I know I’m in full-on nerd mode when I say this but I’m happy season 9 of Idol has started! Yes, this show can be corny and full of deluded, scary folks, but every once in a while they get it right and find a real star among the wannabes (I loved Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood during their respective seasons). Also, while I covered season 8 last year, Poncho dropped by, became one of the most insightful and witty commenters about the show, and has since continued to hang out here and become my cyber buddy. American Idol brings people together!
It’s too early to call anything but here are quick takes about last night’s premiere:
- My favorites include Benjamin Bright with his smooth Aaron Neville-esque delivery of the Beatles’s “All My Loving,” the stunning Ashley Rodriguez (push-down-the-stairs alert!) and her rendition of Alicia Keyes’s “If I Ain’t Got You,” Katie “I Love My Portuguese Grandma” Stevens doing “At Last” better than Beyoncé at the Inaugural Ball, and Justin Williams, who made ME feel good when he sang “I’m Feelin’ Good,” Michael Bublé-style.
- I’ve said it before but I’ll repeat myself here: Having Victoria Beckham judge a singing contest is like having Stevie Wonder judge Project Runway. How would she know anything about good singing? Everything was “nice.” Sample critique: “You have a nice smile, nice look, nice voice, nice personality. I say yes.” Thanks for that.
- Most supportive relatives go to Amadeo Diricco‘s Italian clan, Bosa Mora‘s Nigerian folks, and Katie Stevens’s huge family who made Ryan Seacrest cry.
- Funniest critique—Simon’s dissection of Norberto‘s audition, saying how weird it was that he sounded like a three-year-old girl but looked like LaToya Jackson with a beard, made me laugh. How will we manage without our favorite judge next year? Who could possibly replace him?
- Did you spark to any singers last night?
After Idol, I switched to Better Off Ted on my DVR list. Please, please, please watch this show so it won’t die. The laughs-per-minute ratio is higher than any other show currently on and yes, that includes Modern Family and Glee, two of my favorites.
Two fresh episodes were on last night—I fear ABC is burning them off while anticipating cancelation—and the first one was a riot. The company Ted works for, Veridian Dynamics, is a really inappropriate corporation known for sending out memos full of typos then refusing to own up to them out of pride. The latest memo says, “Employees must NOW use offensive or insulting language in the workplace.”
Because higher-ups won’t admit they meant “NOT” instead of “NOW,” employees, even meek ones, let fly an endless barrage of rude insults at each other. The putdowns get more creative as people become more empowered and start enjoying telling others how they really feel. I laughed so hard, I had to repeatedly rewind to catch all the dialogue.
Even if you don’t watch much TV, sample it on ABC.com or hulu.com (the episode I mentioned is number 208, titled “The Impertence of Communicationizing”). I guarantee you’ll laugh. If not, come back here and tell me off since you must NOW use offensive language in the comments!
A.I. returned Tuesday night and was basically the same old song, which is a good thing. I’ll admit—I abhor reality TV but love my A.I. I liked the new judge, Kara DioGuardi—she was honest without being brutal and she could sing. She seemed to fit in with the others just fine (in case of a tie, Simon gets the last say).
The team was in Phoenix, AZ and my favorite wannabes were:
- Emily Wynne-Huges, with the pink hair, pierced lip and tattoos, who ripped through “Barracuda” with confidence and a cool rock voice. Could she be this year’s Carly Smithson?
- Stevie Wright (named after Steve Nicks), who glided through a few bars of “At Last” in a smoky, husky voice which belied her age (16)
- Deanna Brown, a beautiful platinum blonde who sang “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” like a black woman with ache and soul
- Arianna Afsar, a perky, cute-as-a-kitten 16-year-old who sang “Put Your Records On” with surprising range, huskiness and power.
The girls were definitely stronger than the guys last night, at least the ones they showed. Even the males who got through to Hollywood were just good but not extraordinary. J.B. Ahfua from Utah had a big voice but no stage presence and Michael Sarver, a stocky 27-year-old “roughneck,” was likeable but bland. Scott MacIntyre, the mostly blind guy who went to college at 14, had a nice but forgettable voice. Though I think it was cool of him to audition, the producers are probably just putting him through so they can milk his handicap and try to make it a tearjerker.
No A.I. discussion is complete without mentioning the freaks. Standouts for me were:
- Michael Gurr, who hissed through Carrie Underwood’s “Starts with Goodbye” in a breathy, sibilant, unintelligible voice reminiscent of Gollum. I half expected him to call one of the judges “Precious.” When he was rejected, he collapsed and had to be given water and a banana
- Randy Madden, who put on a black rocker outfit complete with bandanna and attempted “Livin’ on a Prayer.” The dude couldn’t stop crying and Simon called him a drama queen
- X-Ray AKA Aundre Caraway, who had infectious energy and a big, beautiful smile but sang a weird song he wrote called “Cactus.” He thought he was a mariachi but sported Jheri curls
- Katrina Darrell, who wanted to make out with Ryan and have his babies. If that weren’t weird enough, she auditioned in a bikini so skimpy the producers had to censor her ass by placing the A.I. emblem over it at one point. Her voice had good tone but she was off key and flat in places. She also had a bad attitude and disrespected Kara. None of this mattered because Randy and Simon liked her (Randy: “Do you go to all your auditions [in a bikini]?” “No, just this one,” Darrell answered. “Smart,” Simon quipped) and she’s off to Hollywood. I have a feeling she’s gonna get nasty there but she won’t get too far. We’ve never had a trampy Idol.
In another two-hour segment tomorrow, the team visits Kansas City, hometown to last year’s winner, David Cook. Come back tomorrow night and every week thereafter for my recaps as the competition heats up.
Who were your faves? Did you agree with the judges’ choices? Who did you think were unfairly rejected? Did you see anyone last night who had Top 5 potential? Leave a comment!
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