There’s a sense that tonight’s audition in Atlanta is bad. Fox had 30 minutes snipped from this 2 hour special. Sure they’re running a historic 450th episode of The Simpsons, but it’s a rerun of Sunday’s episode. If Fox really wanted to give the animated classic a ratings bounce, wouldn’t they’ve had it debut tonight? Last night’s adventure in Boston really didn’t need to be two hours. I’m not going to write my Congressman demanding to see the missing 30 minutes of Atlanta. Simon is probably happy it’s only 30 minutes since he’s letting his t-shirt do most of the heavy work. This is looking like a senior skip year as his head is more into setting up X-Factor and his other numerous talent shows. Kara wants to be the new Paula, but she can’t quite embrace the mentally deranged.
Atlanta starts out with Ryan reminding us that the city has hosted 5 auditions. This is where they met Clay Aiken, Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia. Ever since TBS stopped showing the Braves, I don’t think much about Atlanta. Simon, Kara and Randy meet up with guest judge Mary J. Blige. The audition room is on the 27th floor. A glass elevator will take the contestants up and down.
The first contestant, Duane Robinson is related to a Pip. He’s got music in his blood. He’s going to do an original number. A bad sign. He goes into a creepy falsetto that sounds like an obscene caller to a eunuch. Simon keeps distracting the guy with annoying questions. The guy goes into a nasty bass followed by a tone deaf mid-range. Simon and him get into a bicker match. He asks him to sing it again. It’s just disgusting. Randy screams for security. The teaser for the rest of the episode has a guy being cuffed next to a police car. They spoiled this false tension by showing the cop with a mohawk last night.
The holding pen for the cattle call is the Georgia Dome. Anyone want to guess the travel time between the home of the Atlanta Falcons and the audition hotel? Why must they lie that this all happens on the same day?
Keia Johnson won Miss Congeniality for Miss America. That’s better than winning Miss Conjunctivitis. She sings Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” She’s going for the big loud approach, but it’s in tone. Everyone says nice things except Simon sees her as a Broadway singer. He hates Broadway. But who else would hire all these Idol kiddies after their record labels dump them? She gets the golden ticket. We get a montage of people who win. Nobody really hits me as startime.
Jermaine Sellers is a professional church singer. He takes care of his mom. She suffers from spina bifida. He does Joan Osbourne’s “What If God Was One of Us.” He does a lot of ya and fingersnaps leading into the song. He plays with the notes at the end. Kara likes his remix. Randy sees him as the best vocal so far. Mary J. is impressed. Simon just says, “Yes.” Way to earn $50 million on that word. After he gets the ticket, he calls home. You can hear his mom scream out of his cellphone.
Christy Maria is a hostess for Georgia TV’s 411 The Show. She is almost as annoying as Ryan. Maybe she’ll get her own E! gig. She covers the Hotlanta scenes. She strains herself on Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield.” She’s on the verge of tears for singing is her love. Simon busts her balls. Says she is a 911 singer. She’s upset that her heart and soul is being trashed. Really? Numerous people hear no and get a lonely elevator ride down to the bottom. There’s a spirit squad at the bottom, but the pep doesn’t help. The last person of the day is a bridge jumping Vanessa Wolfe. They just jump off into the water in Vonore, Tennessee. This is better than jumping from exploding meth labs. She’s bored and stuck in her small town. She shows off her $4.50 dress. She’s Kelly Pickler in the making. Will she be amazed by new foods? She’s nervous in the room. She’s going to sing, “Wagon Wheel.” She’s got a fine country twang to her voice. The song mentions my city so I’ll give her a vote for selection. Simon likes her even though she’s ill prepared, but good and distinct. He thinks she’s authentic. She gets her magic ticket. She’s getting out of the small town for at least a week. She’s finally going to ride in an airplane. Day One comes to a close without out any stellar surprises.
Day two starts with Simon joking that he’s here to sing. Hopeful Jesse Hamilton has almost died 3 times. He nearly died of tick fever, a stray bullet and a speeding car. They do a cheap dramatization. It’s really Blue Collar Comedy Show level. He’s got a high pitched accent. He’s never sung in public. We’re in for a treat. He wants to do a Garth Brooks song. He gets nervous and can’t start up. Mary J. Blige is upset and crying. Or is she laughing way too hard. This is just a nightmare. That’s not very professional. He blows the first line and can’t figure the next song. He sings like he speaks. Mary J. can’t hold it together. Simon asks, “What was that?” Simon tells him to go back to welding. They act like he’s crashed in the elevator with a shaky cam and a sound effect. It’s rather malicious of the producers. Now we get the montage of losers. A girl whines into the phone that they took the dream away from me. It’s easy to see how the half hour was sliced.
The overnight’s from the first episode is in. The first half hour had NCIS nipping at American Idol‘s heels with only a five million view difference with 25 million to 20 million. Idol shot up to 30 million for the next half hour, but NCIS also grew to 21 million. Idol peaked at 32 million for the night. This is about the same as they drew last year for the premiere episode.
Ryan reminds us that instruments can’t be played in the audition. Holly Harden arrives dressed as a human guitar. She’s like a theme night waitress at faux ‘50s diner. She’s got an accent thick as Pickler. Her singing voice is deeper with a Patsy Cline tone. Simon likes her personality. She says she can lose the guitar and Simon gets excited. Kara thinks she’s ballsy. Mary J. just doesn’t get it. The gimmick pays off. She’s going to Hollywood. There’s more montage of losers getting insulted. Guy with a bad voice sings Britney Spears. Mallory Haley arrives from South Dakota. She’s going for “Piece of My Heart.” She’s also got the country twang in doing the Janis Joplin. She’s cute so you know Simon wants her cast. Nice to hear Janis not screamed by a contestant. Mary J. thinks it’s dope. Simon thinks she’s fearless. Wearing a white skirt that stops mid-thigh is fearless, too. She’s through to Hollywood.
Now we get a parade of winners without hearing a note out of their mouths. This is always a bad sign that they might not have done well in Hollywood. Why waste the money to license the rights to hear a loser sing Whitney? Or are they hiding the good acts from us while focusing on the nutcases?
It’s not a visit to Atlanta without a plug of the Coca-Cola corporate headquarters. Antonio “Skiiboski” Wheeler is ready to blow our minds with his R&B. He’s got Kanye’s haircut. Turns out his personalized shirt has misspelled his nickname. He does an OK version of “Heard It Through the Grapevine.” He compares himself to a dollar store. Why? Is he toothpaste made with antifreeze? Simon hates his outfit, singing and dancing. He’s a triple threat to Simon’s taste. Kara likes his voice. Mary J likes his voice. Randy tells him to lose the nonsense. Simon votes no. The other three vote to put him through. He’s going to be a handful in Hollywood. Is Simon that off is game when judging? Or does he want contestant conflict for later in the series?
We see the contestants waiting hours to get their chance to sing. Carmen Turner and Lauren Sanders are BFFs. They can’t wait to go to Hollywood together. They swear it will happen. The producers let the duo audition together. The girls tell Simon they are equally talented. Carmen is the cute one. Lauren does a soft singing. Carmen does a loud country vocal. She sings longer than Lauren. Simon thinks they work better as a group. He calls them “The Ditz Sisters.” Randy goes for Carmen over Lauren. Kara also splits ‘em. Same with Mary J. Simon says no to both of them. Simon’s consolation chat is telling Carmen she won’t be in Hollywood too long. Good to see his compassionate English heart is burning bright. Poor Carmen is sad that they’re not both going out West. Maybe Lauren can apply to be a girlfriend on For the Love of Ray J. 12?
A montage of a trio of Southern Belles mangle the music. Mary J. can’t keep a straight face. Simon steps away from the table to let the other three do the heavy work. Guess he’s quitting early. The singing cop is up next. Bryan Walker doesn’t have a mohawk so much as he’s going bald that way. Bryan does “Superstar” in the style of Ruben Studdard. He’s holding the low notes without letting them splat. The “babies” don’t quite make me want to cry. Kara thinks it’s great. Randy likes that he doesn’t sing like a cop. Even with only three judges, he’s leaving his beat for Hollywood.
Lamar sounds like a stalker with his desire to see Mary J. In the audition room his version of “Kiss By a Rose” sounds like he’s beating Seal to death with the club of his voice. Randy doesn’t like it. He wants to sing again. He’s getting defensive. Randy thinks he needs to do a lot of work. Mary J. has issues with him. He keeps singing every time they say something. He storms off and comes back to argue with them. They need the singing cop to protect them. Security steps in to escort him out. He says something nasty about Mary J. The elevator is filled with muscle as he gets taken out. He cusses up a storm as he’s escorted out of the building. He goes nasty of Mary J. Even in the middle of rant, he keeps singing Stevie Wonder. Shame Simon missed out on all the fun. He must have been off cashing his check.
The final audition is General Larry Platt. I don’t think he’s under 30. He breaks into a song called, “Pants on the Ground.” He’s sings about guys dressed gangsta with their pants around their ankles as they walk around. He’s into his little song. He does the James Brown split, but it looks painful. Simon tries to stop him. Later he thinks the song could be a hit. Larry admits he’s 62. Simon will book him for X-Factor since he thinks it won’t be the last time we hear from Larry.
Twenty five golden tickets were given out. Atlanta was pretty weak. Nobody really stuck out as a diamond in the ruff. The better singers were quartz. The worst singers weren’t that lovable. Nobody has come close to William Hung in clumsy charm. Mostly the dregs resemble musical stalkers. I’m thankful to have a reprieve of 30 minutes from these lukewarm contestants. The credits feature people singing the “Pants on the Ground.” The song must be catchy. Next week is Chicago. Can Chi-town bring the beef or will it be a sausage party of limp proportions?
Tags: American Idol, Mary J. Blige, Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, Stevie Wonder