American Idol: Texas auditions
Much was made on Thursday's American Idol of Jennifer Lopez's anger with the male judges over the crappy decisions they were making about who to put through to Hollywood.
She argued that Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson would watch the show and wonder what they were thinking.
They're not the only ones. The producers should also be giving their heads a shake after reviewing the episode.
Why, over two days of auditions in which 55 singers got golden tickets - more than in any city we've seen so far - did we mainly only get to see bad ones?
Why was so much air time wasted on two absolutely deluded individuals, Phong Vu and Alejandro Cazares? Is it really that entertaining to make fun of people with such a tenuous grasp on reality? Shame on you Nigel Lythgoe and the rest of your crew. No wonder ratings are down (a 13 per cent drop on Wednesday from last week's premiere according to USA Today).
Idol is still the No. 1 show in America, but that's all the more reason to show some respect for the viewers and stop feeding us garbage. Idol seems intent on remaining the premier singing contest in North America, so show us some premier singers. You know, like The Voice does.
Anyway, the first thing we saw during the stopover in Galveston, Texas (apparently, the cattle call was in Houston, but the judges saw the chosen ones in Galveston) was 25-year-old student Phong Vu. Phong was given free reign to make a fool of himself on national TV. There were partly unintelligible ramblings about being immortalized on American Idol, tears and a declaration that God was on his side. Then, inside the audition room, Phong gushed about his love for the judges and for singing songs by female pop artists, did a predictably awful version of Toni Braxton's "Un-break My Heart," showed off his "iconic moves," i.e. jumping and holding his forearm in front of his chest, and was gently ushered out the door.
You think that's going to expose the poor guy to more ridicule than he already gets?
That was followed by a lame joke about Texas being "where the rugged cowboys sing songs of the plains" and some unemployed guy singing "My Prerogative" in a high-pitched lisping voice. Next we saw two fellows in cowboy hats doing off-key versions of "Your Man," the song that Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery turned the judges' heads with.
Cue Ryan Seacrest: "The Galveston guys are striking out, maybe a girl would have a better shot." Oh look, here's a girl firing a rifle. Gee didn't see that one coming.
At least Skylar Laine, 17, of Brandon, Miss., can sing, in a very twangy country style. She also had a back story. For one thing, she has a deer head on her bedroom wall from an animal she shot herself. For another, her family is struggling to keep their grocery store running, so of course Skylar wants to be successful at singing so she can help pay the bills.
And lucky us, here's Skylar's 19-year-old friend who wants to hug Steven Tyler. I guess 60something Nigel thinks it's amusing to see the 60something Tyler hug and kiss girls who are old enough to be his granddaughters. Isn't lechery fun?
My favourite singer of the night was Baylie Brown, 21, from Nashville, Tenn. The nanny tried out in Season 6 but got cut after the notoriously difficult group round. She was back, sounding strong and looking gorgeous, and made it through effortlessly to Hollywood.
Luckily, we got another good singer right after that, 28-year-old Kristine Osorio of Amarillo, Texas, a mother of three who's going through a divorce and spent the loan money earmarked for her lawyer to fly to the auditions instead. She got at least a partial return on the investment with a ticket to Hollywood.
Things started going downhill from there. I thought the three singers who followed in quick succession, Rachael Turner, Reagan Wilson and Cheyenne James, all sounded good and so did JLo. Randy and Steven decided they weren't ready yet (and a part of me wondered if, in Steven's case, that meant they weren't blond and pretty enough).
"Anybody else in here think they're freakin' crazy right now?" complained Jennifer.
It got worse. Steven and Randy put through an awful singer named Linda Williams over JLo's objections.
"Baby, you can sing. I love your voice," cooed Steven.
"I'm about to pee myself," said Linda.
"Go right ahead, 'cause you're that good," replied Steven.
No, she wasn't. But all Jennifer could do was rant to the makeup artists after Linda had left the room. "I'm so angry I almost had an anxiety attack," she said.
The show's antidote to that was to put through a deluded individual named Alejandro Cazares, 26, a cellphone repairman from Houston, whom we first encountered picking his teeth in the waiting area. "The revolution is here. I am the revolution," he told Ryan.
He expanded on that in the audition room, saying he wanted the kind of world "where the underdog can actually win once in a while; a world where people like Lady Gaga can become platinum sellers; a world where a man like Barack Obama can become president."
A very large security guard escorted Alejandro out when he wouldn't take no for an answer, but he threatened to come back next year. Let's hope the producers don't make us sit through another one of his auditions.
Next up was a young man with a decent, though not great, voice. Cortez Shaw, 20, of Garland, Texas, was like a walking, talking ad for the American dream, a college student raised by a single mother, formerly homeless, bullied at school, who was pursuing his dream through American Idol.
Adele's "Someone Like You" seemed an odd song choice. It was hiccupy in the beginning, improved on the chorus but didn't sound in tune all the way through. Nonetheless, Cortez made it through to Hollywood, apparently on his looks as much as his singing.
Ooops, time for more bad singers, including a New York dancer in leather pants that creaked every time she moved who screeched "Rolling in the Deep." Apparently her only function on the show was to enable Steven to make a suggestive comment: "I bet you're crazy in ... on the dance floor."
Finally, in the same old tired formula we've seen before, the show closed with a singer with an inspirational back story, a 28-year-old worship leader named Ramiro Garcia who was born without ears and whose parents were told he would neither speak nor hear. Numerous surgeries have ensured he can do both and he sang "Amazing Grace" for the judges.
I hate to be churlish, but it wasn't that great. There was too much vibrato and it was shouty in parts, but of course he got a golden ticket.
Next Wednesday, Idol is back with what we're told will be shocking and inspirational auditions in Portland, Oregon, airing at 8 p.m. on CTV.
I'll be recapping it as usual.
The comments have been very quiet lately. Does that mean you're not watching? If you are, what did you think of Thursday's show? Say your piece here, on Twitter @realityeo or on my Facebook page.
(The photos of Skylar and Ramiro are by Michael Becker for Fox.)