Notes from the telecast, after the jump.
Here we go: Quote from David Foster, clip of Simon from the first-season auditions, sundry previous-season clips to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." Quite a few clips of contestants the show most cruelly exploited. Then clips of Ryan saying "This is American Idol." Cue the theme...
Clip of last season's finale. Video of outraged Archie fans watching the results. Clips of Cook leading into a sunrise and new auditioners declaring themselves "one of 100,000," "the next American Idol" and so on. Ryan says the show is not about the destination but "the journey." Right. Name everyone who finished, oh, third.
Audition clips with choral music. Ryan at the Grand Canyon, declaring this "the biggest season ever." Break.
Ryan back at Grand Canyon. Phoenix auditions. "Summer in the City" plays. Judges arrive. So we're doing the usual myth that all the people in line get to see the judges. Intro of new judge Kara DioGuardi. Credits, then brief clips of her talking to contestants and bickering with Simon.
First guy up, Tuan Nguyen, has a giant 'fro and tap-dances. His favorite musicians are Michael Jackson and Britney Spears. Does a sub-mediocre "Way You Make Me Feel." Randy says no. Kara says no -- that she's never seen anything like it, and not in a good way. Paula passes. Simon does not disagree. Tuan is "really hurt." But he gets more screen time after his rejection.
Emily Hughes. Daughter of a singer, Patty Wynne-Hughes (who appears to have been a voice actor on MTV's old "The Maxx" series). Emily has piercings, ink and curiously colored hair. Sings "Barracuda." Fair to fair minus. Simon says she was very good and he liked her. Paula says she should do very well in the competition. The judges point out that she'll have to leave her band. She hopes to be able later "to do the Daughtry move." She gets four votes for Hollywood. Teaser into another break. We've been going more than 20 minutes and seen two auditions.
Randy Madden, 28, sales rep and would-be rocker. No singing lessons, no band. "I just want somebody to tell me that I'm great," he says. He also seems to cry easily. Song: "Living on a Prayer." Fair voice but Simon cuts him off. Calls Randy wimpy. Randy tries to sing tougher. Simon now calls it "very cliched." Randy begs for a chance. Simon then calls him "a drama queen." Ping pong, ping pong. Paula urges him to get a band and gain the experience from it. Simon snipes "How do you think 'Straight Up' was written?" Kara tries to instruct Randy while Paula snarls at Simon about the "Straight Up" crack. No Hollywood for Randy. More crying, though.
J.B. Ahfua. Big voice. Four Hollywood votes.
Michael Gurr, nervous guy. Terrible singer. Suspiciously terrible, as if he's playing this for laughs. Rejected anyway. Break. Apparently he got a little faint after.
Clips of song butchers, made even worse by being run with clips of the original artists performing.
Aundre Caraway, aka X-Ray. High-energy guy with guitar. Sets guitar aside to sing. Funny, but I have little idea what kind of a singer he might be. Judges are highly amused. Randy calls it "buck wild." Kara is wondering what she has gotten herself into. Four no votes. Aundre tries to perform some more, and Simon keeps insisting he stop -- and the security guys listen to Simon.
Girl who organized an "adopt a grand-friend" program to help senior citizens. Song: "Put Your Records On." Limited range but she has some presence; the camera likes her. Four yes's for Hollywood. Nine others get Hollywood tickets and a few seconds of screen time from day one. Teaser promises that "bikini girl" -- already seen in a previous teaser -- will have "the moment everyone will be talking about."
Day two. Clips of odd singers of the past lead to bass-voiced Elijah Scarlett. Oohs about the speaking voice, but Simon says he's not hopeful. Sings "You're My First, You're My Last, You're My Everything." Slow and tuneless. Barry White spins in his grave. And spins some more. Simon calls it "like something out of a horror movie." No Hollywood.
Girl in pink. Lea Marie Golde, who calls herself "a cross between Hilary Duff and Madonna." Has written 100 songs and calls herself Kara's biggest fan. Has brought her written-song notebook to show Kara. Presents it before her audition. Sings "Every Time We Touch." Not a bad voice at all. Paula praises everything except her voice, which needs work. Randy concurs. Simon not at all pleased. Kara thinks she sounds as if she's in a musical, but praises her commitment to music. Lea says they may be on the fence -- and the judge say they're not. No to Hollywood.
Stevie Wright, 16, named after Stevie Nicks. "At Last." Good singer and very smart about knowing where her vocal limitations are. Kara heard "wow" moments. Yes for Hollywood, and Kara and Paula see her going far.
Oil roughneck Michael Sarver, wants it to win for his family. Soulful singer, surprising Randy who doesn't see the voice with the big roughneck body. He gets Hollywood.
Short clips of bad singers lead into Katrina Darrell, "bikini girl" who wants to make out with Ryan. Randy asks if she goes to all auditions in a bikini. Kara suggest she rotate for the guys. Sings Mariah's "Vision of Love." Good start, then iffy. Simon says yes. Randy says yes. Kara says there's no swing to the vocal. Bikini Girl sings some more. Kara still insists she doesn't have the chops for the song. Girl dogs Kara. Paula finally says "welcome to Hollywood." Then later says "she is terrible." She still gets to smooch Ryan.
During some technical difficulties with my posting, a guy nicknamed "Sexual Chocolate" neither got Hollywood nor gave any indication he has ever seen "Coming to America." Perky Brianna Quijada sang "Let's Hear It for the Boy" and a snippet of "Killing Me Softly," split the judges, with Paula and Simon saying yes -- and Simon breaks all ties. Hollywood.
And I'm back. To clips of people with their families, leading into a woman who asks other people to be her family. No takers, apparently. Deanna Brown, singing "Dock of the Bay." Ok-ish but kind of labored and too slow -- one of those deals where the singer should remember that there's no instrumental backing for the performance. The judges are pleased. Hollywood.
Cody Sheldon. Loves horror films and makes his own. Sings "Wonderful World" by James Morrison. Nothing that impresses me. Kara is surprised -- that the voice is different from the look. We don't see the vote but he gets Hollywood.
Clips of Simon amusing himself by asking contestants which three countries they will be popular in. Needless to say, not all the answers involve countries. Alex Wagner-Trugman endures jokes based on his having sung in the closet and sings "Baby Come to Me." Randy notes he sings in pitch. Simon is astonished at Randy's praise. "It didn't work," Simon insists. Randy says "we're disagreeing a lot today" when the clips have not indicated that. Alex gets three yes votes and os is off to Hollywood and probably more closet jokes.
Montage of people singing "Wanted Dead or Alive" intercut with reaction shots of judges, even though we've already seen some of these singers audition -- and not with "Wanted." Yet another piece of the "Idol" mythology.
And we are promised that the much-teased and "touching" story of a blind singer will close the show. After a break, naturellement.
Scott Macityre, who sees only 2 degrees of tunnel vision "like looking through a straw." College at 14. Sings Billy Joel's "And So It Goes." Competent voice. Simon calls him "a cool guy." Paula lloves his voice. Four Hollywood votes.
Anyway, we've gone on to promos for the next show -- and I am out of here.