Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

American Idol: “Auditions #6: Portland, OR”

Illustration for article titled American Idol: “Auditions #6: Portland, OR”

Modest Mouse. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. Florence and the Machine. Has anybody else been surprised by the interstitial music that Idol’s been playing lately? It sounds like it’s catering more to old people like myself than the 16-year-olds it was flaunting last season. I’m taking this as a potential good omen.

Our penultimate (yes!) audition episode was a nice blend of actual talent and funny weirdos. The sob stories were a blend of legitimately heart-tugging (how can you deny the Liberian refugee or the lady taking care of her stroke victim boyfriend?) and intriguing. (Which no-good lowlife basketball player was Britnee Kellogg married to? I will reveal below. Don’t get excited.)

I’m not sure how I felt about the instant makeover of Brittany Zika, the “hipster tripster.” Her combination of Elvis Costello glasses, fedora and suspenders was a bit much (that plus her torchy way of singing reminded me a bit of Siobhan Magnus from season nine). The judges liked her singing but requested that she change up her image. Once she did, she became a little boring to me. Maybe just stick with one hipsterish item, Brittany, so we can tell you apart from the other blondes and Brittanies.

Ben Purdom, the burping, nose-blowing guy with the unlikely combination of thinning-yet-long hair, made me laugh with his audition, despite the fact that I never trust a guy who wears an unbuttoned plaid short-sleeved shirt over a T-shirt. I think I preferred his jazzy version of “Superbass” to the original.

Jermaine Jones, to me, was what Jacob Lusk probably was supposed to sound like. I always like the contestants who come up through musical families, and for some reason, even though I’m a short girl, I’m a sucker for super-tall guys (Jermaine is 6 feet, 8-and-a-half inches tall). He sang “Superstar,” and while he wasn’t always in tune (you could tell from the buckets of sweat running down his face that he was nervous), the tone of his voice gave me goosebumps. I loved him admonishing his screaming mom over the phone not to break the speaker almost as much as I loved the screaming photo the producers used to illustrate her.

There are a lot of spurned people this season. I wonder how many of them will make it through Hollywood. It would be strangely entertaining if the entire roster of this season was made up of people whose sole reason for being on the show was to stick it to the former bitches and assholes in their lives. Britnee Kellogg, a single mom raising two cute little boys, sang “You’re No Good” in honor of the basketball-playing husband who left her after she supported him chasing his dreams. J.Lo was feeling Britnee’s anger. To wit, she said “Britnee I am feeling you right now!” Britnee got through, but more importantly, who is her ex-husband? Turns out, not a famous basketball player, but you can read all about Matt Conboy here if you like.


I think Sam Gershman, the curvy second coming of Phoebe Cates, won Best Worst Singer for me. Somewhere inside her was actually probably an okay singer, but she warbled “I’m a Woman” like it was a joke and she was just there to show off her (admittedly wonderful) boobs. But it was refreshing, at least, that even though she was one of those hot bod auditioners (“Could you be any more perky?” said Steven), she was fully clothed. Right? Bright side, people.

Naomi Gillies and Jessica Phillips both brought back the talent, although I didn’t love either of them as much as the judges did. I thought Naomi’s take on “Cryin’” had too much affect going on. I would have been annoyed if I were Steven Tyler and she had added so many curlicues to the melody. Jessica Phillips is the woman helping her boyfriend try to recover from a stroke. She had an energy to her take on Faith Evans’ “Again” that I didn’t expect after such a sad story, but I think I expected her voice to move me more. Still, I like her and hope she does well in Hollywood.


I’m choosing to end on Ben Harrison, the “I’m adorable!” guy who had something of a Chuckie vibe, thanks in part to what I perceived to be a latent sense of anger at the universe for making him a grown man who looks like a cherub with hair that looks like a delicious pastry. He sang an incredibly high-pitched version of “Somebody to Love” and ended it with a kiss. I would have put him through. I’m just saying.

Only one more, guys! And then on to Hollywood week, when everyone starts to hate each other and this show gets good.


Stray observations:

  • “Did you fall for me? I’m much too young to be this old.”
  • Jennifer scored 100 percent from me tonight in terms of styling and outfits.
  • Sam Gershman, I got the “Ira Gershman” joke, don’t worry.
  • I thought Romeo Diahn’s choice to sing Bob Marley was almost a little too spot-on. Jennifer agreed with me. We’ll see how he handles other song choices.
  • Speaking of Romeo, I liked his big friend asking Ryan Seacrest, “So who are you?” Good question.