I found a lot to like in this Nashville audition episode but a lot to complain about, too, which kind of makes it an extra juicy episode.
My beef is that a lot more of the “moments” of the show seem extra-scripted this season. If that’s the case, I suppose it makes sense, as the show took a big leap, and I’m sure the producers are doing this to try to pull us in, but I prefer a boring person. I liked Adam Lambert and Kris Allen because they seemed like nice, real guys, and you weren’t cheering for them because your calls would let them save the orphanage or whatever.
I’m pretty sure the first girl, the squeaky-voiced blonde with the silver eyeshadow, was a fake-bad audition, so let’s skip over her.
Then we got to Chelsee Oaks and Rob Boilin, two former lovers who duet. At first, I thought their story was complete crap: They were too cute, their story was too perfect (maybe they’ll fall in love again on the show!), their outfits too down-home-tailored, their dueting too good for this not to be some bullshit story for attention. But I was alerted that they sang together on a show called Can You Duet (that I would sincerely like to check out) and are indeed exes. I liked Chelsee more than I liked Rob, and apparently that’s how Noami Judd felt too, so go ‘head me. They closed the segment with that song “Need You Now,” which is a contemporary country song I have a soft spot for, so it was a real roller-coaster of a three-minute segment for me.
Then we got two pretty interesting characters, the first being Allen Louis, who is a tattoo artist who could play a Hell’s Angel if they made a musical about Altamont. I didn’t think he was really insane until I saw the way he was strumming on his guitar, even though before that, he was chasing a woman around, pretending that she was a cow that he was going to herd. I also figured he was racist, too. When he said that he and Randy have different musical tastes, he said “I’m vanilla; you might be chocolate.” But mostly this made me crave ice cream. When he sang, he actually didn’t sound too bad, but he was little local metal band good, not Idol good. But Allen took rejection with gracious aplomb. I think the judges were kind of punchy at this point, as then Randy asked Jennifer, “Are you saying we took an untamed tiger and turned it into a baby?” (which doesn’t make any sense whatsoever), but I liked that in response she mimicked snapping a whip.
Jennifer’s invisible whip got snatched away by the next contestant, Stormi (ugh) Henley, a Miss Teen USA girl, who you could tell was a pageant girl even before she said it. She wants to see how far she can make it on her own talents and not just her face and her cans. Yeah, I said it! I went there! Deal with it! I sort of can’t believe that Steven said, “You have a beautiful little tight squeaky voice.” Jennifer was not feeling it, but Randy liked her and as Steven dithered, Stormi covered her eyes like a widdle baby puppy and peeked frough in the most adowablest way ever. She got through. Whatever, she’ll be gone Hollywood week.
I felt mildly manipulated by Adrienne Beasley’s story (“Black girl adopted by kindly older white couple who work on a Kentucky farm! They love each other! You WILL be touched, God damn you!!!”) But I really did like her audition: She sang clearly and simply in what I heard as sort of a country-soul style. Steven seemed very pleased by her performance, and Randy praised her ability to use the acoustics of the room well, which I think is an actual musical compliment, as opposed to “you have the wowie-zowie factor.”
Here I would like to say that while Jennifer looked very lovely in the first day of auditions, I did not like her wardrobe/makeup in day two.
For some reason I found Jackie Wilson, the blonde girl who seemed way more all-American than Stormi, very appealing. Except for the fact that she is dating a blackjack dealer who is also a senior citizen, but whatever. She sang Aretha Franklin so well she made the judges applaud, which never happens. “So unassuming!” Randy marveled, and I wonder if that’s truly an accidental theme this season, or whether Idol producers figure that after Susan Boyle, people might want to root more for people who look regular. I liked that Jennifer made a mental note to hold all the other singers to her standard.
Latoya Moore, AKA “Younique” (Me? Nique?) was a bad/delusional contestant who looked ten years younger than 26 and had the impressive skill of having a great vibrato while being a horrible singer. But I did enjoy the moment where, after the judges rejected her, she lingered at the very edge of the stage still singing to the judges. They got a funny camera angle on it showing how weird it looked, her lurking on the edges like that. Steven later told Randy not to be too mean to the contestants, and one of the touchy-feely things I like about this season is that the judges don’t seem to waste too much time bickering in front of the contestants.
Then we heard a bunch of good male singers like Paul McDonald (hipster Rod Stewart), Danny Pate (big “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” dude), and Jimmie Allen (cute guy helping keep nerdy glasses fashionable).
Then it was Matt Dillard’s turn. OK, so, naturally, I think taking in foster children, especially special needs foster children, is one of the most wonderful things a person can do. But give me a break already, Idol. You can only be asked to cry so many times per week (and please note that I don’t cry but I resent the implied obligation). Anyway, Matt Dillard was the guy in the overalls whose parents raise foster kids. Unexpectedly, he sang John Groban like Josh Groban, only higher and thinner, sort of like maybe the cantor at a small church or something. The judges seemed on the fence about him, but of course whenever they’re on the fence on someone like this, only one thing can happen: We cut to the hall door, with the anxious family waiting. The door cracks and then a triumphant golden ticket comes out. That happened twice this episode, so I was annoyed by the predictable outcome and identical reveal.
Finally, we got to Lauren Alaina, whose sob story was that her beloved cousin was recovering from a brain tumor. Ryan hawked this audition as the best of the day, and I wish I hadn’t heard that because all I could think, was, “Really?” I thought she was kind of breathy. Good, for sure, but not amazing. But while her singing “Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” with Steven Tyler with her family there did not at all seem spontaneous, it was still kind of cool. And that sums up the episode. Fakey but entertaining.
- I can touch my tongue to my nose too, Steven!
- I am sorry to tell you that for a while “Stormi” was a trending topic on Twitter earlier tonight. I’m glad to tell you right now that that she’s gone and “Younique” is rightfully in her place.
- Is it me, or does the Ryan Seacrest presence seem toned down this season? Maybe it’s because Simon’s not there?
- I thought it was very nice that Steven wondered whether the contestants felt as good as he felt telling them they aced their auditions.
- Did anybody else catch the mean edit of next week’s teaser, when Ryan said “Texas-sized talent”?