Last week wasn’t a very good “American Idol” week, was it? Two episodes, two hours, not a single contestant I remember seven days later. You know who didn’t seem to care? America! There’s a lesson here and when I figure it out, I’ll let y’all know.
Meanwhile, on to Wednesday’s (Feb. 9) audition episode from San Francisco, an old reliable “Idol” haunt. Will we see the next Adam Lambert or William Hung?
8:00 p.m. ET. We begin on November 9, 2010 with a bawling contestant departing the audition. She’s crushed. Her dreams are shattered. Ryan Seacrest asks if she has any message for the judges. She turns her tear-filled face to the camera and opines, “Just because somebody farts, let them finish singing.”
8:01 p.m. Our first Adam Lambert reference. It probably won’t be the last.
8:02 p.m. Jennifer Lopez looks chilly.
8:02 p.m. Our first contestant of the day is a mail-order contestant from Ukraine. Dressed in a pink tracksuit, she’s already a YouTube “sensation” for her music videos, which include her showering. “I’m just a unique thing, a unique creature,” she says. The actual man who I’m guessing purchased her as a mail-order contestant is out in the hall waiting excitedly. Inessa Lee can’t actually sing, but she has a dream, which is sometimes enough. Steven Tyler is sad because some of his people hail from Ukraine, but while he gives her 110 percent for cute, he sends her away. “How can you give me ‘No’?” Inessa says, flouncing off. As she leaves, she vows that the judges will never see anything more beautiful.
8:06 p.m. I believe we were just promised three different stories that will reduce us to tears. I can’t wait! I’ve got my Kleenex handy. Like Halle Berry in “Monster’s Ball,” all I want is for “American Idol” to make me feel something. Actually, I’m precious little like Halle Berry in “Monster’s Ball.” But still..
8:09 p.m. Seagulls are pooping on aspiring contestants. You’d think that would be a sign, but inside we’re seeing some fairly talent people. I’m intrigued by Lara Johnston, who seems to have an impressive bellow. She’s preceded by a beautiful brunette and by a dippy emo guy. All three get tickets to Hollywood.
8:11 p.m. Up next is Stefano Langone, who was in a 2009 accident that nearly took his life. We relive the accident through some of the cheesiest reenactments FOX ever stole from the old Court TV scrap heap. I swear we get a shot of “Stefano” contemplating going into The Light. He was told he wouldn’t be able to walk or sing again, but he looks healthy enough now, except for some really dramatic scars. “That flame in you that says ‘I want this,’ it burns more than anything,” Stefano says. Stefano has terrific tone to his voice, but he’s missing a disturbing percentage of the notes, especially the high ones, which are all nose. But J-Lo loves his smile and you can be sure the producers love his story. J-Lo says he has movie star good looks and “star quality.” He gets three “Yes” votes, as Steven Tyler explains that he survived the accident for a reason. And that reason? Reality TV!
8:20 p.m. Evening falls on the San Francisco auditions. And hopefuls are camping out, accompanied by the Polyphonic Spree. Reach for the sun, yo.
8:20 p.m. Representing the LBC karaoke host Clint “Jun” Gamboa. He boasts thick glasses and a dream. But does he have a voice to match? He does decent enough version of “Billionaire,” ending with pointless silliness and flair. Everybody loves him and he gets three “Yes” votes. Oh goodie. He may annoy us again with his Long Beach/Strong Beach references!
8:23 p.m. San Francisco is full of weird people. Representing all of the oddities is Human Monchici Kenneth Berba, He’s bad and he’s sent away quickly.
8:24 p.m. There are hills in San Francisco.
8:25 p.m. Yikes. Human Transformer Drew Beaumier. He’s in a suit that transforms into a Ford. He promises this is how people will get around in the future. He sings from inside the car form. His version of “Born to Be Wild” isn’t very good, but it’s an impressive outfit. “How many gallons per mile,” Tyler confusingly asks him. “I don’t want to be a car for the rest of my life,” Drew tells the camera before driving off.
8:26 p.m. Coming up… Hot chicks! And then… Hot chicks with sob stories!
8:31 p.m. Steven Tyler is very happy and we’re treated to some Katy Perry montage action. But oddly, we don’t get names for a single one of the three attractive young women we’re supposed to be impressed by. How weird.
8:32 p.m. It’s Julie Zorrilla’s 20th birthday. She’s very excited. She’s originally from Colombia, which lets “American Idol” treat us to an introductory lesson on the ’90s political situation in Colombia. She over-sings her way through a breathy version of “Summertime.” Somewhere in the affectations you can tell that Julie can really sing, but she’s achieved a singing pace that would make a snail impatient. She’s tremendously attractive and Steven’s tongue is on the floor. J-Lo likes Julie’s performing aspects. Randy hasn’t heard the song since Fantasia and he likes it still. Julie’s off to celebrate her birthday. The judges are discussing Julie as if she’s a potential winner.
8:40 p.m. We’re introduced to long-haired Rocker Dave Combs. He’s another singer with good tone, but questionable pitch. But Dave doesn’t have a triumph-over-adversity story and he isn’t an attractive female, so Steve Tyler is weirdly annoyed with him. This is like watching Kara DioGuardi critiquing beauty queens. You’d be not come on Steven Tyler’s turf and fail to represent.
8:42 p.m. Steven Tyler is becoming increasingly irked. Even female singer in a naught cop’s uniform can’t cheer him up. “You ought to be arrested for that,” Tyler quips.
8:44 p.m. But in to save the day is heavily tattooed Emily Anne Reed, a guitarist who came out from Virginia only to have her apartment burn down, just one week earlier. “It broke my heart, but I had to decide to rebuild a better life,” she cries. Wow. Could she *be* any more Megan Joy? Well, Megan Joy did fairly well on “American Idol,” so I guess there’s nothing wrong with a knock-off. J-Lo, however, thinks Emily’s voice is unique. Steven thinks Emily isn’t ready yet. Randy says “Yes,” because they’ve never had a voice like hers before. How quickly we forget Megan Joy. J-Lo votes “Yes” and it’s off to Hollywood for Emily, who picks up her guitar and picks a little tune.
8:48 p.m. Yay! The triumphant return of the Last Segment Heartbreaker. How we missed you last week!
8:49 p.m. But that means that we aren’t going to get to see The Farting Auditioner. BOO, “American Idol.” If you’re going to deal it, you should let us smell it. This is like the Rule of Chekhov’s Gun, only with farts. If you introduce a fart in Act I, you’d damn well better pay that fart off in the end.
8:51 p.m. Many dreams were shattered in San Francisco.
8:52 p.m. But you know know whose dream won’t be shattered? That’d be James Durbin. He was raised by his mother while his bass-playing dad was off on tour. “People say that I get my musical talent from my dad, but I’ll never know,” James says, as he recalls that his dad actually died of a drug overdose when James was 9. In addition, James was diagnosed with both Tourette’s and Asbergers. Wow. That’s a Tragedy Triple Crown. Beat that, Chris Medina. But changing James’ world was love-of-his-life Heidi (she of the inspirational Post-Its) and his young son. James is worried that his nerves may get the best of him in the audition, but he says he’s prepared to show America who he is. And the answer for who he is is a darned talented singer. He’s going to get Adam Lambert comparisons and his range indeed might reward that comparison. James specifically asks Steven if it’s OK for him to sing “Dream On.” James performs and Tyler nods respectfully. The boy can bellow.
8:56 p.m. James is really good and he’s crying as he finishes. Tyler calls it “over-the-top,” but he means that in a good way. He gets three “Yes” votes and even gets J-Lo choked up.
8:58 p.m. That was a better episode. I’d listen to James Durbin again. I’d look at Julie Zorrilla again. [I need Julie Zorrilla to succeed, because I have “Oh No, There Goes Tokyo… There Goes Zorrilla” headlines already written. I also have a trend piece ready with the headline “Zorrilla’s In The Midst: Popular Idol Contenders” ready to go.]
8:59 p.m. Farewell, “American Idol” auditions. Bring on Hollywood Week, yo!
What’d you think of San Francisco? Are you disappointed by the Fart Tease? And how relieved are you to be done with the audition rounds? My answer? Very.