American Idol: The Golden Ticket is Just the Beginning
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
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By Susan Young,

As any Willie Wonka also-ran can tell you, just because you get the Golden Ticket doesn't mean someone is handing over control of Candy Land to you.

And just because a few singers slipped into Hollywood with their yellow paper in hand, no one ever believed they had a shot at the title of American Idol. The words "You're goin' to Hollywood!" often just translates to a higher level of national humiliation.

Even if you make it into the finals, that doesn't mean the best singer won. As Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry have proven, you can have a stellar career even without winning. Hudson didn't even make it into the top six in season 3 when she was beat out by Fantasia Barrino. Daughtry came in fourth in season 5. The winner that year? Taylor Hicks. He's now on the national tour of Grease as Teen Angel.

Moving forward, what have we taken away from the audition process thus far?

First, never audition singing a song by Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston. Almost no one has been able to pull that off. In fact, singing those tunes has turned into sort of a code signaling we're about to watch a really bad singer. As soon as one of these weak warblers tells Seacrest that they have the range of Mariah, it's time to put on the ear plugs because the dogs are going to be howling.

What you wear may determine if you get on the show or not. Simon loves saying he hates the gimmicks, but apparently that doesn't extend to women wearing next to nada. He was all about Bikini Girl and Nudist Girl, but let one guy show up with a friend in a pink bunny suit and Simon says stop singing. I didn't think the guy with bunny boy was as bad as others who had been given a Golden Ticket. But I can understand it can distract from the performance when you insist on having someone behind you bouncing around like a pink hippo on a trampoline.

Simon, please let Paula talk sometimes. Otherwise she'll do that mock hissy fit where she storms out of the auditions only to return when the contestant attaches their lips to her backside and begs her to return. Not since William Shatner's Star Trek days have we seen acting this bad. Oh, wait, there was that Jean- Claude Van Damme movie, or movies, Keanu Reeves in almost anything, and...

We understand how Brit Simon might not get the certain idiomatic nuances of the English language, particularly those coming from the South, but what excuse did the rest of the panel have when they so woefully mistook the parting remarks of a painfully bad singer from the Kentucky auditions? OK, so Mark Mudd went a little Deliverance when the judges clearly disliked his rendition of "White Lightning." Having the burly man say "Be careful" instead of the traditional "Take care" as he left may have sounded a bit ominous. And there was that clenched fist when he was asked what he meant by that and he said, just "be careful in everything you do."

The message boards lit up like Christmas at the Griswold’s after pro singer Joanna Pacitti got a Golden Ticket to Hollywood, but those outraged AI fans didn't seem to care that a member of the Osmond family also grabbed a ducat. In what universe does an Osmond not have a door swinging wide for him in the music business? Sure, Osmond doesn't carry the clout it once did, but you can bet that a decent singer with that last name can still get a shot of being heard by a record label rep.

For all of that, you still get a few undiscovered gems coming out of the contest. And after Hudson's Oscar win for the musical Dreamgirls and her stirring rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl, viewers know that even also-rans get a chance at the Cinderella ending when they get their American Idol shot at fame.

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