American Idol: Chicago Hopeless

Tonight’s auditions take place in Chicago, home of such things as the entire series of ER and that musical where Renée Zellweger looked fat and pasty. Apparently, it’s also the home of where people cuss like sailors and flip the finger to the camera. This is American Idol. “Don’t kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he’d eat you and everyone you care about!”

What a season, folks. We’re three episodes in, and the best this show has to offer is a crazy old man singing about his pants being on the ground. Did you know that Larry Platt got a performance and interview segment on The View? I would literally take my pants off to appear on The View. Never mind singing about it. Why is my phone not ringing?

Anyway, the lame-duck run of contestants continues tonight, with Shania Twain joining the panel as guest-judge. Shania is famous for such things as country songs, and music videos where she shakes her tits this way and that way. If Tammy Wynette were alive, she’d die all over again.

Sob Story. Already? We just started! Whatever. The first contestant in this lightweight episode is Katelyn Epperly, 19. Sorry, guys, but I need to get serious here. Katelyn is suffering a terrible tragedy and we must send our prayers out to her. She needs all the love and positive energy we can muster. I’m not even sure if I can type these words without bursting into tears: Katelyn’s parents are getting a divorce. And she has a brain tumor…? No. And her intestines are dissolving into a bloody soup? No. Does she at least have a fucking cold sore? No. Katelyn’s sole trauma is that her parents are getting a divorce. Holy crap, with this show! Last week, we had cancer and Alzheimer’s. Give me more. Give me worse! Katelyn saw fit to audition wearing nothing but a nightgown and boots. Her voice is fine. In a sea of mediocrity, she’s a shining beacon of so-so. But enough with the sad music and the “daddy went for cigarettes and didn’t come back no more” drama. This ain’t the Lifetime network. The judges find Katelyn’s cover of Duffy’s “Syrup & Honey” unique, but lacking in personality. Wait — I thought her parent’s divorce was her personality. I’m confused. Katelyn is off to Hollywood.

Commercials. Last season’s winner, Kris Allen, is trying to sell us a Ford vehicle featuring a sound system whereby you insert a CD, the car records it, and you can play it at will. So basically, he’s trying to sell us a $20,000 iPod. “In my old car, I had CDs all over the place,” Kris testimonializes. As opposed to now, when, after recording your disc, you throw it in the back seat, where it will remain forever, like some metallic dead animal? Is that what you’re saying Kris? (It’s okay, I can give him grief. I bought his album.)

Amy Lange is a giant-sized bag of unsalted nuts. She’s got a big-ass cloth flower in her hair and threatens to de-flower Little Ryan. Amy is a theater bitch, which means she is on, like, all the time. To paraphrase the film Mame (or the play Auntie Mame — don’t start with me), “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are eating Entenmann’s cakes by the dozens and trying to get on TV.”  Amy opens her performance by passing out; collapsing right, splat, onto the floor. (Right here is where I’d make an earthquake joke, but I won’t. Damn you, reality, for your terrible timing!) Did she really pass out? Nobody moves to help her. Maybe she died. Ah, life isn’t that kind. It’s part of Amy’s schtick. She pops up and sings some Aretha in a voice that is at once loud, containing potential, and annoying as hell afire. The judges are like, “Remove yourself from the premises, forthwith.” Amy leaves, baffled because she thought being funny would win over the judges. She needs to reexamine her definition of “funny.”

Charity Vance, 16, is a little wisp of a girl, reminiscent of Kelly Taylor circa 90210 (original recipe) Season 1. She works at her parents’ hair salon in Arkansas, where she most certainly gets her hair did for free. Her parents love this show, and they throw weekly Idol parties at their house. In my day, we called those “key parties.” Charity sings “Summertime,” and the first couple of notes are like Battle Royale Death Circus of the Stars: The Bloodletting. Then things even out to something that isn’t exactly pretty, but is moderately appealing (if your ears aren’t sensitive to sounds only dogs can hear). The judges like Charity because she’s unique. Four votes to Hollywood.

Freak Parade, including: Gay Boy in Boxer Briefs, Shrieking Asian Kid, and The Crazy Accordion Lady. That’s actually what she calls herself. Sometimes, these idiots do my job for me.

So far, Ryan says, only four Golden Tickets to Hollywood have been given out in Chicago — a strong indicator of where this season stands. The Top 12 could be a scary group.

Angela Martin first auditioned two years ago, in 2008. She’s the one with the Rett Syndrome daughter. Remember her? No worries, I only vaguely do, myself. Angela’s life has been a Shakespearean tragedy. First there’s the kid. Bad enough, right? Then, after auditioning in 2008, her father was killed. Hollywood was a week after the funeral, and Angela got cut. A year later, Angela made it all the way to the Top 50. Then the law came to collect her because she had an outstanding traffic warrant. Now she’s back, and personally, I’d give her a wide berth, because she is like a human Final Destination movie. Her voice is wonderful, though, and the judges put her through to Hollywood because of it — and because there might be a meaty, ratings-worthy disaster right on her heels.

Curley Newbern sings like a high-pitched narcoleptic. Rejected.

Alannah Halbert sings like someone is giving her CPR from the inside out. Rejected.

Brian Krause, 27, is a chubby wall of a man-boy, with teeth too big for his face. He was “in the army” and “in Korea.” He can’t mean the Korean War, can he? On this show, you never know. He says he used to sing for the troops (like they don’t have enough problems) and he was told not to sing in uniform. Um…he’s also a substitute teacher, which probably undermines the whole “stay in school” campaign. Brian sits around, sometimes making faces like his balls are being poked with an X-Acto knife, and sometimes with the blank expression seen only on fools and geniuses. Somehow, I don’t think we’re dealing with a genius. He sings a horrible, nightmare-inducing version of Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” which itself was horrible and nightmare-inducing. (Really. What went on in the ’60s that allowed that song to become a Top 20 hit? Was it all the LSD?) Brian tiptoes around the place, to make sure we understand the general theme of the piece. The judges want to know if this is a joke and if he really tiptoes like that, in life. The answers would be ‘no’ and ‘yes,’ respectively. Rejected.

Harold Davis looks like a tool. “Trendy” jacket. Sunglasses. Bright white fedora hat. He says he’s tired of eating microwave dinners and wants to eat steak. Well, I’d like a good chicken cutlet right now, but I don’t see that happening, either. Harold clearly fancies himself a talented, slick bad-ass. But after singing some random Usher song in a voice that’s…lacking…Harold is rejected. “I just got allergies.” Yes. I’m sure. Again, rejected. So what does this stylin’ fool do? He hangs his head down and cries. He weeps. It is delicious.

The only thing wrong with John Park, 20, is his “I want to kick you in the face” hipster haircut. It…makes me want to kick him in the face. John’s hair is artificially wind-blown; brushed forward, like he’s just been ass-fucking the Jonas Brothers with his skull. Is that pretty enough for you? Because I can go into more detail. John is otherwise handsome and totally likable. His voice is masculine and deep, but generic. Shania Twain wants to ride that pony. “You have a beautiful bottom end,” she says. Possibly referring to his vocal range, but based on the way she’s over-energetically twirling the strings on her blouse, she might be referring to his arse. “You have nice lips,” she adds. “You have a good head.” Okay, people. Asked and answered. John, haircut, buttocks, lips, and all, are going to Hollywood.

Sob Story. Paige Dechausse, 21, has really bad asthma. It’s so bad, in fact, this one time (at band camp) she had an asthma attack and went into anaphylactic shock. One second, she was in a studio, singing, and then, boom, she hit the deck. They thought she was going to die, but apparently she survived, because she’s here now. Paige sings “A Change Is Gonna Come” with a powerful voice for such a small (sickly, I guess) girl, who also could use a good hairbrush. Hollywood for Paige.

Also getting Golden Tickets are Peter Potamus, Rat-Faced Boy with Bryan Adams Voice, and Completely Nondescript Kid.

And that wraps up tonight’s auditions from Dullsville, Chicago. Only 13 people made it through to the next round. Here’s hoping that tomorrow’s batch are more entertaining, freakish, or freakishly entertaining.

Later to all’a youse!

To the next episode or back to the season guide.


    1. I hope that poor girl whose parents are divorcing comes through it all okay…


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