Friday, January 25, 2008

Ringers (American Idol 7 San Diego and Charleston)

David Archuelata

I’m glad that they didn’t make the San Diego and Charleston auditions two hour shows. Two days later, I don’t much remember either of them. For one they didn’t show anyone from Charleston who looks to have much of a chance to make the final three. They framed the episode with Phil Stacy 2, Oliver Highman, a dad to be who learns that his wife is in labor on audition day. Unlike Phil Stacy, this Dad decides to go to the hospital with AI limo and cameras accompanying the big moment then returns as the last auditioner on the second day. If you remember, Phil Stacy who skipped his kid’s birth to audition was a little rough but the judges sent him to Hollywood so he could reunite with his brother the Bat boy from the Weekly World News. I imagine that Oliver Highman was thinking geez they gave me my own camera crew, if I don’t suck too bad I’m in.

As it turned out, the guy had a nice voice even though he did a bunch of this falsetto stuff that made me think glee club solo. There is the small matter that he’s also one of these twenty somethings who looks and acts like a forty five year old loan officer at the bank. The judges wind up telling him, “Sorry Mr. Highman even with the cute baby as collateral we can’t offer you a loan for the trip to Hollywood. We like you, but your whole image thing is sort of sub-prime for becoming a pop idol. Besides, you’re like the whitest contestant we’ve ever had on the show who didn’t sing country music. Go forth and live in your own backstory.”

He good naturedly shakes hands with the judges then lets them coo over the baby who has somehow gotten out of mom’s womb and gotten on national television in the first twenty four hours of her life. I’m sure Oliver's graciousness was included to balance off some of the other Charleston hopefuls who got to the auditions just after their 5150 holds had expired. I could talk about Aretha (voice wasn’t terrible, it’s just that just about everything else was) and whoever that guy was who cursed out the judges after her, but I won’t. Let me also ask,”Even if there were such a thing as a black Clay Aiken, would the world need or want one?”

Okay, let’s get even weirder. Suppose Albermarle, North Carolina is special in some weird way so you have perky and funny Kellie Pickler waiting on restaurant customers on one side of town and dark and angry DeAnna Private waiting to put arsenic in the Sunday all you can eat buffet offerings over on the other side of Albermarle. Now that both have sung their own version of that anthem to prostitution, “Fancy”, (Kellie did hers in honor of her grandfather iirc) has some mysterious balance been restored to the Idol universe?

The rest of the non-montage of suckitude part of Charleston seemed to consist of individuals who were just barely good enough to get to Hollywood or not quite good enough to do the same. They had a very attractive C17 pilot who sang pretty well in Lyndsey Goodman who didn’t make the cut. They had a sixteen year old cheerleader for sexual abstinence who didn’t sing nearly as well as Ayla Brown (semifinalist from season 5) in Amy Catherine Flynn, who surely got sent to Hollywood so Idol could homage all the homeschooled kids who show up on Wife Swap. The show really should have matched her with the other chastity guy from Dallas whose dad literally kept the key to his heart on a locket. They could have made them roommates, insist it was just a mistake that they'd clear up in a couple days, and then just kept that camera running around shower time.

There was London Weidberg who sounded no less cabaret than Lyndsey Goodman who somehow got to Hollywood despite Simon noticing that they already had several dozen nice looking blonde women who could sing some. Personally, I thought they should have told her to dye her hair and go to flight school. Btw. Lyndsey Goodman’s line about all the female C17 pilots who look like pageant queens was probably the single best military recruiting pitch I’ve ever seen on reality tv. Seriously, you going to join the Navy to hang out with Phil Stacy and talk about his wife and kids or you want to find some air force base that looks like a casting call for the Bachelor?

The one really interesting act in Charleston were the Lampkins. If the black Clay Aiken didn’t hack it, I guess they figured they would try to make like a black Donnie and Marie. Only this Donnie kind of babbles, wears a tie around his head, and probably doesn’t date a lot of women. Marie or in this case Michelle was also different. She too didn’t sing all that well, but in this case didn’t faint in front of the judges and she’s considerably bigger. Of course, the interesting thing about Jeffrey and Michelle turned out to be that they could actually sing some even if it was about your sister being your “angel”. To be accurate, Jeffrey could sing some and they sent Michelle to Hollywood to keep him company and maybe room with Amy Catherine Scott or at least smack the girl around if she got really annoying. Come to think of it, maybe they're grooming Jeffrey to be this year's answer to Sanjaya Malakar.

San Diego was a bit better than Charleston. Interestingly, they showed some places that were very close to the fires from a couple months ago yet never mentioned them. Simon kept breaking out his signature line for the season “You’re not as good as you think you are.”

In the meantime, I’m hoping the writers’ strike ends soon. It takes talent to come up with tag lines like “Dynomite”, “Sock it to me”, “Would you believe” and that sort of thing should be left up to the professionals who’ve been lowering our cultural IQ for two full generations now.

They had a single dad named Perrie who made it sound like his wife had died in a gang shooting. He sang well enough to meet the affirmative action Idol standard for being a contestant with a good back story. I figure, they’ll pair him up with the single mom who’s daughter has RETT’s syndrome for a very special Idol installment all of America will remember. They won’t make the final six, but they’ll get to sing a duet during the finale, break out the kids, and they announce their impending double wedding with the other Idol lovebirds Scott Savol and Jessica Sierra.

Three of the San Diego contestants were “ringers”. Michael Johns is sort of like Nick Lachey had he been born into the Gibb family. Johns once had a recording contract, but things broke down just before the release date. David Archuelata, the 16 year old with the paralyzed vocal cord, won junior star search. I could swear the kid appeared on Idol in season 5 as David Radford :}. Carly Smithson, the Irish woman who had the visa problem and the husband who does tattoos for the Yakuza and the Russian Mafia, actually had a commercial record debut. It just happened to tank.

I know the rules just say between 16 and 29 and no current major label recording contract, but I’m not sure what Jorey Steinberg thinks of Idol recycling all these musical reality show survivors and A and R launch failures making like “undiscovered instead of discarded" talent. With Smithson and Johns, I also wonder if one of the themes for Idol 8 is going to be illegal immigrant singers stealing all the Itunes time from American singers. Personally, I think that homeland security should erect a wall around all the audition sites and that Smithson should have gotten ten years in prison instead of a new visa. That would put the American back in American Idol. You know what, I’m going to send Simon Cowell an e-mail to tell him exactly that. And Randy what the hell was that about with “The South will rise again”? Dawg, do you have any idea what that means? What next? Are you going to produce the musical version of Birth of a Nation on Broadway?

Here’s my take on the "once discovered" talent thing. Frankly, I don’t care just as long as the show lets us know their stories. If they’re going to pretend that Michael Johns just stepped off the boat and happened to try out for the show in San Diego, that’s not okay. It wouldn’t be fair to be comparing him in my head with some nineteen year old from the Seven Eleven who sings along with the background music between drawing slurpees from that big stainless steel machine with that nice couple who met on the Idol message boards. Before I dial a number at the end of the show, I need to know “Hey, this is where this guy’s at after ten years as a professional” vs. “That wee lass surely sings lovely even if her husband tattooed her tongue.”

In the meantime, this year’s “ringer” scandal seems to be Idol’s version of the steroid controversy in sports.

While we’re at it, I don’t really care if Blake Boshnak (the guy who once auditioned as the Statue of Liberty with the even crazier mother) wants to audition another 127 times in addition to the 11 he’s already done, just don’t put him on tv again. If you do, the audition rounds will just become even more of a parody than they really are and we’ll be stuck with even more examples of the show’s “biggest fans” like Albert Hurtado. I know it’s a bit of a straddle, but the sister sitting on Simon’s lap while Samantha Musa did sort of a discount version of Katharine Mcphee in all senses was good audition material. Ranaldo Lapuz was fun too. With Blake Boshnak and Albert Hurtado , I say a little bit of singers channeling Divine and other John Waters characters goes a long long way.

Okay, I lied. I did remember some of Tuesday and Wednesday after all. I’m just not sure I want to.

Interesting Carmen Rasmussen link

Other Chancelucky Idol Reviews

Sir Linksalot American Idol articles



At 1/25/2008 09:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'When the shark is jumped with Simon's teeth, babe, Scarlet billows start to spread ..'-- is there a song in here longing to be sung by imploding viewers?

At 1/26/2008 10:14:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I understand viewer numbers are down, but the show remains the most watched show on network television. They're clearly trying some fixes, but one of the big ones was there were just too many hours of AI last year. They should have cut at least four hours off the audition rounds.

At 1/26/2008 02:56:00 PM, Blogger benny06 said...

Thanks with the post of the David. My gosh, he reminds me of so many in his past, and he possesses the potential to break out to be the American Idol.

At 1/27/2008 08:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What they probably should do is have an AI website where people can go watch performer audition segments that don't get shown on the show (with the fewer hours as you suggest) & then if one or two of the Web Idols go giga-viral, they would get to go to the next round or somesuch.

At 1/27/2008 09:58:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

Yeah, I loved Simon the first time he said “You’re not as good as you think you are," because the girl he said it to really deserved it. But he seems to be saying it an awful lot. Has Simon been affected by the writers' strike? Could be, could be.

At 1/28/2008 09:44:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I think those 30 second singing clips from the auditions can be very very misleading. I imagine he's a very good singer, but it's hard to say who's actually good. You can more or less tell who's not.

Mr. Pogblog,
that's not a bad idea. They do have one audition show called the "Best of the rest" and they could have posted a bunch of good and bad auditions and simply asked people to vote on the website to determine which ones get shown.

Being a "writer" for a reality show must be a very strange job indeed.

At 1/28/2008 10:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you suggest the AI website to them & make zillions, CL? It really is a good idea. It could have blog capacities & comments & be A FERMENT which is UTube-esque except controlled by AI. yhihf (You heard it here first.)

At 1/29/2008 11:53:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

AI has its own website already. They just don't do it that way.


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