“Idol” is kickin’ it old school, y’all, in Galveston, Texas!
Fifty four people made it through, comparable to San Diego’s 53. But in this case, we only actually heard five of them!
Instead, for the first time in five episodes, “Idol” producers decided to give us several bad auditions circa 2003. There were two deeply deluded fellas, one evoking William Hung and another requiring a guard to shove him out the door. “Idol” tortures us with seven other bad singers.
And another novelty for 2012: split decisions among the judges! Four times, we see Randy and Steven disagree with Jennifer. To date, we’ve rarely seen any disagreement, much less cogent critiques, from the judges.
So compared to Aspen, the Galveston episode was far more entertaining, if not nearly as pretty. And we may actually have some real good singers to boot.
The show tells us it’s their ninth time in Texas, giving producers an excuse to reference Kelly Clarkson.
Uh oh. Asian stereotype alert! Echoes of William Hung with Phong Vu, a Houston resident. “I will make you sharp and wow,” he said. He starts tearing up. Oh, my. The gong sound effect? Not cool. He likes to sing female singers like Selena and even J. Lo. Double uh oh. He decides to do Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart.” Yes. He is William Hung #2. Steven Tyler, in the kindest critique ever: “The melody is missing.” Times like this, we really do miss Simon Cowell, eh?
Back from the break, we hear even more bad singers: Cameron Dobbins of Houston does a simply nasty version of “My Prerogative.” Lamounte Hall gets over-excited doing a flamboyant “I’m So Excited.” A dude singing that Scotty song by Josh Turner didn’t even get his name announced. Ditto with the next guy.
Deer-killin‘ 17-year-old Skyler Laine from Brandon, Miss. gets the story treatment. She does a bit of “Hell on Heels” and brings some edgy, down-home country that “Idol” seldom gets. I see potential top 24 material here. She’s real.
And Baylie Brown, 21, from Nashville is back after five seasons. She made it to Hollywood. I vaguely remember her. She forgot her words during the group round in 2007. “I was just a baby at the time,” she said. I love the tone in her voice. The judges just go straight to voting and say yes. (Who needs commentary from these judges?) She may be joining Skyler in Hollywood for some star power in the finals.
Kristina Osorio, 28, is getting her last shot. She is divorced and has an incredibly ugly., distracting tattoo down her arm. She attempts Adele and does a passable job. I found her voice a bit loud but she has skills. So she gets through.
Then there’s dissension in the ranks for the first time this season. In this case, it’s J. Lo vs. Steven and Randy – four times.
Rachael Turner (Miss Houston 2011). who does “Undo It,” got a no from the boys. J. Lo is shocked. Reagan WIlison, a choir teacher, opts for a pretty “At Last.” “I didn’t get it,” Randy said, while J. Lo is again shocked. Cheyenne James from Conroe sounds a bit desperate and is trying too hard. “I’m not sure you have it for this year’s Idol,” Steven said. “Are you kidding me?” J. Lo said. “You’re crazy!” Again, J.Lo said yes and the other two said no. Linda Williams is over-emoting, wrapped in melisma hell. J. Lo isn’t going for it. Randy and Steven said yes.
Alejandro Cazares, a cell phone repairman, is 26 but looks about 10 years older. He wants a revolution where Lady Gaga is a star and Barack Obama is president, he told the judges. Umm… yah. Isn’t that the world we already live in, Steven asked? He said he doesn’t feel he has support from his friends to pursue his singing dream – not even from his so-called girlfriend. Sadly, his girlfriend is right. The man with the chip on his shoulder is at best a mediocre karaoke bar singer. “Your voice is not good enough for ‘American Idol,’ ” J. Lo said correctly. Alejandro begs but Randy said there is no way he is going to go through. And he doesn’t. Steven said, “Not yet.” Randy is more blunt: “Never.” A big burly security guard had to guide him out.
That whole sequence felt like classic “Idol.” Deluded contestant begging to stay on despite obvious lack of talent is a trope “Idol” has generally avoided up to this point. And Randy had to play Simon.
Then we get Mr. Earnest. Cortez Shaw from Garland opts for the most popular karaoke song of this day and age, Adele’s “Someone Like You.” He is rushing it. But he has a good voice, with some interesting choices in melody. Randy asks for more. “You’re good looking. You’re sweet. You have a great voice. Yes,” J. Lo said. Steven says yes. And so does Randy. Will he get very far? Not sure of that.
Julie Shuman of New York screeches through “Rolling in the Deep” with very noisy leather pants. “I bet you’re crazy in, on the dance floor,” Steven said. Vanessa Hernandez is more than off key. She is utterly flat. Erin “Nire” Kettl brings back “Un-Break Your Heart” brings Randy to tears and not in a good way.
Final singer: Houston worship leader Ramiro Garcia is the sob story of the day. He had no ear lobes and the doctors thought he would have no hearing or speaking ability. At age four, they created an ear canal and discovered I had an eardrum. “Through time and faith, I have a voice to sing,” he said. Despite the sweat puddling under his armpits, he has depth and grace in his “Amazing Grace.” “We’re taking a leap of faith with you today,” J. Lo said. And he’s through! Is he top 24 material? Just maybe. But we can all leave today feeling good and perhaps wipe our memory of that first dude earlier this hour.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk