American Idol: more of the same

Fox’s “American Idol” returned last night for the start of its ninth season, and while they can rotate judges and air this show right after Simon Cowell announced he is leaving the show, they can’t change the fact that the talent or lack thereof ultimately drives this thing. Last night was no exception, as we had to endure the first of seven or eight episodes of those initial auditions, showing us the very polarizing best and worst of the lot.

The first auditions were in Boston, and along with Cowell, the other judges were the returning Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi, with Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh Spice, as a guest judge. As we do each season at this time, we’ll try to briefly summarize by separating the best and the worst.

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American Idol: awkward and head-scratching

Last night “American Idol” Season 8 on FOX kicked into high gear with 12 of the final 36 contestants performing in front of 25 million TV viewers, a live audience, the four celebrity judges and Ryan Seacrest. And since it’s the eighth season, we can forgive them for a few awkward moments and some bad technical issues, right? Wrong! Okay, it’s live TV and most of these singers have never performed on a stage of this magnitude, so it’s okay if some of them stumble on their words when Seacrest sticks a microphone in their face. But there were some bad sound problems, and even a moment where a video montage of the wrong contestant forced Seacrest to improvise. He does that really well, but he shouldn’t have to. I have a feeling someone is getting fired today, or slapped with a written warning.

Anyway, things are different this season since they added a fourth judge–Kara DioGuardi. This was inevitably going to make the comments from the panel take even more time. Also, of the twelve performing each of the first three Tuesdays of live shooting, only three make it through to the finals–one guy, one girl, and the next highest vote getter. What does this mean? It means you have to be damn good the first time out and you have to pick the right song, something the contestants of Idol seem to mess up with stunning regularity. After each one sang, we’d get about five minutes of judging banter and then an interview with each contestants’ parents and/or spouse as soon as they came off stage. Whoever came up with this idea is likely being handed a pink slip now as well. Damn, I feel like Donald Trump today. Anyway, it was really awkward, especially for those who performed horribly…and there were a few of those.

Here is how it went down, broken down by the good performances, the in-between and the bad, as we have done before in this space.

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American Idol runs for the roses

Thank you FOX for once again keeping the “American Idol” auditions show to one hour last night. I have a feeling I’ll be giving you those hours back, but it’s still nice to have a condensed version of these initial shows. Last night it was a trip to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and not a ton of trips to Hollywood. Here are the bad and good of what they showed….

THE BAD

Tiffany kicked things off, and she was a bleach-blond trailer trash looking thing whose parents had been telling her how great she was for years. Yikes. She sang Mariah Carey and was just awful, and apparently stunned that the judges thought she sucked. Welcome to the real world, Tiffany…..Mark Mudd was a real hill-jack and took on country legend George Jones. Dude was not very good, and when he was leaving the stage said to the judges, “Be careful.” Look, I live in the south and I know that people say that..it’s a form of sayingm “Take it easy,” but the judges took it as a threat to their safety…pretty funny….Ross, a self-proclaimed nerd who was trying to use mathematical formulas to learn how to sing, had a deep and horrible voice, and in the end just knew he wasn’t good enough….Aaron Williamson sang Creedence Clearwater’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and was just too loud and emotive for this competition….and finally, Rebecca Garcia from Nashville sang Carrie Underwood and Paula had recognized her from being on the morning news while she waited on line for her audition. For some reason, we all thought Rebecca was going to be good, but she was just awful. Kara thought that her audition was a joke, literally, which made Rebecca cry…oops…..they also showed a medley of bad auditions, including this really large dude named Patrick who thought he was Michael Jackson, and a girl who sang in all weird vibrato.

THE GOOD

Joanna, a 23 year old from Los Angeles, who Kara recognized as a former recording artists for A&M Records, was somewhat humble and nervous, but as you might expect, was an awesome singer. She sang Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” and really belted it with great control…..Brent Keith Smith sang Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough” and while he had a great voice, did not have the fire Simon Cowell wanted to see. Still, he’s moving on…..Matt Giraud, a 23-year old dueling piano player, proved that he has probably better vocal skills than anything. I want you all to keep an eye on this one…..Alexis, a 21 year old from Memphis, was a pasty, blonde girl who took on Aretha Franklin and sounded way more soulful than you would expect from a white girl. She really has enormous potential too…..after another medley of yes’s (thank you again FOX), the last contestant was Laneshe, an 18 year old from Cincinnati, who had been growing up most of her life in homeless shelters with her mom and siblings. This was the sad/heartwarming story of the night, but there was nothing sad about this girl’s vocal chops. She even had the balls to sing one of her own songs, and it was very good, though not as good as her monstrous voice. Feel good story or not, this girl can sing and could really go far in this thing.

Next week the auditions move to Jacksonville, Florida. I’m relieved that these initial auditions are halfway through, and that Hollywood is beckoning. See you on Wednesday!

  

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