Season 7 of the hit Fox reality show “American Idol” began last night, and it was with the usual stars and freaks that make it to the TV portion of the opening round. The first auditions were held in Philadelphia, so after they went through the usual crap about the Liberty Bell and Brotherly Love, it was on to the performances. And as always with these opening shows, there were highlights and lowlights.

First, the freaks….

“Yuka” sang a Bee Gees song, but before he did said something about how women find him sexy, and that he loves women from their “heads to their nipples.” Are you kidding me? Do I even have to tell you how his performance was?

James Lewis, a Philly tour guide who said his customers encouraged him to audition (note that these were tourists who would likely never see him again), said he was inspired by the likes of Eddie Vedder. So what does he sing? A standard, “Go Down Moses,” which he pretty much sang on one really low note, both literally and figuratively. Paula and Randy could not stop laughing, and neither could I.

Temptress Brown, a 16-year-old with an ailing mom (there are two hours to fill, people!), said she was a football player—a linebacker to be precise, so you know she is not small.
Temptress had an awful voice, and when the judges let her know this, she started crying uncontrollably. Even Simon was sympathetic though, and all three judges hugged Temptress and walked her out to her family.

Mark Hayes, an 18-year-old dude who can simulate cricket noise, attempted “White Christmas,” and then real crickets started chirping.

Then there was Udgeet. Seriously, did anyone named John or Joe or Lisa audition? Anyway, this dude admitted that in his day job at an auto finance company, he incorporated music and fun, doing things like MC Hammer impersonations. So ol’ Udgeet proceeded to sing Sinatra’s “My Way” on one note…seriously. Simon properly told him to go back to his day job.

Alexis Cohen, who they showed to be living in a crappy apartment with her mom and about 12 cats, seemed harmless at first, and then sang Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody To Love.” Her voice wasn’t horrible, but she was shouting and appeared to be nervous and uncomfortable. Then when she got the bad news, it was like someone flipped a switch, or the producers egged her on, because Alexis went nuts, throwing F-bombs and attempting to moon Simon to the camera…thankfully without actually pulling her pants down.

Milo Turk, a creepy 39-year-old bald man, somehow got through (ratings, people), and sang his future classic hit, “No Sex Allowed.” I’ll tell you where there is no sex allowed…in that dude’s bedroom.

Ben Haar had a cape on and then Paula didn’t let him audition because she couldn’t get past all of his chest hair. So dude left, got waxed (which they HAD to show us), and came back. Did you expect him to be able to sing? Nope. But as he left, we got to enjoy his plumber’s crack. Ewww.

Then there was Paul, the 32-year-old dude who wrote a song just for Paula, a nice love song about being a stalker. The highlight of the song was maybe one of the greatest “Idol” moments of all-time: “If I was Columbo, I’d Peter Falk You.” If you didn’t see it, no, I’m not making that up.

The final freak of the night was Christina, a 24-year-old who was obsessed with “Star Wars.” Christina dressed funny and went with a Princess Leia hairstyle. And none of it mattered, because she sang and looked ridiculous. She rambled about being a dork and being proud of that and that the judges only let pretty girls through, blah, blah, blah.

Whew. Okay, now for the actual performances that mattered. And there were some good ones…

Joey Catalano kicked things off, and it was inspiring from the start as he admitted to losing 200 pounds so that he could audition. Regardless of his new weight, this dude could sing. He took on Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning” and had a great voice with lots of soul.

Melanie, who said she was recently a backup singer for Season 5 champ Taylor Hicks, was straining badly but somehow the judges all let her through. I don’t get it, but we’ll see how she does in Hollywood.

Junot (again, what’s up with these names?) sang Elton John’s “The Blues” really nicely, and Jose sang in Spanish like it was his job. Both advanced.

Angela Martin, a 26-year-old mom who had a daughter with a debilitating brain disease, was the feel-good story of the night. She sang Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and she delivered. Wow. She is cute too, and I have a feeling Angela could go really far.

Kristy Lee Cook, a 23-year-old cutie from Oregon (okay, cute is an understatement here) sang “Amazing Grace” and it was, well, amazing. She had great soul and a country feel to her voice, which automatically has phones ringing in Nashville this morning. And if it doesn’t, I’m going to sign her myself.

Chris Watson, a 20-year-old who had Lenny Kravitz type rock star looks, also sang with conviction, and is going to go really far.

Finally there was Brooke White. I’m not sure why I was expecting her to be a freak, but I was. Maybe it’s because Brooke closed out the show. Anyway, this 24-year-old nanny from Van Nuys, California (isn’t that where all the porn is filmed?) admitted to never having seen an R-rated movie in her life. What? Well, she didn’t say anything about X-rated movies. Anyway, Brooke had a great voice and advanced.

In all, 29 made it through from Philly to Hollywood. It’s worth mentioning that Paula Abdul is not drunk anymore, and that while Simon is his usual cynical self, he seems to have mellowed just a bit. Tonight, it’s on to Dallas, which is in Kelly Clarkson’s home state, a point they had to harp on before signing off. By the way, listening to Kelly sing/shout now is about as comfortable as scratching out your own eyeballs. And on that note, see you all tomorrow….