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And Now For Something Different: "American Idol"

By admin Published: January 20, 2009


San Francisco tonight. An hour-long telecast. Notes, including a couple of flips over to an inaugural ball, after the jump.

San Francisco, Ryan tells us, is where they found Kat McPhee and William Hung. So why is it worth just an hour tonight? We shall see soon enough...

Marriage proposal and wedding at the auditions. Ryan says that's a first. Early filler describing the process.

Tatiana Del Toro, Puerto Rican singer, model, actress, whatever. She saw a psychic before coming on the show, and was told she would make top 12. And might if this was "American Laugher." The show is pretty well mocking her, too. Ridiculous outfit. And she presents the judges with her press kit, complete with DVD. Simon likes a "quite naughty" picture in the kit.

Song: "I Never Loved a Man," Aretha. Fair voice but trying too hard. Simon cuts her off, says "you shouldn't have done that song." She starts singing "I'm Your Baby Tonight." Her reaction is mannered. Simon tries to tell her why she's wrong and she starts singing again. Paula says yes to Hollywood "to color things up." Randy says yes "because you're wild." Kara doesn't like her vocals but still says yes. She gets Hollywood, and not because anyone was enthusiastic about her singing. Lovely how readily the judges will forget (again) that this is theoretically a vocal competition.

After a break, a fashion recap and a pair of bad vocals. Then Dean-Anthony Bradford, in a jacket worthy of a '70s sportscaster. Goofy voice. Hey, let's let him through for laughs! It worked for the previous performer. Randy calls this one "wild" but "torture." Simon dislikes the outfit and questions the hair color, but D-A insists "the carpet matches the drapes." D-A leaves convinced that the coat was his downfall.

Jesus Valenzula, auditioning because his two kids thought he should. Pleasant voice but that's it. Simon says "you're not going to win this." Jesus says his kids are waiting; the judges tell him to bring in the kids. "This'll kill me," Kara says. Simon says Paula has said no; Paula denies it. Randy asks Jesus to sing to his kids; he does. Paula, Kara and Randy vote him through -- although Kara votes yes so she doesn't make the kids said. It's the valley of the wimp-outs at the judges' table on this show.

As I work on this, Mariah Carey is singing "Hero" at an inaugural ball, most likely inspiring yet another generation of "Idol" wannabes to add that song to their audition list.But I suppose the judges' willingness to let through even marginally talented singers underscores the new era of openness and kindness in America.

Ryan interviewws Dalton Powell, a singer who is very good with a Rubik's cube. But he's very nervous in front of the judges, and can't remotely handle the falsetto of "Ooh Baby Baby." Kara asks if he's ever sung. Not in front of other people, he says. Asked if he's a fan of the show, he says "Simon keeps it interesting." No to Hollywood, but praise for his intelligence from Simon.

Another teaser for an argument between Kara and Simon. Another break.

OK, so I took a break to see the Obamas at the neighborhood inaugural ball. Nice remarks by the president, as well as his expression of admiration for his wife's looks. They then danced to Beyonce singing "At Last" and, as I have said before, they are just a freakin' adorable couple -- especially when he is as playful as he was during the dance tonight.
And now back to "Idol."

Footage of Kara, including bickering with Simon. Kara is clearly the new sweetheart of the show, pleasant but tough and without Paula's nutty reputation; so of course the show wants some fireworks with Simon. Pretty intermittent, though.

Akilah Askew-Gholston, contestant studying vocal anatomy (including body parts she cannot pronounce) to prepare for the audition. She gets early points for knowing Kara. Does original song. Simon thinks she has "a naughty face." Simon says "the song, not you, is horrible." She tries some of "A Natural Woman," and herself knows she has gone wrong in it. Begins explaining her singing with more mispronunciation. Simon says every song sounded the same. She asks to sing once more, praises Simon, Kara, Randy but may have gone wrong when she says Paula had a hit in the '80s "when I was a child." The judges try, kindly, to tell her she's not going to Hollywood. Lots of overlapping dialogue. Kara finally says "time to go, baby." She then asks Simon how he can yell at some people and then let others run on.

After another break, Ryan says "it's a frenzy of golden tickets": John Twiford, Allison Iraheta, Raquel Houghton.

Annie Murdoch. But she hasn't decided what song she will do. Talks about Bonnie Raitt songs, then does "Summertime" instead. Not great -- and then really scary high note. "That was like so overdone," says Kara. Simon says it was as if Annie was drunk. No to Hollywood.

Adam Lambert. Male-model looks, was a child actor (on stage at least). Has been in "Wicked." Kara seems to like his looks; gives him a wink. "Bohemian Rhapsody." Dramatic. Paula calls him a "diverse" singer. Simon thinks he's "theatrical," but Kara presses on whether he's a good singer. Randy says yes, Simon says yes (and Kara is irritated because she had to listen to Simon's concerns before). Kara says yes. As Paula adds her yes, Adam says he saw Paula when he was 10, continuing tonight's Paula's-getting-old theme.

Umpteenth teaser for tonight's heart-tugging story.

After the break, Kai Kalama, a guy who does music at night and takes care of his mother, who has "a seizure disorder," during the day. She is grateful for his sacrifice. "I love my mom a whole lot," he says. "I'd like to be sure she's taken care of." Song: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." Very cool old-school vocal, although the pauses are a little long. Paula's melting, Kara's impressed. Simon says he has "a very, very good voice" but "the personality of a ship singer." Kara and Simon bicker over whether she can talk before she votes. Four yes's for Hollywood. Simon urges Kai to watch him to learn about confidence.

End of the day. Twelve get Hollywood, which is pretty low for a big city. Tomorrow: Churchill Downs.

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