Aspen is a beautiful, scenic town. The talent? Not so beautiful. At least for us viewers.
Sure, we heard nine folks who made it through but I’m not sure if any of them will make it to the final 24. (Thirty one got Hollywood tickets, the fewest so far of the four cities we’ve seen.) Nobody really impressed me though I wouldn’t mind hearing more of Jenni Schick and Devan Jones.
The producers decided to upend the formula from the first three episodes. They actually showed some really bad singers for a change. The judges for a moment almost disagreed! And the final singer was a joke, not a future top 42 contender.
Like Charleston/Savannah (89 miles apart), “Idol” is doing a two-city run. The stadium cattle call was in Denver. The judges came later and saw the finalists in Aspen, a city 100 miles away that is way too small to do a cattle call the size “Idol” does. It seems “Idol” is really focusing on great backdrops. In this case, it’s the fall colors.
Hyperactive 24-year-old music teacher Jenni Schick from Sterling, Va. hits us with her best Pat Benatar song. “Holy Schick!” Tyler said. Fortunately, she’s actually pretty good but cheesy as all get out. She appears to have spent too much time in smokey karaoke bars. She gets to kiss Steven Tyler (and according to her, that’s not cheating on her boyfriend because he’s, um, famous, like Lady Gaga and Adam Levine.)
Next: Curtis Gray, of Spring Hill, FL., gets some video love but he seems pretty normal. He does an interesting, soulful countrified version of Boyz II Men. “You’re good looking and you sing great,” J. Lo said. (Are the judges’ comments getting more reductive and boring as time goes along?)
Then a few more Hollywood-bound characters: Richie Law of Centennial, Colorado channels Scotty McCreery. Devan Jones of Aurora has a beautiful soprano. “Natural voice,” J. Lo said. Mathenee Treco, also from Centennial, is more showy than Devan and more annoying as he oversings “Hey Jude.” But he gets through anyway.
Then it’s Twin Sister Act time! Tealana Hedgespeth of Loveland, CO wants to get out of the shadow of her twin sister. But she is awful. Put her back in the shadows! Steven insults her by asking her to listen back to her singing. She doesn’t get it.
Haley Smith, a crunchy granola type born 25 years too late, works some “Tell Me Something Good.” She’s like a rawer Crystal Bowersox. “It’s not perfect for the song but I kind of like that,” Randy said. “You’re right out of my era,” Steven said. “Bet you’re even more comfortable with a guitar,” J. Lo said. Randy appreciates her knowing who she is.
Alanna Snare, a bartender/waitress who serves “Rocky Mountain oysters” or actually bull testes, is flat as the Midwest plains and tone-deaf. “I really like you as a person… singing is just not your thing. It was terrible,” Randy said.
Shelby Tweten, from Minnesota, has bipolar disorder and takes meds to treat her depression. “I’ll be shaking. I will stutter. I can’t control my body,” she said. Singing helps her. “American Idol has given us something to believe in,” she said, of her and her mom. “Bipolar doesn’t define who you are.” Fortunately, she has a passable country voice trying “Temporary Home.” She isn’t Carrie Underwood by any stretch.
At 8:30 p.m. we get heard since day one: a montage of bad singers, including a screamer.
Jairon Jackson from Denver does an original song “So Hard,” an R&B-infused tune. Too much melisma and not that much personality or star power. But the judges like him. “Beautiful. I love it, yes,” Steven said (because he must say “beautiful” at least once per episode.)
“Idol” has yet to find the next Lady Gaga. Angie Zeiderman, 25, from Daytona Beach, Fla. wants to be that. “I’d like to open for her and be best friends with her forever,” she said. Shs has quirk written all over her but not necessarily in a good way. She is a Broadway performer but more in a va va va blech than va va va boom. J. Lo likes her. Randy is turned off. Her voice is more tolerable when she does “Blue Bayou” but her persona is still annoying. Somehow, she gets through.
Magic Cyclops from Davenport, IA seems to be channeling his worst Russell Brand imitation. This is a horrific, time-sucking act. He gave judges a choice of Neil Diamond or Jimmy Buffett. Randy chooses “Cracklin’ Rose,” then “Margaritaville.” It’s absurd. He is a plant who isn’t even in the age limit. (This is no Larry “Pants on the Ground” Platt!) Randy walks out. Good move.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk