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'American Idol': Rehabbing Hollywood

A roller-coaster week for "American Idol":

First, it's going to become a Disney theme park attraction in which tourists who buy tickets can sing for a panel of judges. We like the certain touch of irony that will add to the show going forward each time judge Simon Cowell sniffs that some Idolette sounds "karaoke."

The 24 "American Idol" semifinalists are revealed tonight. (Timothy White - Fox)

Second, "Idol" suffered ignominy at the Grammy Awards on Sunday, going 3 for 16 -- two wins for Carrie Underwood and one for Jennifer Hudson. On the bright side, former Idolette Chris " 'American Idol' is on the skids" Daughtry, who came to the trophy show all cocky with his four nominations, went home empty-handed. On the sad side, that means former pretty-haired, talent-starved hottie Ace Young did not snag a Grammy for co-writing one of Daughtry's nominated songs, which means we will never get to see Simon choking as he is forced by show producers to mention Ace as being among the "Idol" stars.

You can see why we're already emotionally exhausted by the time the Idolettes head to Hollywood for what show host Ryan Seacrest last night whispers breathlessly will be "a bloodbath" while urgent bloodbath-music plays.

This year's Idolettes may think they know what the Hollywood round is like, Seacrest explains -- they know about the "devastating effects of partying." But this year -- there is no partying!

There's also no teaming up for boy-band performances. And no putting groups of Idolettes in windowless rooms to which Simon, and fellow judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson will go to perform mass executions.

"We're upping the ante," Seacrest whisper-hisses urgently, like he's the Jack Bauer of "American Idol." "Damn it, Paula -- we're out of time for parties!"

This year, it's just straightforward auditions. Only with instruments. Overall, 164 "Idol" wannabes try out in Hollywood, including a lot of the friends we've made in the cross-country auditions. Among the highlights:

No smokin', no drinkin', no R-rated-movie-cussin' Brooke White can't sing much but can play the keyboard, which prompts Simon to marvel at her "Carly Simon and Carole King thing you've got going for you," like he'd never seen a chick play the keyboard while singing before.

Angela Martin, on the other hand, plays no instrument but has a voice that's far superior to White's as well as the best back story in the history of "American Idol." In addition to her heartbreakingly adorable sick little girl, Angela reveals that since we saw her last, her own father has been killed, though she declines to elaborate. Even so, the judges send her home.

Miami Sound Machine chick Lorena Pinot shakes her booty, which Simon -- the only judge worth listening to -- says was "a bit uncomfortable to watch, like your mum gets drunk and starts singing and it's 'oh god -- stop!'." He's right, of course.

Amy Catherine Flynn, the Virgin Dance Captain, blows her audition and knows it, so she gives Simon her hot pouty virgin dance captain look, but this time he's taken his anti-hot-pouty-virgin-dance-captain-look serum, and bats her off.

Everyone's nervous, what with the whole new no-party and no-group-slaughter mandates rocking their worlds.

Except rock-and-roll nurse Amanda Overmyer. But then, she's stared death in the face. And we're not talking about her patients. No, she herself was in a car accident, had to be "lifelined" to a hospital and now has 12 staples in her head, she says, and some cracked ribs. And yet, she can still scream her way through a Doors tune without having her ribs go flying, or her staples pop out of her head. The judges, understandably, are impressed.

Cardin McKinney -- you know, the chick who's supposed to be so hot and good and all, according to all those bloggers, forgets her lyrics, still looks frowzy and loses major points for flirting with "Idol" gigolo Ghaleb Emachah, who, Seacrest whispers breathlessly, wasted no time "tuning his instrument." They're both out.

An extraordinary amount of time is spent on Lonely Lives-In-Car Guy, a.k.a. Josiah Leming, who does very well at first, when he performs "Grace Kelly," but then gets all uppity when rehearsing "Stand by Me" with members of the "American Idol" band and dismisses them from the stage for that performance, which is a disaster. But, he tells the judges, dismissing the band "took guts."

"Now you're being a teensy-weensy bit annoying," Simon says. "If you're going to dismiss the band you have to be really certain you're going to deliver an unbelievable vocal . . . you lost a little bit of your charm with that performance. I put it down to overconfidence," he sneers.

David Cook, the rocker who has dyed red what's left of the front of his hairline, doesn't wow Simon, and tells Seacrest it's because Simon is jealous of his hair. It's the funniest line of the two hours.

Simon thinks David Archuleta, the Shaun Cassidy of "American Idol" and former "Star Search" winner, "has it all -- young, good-looking, likable and you have a good voice." We disagree.

We prefer former record-contract holder Michael Johns -- so long as he sings "Bohemian Rhapsody" every week.

Let's check in on Brooke Helvie, Miss South Florida Fair, shall we? She blows one of her songs, but so obviously has a good, strong voice. Nonetheless, the judges nix her, because she's annoying. We like them better for it.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 13, 2008; 7:24 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Next: 'American Idol': The Riddle of the Sphinx


Did anyone else just start laughing right at the beginning when Seacrest first came on? He looked so bizarre... I think because he was caked in way too much make up and kind of had a drag look going on.

Posted by: Rob | February 13, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Much better show this year. What's with some of the singers (but not all) having dark colored tongues? Very noticeable when they had their mouths open singing. First it was tattoo girl; but then there were several others, also. Very weird looking. Colored lighting?

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | February 13, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I noticed the tongues as well! I think someone was handing out blue lozenges or something. It seemed to be primarily on the day 2 auditions. What was up with that? Very distracting.

Posted by: Tongues | February 13, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Lisa, I enjoyed your recap of Idol as always, but I can't believe you don't like David Archuleta--he was great! And you didn't mention two of my favorite auditions--the Irish girl singing "Alone" and the nerdy-I-want-to-run-for-President-kid singing "You Raise Me Up". I hope they both make it to the top 24 tonight! And what happened to the "ample-chested" African-American woman who sang "My Guy" during her first audition--didn't see her anywhere last night?!?! And the Britney Spears impersonator?!?! So glad they nixed virgin dance captian chick--she had the potential to be as irritating as Mikalah Gordon a few years ago!

Posted by: Amanda | February 13, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Amanda, but "Irish girl singing "Alone"" isn't worthy of Idol adulation -- she's already had one failed singing career and was dropped by her record label. So, of course she sounds good -- she's a professional. And, unless AI became a singing competition for young professional failed singers, then I'm failing to see a reason for her to be there, except to dupe people like you into caring about the "competition" once more.

Posted by: N.O. | February 13, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

What happened to Samantha Sidley? The shy girl from the Omaha audition.

She had a nice voice and very cute.

Posted by: TJM | February 13, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Rob's right - Ryan Seabass looked really creepy last night. Who's doing his make up now - the ghost of Tammy Faye Bakker?

Posted by: jpstang | February 13, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh my goodness, I hate this "trend" that everyone has to have some sappy azz story to go along with their participation on American Idol. And now games-shows are doing it too!

I guess I will never be on one because my life has thus far been trauma/drama -free....and I consider myself lucky.

I cannot stand this constant need to tug on people's heartstrings and sympathy to keep you interested in mediocre talent.

Life is rough, suck it up. *UGH* enough with the tears already.

Posted by: Copelli21 | February 13, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I noticed the tongues as well, then they showed the contestants were getting Chloraseptic sprayed into their mouths. That is why they had colored tongues.

Posted by: chlora | February 13, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I love Disney and American Idol...a great mix!

Posted by: Penchant Lama | February 13, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Lisa that Angela Martin had a much better voice than some who were kept around. She at least deserved a shot with the voters.

Posted by: Mike | February 13, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Lisa, great recap as always. (and great chat today) But I, personally, miss the group number... how do we know the group number didn't help Chris Daughtry with his mega success? Plus, the Idolettes need the practice for the Ford Commercials, which are my favorite craptastic part of the season...

Posted by: Dennis in Arlington | February 13, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I thought Ryan looked like an avatar of himself from Second Life.

Posted by: arlington | February 13, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

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