begins in Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, my father's birth, Prince, the Golden Gophers, and, perhaps most important, a very silly accent. The premiere episode begins with a quick recap of Taylor Hicks winning last year's American Idol
, followed by Ryan Seacrest giving American Idol
props for its status as a massive cultural phenomenon.
Yeah, we get it, American Idol
, you're kind of a big deal. No matter how often they ram this fact into my brain, it still astonishes me when they show all the stadiums full of people trying out. Is this a commentary on how delusional Americans are, most of these contestants truly believing that they, in fact, could be the next American Idol
? Or is it statement of hope, an optimistic look at the state of the American psyche? Regardless, this audition show, like all the others, is full of weirdos.
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Pop singer Jewel will be on hand for the Minnesota auditions and, frankly, she's a warm presence. Kind, awkwardly beautiful, and honest, Jewel was a perfect guest judge. She didn't try to steal any limelight, never got on a pedestal, was only honest and genuine (and possibly a little nervous). Simon, Paula and Randy were themselves, their camraderie easy and natural, all retaining the presence fans have gotten used to in previous seasons.
These episodes are predictable in their formula: audition after audition after audition. Here is a look at all the notable people who tried out in front of the judges and America.
The first contestant of the season was a kind little make-up artist who is obsessed with Jewel. She cries before going into the audition, which is a bad sign. And, predictably, after a verbal beat-down from the judges, she also leaves the audition crying.
Urban Amish Guy
If there was such a thing as a hipster Amish dude, this guy was it. He'd never seen the show before (thus his appeal to producers), and he sported the bushy beard, old-style hat look. His performance reminded me of a mono-syllabic middle school musical performance. In other words, not so good.
Jesse the Nervous Kid
Jesse mumbled, rambled his way through introductions and proceeded to sing in a weak falsetto that was horrendous. Notably, he left in the middle of his song, saying he was nervous and needed water. He returned and immediately picked up where he left off. Simon says he sounds like "A two-year old who can't sing." He talks some half-assed smack to the camera after being denied a ticket to Hollywood.
In one of the weirdest moments in the history of the universe, this guy showed up dressed as Apollo Creed from Rocky and sang an Italian aria. He said his costume was a symbol of how he was going to knock out the performance. Just a baffling few minutes of television.
The first feel-ggod story of the night, Denise was born as a crack baby, raised by her grandma, and now wants to be a singer. She's really good, maybe over-sings her audtion, but she's the first one off to Hollywood.
Perla, a Colombian import, is a saucy girl who brings a little flavor to the proceedings. Her performance is good and Simon, especially, takes a liking to her. She brings to mind Shakira and could be an interesting one to watch in Hollywood.
This man dressed as a cowboy talks a big game (albeit in a mellow drawl) but failed to deliver once the audition came. Truly terrible at singing, really just worse than 99 of the population, I feel like this guy came on the show as a joke.
The Cowardly Lion
So, this girl loves The Wizard of Oz. Fair enough. However, she decided to try out for Idol by dressing like the Cowardly Lion and performing one of his songs from the film. Complete with growling. Worst of all, SHE ACTUALLY LOOKED LIKE A LION.
Interlude: I would just like to take a moment here and say that Randy Jackson is a pretty mean dude. Simon gets all the crap from the media and whatnot for being a jerk, but Randy always laughs during auditions and is every bit as mean as Simon, without the wit. Moving on.
The Voice Coach
This guy claims to be a voice coach, but when he sings you just hope it's not true. The thing is, he's not terrible. Ironically, he's the kind of guy who could probably benefit from a good voice coach. Randy tears him to shreds, egged on by Simon when he pits the Voice Coach against Randy. Pretty fun to watch, actually.
Michelle, from Excelsior, Minnesota (home of Jimmy Hootenmacher), comes in blonde, cute, and confident, which turns out to be a winning combo. Not spectacualr, but showing potential, the judges send her on to Hollywood.
The sixteen year old, who showed up without parents, impressed the judges with his mature voice. His story was that his parents didn't support his American Idol dream because they'd already spent so much money on different singing expenses for him. So they didn't come with him. A happy ending; he moves on.
Rachel, Army Reservist
Rachel, whose husband left for Iraq two months after they married, became an Army Reservist herself. She is perky and confident. Her voice is cool, a low, husky thing that sounds great. The judges happily send her to Hollywood.
Sarah, good-looking with long, brown, curly hair was a slam dunk. Great voice with great control, she was the most obvious entry into the next round. May be someone to look out for in Hollywood.
The funniest/saddest moment of the night. Jason, 16, just really wants to be famous. Why, we don't know. However, he believes he's a great singer (he sucks), a good dancer (my dead cat is better), and an accomplished stick juggler. I'm in no position to comment on stick juggling; Jason seemed fairly adept, but, then again, stick juggling is a rare art. After getting laughed out of the room (which, sadly, was deserved), he cussed out Simon and Randy to the camera while his very embarrassed family watched on.
I can't really see any of these contestants winning this season of American Idol
, but people have a tendency to transform themselves once in the bright lights of Hollywood. Tonight, we get a look at the Seattle auditions. I live in Seattle, so I'll be spending most of the episode hoping to see someone I know and, then, make fun of. We'll be back with another recap tomorrow.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer