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American Idol: Salt Lake City Auditions


American Idol

Salt Lake City Auditions

Season 8 , Episode 6

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Hello there, American Idol fans!  Claire is not feeling well tonight, possibly having been sickened by the sight of Paula Abdul and Kara DioGuardi’s faux-lesbionic makeout session last night.  And whenever Claire feels like throwing up, she thinks of me, or maybe it’s the other way around, so here I am to guide you through tonight’s episode. 

There won’t be any girl-on-girl action this time around, folks, because tonight’s auditions are in Salt Lake City, UT, home of wayward sincerity robot David Archuleta, and they don’t go for that sort of thing here.  After a failed decades-long attempt to make this white-breaded Mormon HQ synonymous with jazz, the city fathers will tonight try for the slightly easier task of making SLC synonymous with radio-friendly middle-of-the-road pop-rock.  I was going to ask why anyone would get up at 5 in the morning to stand in line for this show, but I guess there isn’t much to do the night before.  (Thanks for being part of this site, Utah readers!  We’ll miss you.)

David Osmond, one of what must be eight or nine hundred thousand Osmonds in the greater Salt Lake City area, is the first to audition.  Being from one of the most famous American celebrity families ever marks him as a bit of a ringer, and besides, he’s too old at 29 to qualify, but who am I to argue?  His sob story is multiple sclerosis – he’s got it (in remission) and his dad was “driven out of the business” simply because he could no longer sing or play guitar.  I’m just not comfortable with this dude.  He gets compared to David Archuleta, which is correct insofar as he is terminally bland, and his song (“Something Within Me” by Take Six, the first of many, many contemporary praise numbers we’ll hear tonight) gets him a bit of a rank-out by the judges, just as if he weren’t a mortal lock.

The first freakshow entry of the night is one Tara Mathews, billed by Ryan Seacrest as “Salt Lake City’s only goth”.  Sadly, as I say elsewhere on the internet, no.  Tara is flat and awful, but aren’t we past the point where an overweight goth girl is something shocking?

Tara kicks off a mini-cavalcade of deluded oddballs, including a guy named Rick Kagel, who looks like someone hit Dee Snider on the side of the head with a trekking pole, and Chris Kirkham, who actually isn’t that bad a singer but ruins his chances by bringing along a friend who is some sort of sex-offender furry in a pink bunny costume who proceeds to dry-hump Simon Cowell into a near-coma.  Which reminds me:  the producers may have thrown out a tone-it-down flag, because there’s very little interaction or excitement out of the judges tonight.

Next up is the rather easy-on-the-eyes Frankie Jordan, who looks and sounds like Amy Winehouse, except with a cute baby instead of a K-hole.  Her performance of “You Know I’m No Good” shows she’s got a great voice, but bad timing; I expected to like her more than I did.  She’ll have to go big instead of smooth to make it very far.

After that, a big surprise:  Megan Corkrey, a divorced single mom with a tattoo of Castle Wolfenstein on her arm, seems like she’ll be a pretty boring choice at first, but in fact, her rendition of “Can’t Stop Lovin’ That Man of Mine” is a wow:  jumpy, jazzy, interestingly interpreted, and super-confident.  I like her a lot, as does the panel.  A little light goes on in Ryan’s eyes as he notes that Simon knows the word ‘love’.

Austin Sisneros is up next, and he makes me immediately regret my dislike of emotionally manipulative pity narratives by reminding me how I hate cocky type-A overachievers even more.  Austin is the president of his high school class, which he makes out to be a duty just shy of monitoring America’s nuclear capability in its dire importance, and generally comes across as an insufferable grind who you instantly want to punch in the face.  He says he’s going on Idol to “inspire people”.  Oh, thank you so much, Austin!  Your unmemorable performance of “When I Look to the Sky” by Train, the blandest band on Earth, has taught a weary nation to love again!  He’s so bland that he should probably be in Train, and he tops it all off by identifying “It Takes a Village” by Raffi (!) as “an old soul song”.  The only thing that in any way mitigates Austin’s total unlikeability is that he won’t go anywhere in the real competition.

The next one to get a golden ticket is gargantuan 16-year-old Samoan Taylor Vaifanua, who, like every tall, strongly built woman to make this show from now until its cancellation, gets compared to Jordan Sparks.  She’s not nearly as polished as Jordan was, and she doesn’t go big enough in the audition to make much even out of the MOR praise-rock she’s singing, but there’s something nicely rough abut her voice.  Randy Jackson overhypes her like crazy to remind people that he’s still on the show.

Hippie girl Rose Flack is the last contestant of the night, and she easily wins this week’s mawkishness sweepstakes, since two dead parents trumps one with MS or some stupid cute toddler.  “If I have to go back to Idaho without the golden ticket,” says Rose, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do.”  A lot of acid would be my guess.  Rose is also this week’s pick for girl-who-gets-past-because-Simon-wants-to-do-her, and the lingering camera movement up her bare legs is more than a little creepy, but she sang Carol King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” pretty well – I think the judges were actually a bit hard on her, and it’ll be fun to see what happens when she gets a chance to belt.

Tomorrow:  Claire returns, and all the judges are killed in a typhoon!  Apparently!

Grade:  B

Stray observations: 

- What is with this ‘90s-era flannel thing Ryan Toothpaste is rocking?  He looks about as butch as an aluminum knuckle.

- There’s a teaser for Kelly Clarkson’s okay new song that features her hurling stuff out a window, but in a playful instead of an angry way.  Kelly needs to access her crazy side again.

- If I built a drinking game around how many times Simon said “It’s not gonna work, is it?”, I would be dead by now.

- Ryan keeps saying that Salt Lake City is ‘friendly’.  Insert your own racially coded interpretation here.

- I don’t know about you, but I don’t see nearly enough footage of a ventriloquist crying.