American Idol Kansas City: Naptime for Crackhead

Last year, after 97 million votes were cast, David Cook became the winner of this dumb show. Now, we’re going back to his hometown of Kansas City for a round of auditions. If the location is somehow relevant, I’m not seeing it. Because, despite the dubious talents of Mr. Cook, this episode is full of the usual kooks, loons, and misanthropes. Welcome to the K.C., bitch. This is American Idol

Chelsea Marquardt, a 19-year-old blonde waitress, cheerfully informs us that people take one look at her and see a meek little girl. They have no idea of what a vocal powerhouse she is, full of song and emotion and shit like that. Now imagine somebody gargling while running on a treadmill. That’s Chelsea Marquardt. Simon says she sounds like a cat falling off the Empire State Building, but I beg to differ. The cat isn’t just falling. It’s bouncing off every ledge on the way down. And it’s on fire. Chelsea’s dreams are crushed as she’s summarily sent packin’.

Ashley Anderson has no personality and her bangs aren’t doing her any favors, either. They give her head a slight tranny-hooker quality. But I’m sure she’s a lovely person. Ashley sings a Leona Lewis song called “Footsteps in the Sand,” which was co-written by our very own songwriting judge…Simon Cowell?!? What the fornication?!? The song is whatever. Simon needs to keep his day job (whatever that is). Ashley’s voice is okay, but her only notable quality is that she’s forgettable. Still, she’s through to Hollywood.

Casey Carlson looks like Rachel Bilson’s body-double. She’s got the three P’s: pretty, personable, and p-talented. Although she doesn’t pop, she’s a complete package. Casey gets a Golden Ticket and deletion from my memory banks.

A man-mountain in a pleather jacket and a disturbingly low-cut v-neck sweater arrives on the scene. He says he has a big heart and a big voice. He also has big no-talent. He sings some Aretha sounding like he’s trying to vomit up the bones of Elvis. The judges are like, “Wake up call: You’re horrible.” But then the dude is all, “I sound like Josh Groban.” Which is probably true, if Josh Groban were stapled to that burning cat, falling from the Empire State Building.

Von Smith looks a lot like this guy I know named Christian, if Christian got zapped with a Youthifying Laser-Ray ™ and decided to sport a stylish white fedora hat. Von tells us that he attempts to sing things other guys don’t attempt to sing. That statement, friends, is 500 percent true. He auditions with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which for Von is a step towards “butch.” Von’s voice is loud, y’all. Loud enough to render you deaf, restore your hearing, then come full circle and deafen you a second time. But his voice is good. I think he needs to be reined in a little (by which I mean a lot), but the judges send him to Hollywood, criticism-free.

Remember Jason Castro? He was the vacant-eyed, dreadlocked boy from last year’s Top 12. Well, he has a brother. This one, Michael Castro, has pink hair and outshines his brother by being vapid and irritating. He claims to have never sung a note until “twenty days before the audition.” Whatever, he’s okay (Simon says: “Good-ish.”), but they put him through for the soap opera of it. That’s fine. Hollywood will dispose of him. Please, Hollywood, dispose of him.

Matt Breitzke is a tough-looking bruiser of a man, with a wife and cute kid. I expected him to throw down some country, or maybe even go the rocker route. Instead, he auditions with “Ain’t No Sunshine.” What’s to say, really? His voice is very pleasing to the ear. Golden Ticket. Hollywood.

Then this chick shows up, Jasmine Joseph, with hair the color of a Crayola multi-pack (includes sharpener!). She has a look in her eyes…how can I describe it…? Oh, I know, monkey-shit crazy-pants. Is she for real? I think she’s for real. She says Idol is her whole life, and auditions with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Sounds like she’s drowning in Jello. The asshole editors make it look like the judges didn’t critique Jasmine at all, and that she just stood in stone silence for a few minutes before leaving the room. Thus, for the first time this season (but I promise you, not the last), I call bullshit on this show.

Jessica Furney lives and cares for her 93-year-old deaf grandmother. (“These are my crazy pills!” says Gram, popping some meds.) Jessica is like the merged clone of Lisa Loeb and Kelly Clarkson, with a voice close to, but not as good as, the latter. She sings some Janis Joplin. The judges likey. One Golden Ticket for her.

A fat girl and a skinny girl walk into the room. There’s no punchline coming. This is reality. Two sisters, who would like to clarify that they’re not twins, audition together. They start with a messy homemade rap which I assure you won’t keep Missy Elliot awake with worry. Then they perform separately. The big one can’t really sing, but she seems to know it. The little one can kinda sing, and the big one seems to know that, too. The big one knows stuff. The little one, India Morrison, is going to Hollywood.

