By Michelle Collins
American Idol kicked off its fourth season this week, and Tuesday’s season premiere delivered 2 hours of what America loves: People getting their dreams shattered in front of millions.
The season premiere opened with one unfortunate reject screeching out the National Anthem for no less than 15 minutes. While the “outtakes” can be momentarily enjoyable, having to listen to this girl miss every. single. note. of our beautiful anthem proves to me that the British producers of this show HATE America. They must! While sitting through her hand waving, ear-bleeding rendition, I could just picture Francis Scott Key coming back to life, crawling out of the ground, taking a deep breath and then blowing his brains out all over again. And we haven’t even laid eyes on Ryan Seacrest yet!The first leg of the show recapped the many successes of American Idol. The rules have changed this year with the age limit being raised to 28 years old, meaning that people who likely have families and steady jobs will have to face the consequences of being publicly shamed.
The judges remain the same: the Callous Cowel, cyborg-reject Abdul, and the new and improved ultra-sleek, muy-femenino Randay. Another change this season will be the addition of a guest judge during the audition process. This week, we have the pleasure of watching Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath opine on the future of some young hopefuls. Because if anyone knows about lucky bastards who don’t deserve even a penny of their million dollar fortune, it’s him. Here’s looking forward to the day Smash Mouth rejects some 16 year old no talent in a mini-skirt while getting blown by a toothless 98-year-old corpse, i.e. “groupie”.
On to the auditions. The highlights, and more often the case, the lowlights.
In walks a bald man who’s a youth director at his local church. I know where this is going. He smiles, talks about his kids, is one of 9 million people to sing “Isn’t She Lovely” halfway decently, and after our requisite “Dudes”, “Dawgs” and “Duhs” (thanks Paula), he makes it through to Hollywood.
A girl with a bosom so big it nearly came out of the television screen and knocked me unconscious sings “YMCA”, and dear God, she’s making the letters with her arms, allowing her triple-G’s to bounce in an almost hypnotic fashion.
Coming up next, we have a highlight of a lowlight. Jesse Grazela is a self-proclaimed “entertainer”, and now that I take a better look at him, I’m pretty sure he served me my smoked ham hock at Medieval Times in Peoria, Illinois. The editors of this segment make it very difficult to tell whether he’s going to be good or terrible. (loud coughing: “It’s the latter”) He begins belting out “You Raise Me Up”, his voice shaking, his hand slowly raising to his side like a Spanish Pavarotti at La Scala. His voice trembles all over the place, but alas, he stops singing after the very first line. He’s forgotten the words. Has this man never been to the movies? They must play this song 400 times before the movie begins! How can he forget the words! And you would think he could’ve made them up! “You raise me up, so I can grab a bottle. From the cabinet, where I keep all my food!” He starts over, but brain farts once again, and begins slowly applauding himself for dramatic effect (good thinking). The judges send him outside to ask his friends what the words are. At first I thought that maybe this guy was just yanking our chains to make it onto the show, but upon further inspection, I think he’s actually autistic. His friends help out, he re-enters, splits some ears, and begins HI-sterically crying. Finally his smarts kick in, and he just walks out of the room without even waiting for Simon’s opinion. Television at its finest!
Next comes Anwar Robinson, Lenny Kravitz’s slightly less-gay brother. Long dreads, a crocheted hat I’m pretty sure was ripped off from one of my grandmother’s plants, he’s adorable and has a winning face. The editors make his success a no-brainer, following him to the seventh grade music class that he teaches to see the master at work. Sure enough, he belts out Stevie Wonder, and by the end, I eagerly sit by the phone and wait for his call, because I think I’m in lurve. Although something tells me Nicole Kidman’s got dibs on this one.
Oh lord. Heavy sigh. Why do heavy people put themselves in harm’s way? This time round, it’s Melissa Considine, a girl dressed up in basically every piece of drek H&M has on sale right now, who explains that it looks like she has “a lot of money, but you don’t have to to look good.” The camera slowly pans back and the poor thing, she just looks awful. Shame too, cause she’s a pretty girl, and seems reasonable sane.
