Sharyn Jackson is your American Idol host for season eight. Last week’s season premiere followed the adventures of Bikini Girl and Blind Guy, and the eternal flaming hotness of Kara DioGuardi, the newest judge. More auditions this week.
And we’re back. This time in the city that spawned two of American Idol‘s triumphs and tragedies: Season Five runner-up Katharine McPhee and Season Three national-humiliation William Hung both auditioned in San Francisco. So what emerges this week from the City By the Bay?
Well, Judge Kara, who is turning a snarky biatch. Case in point: The first gal to make it through to Hollywood is a feisty Latina with a hyena laugh, Tatiana, who’s in some sort of animal-print-mermaid mini-dress. Her Aretha number is alright, though Simon says she’s trying too hard, at which point Tatiana chimes back in with, “Whatever you want from me.” Kara, who seems to be wearing the Chrysler Building, interjects, “In that dress for sure.” Ouch.
Dean Anthony Bradford, who’s coined himself a “failed entrepreneur,” suffers a condition we’ll refer to as Spasming Facial Horse-Butt Syndrome. When he smiles, his teeth literally crawl out of his head and onto your lap, where they start emitting a Simply Red song. The rendition was over-the-top, but not nearly as much as the tasteless plus-size plaid coat Dean’s got on. He’s rejected, and then we get a glimpse of his boyfriend. Wait, he’s gay? And he’s still in that awful coat?
Miss Know-it-all Akilah comes armed with a manual she downloaded from the Internet on how to sing gospel music while giving yourself an enema. One thing she’s not considering, though, is the concept of vocal rest, cause this gal won’t shut up. Inside, she kisses all the judges’ asses, including actually getting Kara’s name right. But when she starts spouting terms like “laginital quartex” or something, things get icky. The ass-kissing increases with praise for Simon as a producer, Kara as a singer, Randy a songwriter, and “Paula had a hit song out in the early ’80s.” Ouch again.
Oh look, it’s David Cook! Except his name is Adam Lambert. Kara asks Adam, “Are you our next Idol?” But the spiky comb-over and enormous head indicate he’s actually our last Idol. They’re playing Coldplay in the background which means they think he’s amazing and he’s going to conquer Jerusalem. He’s been in Wicked… does that mean he’ll be too “theatrical”? On his version of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” yes he is. Paula calls him “diverse”–the new euphemism for gay, I guess. Randy says it’s time for someone like him. Even Simon says yes. And Coldplay pipes back in. Gays are conquering Jerusalem! To the tune of Chris Martin! Try and stop them!
Twelve make it through from SF to LA, and now we’re in Louisville (that’s in Kentucky), where the people in line engage in country singing, parental abuse, horse imitations, and discourse on how to say “Louisville.” The judges are shown arriving at the gates of the Derby complex in four individual sedans. (So in case one is the victim of a terrorist attack, we still have three surviving judges?) Judge Kara’s so super-cute today, hair pulled back on the sides. But where she’s gained in hotness, she’s spiraling out of control in everything else. She can’t stop singing in the middle of auditions, and every time Simon interrupts her, she throws a hissy fit. Seriously, she’s making Paula look like she’s got her shit together.
The highlights of Louisville include an Ivanka Trump lookalike who butchers “Hero,” “Ross the Super Nerd,” who has just finished “organizing the Chinese alphabet,” and Kara seeming to go down on Paula during some hot guy’s audition. Kara then seductively advises mousy single mom Alexis Grace to go home and make love to her fiancée. And then, Kara makes a sweet Louisville native cry with an awkward joke. So this is how she’s shaping up?
In this week’s closer, the adorably sunny 18-year-old Leneshe Young has “struggled through poverty,” but she’s not letting that stop her. Her mom hopes she can impress “Randy, Paula, Simon, and the new judge.” And she does. Leneshe delivers like a young Beyoncé. Once again, the tearjerker audition happens to be freaking awesome. So what–is Season 8 of American Idol all about hope or something? It’s like something might have happened this year that led Americans to become optimists. Anyone? —Sharyn Jackson
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 22, 2009