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Pimping 2011: is this reverse psychology? A look at past winners’ auditions

[RATINGS UPDATE BEFORE WE GO TO THE MAIN STORY: "Idol" Wednesday drew 25.2 mil Wednesday, down 5% from yr ago and last week's opener. 18-49 figure of 9.2 was down 9% from year ago. Last night, the show drew 23.2 million, down 3 percent from last week's opening Thursday salvo, with a 7.6 18-49, down from 7.8 last week and 9.9 for comparable episode last year. Last year, the second night was on Wednesday as opposed to the more competitive Thursday. Overall, that's solid week over week retention.]

The incredible pimping of Lauren Alaina Thursday (and to a degree, Chris Medina Wednesday) is always fascinating to me because it never really works – at least in terms of leading to victory. Danny Gokey is a classic case and widely debated to this day.

First impressions of most eventual winners almost always focused on voice, not on back story. And twice, the initial auditions weren’t even shown. Let’s go into the wayback machine and check out those auditions:

Season one: We know Kelly Clarkson was not pimped.  In fact, her audition was never shown at all in the original telecast. Here is how “Idol Rewind” did it after the fact several years later. She does Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” which is a rather odd pick but she does just fine. Randy mentions how he as a producer worked on that particular song. The other judges groan. “I’m a star,” Randy jokes. Quick-thinking Kelly then offers to take his place. It’s hilarious as Randy pretends to audition. Cool beans! Score!

Season two: They went straight to Ruben Studdard’s singing and he was already strutting his R&B strengths doing Stevie Wonder. He does give Birmingham its due – and his family!

Season three: Fantasia had a decent back story but the producers did not pimp her that way during her original audition. Her strengths (and why people didn’t like her) are readily evident on her Roberta Flack cover. “Gotta watch your pitch,” said Paula. Simon showed doubt: “You have such a distinct voice. That can be deemed an advantage could be a disadvantage. You are what you are.” They request a second song: her cover of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” is even better. “One of the best we’ve ever had,” Simon said.

Season four featured the first time an eventual winner Carrie Underwood gets a big back story line. But it’s not a sob story. She is the country gal who has never flown at all. “I want to go to Hollywood real bad,” she said sweetly. She does a Bonnie Raitt song “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and has amazing tone. It’s better than my memory of her first audition six years ago. “I think you’re very good,” Simon said. “Work a little more on the emotion and stage presence,” Randy said.

Season five, “Idol” did give Taylor Hicks a storyline based on his hair going gray starting at age 14-15. Again, no sobs here. “I’m not trying to be different or have anyone make me look different. I just am who I am,” he said. Later, he told the judges, “I just want my voice heard.” None of that has changed, eh? He does a pretty version of Sam Cooke. His bluesy sound is lovely. “I did not expect it,” Paula said. “You definitely can sing. Can you give me 20 seconds of something else.” He does something upbeat. Simon looks perturbed. “It is not just about the voice,” he said. “You prove that.” “Good energy, good character,” Paula said. “I disagree completely,” Simon said. “This is a guy who should be singing backgrounds. Not in the spotlight!” Simon says no while Randy and Paula say yes.

Season six winner Jordin Sparks is the youngest winner to date at age 17. No real back story except her dad was a football player. She was 16 when she showed up doing Celine Dion “Because You Loved Me.” Her sweetness and charm shines through from the moment we see her. It’s a great audition. “Love your voice,” Paula said. “I was blown away,” Randy said. “Sometimes, I like to put one sugar in my coffee. That was equivalent of putting 11 spoonfuls in. It was too cutesy, too over the top. That weird smile thing you were doing… all I’m saying, it was a little too sugary for my taste.” Randy noted: “You are a natural. This is what it’s about.” Paula predicts: “You will do well.”: But all three say yes.

Season seven winner David Cook is introduced showing a bunch of rock star types since Daughtry came along. “I watched Chris Daughtry’s auditon last night to get a competitive edge. Watch how people got through have done it,” he said. He tells the judges: “I think I’m the next American idol because I bring something different to the table and I am versatile vocally. I feel like I’m a pretty personable guy.” (Alll that would come true.)

His deep, resonant voice takes off on “Living on a Prayer.” Randy: “You have a nice voice but work on some persona. Look in the mirror Move!”

Season eight’s Kris Allen? His audition was never seen until after the fact. It aired later. He was not pimped at all. He sang “A Song For You.” Really good, actually. “You don’t have a huge amount of personality,” Simon said. “Your modesty is putting me off a little bit.” “I don’t feel a star,” Randy said. “You have to walk on stage feeling like a star,” Kara said. He makes it through anyway.

This was aired on “American Idol Extra”:

Season nine’s Lee DeWyze gets no back story either. He is merely part of the crew who need to leave their instruments behind. Interestingly, he is paired with Crystal Bowersox when we see him the first time. He sings a strong Bill Withers while Crystal does Janis Joplin. We don’t hear any of the judges’ comments.

Here’s Lauren’s video from last night:

60 comments Add your comment

Lar

January 28th, 2011
12:51 pm

I like Lauren, we will see how she does moving forward. She was better than many that they did put through.

wreckedpizza

January 28th, 2011
1:03 pm

Lawd, how could one not just love Carrie and Kelly then and now? If we get nothing else from “Idol” we are blessed by these two talents.

(Kelly and Carrie for kelly&carriefan!)

JTesla

January 28th, 2011
1:20 pm

Thanks Rodney.

Harriett

January 28th, 2011
1:25 pm

Ok. Lauren was not the ST fan. It was her parents, who, by the way, were brought in to meet him (pimp, pimp, pimp), and it was then she started with his song. The audition was over already.

Interesting

January 28th, 2011
1:31 pm

@Harriett ~ you’re right, but Randy asked her to sing another song.

Mercedes S.

January 28th, 2011
1:56 pm

Rodney, do you have access to other auditions as well? Would love to see how my main three favorites, Adam, JHud and Daughtry did.

Rosita

January 28th, 2011
2:04 pm

Hey, RoHo, you’re batting a thousand — thanks!

Negativo

January 28th, 2011
2:12 pm

I honestly don’t think they really get the reverse pimping idea. I think more than anything they equate pimping to ratings, and hope such buildup, justified or not, will lead to increased buzz.

Interesting

January 28th, 2011
2:21 pm

Is that what’s happening with Skins, Negativo??

JTesla

January 28th, 2011
2:34 pm

The pimping doesn’t matter, the ratings do. If the pimping helps the ratings, it will continue, especially when pimping generates committed fans who will tune in show after show just to see their favorite. Granted, that favorite was crafted through editing and a soothing voice over, but people would rather believe the fantasy than the reality.

Harriett

January 28th, 2011
2:36 pm

Ah, JT. The voice of reason!

[...] more from the original source:  Pimping 2011: is this reverse psychology? A look at past winners’ auditions [...]

Rodney Ho

January 28th, 2011
3:14 pm

I’ll post some of the notable folks’ original auditions from years past next week.

Mercedes S.

January 28th, 2011
3:29 pm

Thanks, RoHo, look forward to the Notable Folks!

Highlander

January 28th, 2011
3:44 pm

If you look at some of the clips again, you’ll see links for other clips come up at the end. Haven’t tried it so I’m not 100% sure it works but try clicking on the YouTube logo.

I think Daughtry’s audition was listed at the end of Taylor’s clip (if I’m remembering correctly).

Oops, gotta go. New oven delivery is here!

JTesla

January 28th, 2011
4:23 pm

YouTube is your friend.

Interesting

January 28th, 2011
4:31 pm

And your enemy! Just ask the girl texting and falling into the fountain.

Harriett

January 28th, 2011
4:39 pm

Bidding all a fond adieu until Monday! Be safe.

Interesting

January 28th, 2011
4:40 pm

JTesla

January 28th, 2011
4:41 pm

I think her true enemy is water and stupidity.

Interesting

January 28th, 2011
4:53 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: I’ll definitely give you that one!

Janet

January 28th, 2011
5:18 pm

Dunkelman! Things we had forgotten about Idol…

Carla

January 28th, 2011
5:50 pm

Anyone else remember this…September 13, 2001…Lakewood…Areosmith…Steven Tyler walks out with these big screens showing the distruction…he’s wrapped in an American Flag….band playes MAJOR Awesome for two freaken hours…Atlanta Americans are finally relieved of the hardship of what happened….I will love this band and this dude who may look like a lady to some people…till my last breath….Wish I could tell them personally or on the pc or some way..to let them know how important that night was for all of us. They could have used the messed up travel situation and all the other stuff going on as a sign to quit…but heck no they showed up and rocked the house down. It was soooo what we all needed and I will remember that concert till the day I die as one of my most awesome moments!

Deirdre

January 28th, 2011
7:34 pm

Thanks Carla! I questioned the wisdom of hiring Steven Tyler for this particular gig…but I’ll ad mit I was wrong. He is the best thing to happen to Idol in a long time.

Sorry everybody, I was at the ranch all day soaking up some much needed vitamin D.

[...] American Idol [...]

Deirdre

January 29th, 2011
9:51 am

Morning! I missed most of yesterday so I have some comments.

Thanks for the journey back in time, Rodney. I don’t recall any overt pimping until season 4 when Simon said Carrie would sell more records than any other Idol…however, I didn’t really even see that as pimping so much as Simon pushing for his favorite singer….which I think is what a judge SHOULD be doing.

And while I agree that the judges were over-the-top about Lauren, I think that, after a dismal showing in Nashville, they just got excited about someone good.

True, JT(cuz I can hear his objections already ;-) ) They could have edited that segment differently…and probably should have, but this is also a show that feels the need to create a little excitement. Unfortunately for them, creating excitement is liable to get them kicked in the …teeth.

shotci

January 29th, 2011
11:00 am

I haven’t been watching, but it does seem like the stories are overshadowing the talent. I remember back when I was watching Taylor and Bo that their performances each week was what was important, not what their storyline was. I know for sure that there have been people on the show that had some pretty good sob stories they could have used but chose not to. They were letting their music do the talking.

Highlander

January 29th, 2011
11:21 am

I won’t knock Nashville since we know we only got to see a few that made it through. (Something we always need to keep in mind with the audition phase and AI’s ‘wonders of editing’!)

And, RH, wasn’t Nashville actually the first audition city and Idol just showed it as the fourth? Did I remember that right?

Highlander

January 29th, 2011
11:24 am

D., I agree totally. Before the season started, I thought Steven was going to be a train wreck waiting to happen. I’m very glad to be proven wrong. (And no, I know it’s not the first time, so shut up!) :D

JTesla

January 29th, 2011
11:25 am

Ummm shotci, we are still in the audition stage. Even Taylor an Bo didn’t get performances each week at this stage. Maybe save that post for March or April.

Deirdre

January 29th, 2011
11:32 am

shotci…you are completely wrong about the stories overshadowing the talent. In 6 hours of programing so far there have been only 2 sob stories…one of them legitimate and the other just a bit contrived.

And since we’re only in the preliminary audition phase, the talent has only had one chance to sing so far. You’re jumping the gun just a bit.

Oh…JT already said that…..sorry!

Highlander

January 30th, 2011
11:02 am

Anyone out there? …Buehler? …Buehler?

“If I’m being honest” (as Simon used to say – all the time!), I think it may be a bit early to say Idol is pimping anyone. So far, I’ve just seen the same old type of back stories. Let’s wait to see what happens during Hollywood week to see if any “pimping” occurs.

Mercedes S.

January 30th, 2011
11:50 am

Good Morning! I only have unrelated Idol comment … have fallen in love with … KINDLE!

Rosita

January 30th, 2011
3:14 pm

Off-topic. . . as there’s a lull — I have had a weekend guest in my guest bedroom, Magoo, the possum who lives in the back yard. I caught him Friday eating the cats’ food but he scurried off and I’ve not been able to find him until just now. He had ensconced himself in the guest bedroom, where he was yawning and noshing on pillow stuffing. Thank God for my neighbor Jason, who treed him on a wrought iron etagere and removed him to the front yard! Now if my heart will just stop pounding . . . !

I-Ninjakicksback

January 30th, 2011
3:25 pm

How dare Idol push real talent over hot white guys! Can’t they see how Lee has conquered the musical world?

Highlander

January 31st, 2011
7:20 am

Good morning!

Rosie, didn’t you forgot that useless “O” at the front of ‘possum? (I figure you were just too unnerved by the whole ordeal!) :wink:

I-Ninja…, dare you use sarcasm when speaking of Lee? Don’t you fear the wrath of the …um, uh …legions (???)…of Lee fans who are sure to descend upon the blog after your hurtful remark?

No? …Yeah, I wouldn’t either! :evil:

Highlander

January 31st, 2011
7:23 am

Dagummit! Looks like I gave you the missing “O”, Rosiita.

Make that “didn’t you forgEt …”

Highlander

January 31st, 2011
7:26 am

Best line I’ve heard in a while:

“Calling illegal aliens ‘undocumented workers’ is like calling a drug dealer an unlicensed pharmacist!”

Deirdre

January 31st, 2011
7:29 am

Morning!

Rosita, I hope you have survived your possum adventure…”o” or no “o”.

Hubby and I went to see The Black Swan this weekend, Hubby HATED it. Not just the ballet part(I’m not much into ballet either) but the whole story. I didn’t hate it but I did find it overwrought and very weird. Portman was very good but she’s the whole movie. She’s in every scene and the story is told from her point of view only. Barbara Hershey is very good.

Not my cup of tea.

Harriett

January 31st, 2011
8:03 am

Good morning! Thanks, D, for giving your opinion on that movie. I have been wanting to see it, but your review is giving me second thoughts. Movies cost so much that I hate to waste the money on one I anticipate not enjoying in the first place. I do love attending a good ballet, however.

Deirdre

January 31st, 2011
8:13 am

Believe me, this movie is not so much about ballet but about a wacko ballerina. I’d save it for Netflix. Then again, I love to try to see all the nominated films before the Oscars. I haven’t seen Toy Story 3 yet but figure I will eventually with the grandson on the way. We’re seeing The Kids are Alright tomorrow night.

Speaking of grandsons…waiting to hear from Rickster.

Mercedes S.

January 31st, 2011
8:38 am

D. – tried to warn you aout that misbegotten “Swan”. It’s not most people’s cup of Earl Grey.
Rosita – you know about possums and rabies, right?
Rickster – birthing news…?
Everybody – Good Morning, even though it rains in Atlanta, after two glorious sunny spring days.

Sam-A

January 31st, 2011
8:40 am

I saw movie about Russian prisoners in Siberia escaping, I think it’s called “The Way Back”. Was good but about 25 mins too long – I was totally exhausted with all the trudging thru snowy Siberia and the Gobi desert.

Agree about Black Swan – too much paranoia for me. Hard to tell what was “real” and what was her delusion! But Natalie was really good.

I was thrilled to see the cast of “Kings Speech” pull out the win for best ensemble cast ahd the SAG’s last night! Adore Geoffrey Rush’s performance.

Is this week the last of the prelim auditions? I hope so – ready to see Hollywood rounds.

Terrible Tom

January 31st, 2011
8:49 am

Hello Goobers! What happenin?! I figured I’d pop in and get my dweeb fix to start out the work week.

Harriett

January 31st, 2011
8:53 am

I have been reading *Just Kids* by Patti Smith and thoroughly enjoying it. Went to Barnes and Noble yesterday for reinforcements. Almost through with this one.

Harriett

January 31st, 2011
8:54 am

Oops. How do you italicize here?

Rickster is a grandpa again! :-)

January 31st, 2011
8:55 am

Thanks for stopping by Terrible Tom and giving us our dweeb fix for the week!

Deirdre

January 31st, 2011
8:58 am

italicize

But I’m just a dweeb so how would I know? ;-)

Deirdre

January 31st, 2011
8:58 am

Rickster is a grandpa again! :-)

January 31st, 2011
8:59 am

Grandson was born 8:57 AM Saturday. Mom & baby (as well as dad) are doing fine and should be home shortly.

Very long & difficult labor, but mom & dad were amazing. Grandma was able to be in with them for the entire time.

Deirdre

January 31st, 2011
9:00 am

OK…it won’t let me show you so I’ll try to say it

left arrow followed by lower case I followed by right arrow. To close put a slash before the i.

Harriett

January 31st, 2011
9:00 am

Congratulations, Rickster! Thanks for letting us know.

D, how do you do it, though I don’t know why I am asking a dweeb!

Rickster is a grandpa again! :-)

January 31st, 2011
9:05 am

Harriett,

place a i between a left and right arrow to start
copy & paste the same, but put a / before the i to end.

Rickster is a grandpa again! :-)

January 31st, 2011
9:06 am

and yes, I know it should be ‘an’ i :-)

Harriett

January 31st, 2011
9:07 am

Ok, here goes a test: testing

Harriett

January 31st, 2011
9:09 am

Yaaaay! Thanks D and Rickster. It goes against the grain for me not to italicize/underline the name of a book. Just me. :)

kelly&carriefan

January 31st, 2011
9:15 am

Hi y’all!

Hope everyone got to enjoy the gorgeous weekend. I got to see King’s Speech and it is an amazing movie. Colin Firth is such a fantastic actor, no question.

Rickster, congrats on the new grandson!

Highlander, not Rodney, but I’m pretty sure Nashville was the first audition city. Which I find funny as they didn’t seem to have any major problems saying no (that we saw).

Nana, hope Memory had a better weekend.

In general, I’m not a huge fan of the pimping…mostly because it always backfires and I don’t want to be manipulated into who I should like. Do I feel sad for some of the contestants and their stories? Yes, but I’m not one to vote based on that.

wreckedpizza said it best, imo. ;) Lawd, how could one not just love Carrie and Kelly then and now? If we get nothing else from “Idol” we are blessed by these two talents.

Mercedes S.

January 31st, 2011
9:54 am

Congrats, Rickster!

For all you Firth-lovers out there, “Easy Virtue” is a terif. showcase for him and Jessica Biel. On dvd.
I’m glad the Directors Guild of America saw fit to honor Tom Hooper (of “The King’s Speech) over David Fincher (”The Social Network”), Christoper Nolan (”Inception”) and Darren Aronofsky (”Black Swan”).
)

Rodney Ho

January 31st, 2011
10:01 am

Saw “127 Hours.” SPOILER (kinda) Could not watch the portion where he cuts off his arm with a really dull, cheap pocketknife.

Anyway, new blog entry up. Talking to Clay Aiken again today. Anything you want me to ask?

RxDawg

February 2nd, 2011
8:49 am

I’m late to the party on this one… but I had to say Rodney this is one of the coolest posts you’ve ever put up. Thanks for hunting down these very entertaining videos and sharing with us.