Jamar Rogers has the tiniest faux-hawk in America. It is truly wee. He sings “California Dreaming” like he’s trying to raise Mama Cass from her grave. His voice is good, it’s just too loud. The judges emphatically point this out to him. (Von Smith is like, “Sucker!”) Regardless: Hollywood.

And now, our first Sob Story of Season 8…

Danny Gokey tells us that four weeks before auditions, his wife passed away. She had a congenital heart ailment, multiple surgeries, and he never got to say goodbye to her before she died. There are photos and romantic video of the couple, and I’m about to get seriously misty, when — oh my God, is that Bonnie Hunt sitting behind him!?! I become convinced that it is. I rewind. Danny cries. Whatever. I rewind again. That is Bonnie Hunt. Wait, no it isn’t. Damn. Maybe. What’s Danny talking about again? Why is Bonnie Hunt sitting behind him?!? Wait a sec. It isn’t her after all. Huh. Oh, Danny? He sings. Sounds good. He’s going to Hollywood.

Anoop Desai seems to have been heading for the set of The Big Bang Theory, but ended up here by mistake. He’s all kinds of super-genius nerdy, and this looks to be one of the painful, off-key auditions. Then Anoop shames me for my hateful pre-judgement by singing in a rich, soulful voice. Shut me up. The judges put him through, despite his geek factor, which they, in no uncertain terms, want him to fix.

Ugh. Two loud, spastic “cheerleaders” come bolting into the judging room. I don’t think they’ve seen so much as a minute of Bring It On, let alone heard a real cheer. They’re all over the place, not rhyming and posing awkwardly. It’s like Epilepsy: The Musical. This is all for the sake of introducing some Ambiguously Gay Boy. Said boy comes off as normal and likable, even sane. His voice is pretty good, too. A little showy, but nothing outrageous. Unfortunately, he completely sabotaged himself with the hijinks. The judges are all, “Try doing musical theater, Ambiguously Gay Boy.” He’s out.

Asa Barnes is a band director at a middle school. He has a daughter. And he sings Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” without it being a joke. He’s pretty damn good, actually. Asa is going to Hollywood.

Michael Nicewonder looks like Baby Huey after getting hit in the face with a shovel. His bowl-cut hair is yellow. Not blond. Yellow. It might be a wig, I can’t tell. He’s quite the mess, and I really shouldn’t make fun of him, but that’s what happens when you’re on my TV. You take that risk. All smiles, he tells us that he’s “a star that has been undiscovered — till now.” And that star is in the Galaxy of Delusion, near the Nebula of Nutty-Nuts. He sings an original composition (written for his mom), with a follow-up song (written for his grandmother), and both are off-key and sound like armpit farts. The judges throw him some reality snacks, and he cries. It’s a timeless tale.

Dennis Brigham is annoying and not very talented. I guess he has a “personality” if hyper-slickster counts as such. Simon calls the audition crazy, but remarkably, Dennis gets a Golden Ticket. I don’t understand.

A crackhead type of girl falls asleep in the waiting area. The crackhead comment is meant to be constructive, though. If you’re reading this, honey, you might want to rethink the hair, the makeup, and the wardrobe. Just those three little things. Oh, and also, try not to fall asleep in public. It’s unseemly. She sings “Loving You,” by the late, great Minnie Ripperton. It’s enough to say that she can’t sing, but she forges through to the high note, and I applaud her for that. She exits, rejected, with minimal fuss.

Lil Rounds’s house got attacked by a tornado, so she, her husband, and her three kids have relocated to shabby, temporary quarters. She sings some Stevie Wonder and…wow…she’s very impressive. There’s some Aretha in her voice. Some Fantasia. Simon describes her as “classy,” and she’s unanimously moved forward to Hollywood.

And if the word “classy” is being bandied about, it’s time for me to take my leave.

Next week, other places, different faces…but inevitably, more of the same.

Rub, don’t scratch…

Back to the season guide.


    1. ‘Nother good recap, Frank.

      Lisa Loeb chick, Danny Gokey and Lil Rounds are the stand-outs. I wonder if they will advance to top 24? It’s hard to know whether The Show is presenting their drama to 1. inject auditions with pathos 2. set-up some “Hollywood Week” drama or 3. set them up for us to love

      Jason Catro’s brother HAS to be for the sake of temporary disposable drama, right? I mean, neither one of these guys takes music seriously as a career.

      Listening to Von Smith is like being a victim of Black Canary’s sonic shriek. I mean, really. He has some talent, but he has NO control over his voice. I already hate him.

      They seem to be sending a lot to Hollywood this year (147). I bet they sent some strong personailities in just to create some drama.

    We value your worthless opinion: