Tuesday, January 31, 2006

auditions: simulblogging las vegas...

It's Las Vegas and that only means one thing: weird people are gonna be showing up in my home. Why must they continue to make a stop in Sin City?

Jamaica Good Music? No, you don't, guy from Bakersfield, California with bad wig and stupid shirt. Go away. See? You ruined it for clown guy who would have probably been really, really good.

God, please get me out of this episode. And it's only seven minutes long.

But Mecca Madison, Miss Belly Dancer is, at least, decent, which is certainly more than we can say for our favorite psychic Bobbie May's colorful-haired sister. Why do these people keep reappearing even after they've been summarily dismissed on national television?

And please, no more twins! They end up in jail!

Of course we get the expected contestants who make Keith sound like Barry Manilow: Ryan who starts by asking Paula what her name is then being taken over by castrated aliens and a montage (coincidentially, I'm sure) of too-bad-to-be-arrested yahoos, all framed by "wanted" posters.

Oh come one, producers! Haven't you learned that police records and AI contestants isn't funny?

We do get a peek at a Vonzell clone who calls herself Heather Ward, sings about being a redneck and carries handcuffs. Okay, something just isn't right about this picture. But she gets through anyway.

Grand total of golden tickets = 2.

Vegas is obviously, again, filler.

[I gotta tell you, this is one of the most boring audition episodes ever.]

Okay, so Haggai the flag waving/wearing, God Bless the USA-singing guy was sweet in his patriotism, even though it is a bit tough to flirt while performing that song and Princess should be dethroned. They obviously set the bad kids up (yet again) for a crappy montage of "I Will Survive" as they promise us, perhaps, one saving grace in Taylor Hicks.

Oh how I want them to put this guy through. Imagine the makeover! And they do, as he deserves.

We get to see retrospectives and a glimpse of the eleven (wow!) total Las Vegas golden ticket holders.

How about next year we do Iowa, because obviously what happens in Vegas should stay there.

Tomorrow: Texas.

tag: american idol

Friday, January 27, 2006

please join clark and williams...

Once again we have contestants being punted from American Idol, and we haven't even gotten to Hollywood yet.

Apparently the twins, Terrell and Derrell Brittenum, given a golden ticket in Chicago, have been drop-kicked from the competition, even though both of them have been released from the slammer. Both were set free early Sunday and planned to jet to Los Angeles for Idol business, lending a bit of credence to the rumor that the "chair episode" the selection of the top 24 may have been, indeed, filmed over the last week. (That the Brittenum twins made the top 44 is being widely and reliably reported.)

This, of course, is not the first time an Idol contestant has gotten a boot in the butt over criminal charges. In season two, Corey Clark was disqualified after not revealing pending criminal charges to producers. In season three, top 32 finalist Donnie Williams was ejected after a DUI arrest, before he ever got a chance to sing. (He was replaced, you may recall, by George Huff.)

tag: american idol

Thursday, January 26, 2006

with his eyes closed...

It was Billy Joel night in season two, and Clay Aiken does an upbeat song after being criticized over and over and over about same old ballad after ballad after ballad.

Not that I care if Paula or Simon was right. I don't. But it's a nice little walk down memory lane. Especially for Clay fans. Like Vivian.


A couple of notes: there obviously was severe weather. That happens. And for you young folks, that old guy, held up by industrial-strength Botox? That's Smokey Robinson. He was a big star. Back in the day.

auditions: starring clay aiken...

It wouldn't be an American Idol season if there weren't a stop in San Francisco, where in seasons past, we are reminded, we found LaToya, Nadia and William Hung.

If only we had been lucky enough this year.

Happy Heidi from Hawaii goes all Beverly Sills on us to kick off the fourth audition episode, and gets justified praise from the judges on her classical ability. But this ain't no Aria with the Stars, so sing us something less, uhhh, sopranic, they ask. She does. She gets kicked to the curb. Just goes to prove, those who sing pop shouldn't probably try to sing opera. And vice versa.

Heidi's not happy anymore. But hey, she lives in Hawaii, so I don't feel all that sorry for her.

And yeah, we go through the expected destruction of several songs by artists who are probably on the phones with attorneys, trying like hell to pull a Kelly Clarkson pre-cave and remove their songs from eligibility. And, just in case we're not crack viewers, we are told to notice that there is tension brewing behind the judges table.

Oh really? Tension? You mean like bickering? Meanness? Sniping? Nahhhh. This is American Idol. There's no meanness on Idol.

Matthew Paulsen tells us he's a little like Clay Aiken. But he doesn't sing just like Clay, but he's a little like Clay. Well, which is it Matthew? Are you or aren't you? To prove he's a little bit like Clay, he sings a Clay song.

He and Clay do have something in common. They're both men. And, just in case we don't truly recognize that Matthew and Clay are not equals, we are treated to a split screen comparison.

Clay wins.

Jose wants to be called "Sway." And he whips out the much-used "Superstar" to get his golden ticket to Hollywood. John Williams, freshly out of the Air Force and just months into vocal training, goes from shy to shiny with one rip of the shirt. Paula and Randy are blinded, struck both deaf and dumb and pass him through.

Tension builds!

Stage parents are out in force, powdering, patting and pandering their progeny on the path to posh living. First up is Shawna White, whose father is a "rock star" [?] from a teeny tiny town in northern California. She decides to go Rizzo on us, with a number from Grease as Daddy Rock Star presses his ear to the door. Told to try again, she whips out Alicia Keys, much to Daddy Rock Star's delight and heads out the door with a pass to the next round.

Then Katherine McPhee arrives with her vocal coach mom and gives what Randy describes as "the best audition this season." I don't know that I'd go that far, but she does do a passable version of "God Bless the Child." And she passes through too.

Finally a surly Simon leaves kicking and screaming (well, sorta) in apparent disgust over "Mozart and Beethoven's" passage of less-than-spectacular performers and a little tiff over what was said to whom in front of whom. And it's all about Clay [again].

Just for the record, Paula was right (oh gawd). Simon did tell Clay Aiken that he (Simon) preferred him (Clay) with his (Simon's) eyes closed, just as he told 27[?]-year-old Deborah Tilly. However, Paula was wrong (that's better...) when she insinuated that he (Simon) made the comment during the audition phase of season two. It was, in fact, during the finals of season two, and if you give me a couple of hours, I'll have the proof.

But we get a hissy fit!! Oh YAY!

Oh tension! Oh intrigue!

Oh brother.

tag: american idol

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

auditions: paris in april...

As audition episodes go, the Greensboro, N.C. one was, at least, entertaining. Simon's birthday was celebrated between clips of good voices, decent voices, faux firemen, dummies and a silver tube top.

We finally got to see Kellie Pickler at length, the girl with the daddy in prison whose been popping up in promos for months. She belts out Since U Been Gone, followed by Broken Wing, gets her ticket and crumbles in a heap of melted mascara. Yep, we're gonna see that for a long time. As we will see Kellie for a long time.

And we get a dose of Paris Bennett, also bound for the top 24, the granddaughter of Grammy-winning Sounds of Blackness lead singer Ann Nesby who speaks kinda like a chipmunk but sings like a swan. (Hell, I have no idea if that would be good or bad, but it sounded nice.) If this girl doesn't hit the finals stage, something somewhere is definitely wrong.

There was the obligatory "sweep Paula off her feet and get a Hollywood pass" moment, with Steven David, who came dressed in military attire and wife. While the judges gave him a lukewarm reception to go with his yellow paper, I actually found him somewhat amusing in a greasy Corey Clark sort of way. But I don't think I'll be seeing him on any Tuesdays in March.

I was intrigued by Kendra Winston, who's lived in 832 foster homes, had a bad marriage, has three kids but still comes under the age cap. She delivered a decent version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," but I don't know if she's good enough to make it through to the semi-finals. And I'm holding out major hope for Tyra Schwartz, who impressed me with "In the Still of the Night."

Yeah we had to endure the Michael Jackson imitators, the butchering of "Bridge over Troubled Water," and a ventriloquist's dummy which had more talent than his non-wooden partner. (Although watching Paula and Randy's dumbfoundedness and Simon's glee at Marcus, who, after being cut at the knees by the judges, objected on the grounds that he had studied the Randy & Paula DVD was priceless.)

And then there was the overkill of Rhonetta, a Jerry Springer show reject, whom the producers decided to feature at every commercial break, showing off her "girls" and her colorful vocabulary, most of which consisted on mono-syllabic words hidden by American Idol icons. How dare they compare this person to Keith and William Hung? Keith and Hung were, at least, entertaining. Silver tube top girl was, in a Rhonetta word: stoopid.

Three auditions down; four to go. Please let them go quickly.

Tonight: San Francisco. I wonder how many hearts the producers will remind us, have been left there.

tagged: american idol

Monday, January 23, 2006

idol notes...

I know most of this is old news, but I've been otherwise occupied, and until these audition episodes bite the dust, if you've read me for awhile, you know I just can't muster up a whole lot of enthusiasm until we get to Hollywood.

Nonetheless, there is Idol news in the, well, news.

Kelly Clarkson has apparently decided it's not worth the effort in light of the verbal reprimand she received from Simon Cowell over not clearing her music to be performed by the Kelly wannabes.

Producers had criticized the fact that Kelly, the first and most successful of the show's winners, had refused to allow her songs to be butchered, uhh, performed by this season's contestants, but did question if Kelly even knew about the permission refusal. Then, of course, Simon issued a
verbal wrist slap, suggesting that Clarkson was "forgetting who put her" where she is today.

While, of course, Kelly can't ignore the fact that American Idol opened large gates of opportunity for her, why does the show, in the body of Simon Cowell, expect her to forever bow in gratitude toward it? She has proven herself a formidable entertainer without benefit of American Idol over the past several years. She has earned, on her own, the respect of the industry. If she doesn't want her songs destroyed, it's her right. This idea that Kelly (and by extension, the others) must spend the entirety of what careers they may generate as a result of their Idol appearances, bowing to the wishes of Fuller & Company is absurd.

Besides, what contestant in her right mind, would actually want to attempt Breakaway? Regardless of the quality of the performance, it will immediately bring comparisons to the first Idol, and it's likely very few of them would measure up.

And the show itself is being
taken to task by GLAAD, angered over perceived homophobic remarks during first two audition episodes. You may recall that at one point Simon suggested a young man shave his beard and wear a dress. And, of course, there was the case of Zachary, about whom Randy bluntly questioned his gender.

In past seasons, Simon has been criticized about his snarkiness regarding women and weight. Can we expect this to be the season of gay jabs, as opposed to fat ones?

American Idol in syndication? Looks like. And apparently it's going to be called American Idol Rewind, beginning next fall.

And it seems that Corey Clark simply will not fade back into the woodwork. Journalists are questioning why Paula Abdul suddenly (conveniently?) was stricken with an eye infection between her appearance on the Tonight Show and a scheduled press conference with all three judges.

Please. Will somebody please just put Corey Clark out of my misery?

Tuesday night: Greensboro Auditions.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

when good twins go bad...

What's a season of American Idol without a few police records? Sometimes the contestant stays; sometimes not. No word yet from FOX or Idol producers on which way the mug shot's gonna fall this time. In fact, we don't even have a mug shot yet, but you can bet that's not far behind.

Seems Derrell and Terrell, the 28-year-old twins from Tuesday's Chicago auditions, are being held in Georgia on charges of forgery, theft by deception and other related charges, stemming from the purchase of a vehicle just east of Atlanta.

Just like Leroy last year, Terrell got to watch his audition from a jail cell. Derrell will join him soon.

No statement from FOX on the brothers' future with the show, but, considering the Hollywood rounds have already been held and taped, I think it's safe to expect to have D & T on our screens in February, despite their personal living conditions. So it's possible neither made it to the top 24, although rumors insist that both survived the Hollywood cuts.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

auditions: rocky mountain high notes...

Seems like the only way I can ever think of to begin the audition entries is to ask: well, what what can you say about the audition episodes.

Some people laugh at the antics. Others look for a glimpse of who they're going to be watching over the next few months. And then there's me, who just wants to fast forward through the weirdness and just get to the weird.

So we're in Denver, which, as we learn, is a mile above sea level. And, to a few of the wannabes, that means they've traveled such a long way to get there.

We get to see a couple of kids who've we've seen via promos over the past few weeks. We meet Lisa Tucker, who gets a gold ticket after breaking my Whitney rule. And we get to place Chris Daughtry's face with his name. (Not to mention we get to meet his wife, his air-hockey kids and learn that Chris is a fab dad and husband.)

The battle of the backstories kick in, with Rochelle Dye and her eviction woes, being cheered on by her family, all four hundred thousand of them, in team t-shirts and Garret the Cowboy kid, one of four generations of cowboys, the one with the voice buried under that 13-gallon hat whose dream is to be on a plane.

