirely on her own, has managed to make me annoyed with her. And if you’re annoying, you’ve gotta be going to Hollywood. Which Anne Marie is doing.
And now that this episode has made me a cranky-pants, it has the good grace to end.
Tomorrow, the last night of auditions. We’re just a few more freaks, weirdos, plants, and ringers away from Hollywood Week. Then a whole new kind of drama kicks in.
Back to the season guide.