After the judges cackle about her choice of clothing, she begins singing “How Do I Live Without You”, with a voice reminiscent of an Olsen Twin getting reamed by a dolphin on his death bed. Needless to spray, she doesn’t make it through.
Derreck Braxton has talent in his family. You see, his “cousin is Tony Braxton”, to which I say “Who isn’t a cousin of Tony Braxton?” Derreck’s your classic uppity, adorable gay guy, with one minor difference: he’s completely insane. He can’t say two words without laughing to himself and saying “Hahaâ€”ok? Ok? Ha HA!”
Multiple personalities aside, Sybil Braxton begins his song, and is awful. His voice brings to mind what the lovechild of Kermit the Frog and Creed’s Scott Stapp might sound like. As you can imagine, he doesn’t take the rejection well. He is Fee-YUR-ious that they didn’t like his voice! How dare they! Don’t they know who he is?! In a post-rejection interview, he really lets the cannons loose, insulting Paula, Randy and Simon’s careers “I’m going to be doing it, and I’m going to be doing it, and I’m going to be doing itâ€¦” One can only hope that “doing it” refers to taking his own life, because, really, with all the problems in this world, do we REALLY need to hear about how the judges got it wrong for the next 60 or so years? I didn’t think so.
Next, an “America the Beautiful” montage, featuring some of the worst singers so far. Yet more proof that the American Idol producers do, in fact, hate America.
And then Regina Brooks arrives. And the angels adjust their stools and begin playing the most beautiful harp solo on your heart strings. Gling-glong-gling go the heart strings! Regina had to pawn her wedding rings in order to travel to the audition, and now her, her husband and their baby don’t have enough money to return home. Tsunami, Shmunami, does someone have some bank for Regina? Seriously, it’s awful. I’m sure the producers were salivating like wolves when they heard her story. This is almost as sad as the heart-breaking and much less popular Shtetl Idol.
Regina explains her sitch to the judges, and sings pleasantly enough. Simon doesn’t want to let her through due to her familial situation. Even the devil takes a break from counting Clay Aiken’s album profits to shoot him a dirty look. In the end, the other judges choose to let her go. And the tears, how they do flow.
Coming up next, Aven Moore, a tall, confident black man with a voluminous jheri-curled do and crisp blue eyes, which looked real to me. Aven Moore is what Will Ferrell would look like if he were black. The face and body are the SAME. Oh, and Aven was a crack-up! His eyes focusing on nothing in the distance, he belted out Annie’s “Tomorrow”â€¦ as in “Daaaaaaaaaay (BREATH) Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (BREATH) Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay (BREATHE and repeat for 20 minutes).” It is a magical combination of tone deafness meeting jazz hands meeting dramatic headshaking. Come to think of it, this guy may be funnier than Will Ferrell.
Keeping with the SNL tradition, next up is a morbidly obese Jon Lovitz singing “I Feel Good”. One wonders how the man who brought us “High School High” and “Trapped in Paradise” has fallen so low and so hard.
By the by, Ryan Seacrest’s hair is not nearly as frosted as it used to be. Ryan Seacrest the man, however, is more muppity than ever.
Following a commercial and emergency bathroom break, hard rocker and “total f*cking sell-out” Constantine Maroulis shows up to impersonate an animatronic robot singing “Cryin’” at Chuck E. Cheese. He makes it to Hollywood, and like any metal guy in his situation, decides to leave the band. You can imagine later on, when Ryan Seacrest showed up at their rehearsal to break the news, they were none-too-pleased. Their drummer “Hamboussi” (catchy! Say it three times fast, and you won’t be able to stop!) throws the camera the finger and storms out, calling the show too “bubble gum.” Well if this is bubble gum, then I “chews” to watch this lil’ “bubble” of fun until my teeth fall out! Yay American Idol! Eff off “Hamboussi”! (No relation to “Garybouusi”.)
Amanda Hubert thought if she dressed like a post-menopausal WASP she’d be able to fool the judges into letting her through because of herâ€¦ uniquenessâ€¦ but they see through it. She then pulls the God card, something only a lover of Satan would ever think of doing on American Idol, telling the judged that God put her on this earth to sing. Apparently, God put her on this earth to cry and run off on camera, as that’s exactly what she did.
Sometimes this show brings someone out who you really pull for. Brian Bagley is one of those people. He’s a janitor and ballet student, two facts made abundantly clear as they capture him cleaning the toilets while doing some softshoe, and mopping up piss while pretending his broom is Ginger Rodgers. Something about Brian just screams “Whimsy!” Before he begins, he tells Paula that he “abso-tootly” adores her, a sure sign that I am about to get really depressed.
His song is “On the Sunny Side of the Street”, and while he’s not very good, he’s so sweet! Alas, sweetness doesn’t get your anywhere (unless you’re a donut, and then it’s straight to Ruben Studdard’s mouth — Zing!) He then resorts to begging for change outside, all captured on film, and it occurs to me that this show has hit a new low.
Travis Tucker does the robot. Really well. Like an advanced, break-dancing robot. Hello Hardbody! He puts on a shirt, covering up those two machine guns he’s toting along (i.e. his arms), and actually has a nice voice! He makes it through, and I change my underwear.
Ian Holmes II (The II standing for “Crocheted Cap the Second” of the night), and sings Mariah Carey almost exactly like her. He barely makes it to Hollywood, and bounds outside with his yellow sheet, where he and his mother fall to the floor crying hysterically in joy. Through his sobs, he manages to cry out “You Can Do Anything!” Reading-Rainbow-style, and I picture what my office would look like with him clinging onto a tree branch with a caption reading “Hang in There!” Maybe if this whole Idol thing doesn’t work out, yes?
Jason Smith only discovered he could sing “a couple of weeks ago”. He explains that the “5.9%” emblazoned on his headscarf refers to the fact that he used to be a drunk, but now that he’s found Jesus, it was his destiny to be on this show. He makes it especially hard for the judges to break the news to him that he is, in fact, a terrible singer. Jesus, if anything will drive him back to the hooch, it’s getting humiliated on national television. The judges realize this and let him down real easy. Something tells me if he was a fat white woman they wouldn’t have been so kind.
Extra extra! Did you know that Ben Stiller’s father is the Mayor of Hackensack? Oh, that’s not Ben Stiller? The kid from Rushmore then, surely. No? Johnâ€¦ Zisa is his name? Iâ€¦. I see. Well, this short Jewish celebrity doppelganger made it through to Hollywood by being one of the few white guys who wears good jeans and can almost follow a tune. Congrats Zooland ” John. Congrats John.
Finally, we have the girl who the previews called the “next William Hung!” Her name is Mary Roach, and she describes her style as “Pop-Rock meets Broadway meets Cameltoe!” But for RE-al. Joe Camel just called, he wants his snout back. Seriously, one lip or two Mary!? This girl’s vagina is on PARADE! SADNESS.
You see, the thing about Mary Roach is, cameltoe aside, the girl is just mentally ill. And not in the way I usually mean it, I’m saying for serious, she should be in an institution. And for some reason, I don’t laugh when I see this, I just get really uncomfortable. Sometimes the outtakes just really depress me.
Mary tells Mark McGuire “that he is a hottie.” Now the girl is certifiable. She sings “I Feel the Earth Move”, and Randy looks at her with a face that tells me her C-Toe smelled worse than it looked. Ms. Roach spastically throws out her arms, and thrusts her pelvis out (vom), with a performance that reeks of Ukrainian Idol. She sounds like someone forced a deaf kid to sing at a beauty pageant. How do crazy people like this even survive in the world? Like, they can shop? And hold jobs? It’s completely beyond me.
She promised herself she wouldn’t cry. That becomes difficult when Simon explains she’s “the worst singer he’s ever heard.” Mary starts to break. Her “friends” have all told her she has an amazing singing voice. Her friends, dear readers, are almost definitely imaginary Teletubbies. Even pretend Smurfs wouldn’t hang with this girl.
Mary Roach leaves the audition crushed. The cameras follow her out, where she puts on a whole show, singing a song she probably wrote the lyrics to using pigs blood. Her face contorts on maniacal ways, and if I were the editors of this show, I’d sleep with one eye open. Cause Mary Roach will find you. And she will kill you.
Next, the show takes us to St. Looey, where hopefully the auditioners won’t be shit-eating insane. What am I saying ” they all are!