American Idol Week 4, Hollywood: Norman Gentle is “Bnoodles,” Ryan Seacrest’s Lip-Rapist is a Repeat Offender


Sharyn Jackson is your American Idol host for season eight. We’re finally in Hollywood!

Is this our next Idol? God I hope so.

Hollywood! Finally, American Idol is about something, even if only remotely. So here on the road to Sucker of ’09 are 147 people who got the yellow slip over the past three weeks.

But first, a twist! I love those! It’s Idol boot camp. The need to have these kids conform to music-biz standards is apparently more pressing than ever this year, what with the economic crisis and all, because everyone had to go through a team of stylists before they could even face the judges again. They also had to work with vocal coach Debra Byrd and “surprise mentor” Barry Manilow. Barry wouldn’t be my first choice for mentor–JHud fans might recall that she was sacked on Manilow night of Season 3 after an explosive and completely brilliant delivery of “Weekend in New England.” Sure, she won an Oscar and made the National Anthem sound like a soul classic at this year’s Super Bowl, one could argue. But where’s her own Lifetime movie a la Season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino, huh? Didn’t think so.

Tonight’s episode covers “Round 1” of the Hollywood tryouts. How many rounds are there? However many it takes for Ford to recoup its investment in the show by making Idol hopefuls “act” in a ridiculous scene in which we are led to believe that their voice-recognition software actually works. But enough about that. For this first round, the contestants must sing a cappella in front of the judges and other contestants, eight at a time. This process took place over two days, with half of the group going on each day. In each line of eight, Idol picks a couple people to focus on, and we find out whether or not they move on to Round 2.

The first group on Day One includes a woman named Lil, whom Ryan continually calls “Lil'” (as in “Little”). Kara, on the other hand, calls her “bold and brave,” even though she shrieks out a Whitney that should, by now, be banned from this show altogether. Lil’ chose a big song, but she still got a pass to Round 2. Dennis, the other contestant whose progress we track, is kicked out cause of his crazy eyes, but he returns to the stage to beg for another chance, sing when no one’s listening, and insult Simon’s pants. And they promised us they were ending auditions early this year!

Later, there’s a line that brings together some of the auditions’ best: Anoop, a mature Sanjaya (but without the hair); Jasmine, one of the black girls Idol lumped into a montage of other black girls in Jacksonville; and Rose, the barefoot orphan (who’s looking kind of preggers). Also, we meet Nathaniel, a New York auditioner and a gay! He’s wearing a headband, and has a breakdown about all he’s gone through in his life. He explains wanting this as bad as an infected blister: “It’s on my skin. It bursts out of me.” This whole Dream Team makes it through to Round 2.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if they let a lunatic–I mean, complete crazy freak–into competition? There have been some close calls before, like Sanjaya and that semifinalist girl who was photographed peeing two years ago. But did you stop and think what would happen if they’d given a yellow slip to William Hung? To the newly made-over Alexis Cohen? Well, the ultimate experiment is here in the form of Nick Mitchell, a/k/a Norman Gentle. He’s a swishy doughboy straight out of a 1989 jazzercize video who managed to crack the judges up at his New York audition enough to get him to Hollywood. Last night, he belted “And I Am Telling You,” with priceless shout-outs to “Balcony!” and “Seacrest!” Norman Gentle gets a standing ovation from his competition. Randy is so blown away, he calls him “Bnoodles.” Paula asks him to take off his clothes. I’m ready to declare this blog the official Norman Gentle Fan Club. Is this our next Idol? God I hope so.

On Day 2 of Round 1, Jackie Tohn (Is she a Lesbian Overtone?) is awesome. She’s got the same Joplin-esque rocker-chick thing that Amanda Overmyer (who was kicked off second last season) had, only without being totally frightening.
Danny, the poor widower from Kansas City that previously provided us with “Tender Moment #2 Super Ultimate,” and his best friend Jamar are on the same line. Jamar is up first, and he sings “California Dreamin'” like a black Clay Aiken. Then Danny is up, and he sings “Kiss From a Rose” like a white Seal. These guys are like a nice big deli cookie and totally surprising.

Bikini Girl is back, and she’s all over Ryan’s face again. Remind me not to eat dinner right before watching if she’s gonna be on? Thanks. She keeps kissing Seacrest, and he’s like, “I can’t, I can’t…” get it up. On stage, Bikini Girl brilliantly tells the judges, “I’m the next American Idol because I am.” Kara and Paula try to rid us of this atrocity, but Randy and Simon see to it that we have at least one more show with this skank ho.

What else? Hot Osmond boy (who looks exactly like last year’s Aussie finalist Michael Johns) and sunset-haired rocker Emily Wynn-Hughes make it through to Round 2 along with 102 others, and there’s this awesome Hulu commercial about how widespread frenetic digital consumption will lead to the end of the world. I’ve been saying this all along–thanks, Alec Baldwin, for bringing this to light. Right. See ya tomorrow.–Sharyn Jackson

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