Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Auditions continue - Austin Recap

Idol starts out with an apology for Steven Tyler's rude behavior and then displays a clip of him telling a contestant to "read my lips" to find out what rhymes with duck!   As cheesy as that all is, I love that they are finally capitalizing on how bizarre ST has been acting... he is literally cracking me up!

We are in Austin, which of course queues up the Austin/Texas/big/country clips they always use.  Then, the ever present reminder that it's 10:00, ST riding in on a horse drawn carriage sans a Princess, and some new-to-Idol camera tricks (think "Ray of Light" music video) to show all of the crowds, lines, etc.  The judges are back in their standard wall-of-glass-behind-us-with-a-pretty-body-of-water room. 

Seacrest is late, and is shown talking to his Dad on the phone like a real person.  Marc Antony is also there to spend time with JLo  (giving ST his first opportunity to sing), and creatively, the "family aspect" is used to segue to our first contestant.

Already, it's # of Steven Tyler songs: 1   # of contestant songs: 0,  and we're off!

Corey Lemoine has an older sister that he didn't meet until he was 14 and they lived 15 minutes away from each other.  How is that possible?   Especially in a small town where people ride horses?   They are best friends and have cute little accents.  She is his #1 fan.   They act slightly more like boyfriend/girlfriend than brother and sister and that wigs me out a little bit, but I remind myself that they are from a small Southern town.  Sister, Brooks, is brought in to judge, and declares she is always honest with Corey.  He throws down Bonnie Raitt, and his voice is good, but a little whiny and overdone. He pops it up way too much. Picture the Backstreet Boys and Justin Bieber teaming up to sing George Strait.  Overall a solid performance, not as "amazing" as the "sister" thinks.  She declares he gives her "chill-bumps".  He's through, but not before he points out his "J-Lo booty"

ST: 1  Contestants: 1 (tied)

Next is Hollie Cavanagh, who is British, and precious.  She's like a little blonde pixie.  She sings Etta James.  It's very strange...  not the normal melody, which normally would be nice (to mix it up), but it was more strange than creative.  Her accent (and different phrasing) makes it obvious she was not born here but that's actually what I liked best about her.  She seemed really sweet and started crying when it seemed like all three judges weren't going to vote positively.  JLo decides to give Hollie another chance with a different song.  It’s Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb”  and it’s going great until she breaks down mid-song, regains composure, starts again in a different key.  Over all it’s a just better than average performance.  She has a great voice but problems staying in key— nevertheless, it’s much better than the last performance, and all three judges say yes (including Randy who changes his vote).  Hollie leaves, and the judges high-five, also ST sings a little song.

ST: 2  Contestants: 3  (Way to go Hollie on the two-fer!)

We see five or six rejected contestants in what I like to call a “montage of tears” – but just like in the Nashville auditions they don’t even show why the people were rejected.  Once again, lame.  This is a singing show, not a crying show.  If I wanted to see people cry I’d turn on America’s Next Top Model or something on Lifetime.

The judges say they’re waiting for the next American Idol to walk through the door, which obviously means we’ll get the opposite, and in walks Rodolfo Ochoa – who looks like a character on “American Dragon: Jake Long” (yes, sadly, I do admit to watching the Disney Channel) and sings “Circle of Life” from the Lion King.  (ooh, a double dose of Disney!) Poorly.  They tell him he’s terrible and it’s a no.  It’s ruled that Rodolfo is sweet and sweet gets you nowhere (at least someone is saying it out loud finally!)  so let’s start seeing some rugged.  Apparently, it’s now time for “Rugged Texas Cowboy montage.”   We are presented with a cowboy who “lets it all out there,”  a beat-boxing cowboy, and a super-high-voice cowboy.  Only one of them sings (letting it all out cowboy) and we are told that unfortunately none of the cowboys can sing.   Briefly we are shown another 5 or 6 cowboys and a clip of “all out there” cowboy letting us know that he is straight, if there was any confusion, and now it’s onto a contestant named…

John Wayne (they even show his birth certificate), but Wayne isn’t his last name,  (it’s Schulz), so that’s increasingly less impressive.  Only good thing about this entire deal is that Seacrest admitted he was a wussy boy and John Wayne’s dad agreed with him.  (His second best move in life, next to naming his son John Wayne).  John Wayne is a real cowboy with a heart of gold.  His mom has breast cancer and her wish was for him to tryout for American Idol (she’s alive and well and sitting right next to him) so we get another I’m-such-a-good-person-for-helping-an-ailing-relative video clip.  (I’m so sick of these!  Show me someone who admits to beating baby seals, it’d be way more interesting.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE volunteer for the American Cancer Society, but you wouldn’t want to watch me sit around and talk about that for a few minutes, would you?)  John Wayne sings some boring country song and it’s pretty ordinary.   I’m so bored by the singing that I actually look at him for the first time since trying to avert my eyes from the video clips and realize he’s actually pretty handsome.  All of the judges really like him and say they think he’ll do well (I think I disagree, we’ll see if I’m right in a few weeks), but he’s through and they bring in the parents to meet the judges.

Steven Tyler didn’t sing at all in this audition and I realize two things at once, 1)  it’s because John Wayne sang country, and 2) AI is doing auditions in a LOT of “country-type” cities… I wonder if that’s on purpose / what they’re looking for?   No mistake that Carrie Underwood is one of the top grossing Idols.  That’s interesting research for another day.   Back to Seacrest who’s whining about his finger (scraped on a belt buckle), which proves John Wayne’s Dad’s point about him being a wuss.

It’s now ST: 2  Contestants:  5   for the song-count.  Not great but better than Nashville already!

That was the end of Day 1?  Really?  We saw 4 contestants!  10 if you count the ones that didn’t even sing.   In a half-hour.  Seriously, Idol, if I wanted to watch why Austin is so awesome I would have tuned into the Travel Channel.  Sigh…

Back after the break and it’s now Day 2.  Why do the judges always come in 3 separate limos on Day 2?  Don’t they stay in the same hotel?   That’s always been a curious thing to me…

J Lo is wearing a white cowl neck top with a sequin black pant and bright red lips with a super high sleek bun.  Not sure that there’s anyone else in the world that could pull that off but her.

Our first contestant of the day is also pretty as a picture, but we quickly find out she’s secretly (well, not so secretly) unabashedly in love with Seacrest.  She claims he’s “the sexiest man alive.” And we see the first interesting montage, of her eyeing him all day to the tune of Lionel Richie’s “Hello.”  She’s very quickly crossing the borderline into psycho stalker (think Wedding Crashers), which is a shame because she’s really pretty and reminds me of an earlier, more innocent looking Katherine McPhee.  Courtney Penry does a chicken impression and ST joins in. (He may have misunderstood “do a chicken.”) Priceless.  She’s a little pitchy but makes up for it with her gorgeousness and star-quality but JLo agrees with me and she’s through with 2/3 judges ‘ vote (Randy was the no).  Seacrest was waiting for her in the room between the curtains (romantic) and helped her prank her family into thinking she didn’t get a golden ticket-   aww, is true love beginning to form?

Next a winner's montage: Shauntel Campos, Alex Carr, & Caleb Johnson   are all through without so much as a sideways bitch-stare from JLo or an inappropriate comment from ST, and we are on a roll.

Another montage of successful contestants, and we see a whole bunch more people going to Hollywood, at least 6 or 7 more people.  We also have our first STism (Steven Tyler ism) as he remarks to a blonde contestant, “where is your pitchfork you little devil?”

Happy Judges, happy contestants, everyone is happy—Seacrest is saying it’s a love fest (a shame Courtney Penry is not still around, eh?) and we get the feeling something is being set up… here it is:

Boyfriend and Girlfriend Jacqueline DunfordNick Fink are practically making out in the contestant holding area.  She’s gorgeous and early twenties, he’s cute for the teenager he is.  That right there is interesting enough, but then we have a “romantic love” montage complete with them running around in the field outside and spinning around until they fall down laughing.   Here’s a tip, folks, if Seacrest takes you out into a field, it’s either because he’s a) going to kill you or b) going to make fun of you.  Don’t do it!   Pretend he’s a vampire or a Jehovah’s Witness or something (whichever is scarier to you) and run away.  There’s no blue screen of death but I’m pretty sure they don’t have one big enough for these two, self proclaimed “American Idol’s first power couple” weirdos. I can’t wait for this.  Jacqueline is first with Duffy’s Mercy.  It is surprisingly excellent.  Nick is next and I realize now he’s a lot cuter than I thought he was at first (He just looks so young, especially compared to her) but it was pretty impressive as well.  Both are original and independent artists (despite how co-dependent they seem around each other) – both are through.  I’m all of a sudden insanely jealous because I would really like to get to go to American Idol Hollywood auditions with my hot boyfriend.  Or maybe I would just like a hot boyfriend.  But I digress, they are through, and through to an entire wedding chapel’s worth of people waiting in the lobby.   I’m also suddenly relieved that there was no blue screen of death- my theory still holds true!  (Although there may be THREE reasons for Seacrest leading you out into a field now!)

Back to Austin after the break and apparently it’s only 11:45. Crap, is this a two hour episode after all?   It must be because we have another backstory.  Here’s a Paula Deen sounding (but vivacious blonde who’s incredibly well dressed)  Janelle Arthur who sings great but we miss most of it to watch Seacrest interview her Anderson Cooper looking Dad.  ST asks her to sing something more upbeat and that’s 15 times more impressive than the slow tune she started out with. She’s great and through with flying colors.

YES!  The next contestant is a 7 ft Armadilo who announces “Hi!  I’m an Armadillo!”   Love this person!  But Randy gets bitchy again which brings us into a Snoop Dogg montage of his quips throughout the day.   A few interesting things here:  1) we see all of the contestants besides armadillo who showed up in costume, one in particular is wearing a Viking-Angel-SheRa concoction and singing “Popular” from Wicked (at least I wasn’t that stupid in my audition),  2)  There’s a girl here in a white dress with a raspy voice that I SWEAR we have seen somewhere before – another thing to research, and 3)  as one girl sings that she’s “dying inside”  Randy says “me too”  and as she continues to sing “but nobody  knows it but me”  he adds “are you sure about that?”  Ha.  Has Simon Cowell taken over Randy Jackson’s body?   Mad props to Armadillo though, who HAS to be a brilliant comedy genius, for walking out of the room begrudgingly carrying the costume over one shoulder and lamenting “I guess I’ll have to be an armadillo for the rest of my life”   -  I love this girl!!  The interview was priceless too (in front of the Blue Screen of Death, but I get no points for after-audition screen sightings).
We’re back and close to the end, which means only one thing,  there is an absolutely amazing audition coming very soon.  But first, it’s a bunch of people crying and cursing and even punching the camera- but they look like they’ve been walking to their cars for forever (one is in the woods, almost), so who can blame them?

While outside we see tambourine players and street performers, some performing blues (you have to go watch this if you can, at about 54 minutes in… a precious little ditty about how they have the “didn’t get through blues”).  One of the street performers is… (wait for it)… our last contestant of the day!   Didn’t see that one coming, did you?   Of course you did.
He’s a Seth Rogen look alike street performer who has a melodica with him.  He says “it gets him attention” and they are playing this crazy whistling music behind it so I’m wondering if I’ll see a blue screen of death soon.  I notice at this moment that the background is turquoise- has it been changing in each audition city?  It was fuschia in New Orleans, I am positive of that.   He’s singing “I don’t need no Doctor” by Ray Charles and he starts with a little scat.  And wow,  Casey Abrams is amazing. You would swear he was the love child of Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and John Mayer if you didn’t know any better.   The judges give him an “all-together yes” which they’ve now been doing for the last contestant in the past few cities—I wonder if the last contestant is a producer choice that they have to let through.  Again, another thing to research.   What is your opinion on this?

Casey plays some of his instrument for the judges, and amazingly Randy Jackson sings this time, although Steven Tyler is on hand with a little crazy dance.   That wraps it up for Austin, but first, our final counts:

# of contestant songs: I lost count… 15?
# of ST curse words:  1/2 (for rhymes with…)
# of ST songs: sadly, only 3
# of Randy Jackson songs: 1
# of JLo cute outfits: 1
# of ST outrageous little dances: 1
# of ST hitting on girls: 1

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