Well, after a few months in the cooler, the biggest phenomenon from last summer has returned. Of course, I'm talking about this column, which is no surprise. And if you didn't see that joke coming, you've never seen a sitcom. Set 'em up, knock 'em down! Keep churnin' them out!
Anyway, about the show. It's back, which you already know if you've come this far, so let's get right into it. There's no point in messing with success, so AMERICAN IDOL is pretty much the same show it was last year. The biggest change was cosmetic, in that He Who Cannot Be Named left the show. Also, the first episode of this season is getting much more attention than the first episode of last season. Last year, I tipped off a few friends that the show was starting, and they ignored me. This year, the premiere is treated as news.
Kicking things off, our boy Ryan Seacrest stands among a throng of people outside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Two guys that look exactly like Seascrest flank him. That's a lot of spiky hair. Somebody's gonna get hurt!
To set the tone for the new season, we're treated to a quick montage of moments from each audition city. What we mainly see is some very, very bad singing, and some very, very angry people. A girl in Miami informs us that "I'm really aware I have a great voice." Perfect. Good luck with that. In Detroit, we see a girl that has pierced the area under her lower lip, which I think would put anybody in a bad mood. Surprisingly, she starts cussing. I really expected a classier reaction out of somebody with a shiny, pierced face.
In Atlanta, we're lucky enough to see Keith, who's wearing a horrendous sweater and what is either a mod, '60s-style British wig, or a haircut he gave himself. Note to Keith: guys should never sing a song originally done by a woman. And they definitely shouldn't try to be vampy and sexy if they decide to ignore rule #1. I'd say Keith should be smart enough to realize that, but there's no evidence to support such a theory. Following Keith is a cat in L.A. wearing leopard everything and sporting two firehoses sticking out of his head. Or maybe it was hair. Whatever it was, I didn't like looking at it.
In talking to the judges, we see Simon vow to be totally honest this year. No biting of the tongue. I'm going to make a little vow myself right now. I'm going to be as equally awesome this season as I was last time. Maybe more so if I get enough sugar in me. Whooo!
Another new twist this year is the Confessionals booth. Hey, just like church! Except with more cursing! Why is everybody so angry these days? What is with this country? Does everybody think they're the most important person ever? Are the giant coffee drinks we gulp every day making us irritated? Somebody should really look into this. Somebody that isn't me. I'm busy.
Seacrest continues with his narration and introduces Kristin Holt. According to Ryan, "As Kristin knows, the auditions are an emotional roller coaster." I guess that explains why Kristin can just stand there awkwardly not knowing what to do while people cry themselves to death. "I went through the same thing last year. They'll be fine. I guess. I dunno. (long pause) Gosh, it's weird just standing here."
Ryan then chats us into the New York auditions. There's been a healthy dose of voiceover to this point. It's like I'm watching the History Channel, only with worse outfits. "Rommel, the Desert Fox, would prove to be no match for the wits of Simon Cowell. On August 12, 1941, these two titans of the battlefield met head on with horrific consequences."
Speaking of the bad outfits, here they are. We're introduced to Chriss, who is wearing a billowy shirt with Asian letters and a man looking downwards on it. Is this his Asian mythology shirt? Of course, Chriss is no match for Brad, who stole his outfit from the oh-so-in my face Avril Lavigne. Right down to the tie. Ties everywhere this year! Brad gets rejected and sassily tells Simon at least he's from a country where people brush their teeth twice a day. Score! Good original material. I should steal it. I should steal those green plaid pants too. Then I'd have a perfect excuse for hating my clothes.
The first three New York candidates don't exactly set the world on fire. Aren't there any attractive people in Manhattan? I see them all the time on Friends. They're everywhere! After that, we see two twins singing in perfect harmony. It's terrifying. I feel like I'm watching a sci-fi movie about the horrors of a police state. If these girls can predict crimes in the future so they can be stopped ahead of time, I'm fleeing to my underground bunker. (location: secret)
Following following the the twins twins (clever!) is Nathaniel. Nathaniel has slit his jeans into a skirt, which is fine, except Nathaniel is a boy. He has also ripped holes in his shirt, and he's using safety pins to hold the shirt together. I ask myself, why rip up the shirt in the first place? Nathaniel doesn't answer. However, he does answer Seacrest when he asks what kind of underwear you wear with flapping jeans. The answer? A thong. Shudder. Although that may explain why Nathaniel's singing is so bad. He's all scrunched up!
Anyway, Nathaniel's singing is terrible and the judges tell him as much. He doesn't take it so well. "I worked really, really hard." On what? The jeans? Standing in line? You'd think a guy willing to wear a skirt would take rejection a little better. Nate says that Randy is fat, Simon is an a------, and Paula is played, before proclaiming himself spent and stomping out. He should try to be a little more dandy next time.
In the holding pen, Seacrest is with two girls that share a boyfriend. Not at the same time. They have such charming accents. "No-uh!" Isn't that word just one syllable? If they ever make a biopic about Sarah Jessica Parker and Sarah Silverman, these two gals can play the leads. They're dead ringers! When Janine auditions, she forgets her words. But she handles it with the grace and class you'd expect of a gal from Staten Island. "OHMYGAWDNO-UH! AACK!"
