Well, we're finally back for another season of hilarious remarks, witty asides and tons of self-complimentary prose. And let me say this up front: if you see a joke in the recap this year that you suspect you've seen once before, well, this is the third season and there are only so many ways to say, "Man, that dude's shirt sucks." On with it!
We're back! Ryan stands among a very, very enthusiastic crowd in the Rose Bowl. And somewhere in that crowd is Flame St. Julian, who bills himself as being from the French part of Compton, which makes more sense when he says it. He adds more panache.
We start things off with a rehash of last season, just in case you'd forgotten who won. (It was Ruben, followed by Clay.) Moving on to this year, judges, what are you looking for? Originality and talent, just like the first two years, only different and better! The audition fun went down in New York, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hawaii, all of which were loaded with slightly delusional types. And there's a little confession booth again this season where the contestants can tell us how they really feel. Insights like "He said I was musical cheesecake." Which I think is a compliment, but the girl seemed hurt by it, so what do I know? And let me tell you this, a lot of angry people dropped by the confession booth, including a human fly, a breakdancing wrestler and somebody auditioning for Mom Idol.
Getting the season officially underway, Ryan welcomes us to New York City. Be careful on the edge of that building, pretty buddy! I was really hoping this was going to be the year they added a big gong for the auditions round. Can you even fathom the majesty of Randy and special guest judge Jamie Farr wrestling over the baton to be the first to gong a tremendously awful singer? So, no gong, but it is nice to see the Chairman Mao Kelly image back from last year, now complemented by Deng Rubenping on the other side. And next year, that could be you joining them! (The preceding message has been brought to you by the Ministry of Optimism and Hope. Hail!)
People in New York seem to be angry, perhaps because sleeping on the streets of NYC doesn't put you in the best mindset. "What's the frequency, Kenneth?!" Then Martha Krabill comes in, and she is certainly the perkiest Airborne soldier in history. I wonder if she yells "Wheeee!" during each of her jumps. Keeping the military theme going, Staff Sgt. Paul An comes in. So now we've had the perkiest and the rappingest soldiers in the services back to back. I have a lot of respect for the folks in uniform, not so much respect for people who rap in another language for their Idol audition. Then again, Paul could harm me in any number of ways so, for the record, I respect him tremendously.
After a pause, we return with Roland Maxharj, the Kosovar Weird Al Yankovich. He's, uh, he's not good. Roland's dream is to pursue singing or acting. One dream down, one to go. Then we have Bulgarian sensation Karmen Varjabedian. Karmen's voice is deeper than mine, so I'll have to give her that, but that's pretty much where the compliments will end. Then another Bulgarian. Wasn't World Idol on during Christmas?
"Who are you working for?!?!!" Sorry, I got caught up in that 24 promo during the break. But this is our special Idol time! Now we have Jesus and Noel Roman. "It don't matter to Jesus!" The Roman boys take us back to '92 and bust out some Shai. Man, what are those four cats up to these days?
Randy takes some time to warn us that freaky twins are on deck, but it still catches me off guard. Twins scare me. There. It's on the table. Keep me away from twins at all costs. The judges tear them to shreds and I wonder if they're communicating with special twin telepathy while sitting through the slings and arrows. "Beep beep beep. They don't know what they're talking about, Twin One." "Beep beep beep. I know. Just keep smiling, Twin Two."
During another intimate judge moment, Simon tells us he's had enough of New Yorkers yelling at him. And now Rasheedah (Yes, I spelled that right. I think.) has put him over the edge, which brings us to a new subcontest of American Idol. Can a rejected singer empty out a restaurant in five minutes? I think this could possibly replace phone voting one day, but maybe that's just me. Oops, there they go! They're trickling out! An international tennis star gives Rasheedah a confident index finger and heads out. More trickling and soon that place is empty except for a guy I think is Rasheedah's boyfriend. If he isn't, perhaps it's part of his master plan.
Back from another break and Paula is wearing a sassy hat for her judge's portrait. I think I like it. No, I think I love it! Anyway, the next hopeful Idolite is Michael Keown, who looks like he should be named Chip McBiff. Just an All-American guy who likes cars, sports, moms, girls, apple pie and everything else USA. Paula closes her eyes to feel the music and likes what she feels. Michael is golden.
Randy then gives us a disclaimer about Scat Girl, aka Jacqueline Roman. No relation to Jesus! A judge giving us a special disclaimer about how bad something is can't be a very good sign, but I thought, "Aw, it can't be that bad. Lighten up, Randy. Or dog, if you will." But Randy knows, man, Randy knows. There was nothing right about Jacqueline's audition, including how tan Simon looked. Jacqueline says she tried her best, which means it could've actually been worse if she left her A-game at home.
Colin Leahy comes in and says he's the new Clay because he works with kids and he likes to smile. That's a good start. But he's going to sing an American Juniors song, perhaps because he's worked with some of them at camp, which is a bad turn. Then he starts singing, which is a really bad turn. It seems that Clay's title as Best Singer/Camp Counselor is safe for another day. On the way out, Colin says "It's all good," indicating that he may not understand the meaning of that phrase.
Next up is a guy named John Stevens IV, who I swear we saw last year, if only because I remember calling him Conan O'Brien's son. Are there two extra pale redheads in New York City? I guess anything's possible. Then it's time for a dance mlange! My eyes hurt now.
Paula lauds the spirit of New Yorkers, which sounds like a bit of a warning signal to me. Although, I must say, I love the name Kidrageous. I will now steal to use at my own discretion. Batons? Got some of those. A girl with a long, rambling feel bad story about an eating disorder? Got that too. Underwear shot from the same girl doing somersaults in a dress? Got that too. A scooter and an alarmingly sunny personality? We got it all! Out in the hallway, Ryan is discussing giving away the scooter. His t-shirt reads, "Let's not ruin this with words." I was just thinking that.
So that's the first night! It's done! Oh my darn, I thought this moment would never come and then it came and now it's over with. Hopefully I can collect myself by tomorrow night so I can achieve the same medium heights I hit with this, the first recap of American Idol 3. Oh, the pageantry!