A week ago Tuesday, the second season of Fox’s “American Idol” kicked off two weeks of auditions held in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Nashville, Tenn. and Detroit. Millions of hopefuls traveled hours from home and camped out for days in freezing temperatures just for a chance to audition for Randy, Paula, and of course, the infamous Simon Cowell.
While the show is supposed to be centered on pop star prospects and the choosing of America’s new idol, Simon and the less talented “singers” are the real ratings grabbers in the early episodes. Wicked though it may be, we all sit on the safe side of our television sets and groan as some brave soul croaks out their version of “Like a Virgin” or “Respect.” Then we nod and applaud as Simon says something to the effect of “you may be the worst singer in the entire world.” Then we feel contrite as tears fill their eyes and they walk, defeated, out of the door. Then we tune in next week to repeat the process.
Among the best retorts from the judges’ table was one from Randy Jackson when they were in Detroit.
“I think the mo done left the town,” said Jackson, after a particularly dreadful audition.
Among the worst of the hopefuls was Daniel who gave a new meaning, and in fact, new words to our national anthem. This probably isn’t a completely accurate, but at one point his song went something like this: “Rockets bled fair, bombs up in there, gave broom to the night, la, la, la, yeah, yeah, yeah.” More painful than the song was perhaps when Simon told him he was one of a kind he thought it was a compliment. Another fun, outrageous center was Charm. His multi-colored hair and interesting vocal stylings were hilarious– sadly he will not make another appearance on the show.
Surprisingly, another artistic failure made it to Hollywood, barely. After what seemed like hours of begging, flirting with and kissing Randy, over enthusiastic Alyson was given the green light. Don’t look for her in the final cast. And a girl who thought it would be cute to dress up as Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” even though she can sing, was also sent to Hollywood.
Of course every so often you get to hear the singers who give you goose bumps and blow you away. It’s exciting because you just know that you’re going to hear a well- deserved positive comment out of Simon’s mouth. And it is just as exciting to see their jubilant reaction as it is to see the “five minutes of fame crowd” walk away with tear-stained faces. When all the cities were covered, Simon pointed out that this year’s show is going to be a contest between the talent and the look.
Interestingly, the best singers were usually somewhat odd looking and those who slipped by were accepted because they were extremely attractive and charismatic people. It will be interesting to see if the 13-year-old girls of the world who voted Justin Guarini into the final round will be the prominent force in this decision, or if sound conscious voters will rule out.
Either way, “American Idol’s” second season promises to be full of entertainment, whether of the traditional sort or the devilish and insulting sort that Simon brings to the table.