And I get my wish. April Walsh, the jelly-swigging, up the down escalator woman, is going to Hollywood. Don't get any better than that.

Of course we are treated to our daily minimum requirement of cheese and broken notes, Simon's snarkiness and Paula goo goo eyes. And, unfortunately, we get tortured by this season's version of Dirk and Adam, one of the cosmic coaster, the other of the yellow pajamas. Watch for these two on the finale. Have I mentioned how much I dislike the audition episodes?

I see two potential top-24 finalists coming out of Denver in Ace Young and Lisa/Whitney.

And that's pretty much it.

tag: American Idol

auditions: shooting the sheriff...

What really can be said about these audition episodes? They're always a frenetic hodgepodge of bad mixed with decent, mixed with good, mixed with embarrassing. And Chicago was no different. But maybe a few names, a few faces, a few voices may have emerged from the abyss to be seen again sometime next month.

Who knows. And who knows what/who we didn't see.

It's a sad thing when the highlight of the entire episode takes place within the first few minutes . Looks like we have a couple of performers to look forward to, but it won't on this episode, as we are given a sneak peek at (presumably Kellie Pickler) whose daddy is in prison (whoa, talk about a back story!) but belts out Kelly Clarkson almost as good as Kelly Clarkson and a Bo Bice wannabe (presumably Chris Daughtry) rocking out The Letter.

I'm devastated, though, that apparently we'll not see this year's wrong way Sally. I would have enjoyed watching "I'm going up the down escalator" girl try to find her way through Hollywood.

Were all of the twin applicants shuttled to Chicago last summer? Three sets? And all three getting the golden slip? (Sorry...just had a Roman Brothers flashback. Had to take a break.) The Brittenum Brothers, Terrell and Derrell, have promise, but the 16-year-old Simmons kids are going to get shredded. And what is the deal with the "buy one/take the other free" deal with the cornfield sisters? Although, after seeing their corn maze tribute to the Chicago Bears, I am not going to complain about both of them getting a pass.

After all, the talent was thin, obviously, since Randy and Paula apparently saw nothing wrong in sticking it to Simon by sending through David Hoover and all the animals in his head. I really hope there was more to his audition, the part that we didn't see, that gave them reason to do that. They've pulled stunt casting before (Scootergirl, anyone?), but at least those novelty acts had an inkling of potential.

Loved Mandisa "I don't need no second name", but really don't want to hear any more comparisons of Frenchie or any more snarky weight jabs. (She's good, but she ain't no Frenchie.) Liked the dental assistant rocker Gina Glockson, but I still want all Celine Dion songs banned from the show, along with all songs by Whitney not sung by someone named Whitney.

David Radford has some potential, if he can, indeed, avoid a case of John Stevensitis, or the inability to adapt to any musical style beyond the Buble crooner mode. (But if he's going to sing Buble's rendition of a well-known Sinatra tune, then say so. Otherwise, sing the Sinatra version.)

And lesson #1. When somebody says he's gonna sing the chorus of [fill in the blank], take him at his word. Because, evidentially the chorus is all he knows.


I hope the premiere is not indicative of things to come. Otherwise it's gonna be a loooong season.

american idol

Monday, January 16, 2006

they're promising attitude...

Nigel Lythgoe, in an interview with Reality TV Magazine, is promising the fur (and the words) will likely be flying this season, as the kids are already battling the judges and each other, the judges are battling each other and the show is battling Kelly Clarkson.

Gee. Guess we'll need a scorecard to keep track.

Apparently the bickering isn’t limited to just the contestants, because
Lythgoe also hinted at some conflict between the judges. Lythgoe said “At
one point Simon storms out of the room and just can’t take Randy and Paula
anymore, and leaves the audition.” In this season of conflict, there also
appears to be some potential problems with past contestants. In regards to
Kelly Clarkson, Lythgoe said “it appears that Kelly isn’t clearing some of her
music for American Idol which is very strange.”

As if reminders are needed, the fifth season of American Idol begins tomorrow with a two-hour audition episode at 8 p.m. on FOX.

Friday, January 13, 2006

when you wish upon a show...

My friend Dave has come up with his annual Wish List for the new season of American Idol, so I'm admitting here and now that I ripped this idea straight from his blog. The idea is his; the wishes are mine.

As we inch nearer to Tuesday night and the launch of season five, I can't help but reflect back and look forward at the same time.

Here's my Wish List.

1. I want them back in da house. You know, da mansion on the hill? With the swimming pool and the game room? That was a big part of the fun, watching them get to know each other offstage, lounging by the pool, hanging out in the kitchen, trying to figure out what a colander is and what it's used for. Even those cheesy, barely bearable Old Navy and Herbal Essence commercials were fun, in a trainwreck sort of way.

I missed the house last season, when they shuttled the top 12 off to individual apartments, rarely showing us a glimpse of who was rooming with whom. Now I do understand that with the raise in the age requirements, forcing a nearly-30 Bo and Constantine to share quarters, no matter how large, with a 16-year-old Mikalah (ouch, it still hurts to write her name) and her mommy would have been awkward and annoying, but c'mon. This show isn't about them; it's about us, and the fun we have laughing at their annoyances.

2. I want fewer audition episodes. (Okay, I know that wish has a snowball's chance in Hell, considering the schedule's already been released, but dammit, it's my blog, so I can wish if I want.) How about one week's worth. The whole week, if they insist. Two hours a night, Monday through Friday. Show all the Keiths, the Roaches, the Mimes and the William Hungs they want, and let the viewers who like those episodes have a field day. Then get on with the game.

Spend more footage in Hollywood, not on cat fights and drunken parties, but on the group performances which always crack me up. The producers know the top 24. They don't have to give away the punchline to show us all of them. That way we can know to root for a Melinda, a LaToya, a Kelly and a Bo, if we want, rather than just having them show up on our screens, out of the blue, on final 24 night. We can cheer when they make it, rather than raise our eyebrows and wonder where in the hell these people came from.

Plus it takes away that whiny "I didn't get any exposure and that's why nobody voted for me" excuse.

3. I want a final 12 that can sing. But I still want one or two that I can make fun of. Sure, I've complained and whined and threatened lawsuits over a few final contestants in the past, you know, like, ummm, Ryan Starr, Carmen, Josh, Corey, JPL, John Stevens, Camile, Leah, Jasmine, oh hell, half of season three's, Mikalah, Lindsey and Anthony, but at least I had somebody to make fun of. A final 12 without a clunker now and then just wouldn't be American Idol. But please, no repeats of season three's final group, half of which couldn't hold a note in a double-bagged grocery sack.

4. I want Ryan to shut up.

5. I want Paula to act all crazy and stuff. She gives me my best material. And it is all about me, remember?

6. If they're going to go with themes (which I hope and pray they do because I love themes!!) I want them to stick with the themes and not make "special exemptions" for "special contestants." If it's Big Band Night, for instance, don't let the judges' pet sing something by Queen. (Remember Fantasia?) Or if it's 70s Dance Tunes Night, refuse to allow a favored one to whip out Vehicle. (Hello Bo?) Stick with the program or skip the program altogether.

7. If Simon has a favorite, I want him to keep her name to himself. What the hell fun is it to watch week after week when during week two Simon issues the proclamation that the very special one will sell more records than all of the other Idols combined.

Talk about giving away the punchline. And the farm.

8. I want Ryan to shut up.

9. I want a limit (kind of like Dancing with the Stars) of how many telephone calls can be made per phone line. Yes, yes, I know that will reduce the very treasured results night pat on the back for one hundred thousand million billion phone calls, but tough noogies. I still prefer the "vote for" policy over the "vote against" policy because it's a positive spin in a negative world, but dang, I can't keep up with the tweens and their Hello Kitty phones, dialing straight through two hours of open lines, just to keep my contestant in the running against the hottie boy band wannabe.

10. I want my favorite to win.

So, that's my list. What are your wishes?

Monday, January 02, 2006

tripping down memory lane...

There's always something about the days preceding a new season that makes people want to relive the seasons past.

And seasons past is what's being celebrated at msnbc.com, along with retro-analyses and "where are they now" features.

So far they're up to season three. So here is the retrospective of
Kelly and Justin, et. al. Prefer Ruben and Clay, Kimberley and Josh? Here's season two.

Fantasia, Diana, and William Hung are
featured here.

And a recap of last season can be read here.

Thanks Rob for the awesome image!