American Idol – Episodes 8-1 & 8-2 Review

The new season of American Idol has finally arrived! Will the eighth cycle refresh the formula with the announced changes? 

They open with a crappy quote from producer-songwriter David Foster. Does anyone care about the former star of Princes of Malibu? We’re given a highlight history of the show with Louis Armstrong singing “Wonderful World.” Can they pick another song from Louis? He only recorded for nearly half a century? He’s done more than sing “Wonderful World” and “Hello Dolly.” He sang the greatest of Bond songs on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. They bring up footage of William Hung. There’s a picture of Taylor Hicks. Odd to see him without being on a milk carton.

They show a bunch of preteen girls going insane and shrieking when David Archuleta lost. Guess they had to go back to adoring a Jonas brother. Ryan Seacrest talks about how David Cook’s victory had “Changed a man into an Idol.” Seriously? David Cook’s record is cookie dough compared to his desires. He’s not even Nickelback lame. The show turned him into Johnny Bravo Jr.

They push how all these people want a shot to be the next Fantasia. Simon, Paula and  Randy get off a helicopter as if they’re ready to back up Jack Bauer on 24. Ryan gets kissed by a girl. I’m shocked.

Ryan stands at the edge of the Grand Canyon to launch the season. Of all the days a breeze doesn’t push a tourist over the edge. Why won’t he take that nasty step? The people in Phoenix stand in the hot sun for that chance at stardom. How come everyone is at a sport’s arena while the judges arrive at a desert resort?

They pimp Kara DioGuardi, the fourth judge and her work with all the past idols. They’re already giving a clip of her responses to the judge. What’s up with the fake lesbian kiss with Paula? Way to tease us. At least they have one change in this season that’s getting my attention.

Tuan Nguyen with the big afro keeps doing weird Michael Jackson moves. He wants to be as big as Michael Jackson and Britney Spears. This means he wants to be brought up on charges and forced into a psych ward. He isn’t a complete embarrassment, but he can’t keep up his singing when he goes for the dance moves. Tuan gets the kiss off from the judges. He didn’t sing that hideous. What’s remarkable for a failure is how they spent nearly five minutes on him.

Emily Wynne-Hughes gets sold as this season’s Carly Smithson with the freaky haircut, body piercings and tattoos. We discover her mother was a singer. She goes for Heart’s “Barracuda.” They like her voice and her stand out look. We discover that if Emily makes it through, she’ll have to dump her band’s upcoming European tour. She’s willing to sell them out. She’s gets the golden ticket.

Twenty four minutes into the show and we have 2 tryouts. They are going to draw this show out like waiting for the Grammys to hand out hardware.

Randy Madden is a rocker who looks like he’s kicking 40 with his Brett Michael’s headband. His music comes from his “corazon.” He’s screwed. This guy starts getting very emotional cause he somehow thinks the judges are going to affirm his talent. They harp on his corporate job and rocker headband. Madden claims he’s 27. He looks older than Greg Oden. He breaks out Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.” Simon hates him. Madden defends himself by claiming he wasn’t classically trained and deserves a break. He keeps going on about his heart. The judges start going on about cultivating your craft while touring. The judges get nasty. Paula throws a pen at Simon. Paula’s already pissed off. They blur out her giving him the finger. The pills must be working. Oddly enough when Simon breaks out the middle finger head scratch, his digit isn’t fogged over. 

The whole point of this season was to focus on the good. Instead were given mediocre performers for two of the first three. They nearly played all of Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind” during Madden’s parting words. They even show him crying on his girl’s chest. What happened to focusing on the dreamers with talent instead of exploiting the delusional?

J.B. Ahfua pleases the judges. He’s off the screen in less than a minute after getting his lucky ticket. Ahfua talks about changing his life and helping is family. But we don’t see his backstory.

Micheal Gurr looks like an extra from the Addams Family. He gets nasty and sweaty while waiting. He’s a trainwreck on the stage. He does this horrible stutter singing routine. He’s given a chance to sing one of Kara’s song. It’s twice the mess. Why did they put this guy through? What the hell happened to the “less freaks” this season. Gurr ends up passing out in a panic attack afterward. Producer Simon Fuller must have seen this guy as ratings gold.

There’s a montage of bad performances of weak ass middle of the road songs.  The freaks are in control of the audition scenes. Out to uplift the day is the energetic Aundre Caraway. He brings in an acoustic guitar, but puts it down to sing a weird song. He spazzs out making the scene. He gets rejected. He doesn’t want to leave. He wants once more chance. The security has to push him out the room. Crazy people are back.

Arianna Afsar Sings at senior citizen centers. She’s too sweet for words. Thankfully she has a nice voice. She should make it to the 36 if she doesn’t suffer a complete meltdown at the hotel.

The first day produced 9 people to Hollywood. Everybody jumps into their pool with winning tickets. Can you get into the plane with a wet form?

Day 2 shows the people in the lines. Although the guy with the big afro is in the shots. He already got sent home? Doesn’t nobody in editing notice this stuff? There’s a great montage of men singing with freakishly high pitched voice.  Elijah Scarlet is a 22 year old with an extraordinarily deep voice. He breaks out the Barry White, but he has no tone for his bass voice. Randy Jackson laughs. Simon dares to ask why this guy auditioned. If Simon doesn’t want these people in his room, then why doesn’t he have the producers reject them in the early stages? He really needs to quit playing the billionaire victim card. He’s Br’er Rabbit in a black t-shirt demanding not to be thrown into the briar patch.

Lea Marie Golde is a 16 year old nutjob in a pink cowgirl outfit. In 30 seconds I’ve grown to hate this girl. She’ll be working at a Dollhouse near you or a Hooters if she can balance a tray. Turns out she’s all about Kara. She wants to meet her. Do the producers not remember the insane girl who stalked Paula and killed herself outside? Lee gives Kara her songwriting notebook. Lea sings. Simon gives the eye flash. This is very bad. Paula tries to be nice. Guess she doesn’t want to see Lea’s dead body being bagged up outside Kara’s house. They show Kara talking trash about the girl after she leaves. Is that really how you treat a fan?

Stevie Wright was named after Stevie Nicks. She better do well since she looks like Fran Drescher with Big Love hair. She sings “At Last.” She has a rich voice. The judges like her. Thankfully after these last two cranks, we get one nice performance. Somehow Simon thinks the girl is too nice. One minute into professional showbiz and he wants her to be a shark.

Michael Sarver works on an oil rig. He faces death everyday. The crowd watching the episode with me are impressed. He will drink Simon’s milkshake, Amneris reports. He’s got a soulful voice for a frat boy physique. Brad Honeycutt swears he’s got a black guy inside his gut. He gets the ticket. He comes out alone. Where are his roughneck pals?

 After two talented folks, we another crazy people montage. Why? But here comes a girl in a bikini. Katrina Darrell’s going to use her body to get into showbiz. Plus she wants to hump Ryan Seacrest. Someday she’ll sleep with the screenwriter to get a movie part. In an unexpected twist, she actually can sing. Simon immediately says yes. He rarely says anything until forced. Simon reminds us that this isn’t merely a talent competition. A catfight breaks out when she and Tara delve into a song battle. We now have a rivalry to watch in Hollywood. She looks for Ryan. She gives him a kiss that will be fodder for The Soup for the next year. Ryan makes Paul Lynde looks straight.

They keep pushing Kara as the new judge. We see how people mispronounce her name. It’s not making  her too much of an endearing character. Here comes Sexual Chocolate in the form of Eric Thomas.  He has it tattooed on his back to prove the nickname sticks to him. He unloads the Stevie Wonder with the vibrating voice. Doesn’t make the cut. At least Eric’s mom is happy.

Now there’s a tantrum montage of people who don’t like the cameras near them after getting rejected. Exploit the schmucks hasn’t been forgotten by the producers. These folks aren’t ready to turn it into The Lawrence Welk Show.

Brianna Quijada is all peppy and does “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.” Can the power of Kevin Bacon overwhelm Randy? Simon unloads the “good personality because you don’t have the great voice” blast. She tries a second song, but can’t focus because Simon has unnerved her. Simon attempts to shut her down after a line. She keeps going. The judges get nasty. After all the crap, Simon gives her a ticket to Hollywood.

There’s a montage of families that show up to support their kids. One family wears pink. That’s just wrong.

Deanna Brown has a Kelli Pickler appeal. She’s giving creepy eyes to Simon while doing “Dock of the Bay.” She’s got this Dolly Parton mega-warble. The judges love her. I sense she’ll be dead meat in Hollywood.

Cody Sheldon is a guy-liner using guy. He’s the new Danny Noriega. Cody likes to make slasher films with his home video camera. Are they going to be “liking” him? He’s not bad. The judges have that zombie look as they appeal to his sound. They try to edit it to look like a horror film to build suspense, but it becomes lame. Cody gets through.

Simon asks annoying questions of contestants about which three countries will a contestant be popular in. I’d answer, “The Republic of Deznutzistan!”

Alex Wagner-Trugman gets nailed by Simon asking if he just came out of the closet. There’s a backstory about him singing in a moldy closet. It just shows what a jerk Simon is. The guy gets set up as freak show, but he has a great voice. Randy admits the guy is in pitch. Wow. A non-pitchy dog. Randy champions him while Simon tears him down. He gets through. Guess Simon will be gunning for his ass in Hollywood.

Now we get the bad singers busting up Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” The montage is deceptive cause you know the judges weren’t anywhere near the singers. This is done in a side room with the producers before these people were bitchslapped by Simon.

Scott Macintyre is the heart pulling story since he can only see in tunnel vision the size as if looking through a straw. He’s learned how to ski, ballroom dancing and play the piano. He wants to inspire folks to audition. He does a Billy Joel number. He sounds good, but will it be enough for the evil judges to do the “you’re an inspiration, but not ready to be the next American Idol” spiel. My pal Brad hates Kara with a vengeance. She starts the isn’t it great that a blind person can sing. As if Ray Charles hadn’t already broken that barrier. They put Scott through with a magic ticket. Things go weird when Ryan goes for the High Five outside of Scott’s line of vision.

A grand total of 27 winners came out of the Arizona stop. We get the montage of “winners” who we never saw. They’re now showing the same people from day one jump in the pool. 

Wednesday night’s episode took the crew to Kansas City. In the interest of full disclosure, I was on a cruise ship in the Bahamas. The person who was supposed to record the night for me had a technical difficulty so I wasn’t able to see all two hours. Did you know that American Idol doesn’t post their entire episodes online? They have a recap on their website that skips over the singing. They don’t even give contestants names on the screen. I’m rooting for the mother of three who survived the tornado attack. Just a shame that Simon Fuller is too cheap to share her vocal talents on the web.

The edit on the website does show the more positive image of American Idol that the producers promised. I’m going to guess that the actual two hours was choked full of freaks warbling like Ashlee Simpson.

After all the promises of change, The eighth season of American Idol doesn’t feel any different so far. The producers are still feeding the sad pathetic dreams of people who have no business even singing in the shower. They might have changed the rules, but they’re sticking to the original formula of parading the talentless freaks in front of the judges. Simon Fuller understands that he can’t completely clean up the show because people do get an uncomfortable rush out of watching these trainwrecks. They may protest the exploitation of the deluded, but they want to see the village idiots get shot down. I wish they’d show more folks who can sing and are so damn close to getting a ticket.

 

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