American Idol, Episodes 8-03 and 8-04

We’re back with another week of Idol auditions. And where last week’s sessions were in Places I’ve Never Been, I’ve been to San Francisco, CA and Louisville, KY (although I keep wanting to tyle Lexington for some reason). I’m gonna warn you right off though that my daughter is sick so I didn’t catch everything, but here’s my thoughts anyway.

The Kentucky episode showed that Kara still doesn’t have a handle on how Simon operates. Randy and Paula are usually quite aware when Simon’s doing one of his “I’ll put you through but here’s what I want you to work on” spiels, but Kara’s still new to the whole thing, and it’s amusing when she gets “caught” with one of those. Kara, by the way, has already vaulted to the position of my second favourite Idol judge. Not that there was a lot of competition. San Francisco though… well it was there.

I found myself really disliking Jesus Valenzuela, not because of him, but because of his family and their signs. The signs could easily be reused at a Christian rally, and that’s really what bothered me – and I’m a fairly easygoing Catholic. I’m just kinda offended by the “I love Jesus” signs when it doesn’t refer to Christ, sorry.

Adam Lambert looks like Top 24 material. Kai is probably Top 12 if he makes the singoffs – voters love a good story about a good person. Outside of that, there wasn’t much on the “good” end of things for San Fran though. I do have to give props for the Rubik’s Cube guy who seems like a decent enough person – he just isn’t much of a singer.

Kentucky was a bit better, but clearly some people had some mint juleps rught before their audition (you know who they were).

Really good was the girl who sang Pat Benetar and had a previous record deal. I’m glad they’re not being opaque about these things anymore – given the power of the interweb you really can’t gloss over little tidbits like “oh she had a record deal” anymore. Knowing the pressure cooker that is the music industry would probably help them should they win, but they’d need to get there first, and the process is a little bit different from the record industry. Just ask Taylor Hicks, who may have been American Idol, but had no business making a pop album.

The Dueling Pianos guy was an example of Simon’s fakeouts. He wasn’t the best singer, but clearly Simon saw some potential as he offered actual advice.

One of Simon’s not-favourites though, was Rebecca Garcia, who’s one of those cute-but-gawky types and gets to be the victim of what is sure to be the first of many awkward gaffes from Kara, as Kara thinks she’s a joke contestant based on her spec sheet. She’s not, and you can almost literally see her heart break on TV, as well as Kara look like she needs to find a deep, dark hole to hide in. Poor kid.

Leneshe was the “final” audition in Kentucky, and she was damn good, singing an original song. I don’t know that she’ll stand up to the rigours of Hell Week, or if she’d survive singing other people’s songs, but at the very least, she’s got the chops to make it on her own. And given her backstory, you kinda hope that she does.

Kevin Wong writes for Reality Dish, Prime Time Pulse and Inside Fights. He wishes everyone a Happy Chinese New Year