American Idol: Week 2

So, fellow Idol watchers, let’s reconvene to talk about last week’s episodes.  Did you, like me, hover around your TV at 7:30 PM on Tuesday night, anxiously waiting for the excitement and fun to begin?  Were you happy?  Were you disappointed?  Were you less excited on Wednesday?  Let’s discuss after the jump!

This week we’re heading from the trash heaps of Jersey and the gumbo bowls of New Orleans to Milwaukee and Nashville.  If the past winners are any indication, there’s a good chance that after the auditions this week, we’ll have already glimpsed our next American Idol, provided of course that the Idol is pre-christened and not a come-from-behind dark horse.  If you really buy into the Southern Idol stuff, then it’s probably better to hold out for the Atlanta auditions, too, because then a sighting is virtually guaranteed.

I’m not going to bother doing a full play-by-play recap for you – in my opinion, Entertainment Weekly handles that better than anyone else, so I recommend that you jump on over there and check out all the details.  And I confess, I don’t remember enough to write a complete recap that would be of any use anyway.  Instead, I’ll give you my highlights, good and bad.

The Judges
Personally, they’re nothing to write home to Indiana about.  I thought the introduction was sufficiently jazzy enough to get you excited about the new judging panel, and they make for a diverse, if slightly snooze-inducing group.  So far, they seem to play well together, but they’re far from the most exciting group.  While I get that Idol is trying for a whole new warm and fuzzy mentor feel this season, and on some levels, that’s commendable, but I would expect group of people who are building and selling entertainment – not the best singers in America, as they want you to believe – to set a better example.  What’s that old adage?  Do as I say, not as I do?

Steven Tyler had me worried at first, with his chiming in and screeching and other various vocal acrobatics.  I thought to myself, “I hope he doesn’t do this all season, because it’s going to get old really fast.”  So far, he doesn’t seem like he’s going to make a habit of it, and he’s been providing some thoughtful, constructive critiques of the contestants.

The amount of make-up Jennifer Lopez’s stylist piles onto her lovely face really concerns me.  Either she’s as much of a diva as people claim and everyone is afraid to tell her how bad her make-up looks or her make-up artist just really has it out for her, which is bad for her, but good entertainment for us.  She seems to be playing the role of the soft-hearted, doe-eyed mother hen, which would be a nice balance, except without someone like Simon as a counterpoint, it’s becoming a bit cloying.  Her wardrobe is mostly fabulous, and she hasn’t seemed super creeped out by all the fan worship…yet.

The Contestants
There’s a few from last week’s auditions who stood out for me.  I don’t remember most of their names, but hopefully you’ll be able to figure out who I’m referring to.

  • Opera Girl – Somewhat grating on the nerves.  I remember her from when she sang opera, and I don’t like her anymore now than I did then.  I’ll bet she doesn’t get out of Hollywood.
  • Big Snooki – I admit it, I groaned – a lot – when she came on.  Between the hair (What the heck was she doing?  Is ratty, uncombed hair fashionable now?), the horrible accent (and that says a lot from someone who grew up in Massachusetts), and the eye-searingly offensive attire, I was expecting the worst, but I was pleasantly surprised.  She has a nice, powerful voice, and I’m glad they put her through, even if a lot of that decision was likely on her Jersey entertainment factor.
  • The Embarrassment from Springfield – When the contestant details revealed that she was from Springfield, MA I just hung my head in shame (Massachusetts had already embarrassed itself with the contestant from Worcester).  And I’m really, really, really disappointed that the judges put her through.  Her vocals were on the weaker side, and I am never a fan of groveling.  It will be fun to watch her unravel on national TV in Hollywood though.
  • The Twin – I really hope you know who this is, because he was all kinds of awesome.  They really, really played up his sad story, but he had the vocals to back it up.  When his twin brother ran in at the end and hugged him, I cried.  He’s got everything Idol loves – good looks, hardship in his life, and good singing ability.  I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make it out of Hollywood.
  • Miniature Carrot Top – He is the classic Idol reject – the awkwardly self-assured kid who gets the feature spot just so we can all giggle at how horribly socially inept he is and then laugh at him when he’s shocked to learn he can’t sing.  Except that that he can sing, and very well.  Will he make it through Hollywood?  Jury’s out on that.
  • Teenage Stripe Surprise – This kid really blew me away.  First off, I love that he’s 15 years old and he chose an Otis Redding song.  Any man who can sing “Sittin’ on the Deck of the Bay” with that much soul has got my vote.  I hope he goes far.
  • The Girl who Had the Baby with the Ear Problems – I want to root for her; her story was touching, and her vocals were good.  But I want to root for her because she’s a good singer (she is), and not because she has a baby with health issues.  I hope she keeps the shout outs and references to her baby and their post-Idol better lives to a minimum.

There were certainly some others – Pollyanna (that super cheery 16 year old girl), some guy named Jacee or something like that (am I close?) – but these are the ones who immediately come to mind, having been removed from the show for a few days.  Did I forget anyone?

Some Random Thoughts
The minimum age is now at least 15!  That’s great and all, but it’s a bit unnerving to hear kids talk about how being on Idol is all they’ve ever dreamed about since there were 6.  I was at university when Idol debuted.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be on “Star Search” with Ed McMahon.  Is that the same?  I feel like it’s not, and I’ll get into that another time.

Idol is really dialing it up with the sob stories this year.  Most of the featured contestants had some type of sad story to go with their talent or lack thereof.  The one story I was surprised by was the girl from Kosovo – now, if you know me in real life, you know that I’m not the best at following or even pretending to be interested in politics or current events (for shame, I know), but that struck me as a bit risky.  In the past, Idol has shied away from any type of political overture, and while they’re not getting political here, it seemed like an easy way to alienate a small part of its consumer base.

Things I’m Looking Forward to This Week
This is easy:

  • The LARPing – Yes, you read that right.  Last week’s preview had footage of some genuine LARPers.  Idol better not be holding out and using that as a hook to get me to tune in every week, or I’m going to be very disappointed.
  • The guy who punches the air and makes a cringe-worthy reference to the “Straight to the moon!” line from “The Honeymooners”.

American Idol is on Wednesday and 8/7c and Thursday 8/7c this week.  I’ll see you back here, same time, same place, next week.

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