Recap: ‘American Idol’ Auditions — New York City and Puerto Rico

01.29.09 9 years ago

Michael Becker/FOX

“TV Ratings: ‘Idol’ delivers rare Thursday win to FOX” — I’m not Kreskin, but I’m assuming that will be tomorrow morning’s ratings headline. So at least somebody will have gotten something out of Thursday (Jan. 29) night’s “American Idol.”

Viewers certainly didn’t.

Hey “Idol” producers, what happened with New York City (East Rutherford, New Jersey, actually, if memory serves) and San Juan, Puerto Rico? How could two whole audition cities have been unable to yield a full episode of compelling contestants when you combined them?

The judges have been bad-mouthing the Puerto Rico auditions to the media for months and at least now we know why. I suppose it was better to only waste a half-hour on that mistake, rather than spending any more time mining cliches about those muy caliente Puerto Ricans and their lust for la vida loca.

But New York City has a potentially massive talent pool. And allegedly 26 people were put through. How could you not have found enough winning auditioners to fill even 30 minutes?

The mind boggles after the bump…

My actual theory on why New York/New Jersey was such bad TV? I think the “Idol” second unit producers missed their flight. As a result, there was nobody around to shoot B-roll or to do the leg work to tell the inspirational stories of any of the singers. Or maybe that all happened, but the tapes got erased by accident. Left with no backstories on any of the contestants, the producers were forced to throw in the towel on Gotham. A tragedy, but not a big one.

Does that seem plausible?

So left with one audition city SNAFU and one audition city dud, the producers vamped and threw together this ill-fitting narrative based around the sentence, “Two very different islands — One a metropolis, the other a land of enchantment.”

Ugh. How very “West Side Story.” Yet nobody thought to cut together the worst of the auditioners in a Jets-and-Sharks inspired montage to “America” or something. Nothing from the New York auditions hinted at anything metropolitan and nothing from Puerto Rico was all that enchanted. So they were all just worse.

These audition episode recaps are always a problem because you’re left making sure you mention everybody who was memorably good or memorably bad. Nothing in Thursday’s double-city episode was either memorably good or memorably bad.

The episode was started by the charmingly accented Adeola Adegoke, who immediately compared herself to Mariah Carey, so before she opened her mouth we knew she couldn’t sing. But she quit her job, because trying out for “American Idol” was her destiny. Uh-oh. Fortunately, Simon played hero and picked up the phone, called Adeola’s boss and got her her job back. What a guy! What a moment!

What a rehash!

Back in Season Five, a wannabe named Shalicia Carlisle used the exact same “I quit my job for this!” schtick. And Simon played hero in the exact same way, calling her boss and getting the gal her job back.

Al Jean, the long-time executive producer and showrunner for “The Simpsons,” can list, with regret, every instance in which his long-running show has recycled jokes. “Idol” producers should try to have the same institutional memory to avoid reusing gags.

Who did I like?

I don’t know if anybody was better than Melinda Camille, whose stated goal is “To uplift humanity to a place of love and positivity.” That was all fine and well, but she probably shouldn’t have written down “dancing naked” as one of her interests. No, she doesn’t dance naked like Nikki McKibbin used to dance naked, but sometimes the spirit just moves Melinda and she strips and prances in the privacy of her own home. Good for her! 

Once you put that on your application, you invite Simon Cowell to ask if you want to be a nudist and you invite pervs like Kara DioGuardi to ask things like, “Do you wish you could be naked right now?” When Paula Abdul [ALLEGEDLY] says [ALLEGEDLY] things like that [ALLEGEDLY] to contestants, it becomes a lawsuit, but Kara’s new and Melinda asked for it. 

Kara also sounded pretty dumb when she criticized Jorge Nunez of Puerto Rico for having pronunciation issues when he sang in English, forcing Simon to declare, “We’re here because we wanted to find someone who sings with an accent. Otherwise, we’d go to Omaha.” 

It’s here that Omaha is all, “Ummm… You had auditions in Omaha last year. We gave you ‘American Idol’ winner David Cook. What does Puerto Rico have to compete with that?”

Well, Puerto Rico gave us “American Idol” Living Prop winner Christopher Torres, a precocious nine-year-old who did such a good job of pimping for his 16-year-old sister Monique that when she sang at least two of the judges were able to ignore that while her voice is pure and sweet, it’s also unformed and without an iota of tone or emotion or texture. She got through to Hollywood by using her younger brother in the same way Pedro Martinez used Nelson De La Roca.

Monique only got two yes votes and still advanced, but even some of the people who had unanimous support weren’t very good. How did fidgety, insincere wedding singer Jackie Tohn get a Golden Ticket? She was bad *and* she karmically caused the glare shield on the window in come crashing down mid-shot. I thought Jackie was every bit as bad as former World’s Prettiest Baby Jessika Baier, still infantilizing herself at 20. Jessika got the beat-down from the judges and left angry and outraged, but as much as she deserved the criticism, I could imagine people coddling that girl and her voice.

The episode included two clowns.

Puerto Rican Crazy Rocker Joel Contreras dressed up as an iPod (or “GuyPod”), then quick-changed into a Superman costume and cannonballed into the pool. Nobody took him seriously and he was sent home.

New Yorker Nick “Norman Gentle” Mitchell made lots of weird faces, threw himself onto the floor, engaged in homoerotic banter with Simon and three of the judges took him seriously and he was sent to Hollywood.

I don’t get it.

But at least now… On to Hollywood! Let the fun begin, “Idol.” PLEASE?

Did y’all find anybody to like in New York or Puerto Rico?

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