Hooray for Hollywood Week! It’s here! It’s finally here! After nearly a month of often tedious audition shows, American Idol finally gets to Hollywood—and for 2 weeks on prime time television, you just don’t feel as ashamed with yourself for watching it. This is where the real drama awaits! Not that silly rose ceremony with those terribly uncomfortable stools and Ryan Seacrest deciding the fate of one unlucky duckling all while reciting Alec Baldwin’s I Am God Speech from the 1993 film Malice.
(This might get a little weird should Nicole Kidman ever stop by to see her husband, but whatever. Hey, how did Malice get to be 20 years old?)
This year, Idol is dividing up the girls and the boys for Hollywood Week. Tonight, we begin with the boys. Boys. Boys. Busloads of boys, bright-eyed boys, rolling into the City of Angels with Broken Dreams with nothing but a dream and a map to the stars’ homes. If one of them is lucky, they might make it past this week into the perilous semi-final rounds. If they’re even luckier, they may make it to the Top 12, where they will be squired to an animated film premiere and make the acquaintance of a promising C-ish-List character-ish actress who will sweep them off their feet and into their 1920s bungalow in Hollywood Hills. Then, perhaps, they won’t have to return to the people that loved them, and the drab home they left behind, even when the Ryan Seacrest plays God, telling them that American Idol is just like the only Semisonic song you can name. You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.
Now I know I was a little um, undedicated to blogging those audition episodes. I averaged one a week, I know, I know. My traffic makes me wince every time I log in. I’m pretty sure I’ve twice laid eyes upon a Skih, as well as a young man with spinabifida, even an unapologetic gay gentleman dripping in lip liner baring a more than passing resemblance to Adam Lambert but with genuine panache. Otherwise, you’ve seen all the archetypes before, and you will see them again. Keith Urban compares it to The Hunger Games, which I mean, he knows its not a chicken vs. egg thing, right? This year, Idol ponied up the coin to fly the Golden Ticketholders families/friendlies to the festivities, not to be nice or so that everyone could be on a level playing field when going up against the stage moms, but because they wanted to up the tension. The idea of performing in front of the judges and one’s friends and/or family well…WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE IF YOU CAN’T DO THAT ALREADY? The families/friendlies lay in wait, clenching the maps to the stars’ homes their brave loved one handed the before entering the arena.
AND ON THE FIRST DAY OF HOLLYWOOD WEEK, ALEC BALDWIN CREATED…
Was that reverb or was that just me? We kick the competition off with Micah Johnson, who recovers nicely with a soulful yet playful rendition of Elton John’s Bennie and The Jets.
Some other guy sings I Can’t Make You Love Me, serviceably, I suppose, but he should be stuck in the cargo hold of the next airplane out of LAX for singing that godforsaken song. There’s a blond guy who I’m pretty sure is Esteban Powell revisiting the role of Carl Burnett (Dazed & Confused) but this time, doing so in the manner of awkward pubescent in glasses. There is another plump African-American man who sings last, and it is edited to make Micah appear worried. What do these preliminary groups mean? Why are they all matched together? Is it random? Is it vocal range? Doesn’t it always remind you of a police lineup? Since Idol is not offering up the names of anyone other than the intensely earnest Micah Johnson, I assume there is no reason for me to know who any of them are at this point in competition. Wait. Peter, Nanthony(?) and Devin went through, too. As did adorable little Asian Nate Tao, a burly baker named Gabe Brown.
Oh, I see. Too careless in my categorizations, right? Using RACE as an identifiable characteristic now, am I? I see zero problem in introducing Gurpreet Singh Sarin as Gurpreet Singh Sarin. But that looks like its a lot to swallow for your average viewer, so on American Idol, he will simply be known as The Turbanator. Gurpreet moves on to Day 2. Good. I’m happy. Stop calling him The Turbanator.
Once again, we encounter Joplin, MO’s jolliest, soulful leprechaun, Karl Skinner. Hopped up on caffeine and a smile, Karl sings and dances to I Feel Good with gusto, yet is sent home. As is firefighter Dustin Watts. And Dr. Calvin Peters. I have no idea what the others beyond those in Karl Skinner’s group sounded like, yet if any of them stayed…yikes. It was nice barely knowing you guys. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Enjoy your trip to Hollywood. Check out the Promenade. Get your picture taken outside of some historic live music venue on Sunset.
So…its probably in Mariah Carey’s contract that she has to sit in the absolute center of the table, right? There’s no question about it. This is fact. And this Cortez Shaw kid has some mighty, um, versatile pipes for for f**k’s sake, can we just all admit I Will Always Love You is not a very good song at all? Right now, this is me, and in my head, I’m rewriting one my favorite techno track from 1999. Its called Frank Sinatra. Play the song and every time Miss Kitten says Frank Sinatra, replace it with Whitney Houston, because that pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter.
Can we just all listen to Nicki Minaj? MELISMA IS NOT GOOD SINGING. VOCAL ACROBATICS OFTEN LAND FLAT ON THEIR FACE. Just stop this shit, Cortez Shaw, and everyone else who’s ever been praised for having impeccable range. Clearly Nicki (and Randy) lost that battle since Cortez got sent to the next round. None of this changes the fact she spoke the truth.
This is the first time I’ve seen Choir Director Curtis Finch, Jr., but he’s from St. Louis so he’s all right with me for the time being. The Lusky Stank is bubbling in this one, can you feel it? Frankie Ford joins Curtis Finch, Jr. to sing another day.
Happy Black History Month, everybody! I want to believe American Idol got a lot less white this year BUT we’re only on the boys who made it to Hollywood. Those conniving producers will do anything to prevent a WGWG from once again taking the Idol crown. The decks aren’t stacked black because these are the best undiscovered male singlers [who auditioned for this dog & pony show] or because American Idol gives a rat’s ass about diversity. The deck is stacked because Nigel Lythgoe and his merry band of cohorts want a white-ish girl to be driving that Ford home in May.
SO THIS HAPPENED
The first time around, I missed Lazaro Arbos. Lazaro stutters. Part of me wonders, oh, but if he can sing why doesn’t he just not skip talking and sing all the time. (So has he had vocal training but no…? I’m so lost right now.) The other part of me is really thankful for Lazaro Arbos being on the show because the longer he talks, the more time passes and I feel like I’ve been watching this for an hour and I’m only 19 MINUTES in. Put all of that aside, however, even I am not immune to this being all sorts of touching and stuff. I won’t even call out Mr. Arbos for singing Robbie Williams’ Angels, one of the most horrible pop ballads of this CENTURY. Trevor Blakeney and Charles Allen make it through. Mariah Carey keeps making sure the camera gets “her best angle.” Bryant Tadeo thinks he’s going home because he tells Nikki he’s tired and she tells him he’s going to get a lot of rest…at home. PSYCHE. I like Nicki. Her fakes are at least mildly creative.
Brian Rittenberry has a wife with cancer. He shouts out a country song somewhat in tune, I guess. And his wife has/had cancer and he has a son so he’s okay with it. Anyway, the BEST part of Hollywood Week AKA GROUP NIGHT is upon us after the break and its late…I’m tired…but oh how I love the all-night rehearsals, chock-full of drama and blessed breakdowns.
GROUP NIGHT THIS YEAR WITH A SPECIAL TWIST
Desperate to get a female winner, Nigel Lythgoe has packed the palace with a whole lotta FUG. And now he’s CHOSEN the groups and ruled that NO ONE can change their group. I’m rooting for the drag queen and the midget. This is what I want from American Idol. I want the Cuban stutterers, the little people, the out-and-proud men drenched in rhinestones and chainmail. Have you learned from The Voice? Have you? Oh Uncle Nigel. Such the evil wizard behind the box. Sticking “the diva” Jada and and a budding Rob Halford with the corn-fed downhome boys. Oh Uncle Nigel. You’re such a prick. AND JUST ADMIT YOU CHOREOGRAPHED THE APPLE FOR CHRISSAKE. THAT MOVIE IS GENIUS.
Naturally, Michael Orland is there. (Yawn.) Motown is being sung—double yawn, although if you ever find yourself in or near Detroit, MI, you best get your ass to Hitsville U.S.A. because its two of the most phenomenal hours you will ever spend touring such a monumental piece of Americana. I’m also yawning because its late and I’m pretty tired. Do I have to keep the boys’ group names straight yet? OMG THERE IS A CONTESTANT NAMED PAPA PEACHEZ! And there’s something that looks like a second-rate boy band in 1997! And the country dudes and the gay guys have named themselves COUNTRY QUEEN.
Of course there is tension. Iraq War vet Trevor is not feeling More Than Words. There is tension. There is drama, because you know, its probably because there are 2 country dudes and 2 queers. MAYBE ITS BECAUSE ITS ALLEGEDLY 4AM AND EVERYONE IS TIRED. And I’m tired. And I just want to go to bed. Idol, why do you do this to me? You’re like an asshat you don’t even like but sometimes enjoy having sex with when you’re drunk and lonely. But you only have Hollywood Week Sex like, twice a year, ya know? But you keep watching because you remember what it feels like, even though you don’t even like this person but then Hollywood Week rolls around again and then you’re on top and breathless and kind of sweaty and its not even what you remember because ITS BETTER.
Ryan Seacrest likes to reiterate how little—if any—sleep the contestants got the night before. Ryan Seacrest does not sleep. And when you drop to your knees in that chapel, you’re not praying to God your contestant makes it to sing another day. You’re praying to Ryan Seacrest. And he’s sick of being second-guessed.
I want sleep. I want to turn it off, but then…
The Math Heads
Nick Boddington / Mathenee Trucco / Matheus Fernandes / Gabe Brown
Drama-free and loving it—all while billing themselves under a tongue-in-cheek play on drug addicts with bad teeth—The Math Heads belt out Somebody To Love in a way that would probably make Queen proud after a few drinks. We should probably talk about the fact that after these past several years of slogging through American Idol, they have finally given me what I’ve always wanted. A LITTLE PERSON. A little person who can sing and do knee slides while singing. Nicki Minaj AND a midget (yes, yes. I KNOW that’s not appropriate, but I mean it as a term of endearment, you have no idea.), even though she insists on using random accents and faking people out, she’s doing her job and oh anyway, its almost 3am and I’m filled with mirth because I’m watching American Idol and there’s a midget and oh how I want to see Country Queen succeed even though they’re like, this show’s version of the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. MIDGETS AND DRUG JOKES AND DRAG QUEENS I NEVER WANT THIS TO END.
Johnny Keyser / Kareem Clark / Some other guys
Overly confident with his really white teeth, Johnny Keyser can’t sing The Four Tops out of a paper bag. The other guys don’t fair much better, Guess they should have practiced or something. I was about to call Johnny an ignorant prick for bitching how he had never heard the song before, but only one guy in the quartet did. Shockingly, Kareem is the only one who is sent home. I’m all sorts of confused because all of it sounded dreadful.
Curtis Finch, Jr. / Charlie Askew / AWESOME NAMELESS GUY I WANT TO HUG
Hot damn! Charlie gets sick and Curtis Finch, Jr. reveals himself to be a first class bitch! I can’t decide if I love it or hate it. At the moment, since there’s an endearingly quasi-awkward teenage boy in the group who kind of reminds me of my dear friend Hannah, I tend to prefer the positive approach towards Charlie and his minor illness displayed by AWESOME NAMELESS GUY I WANT TO HUG. Their soulful, take you to church rendition of Bruno Mars’ Lazy Song gives Curtis ample time to showboat, but every member proves they’ve got something. Its a completely different take on the song. It is kind of…fantastic. Standing ovation from the judges. Everyone goes through. Everyone hugs. Commercial break.
We are only halfway through tonight’s show. Must sleep. Consider this PART ONE. Let’s stretch Hollywood Week out as long as we can because kids, we know it’s all downhill from here.