Idol: The Inaugural Edition
In his inaugural speech, new president Barack Obama promised us a time of trial. He just didn't tell us it would come so quickly.
Inauguration Day "American Idol" takes us to San Francisco, of which new judge Kara DioGuardi makes such cogent observations as "I love San Francisco," and "Who doesn't love San Francisco?" proving once again why she's such a valuable addition to the show.
Pretty Tatiana Del Toro has taken time off from her other gig as "Rocky Horror Picture Show" Midnight Screening Seat Filler to audition because, she tells us, "I know that I deserve to be the next American Idol more than anyone else."
Dressed in a tight, strapless python-print minidress, to the bottom of which has been attached yards of what looks like mosquito netting, Tatiana explains she deserves to win the singing competition because she is a full time singer, musician, song writer, model, film actor, and assistant director. Plus, she notes, a friend of hers is "one of the world's most powerful psychics," and said she would become one of the 12 finalists.
"I desire to be the next American Idol probably more than anyone has ever wanted anything," she explains. "I know I can do so much good and know it would make my heart complete...[even] if I have to outsing everyone, one by one, on the planet, to get a a record deal."
She hands the "Idol" judges "my press kit" which includes a photo of her in which she appears to be modeling some sort of bustier and garters get-up. "It's naughty," judge Simon Cowell says - his new favorite word this season.
"Thank you," Del Toro gushes.
She sings. Imagine Sarah Bernhardt trying out for "Rocky Horror Picture Show."
"I think you would do a lot of things very well, but singing isn't one of them," Simon purrs.
"What kind of a show is this?" judge Randy Jackson asks, rhetorically.
Tatiana begins singing another tune but Simon cuts her off. Tatiana grabs her neck with her hands and closes her eyes melodramatically.
"You can keep doing that 'cause I quite like it," Simon says.
She breaks into song again.
Judge Paula Abdul thinks she's just what the show needs "to color things up."
Kara agrees but Randy hesitates.
"Please, listen to my album," Tatiana begs, her arms flung out in Randy's direction, palms up, like Joan of Arc pleading with a record producer.
"You are wild - and I like it," Randy concedes.
She gets the nod, and Simon makes some crack about how she did not get through "on her vocals," as if having completely forgotten about putting through last week's Nasal Bikini Chick auditioner. Why is Simon acting like she's somehow cheating? It's showbiz, people.
Next: Several discount-furniture-house sofas gave their lives so Dean-Anthony Bradford might have his "American Idol" audition jacket.
This coat is the most amazing thing ever...I don't have to do anything. I can just stand there with the coat and they'll say 'Yes - the coat gets through," the self described "failed entrepreneur" tells host Ryan Seacrest, calling it "the jacket of life."
He's very loud - and very plaid. He does not get a golden pass to Hollywood.
Twenty nine year old Jesus Valenzula says he is "very much a family man" trying to start a "new life" for his family by auditioning on a "family show" that his whole family watches.
He's brought along his two heartbreakingly adorable sons, Jesus Jr. and Gabriel, who wait outside the audition room.
His audition doesn't go well, which is surprising, because he's at least as good as Nasal Bikini Chick, the new standard by which all "American Idol" contestants should be judged.
"Please! My kids are out there waiting for me!" Jesus begs.
Paula tells Jesus to go get his kids. "This will kill me," Kara notes. Goody, we reply.
He brings them in. They are carrying signs: "We Love You Jesus!" And "Make no Excuse, It's Hollywood for Jesus."
Jesus sings some more. He's much better this time.
"What do you think, boys?" Simon asks the sons.
"Hollywood!" suggests Jesus Jr.
"Honestly?" Simon says, incredulous.
"Yes, Hollywood," Jesus Jr. says emphatically.
"I'm not gonna make these kids sad so I'm gonna say 'Yes'," Kara says, resignedly. Ditto Paula and Randy. Jesus is through to Hollywood.
Time for "Idol" to start revving up its weekly sob story. This time it's a story of a guy who has "put his dreams on hold to look after his mom."
Soon we meet Next Year's Scary Idol Auditioner Tragic News Story, Akilah Askew-Gholston. Luckily for "Idol" producers, she's not local.
Akilah is lugging around a wad of rumpled papers showing diagrams of diaphragms, trachea, etc. She is studying them intently,
"This is straight out of health class," Seacrest marvels.
"No, this is off the internet," Akilah replies. She sings a couple notes. "That's a trachea if I ever saw one," Seacrest says. "Tray-shia," Akilah incorrectly corrects him.
The judges want to know about the wad of papers.
"I'm carrying just a few of my songs that I wrote over the past year," she says.
Simon think she has a nice face, adding "you have a naughty face." See what we mean?
At this point Kara, who's been looking at the wad o' papers, blurts out, "She's got a diagram of a body here!"
Akilah sings; Simon pronounces it "horrible." She wants to try another song; the judges cut her off.
"Please, just one more, please. I want to sing the song over," she says.
"I came from the wrong rectum," she adds. Yes, she really does.
Akilah explains she got flustered because she was "hyper to meet famous people...Simon is one of the best producers in Hollywood...Kara, you are one of the best singers. Paula had a hit song out in the early 8o's when I was a child [Oh, snap!], and Randy... was one of the best producers in Hollywood."
When they finally get her to leave the room, she tells Seacrest outside "I shouldn't let Simon, Paula and Randy...iraqtitate me," which we think may have been a tribute to outgoing president George W. Bush.
Another lousy Idolette wannabe later, we meet Adam Lambert, who has been with the cast of the Broadway production "Wicked" but apparently does not currently have a contract because those are the "Idol" rules, right? Yeah.
He sings "Bohemian Rhapsody." Because every season someone has to sing "Bohemian Rhapsody," so why not Adam?
He's good, but Simon accuses him of being "theatrical" which is only slightly less insulting in Simon-world than if he calls you "too Broadway."
They all acknowledge he's a very good singer.
"It's an honor," he tells Paula, kissing her hand. Randy extends his hand for a kiss, but Adam gives it a shake and kisses Kara's instead. We want Adam to win.
And, saving the button pushing for last, 26-year old Kai Kalama has had his life changed since his mother began to suffer from some "seizure disorder," his mom says.
"It's hard for me sometimes to know he's sacrificing things. I'm so grateful to have raised this beautiful son to be the man that is is now," Mom sobs at the "Idol" camera from her home, with son by her side. It's pure Toni Collette in "About a Boy."
"It can be very trying at times, but I love my mom a whole lot," Kai says. "I really wouldn't do it for anybody else."
He sings "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."
Simon acknowledges he has a "very very good voice" but the personality of "a ship singer" when performing. The other judges agree on both counts but he's through to Hollywood. Simon suggests Kai watch past episodes of "Idol" and pay particular attention to Simon to learn how to exude confidence.
January 21, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
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