American Idol season six starts with Ryan Seacrest reminding us of the past successes. We see last year’s winner Taylor, then we see Clay’s transformation from when he auditioned to how he stands today with three successful CDs to his name, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia as they auditioned, and as now promoting her newest CDs, Kelly Clarkson on season one compared to Kelly winning a Grammy award, Jennifer Hudson then and her now successful spin as Effie in Dreamgirls that just yesterday won her a Golden Globe, Carrie Underwood then and Carrie now winning Country Music Awards, and also the successes of Kellie Pickler’s and Chris Daughtry’s recent albums, as well as Katharine McPhee’s new release.
This all includes over one hundred number one CDs, and Ryan tells us they’re about to do it all over again, hoping for the biggest and best yet auditions in seven different cities. The show faced the largest crowds ever, and while Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul are back on the mission to find the best, the question remains who will be the one. They show a young woman singing absolutely horribly and my 10-year-old daughter astutely says, “It’s definitely not her!”
Maybe it should be her joining the judges tonight in Minneapolis, Minnesota, kicking off the auditions, but instead we have Jewel. She proves to be one of those judges who doesn’t offer up enough constructive criticism, and just seems to side with whatever the other three judges are doing. Besides when they play clips of You Were Meant for Me, it makes my daughter cry. She just does that for sad-sounding songs. Including the one at the end of The Wedding Singer, and the commercial for K9 Advantix where the puppy misses his family while away at camp.
The reason we’re in Minneapolis, apparently, is because of some type of payback to Prince after he appeared in the finale last season. Suddenly I remember him being late for the Golden Globes last night (because my son was mocking him the way Justin Timberlake did last night when he shortened himself about a foot to accept the award for Prince who was stuck in traffic), and then I go back to last year’s American Idol finale, where he was late as well. Someone buy the guy a watch. The entire crowd of 10,000 at the auditions tonight sings 1999 in his honor, and doesn’t sound half bad.
We start out the evening with Jessica Rhode, 21, from Cottage Grove, Minnesota. She works at the Mall of America as a makeup artist for professional makeovers before people are getting their pictures taken. I think that means she works at Glamour Shots. She’s loved to sing since she was a little girl, and wants to be an artist to inspire people just like her favorite, Jewel. She walks into the audition, and says Jewel is her idol. Asked if she wants to be Jewel, she says no, but Jewel does inspire her. Simon proving he can still be an smartass asks if Jewel inspired Jessica’s look, as she’s dressed in a white shirt, and a skirt that is denim until under the butt, and then flowing white skirt the rest of the way.
Jessica starts off singing You Were Meant for Me, and it’s very low. It just doesn’t sound right, and I’m not sure who to feel worse for, her for embarrassing herself, or Jewel for having her song murdered. It’s too staccato, and you can’t hear all the sounds the right way. Simon jokes after that it was just like listening to the record. Jewel is asked her opinion, and she sweetly refuses to say anything. Paula plays it PC, and says of course she doesn’t sing like Jewel, she sings like Jessica. Randy votes not for her moving on to Hollywood, in fact he votes nonononono. Jewel says she still needs a little work, and to keep it up. Paula wants to pass, and Simon says it could take an hour to tell her everything that was wrong with the audition. He doesn’t want to patronize her, and says it’s just never going to work. Randy tries to help, and says there are other things to be great at, and that she doesn’t have to be a singer. Simon continues, and I don’t know why, but says the good news if she found out now she’s not going to be a singer, and can just move on. I don’t see why they didn’t send her on her way five minutes ago. This is excruciating.
Leaving the audition room, Jessica is consoled by her family that tells her she did her best, and there’s always next year. Aaaah, I don’t think so. Who would submit themselves to that again? She explains to her family that the judges said she wasn’t even a good singer, and it’s all just so unreal for her. She came on all psyched up, and now she guesses that’s it. She ends by thanking everyone, and saying she has to go, yet adds in at the end that she did her best, and she’s not going to stop. I just don’t get that at all.
Up next is someone else you have to wonder what he was thinking when he decided on this. Troy Benham, 24, of Sarona, Wisconsin, calls his look Urban Amish, and admits he’s never seen American Idol before, as he doesn’t have broadcast TV hooked up. I don’t believe that at all. If you don’t watch broadcast TV in the first place, why would you want to try out for this, and how would you ever hear about it in the first place? He has no plan, and is just going to go with the flow. Paula looks disgusted, then shocked, as Troy sits there and sings, “… catalog I found sells roaches by the pound.” He’s not given the time of day and he’s gone. Why could they not do that for Jessica?
We then see a montage of “rejected” auditioners, such as a fake Carrie Underwood, a fake Katharine McPhee, and a fake Constantine Maroulis. They’re all terrible, and have “rejected” stamped across them. I know they like to show us stuff in “sets” sometimes, but that just all seemed a little pointless to me.
Jesse Holloway, 19, from Gary, Indiana comes in telling everyone of his “unique vocal range” that is “by far the best in music,” then rambles, and I hit instant replay on the TIVO a few times trying to figure out what he’s talking about. Simon doesn’t understand him either, so I’m not alone. Jesse is asked what makes him unique, and he says he can hit some notes that Mariah Carey does. Paula says, “Wow,” and I can’t stop staring at her lips. They look … worked on. He sings My Heart Will Go On, stops, and says he needs to get some water because he’s nervous.
Randy can’t believe he left in the middle of it, and when Jesse walks back in, Simon questions why. As he continues singing, Randy shakes his head, and Jewel sits stunned. Paula starts rubbing her temples and says she just can’t take this, while Simon asks why Jesse bothered to come back in the room. He answers he thought he was more prepared, and of course, Simon says there was no difference; they were both excruciating. He tries another song, Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, and as Paula jams, Simon asks why Jesse thinks they’re looking for a 2 year old that can’t sing. Simon and Jesse continue to argue, and Jewel points out that part of being a professional musician is throwing down no matter what you’re doing. Simon explains he’s ruined three songs in a row, and as Jesse starts another, Simon quickly says four. As if we need it at this point, it’s time for the official vote. Not surprisingly, all four judges say no.
Jesse has a hard time leaving, as most contestants do. For some reason, they’re all hitting the door that doesn’t open, and Paula keeps explaining to them all it’s the other door. Outside, Jesse says that Simon is telling him he can’t sing, but he’s not out there singing, and doesn’t know what it’s like to be nervous. He gets upset up all the judges were laughing, then says something weird about Randy wiping the makeup off his face. Not sure what that’s about. He wonders when the last time was Paula made a record, and tells Simon he can kiss his ass. Again, why beleaguer the point, and keep the kid that long for him to be able to sing four times, if you hate him from the get go.