Seacrest then goes outside to help Chris in his quest to find a singer worse than he is. It doesn't work out so well. For Chris. Seacrest was actually somewhat funny during the bit. Last year, this bit would've been more hamfisted than.um.a guy with.two hams in his hands. God, that was terrible. I'm useless. Anyway, good stuff from Seacrest so far! He's my new best friend! Or maybe I just want to be on his radio show. I'm great in drive time!
Cynthia comes in to audition. Either her excitement over meeting Simon or the tightness of her braids causes her to forget the lyrics. Her sexy schoolgirl outfit isn't enough to get her to Hollywood. Well, I mean, it is, but not in this capacity. After that, we see a guy in a green shirt trying to sing out his nose, a guy with a pink belt doing a step routine and an urban rancher. All so very, very bad. And then we see Frenchie Davis. We're all thinking the same thing about ol' Frenchie, so I'll just move on. Frenchie can sing, however. Or as us hipsters would say, "Man, that girl can blow!" (snap, snap)
We move on to Miami. Seacrest says, "In the words of my good friend, Will Smith." What is he? Larry King now? "You know, I was having lunch with Liza today, after having tea with Barbra after having breakfast with Shawn Wayans." Yeah, you're famous. We got it, man. Waiting in line in Miami is a guy wearing a shirt with sumo wrestlers on it. He says it's time to start judging people on talent rather than looks. If dressing is a talent, this guy is in trouble.
In the audition room, we see Terra, who idolizes Mariah Carey. Chances are, after her awful performance, she'll be having a breakdown of her own. Hey-o! That's comedy, folks! Terra argues that she's having a bad day and tells the judges her vocal coach is Yvette. Really? Yvette? Well, why didn't you say so? On to Hollywood for you then!
Next up is Heidi Hall. Is she the long lost triplet of the twins in New York? They all look exactly alike. Is there a special Avril wig you can buy at Wal-Mart now? "Look like a crabby, self-important 16-year old with the Avril wig! Features exclusive center part!" Simon likes Heidi because she's nice. Not like Christina Aguilera, who he says decided to be a slut as role model. Hey, sluts need role models as much as anybody. They used to look up to me, but then I hit the straight and narrow.
Sean comes in and says he wants to be the first successful Asian R&B singer. Is he forgetting Johnny Lee Kim? "Super Smash Love Fun Record #6" was huge in Bangkok! Huge! Sean is going on to Hollywood, and Seacrest asks him if he can do kung fu. Huh. Maybe Sean and his boy should ask Seacrest if he knows how to run in slow motion on the beach since he has blond hair.
And then there was Edgar. Edgar should start a traveling exhibit called "Man or Plastic Man?" in which people pay to guess if he's a human or a futuristic cyborg. His shiny face and plastic hair make him look like Jude Law in A.I. I kept waiting for Edgar to press his neck and pop his faceplate off, revealing all his circuitry. Edgar seems surprised to find out he's a bad singer. Apparently, he wasn't programmed to accept rejection.
Trying to talk his way past the judges and on to Hollywood, Edgar says he's "had this dream since before I was born." That is one serious dream. Fetal dream!
Now we move on to Austin. Seacrest describes Texas as the home of cattle-raising, hog-tying, steer riding, real men. There's something very weird and dirty about him speaking like that. Very unsettling. First up in Austin is a guy in leather pants. I hope he didn't take my advice. I don't want credit for that. Following him is Sammy Davis IV. And then yet another guy who takes his allotted three seconds of fame and uses them to sing horribly.
Ryan spends some time with Coffey, whose wife is having his baby today. We can tell he's married because he's wearing the very suit he was married in. Ryan checks his giant watch to see when the baby is due. That timepiece is massive! I've seen smaller casts.
A wizard comes in, taking himself remarkably serious for somebody dressed in a wizard costume. Maybe he saw a big line and thought it was for Star Wars Episode III: One Last Try. Then we see Cedric, who's dressed like a background extra from The Cotton Club. Randy sums up Cedric's performance with, "Dude, dude, dude, dude, dude. I like the suit, but listen, dude. About the vocals, man." Well put. Well put, indeed. Later we find out that Cedric is stranded in Austin with no way back to Kansas. I guess his matching yellow '52 droptop El Dorado got stolen. Then Cedric cries and we all feel terrible. Seriously. Somebody should follow up and make sure Cedric isn't living in an Austin bus station right now. Give that kid a lift home! Please!
The next girl sings "Fever," although maybe she should've sung "Giant, Distracting Rose Growing Out Of My Neck." Then we see Jacob John, who should rename himself Justin Jr. Simon creepily fawns over Jacob. "Nice voice, nice face. Unnhhh." Whoa, buddy! Calm down!
And that's really about it. We saw some good, and a whole lotta bad. Seacrest was pretty amusing, although it seems like his entire wardrobe consists of tight t-shirts with nutty, koo-koo logos on them. Maybe he got a $10,000 gift certificate to Urban Outfitters for Christmas. He should get that hat with the "Ralph" nametag sewn on it. That would be amusing for a couple of seconds at least.
Finally, if you want to know how I handled those wild audition crowds, why don't you look at that little ol' video clip to the right there? I believe you'll find that I am incredibly handsome and witty, and my rich, smooth voice makes you hot for me. And come back tomorrow for another recap! I got a ton of jokes to use this year! Some new ones even! Onward, ho!