Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Minnesota: Land of 10,000 Lousy Voices

Minnesota: "Land of 10,000 Lakes"

Well, after this AI audition session, the state motto may have to be changed to "Land of 10,000 Lousy Voices." Has there ever been such a bad audition show as the Minneapolis one? Funny? Perhaps for the first 20 minutes, but then you realized you were expected to sit through another 1 hour and 40 minutes. And the advance word from Fox is ... the judges felt Seattle was the worst audition city ever! Do you think you can survive tonight's show?

But, we managed to laugh ... and cry ... and yes, sleep, through this episode (thank god for DVRs and playback).

The best part of the whole show? The locked left door of the audition room. Whether having that door locked was intentional or not, watching the beaten-down contestants trying to exit and not being able to became the night's running gag. We began to hope nobody would try the right (and correct) door. But we quickly grew tired of the loser tryouts, who once again lined up to audition, convinced they had what it takes to become America's Next Big Star. It's really hard to feel sympathy for anyone that delusional, no matter how much they curse and cry outside the audition room. And you gotta wonder about their enablers, the families and friends who keep supporting their twisted dreams. Is that really supportive or just plain cruel?

We were surprised that guest judge Jewel, unlike some other previous guest audition judges, seemed unafraid to say "no" to contestants, although she tried to let them down gently. Interesting how the show neglected to mention that the singer is the host of this year's "Nashville Star," a show that could teach Idol a few things about how to move a competition along and not bore us interminably with bad acts, including opener and Jewel-wannabe Jessica Rhode, who murdered "You Were Meant for Me" (did you even recognize it?) to the singer's face.

Jessica was followed by a trail of even worse no-talents,
including the bizarre "urban Amish" Troy Benham, who had never even seen the show before and sang some weird "song" about drool or spit or something equally disgusting; and Jesse Holloway, who walked out of his audition to get a drink of water (is he related to Martin from "The Apprentice," who offered to hug The Donald if he would allow him to go to the bathroom?). The only water that might have helped Jesse (and us) was if he had jumped into one of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes.

The freak show continued with New Yorker Charles Moody singing opera while dressed as boxer Apollo Creed from the "Rocky" films; Bert Lahr wannabe Trista Giese who did her impression of the Lion from "The Wizard of Oz"; and "voice coach" Stephen Horst, whose falsettos made us cringe.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, up steps triple threat Jason Anderson -- looking like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo -- who proved he could neither sing, dance nor juggle; and self-proclaimed "Biggest American Idol Fan Ever" Brenna Kyner, who had 2006 finalist Ace Young (who she has scarily met twice ... run, Ace, run) draw a heart on her arm which was then permanantly memoralized into a tattoo. Not only could Brenna not sing, she reminded us of Uncle Fester from "The Addams Family." Finally, "rocker" Josh Flom, inspired to try out because of Chris Daughtry's success last season, and who turned every song, from ABBA to Manilow, into the same throaty scream voice he used to sing Fuel's "Bad Day" (and it was).

Of course, there were a few who could carry a tune. And you could pick 'em out before they even opened their mouths, because they had that Idol look and a good backstory. There was 16-year-old Denise Jackson, who was born a crack baby and belted out a "Dream Girls" number (a clip no doubt included to remind us that Season 3 finalist and Golden Globe-winner Jennifer Hudson is currently killing audiences in the film version); and Matt Sato ("California Dreamin' "), who looks like the younger brother of Jared Fogle from the Subway commercials and whose parents weren't there to support him because of financial problems incurred from his singing-career attempts. He produced the show's only teary-eye moment when he called his mom to let her know he had gotten through to the Hollywood rounds.

There was blond-pretty Michelle Steingas who sang "If This Is Love," and Colombian-born Shakira-wannabe Perla Meneses, who both got through but who, we predict, will never make it past the Hollywood segment.

And then there was Army reservist Rachel Jenkins, whose husband is stationed in Baghdad, and who seemed to get a thumbs up more for patriotic reasons than for her stunning voice. Sailor Jarrod Fowler, who is in the Navy, did better with "Bless the Broken Road."

But kudos for the evening go to Sarah Krueger's performance of "Over the Rainbow," which was equal to, if not better, than Katharine McPhee's in last season's finale. With her looks and her voice, we think we'll be seeing Sarah around for awhile.

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© 2007

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