During the second week of auditions, ‘American Idol’ searched for talent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Nashville. Already, I’m starting to get excited about this season and the changes the show has made. Steven and J.Lo have brought in an energy and excitement that’s palpable. Even Ryan seems much more relaxed and almost personable now that he isn’t distracted by Simon in his tight shirts.
The standouts from Milwaukee were a 16-year-old kid with a crazy low voice; Jerome, who auditioned in space boots and also does bar mitzvahs and weddings; Molly, the White House intern who took a punch to the face from Randy; Steven, the CPA auditor; Scott Dangerfield, who’s a warbler with tween-appeal; and Naima, a Macy Gray type who’s bound to cause a meltdown in the group round. Then for the finale, we met Chris, who has a fiancé with a traumatic brain injury. All in all, the judges sent 53 to Hollywood. 53! And we only saw about 10 of them. Hollywood week is going to be brutal.
On the bad side, we had a DJ who should stick to using his voice for speaking. We had J.Lo wearing a shirt with a G-clef. We had criers. We had people who tried to sing Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber. We had a Frank Sinatra singer who wanted a hug and a sip of Randy’s Coke. There was a guy who did a back handspring into a camera guy. Oh, and then there was the Civil War re-enactor who described his father thusly: “People think my dad is a hippie. Hippies believe in sex. He hasn’t gone anywhere with anyone since my mom left.” Awkward.
Then there were Steven Tyler’s mixed-colloquialisms that could only come from someone who’s snorted Ambien and fallen offj the stage one too many times. One was along the lines of buttering biscuits and sucking ducks. There was another that went: “It was like Vanilla Fudge and Eleanor Rigby. It’s a no.” I have no idea what he’s talking about half the time, but he is pure entertainment and I love it. God willing and the crik don’t rise, he can keep him self out of rehab until the end of the season.
In Nashville, we started with a creepy Packers fan who sang “I Hope You Dance.” I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation for why people who sing nasally are completely tone deaf. I think we’ve got enough anecdotal evidence from this show to fund a study. Also on the bad side, we had Latoya, the recording artist who was an epic self-absorbed delusional train wreck. We also had Stormy, Miss Teen USA, who did get a golden ticket with her, um, “talent”.
On the up side of Nashville, we had Chelsee and Rob, exes who still perform together and both of whom could really sing. We had Adrienne, a black girl who grew up on a farm with white parents. I really liked her voice, and Steven almost cried. We had tween-appeal with Paul, who sang “Maggie May,” but had a so-so voice. We had Danny, who grew up in a house with 700 foster kids. He just has an okay voice, but a great story and he’s willing to pretty himself up if necessary. Lastly, we had Lauren, who’s 15 and has a cousin with a brain tumor. Lauren can sing. She’s definitely making it to the Top 20.
Overall, although auditions aren’t my favorite, I’m pleased that the show is spending much more time focusing on the positive. The pace is much lighter than previous seasons. It also helps that it’s down to three hours a week. Next week, we go to Austin, where I’m sure we’ll find more good singers, be tormented by tone deafness, and Randy might get a word in edgewise.