Jets vs Sharks
You were thinking "American Idol" producers mashed up this season's auditions in New York and San Juan, Puerto Rico because one -- or both -- stank.
But, you're so wrong, pookie.
The two rounds of tryouts were combined into one hour -- and a very special third night of "Idol" auditions this week -- because, show host Ryan Seacrest explains, in 1957, New York and Puerto Rico "came together for one of the biggest musicals of all time -- 'West Side Story.'" And, of course, both are islands, he explains -- though one is a "metropolis, the other a land of enchantment."
That convoluted explanation out of the way, they cue up the Gershwin travelogue music -- because apparently they couldn't clear anything from "West Side Story."
See the "Idol" judges taking the gas-guzzling helicopter to the road-hog stretch limos which transport them to New York (which looks suspiciously like New Jersey). See Seacrest closing the New York Stock Exchange in front of a sign that says it's Tuesday, August 26, when the stock market wasn't a totally depressing visual image! Yippee!
See lovely 19-year-old Adeola Adegoke tell the judges she quit her job as a bank teller in order to audition, back when people could actually quit jobs! Hooray!
See judge Simon Cowell once again get on the phone with a lousy singer's former boss to ask that he give them their job back! Hooray!
Hear Adeola's boss say yes, he/she will in fact do that little thing, back when people actually could get their jobs back -- and at banks, no less! Good times!
This super-exciting, super out-of-date opening over, the pace switches in San Juan, where Jorge Nunez sings "My Way" in Spanish which, it turns out, is a much less nausea-inducing way to hear that tune sung.
"How do you sing in English?" judge Paula Abdul wonders.
"Using English words," is the obvious answer, but 20-year-old college student Jorge decides instead to demonstrate, and sings "Wonderful World" quite nicely.
Judge Kara DioGuardi has just figured out Jorge is from Puerto Rico; she tells him his performance of "Wonderful World" had some "accent problems." By "accent problems" Kara means he sang "with an accent."
Thankfully, Simon -- the only judge worth listening to -- notes that if "American Idol" is going to go to the trouble of coming to Puerto Rico to audition singers it's because they want to find singers who will bring that accent to the show,"otherwise, just go to Omaha."
Simon has just exceeded Kara's powers of deductive reasoning, so she has no snappy comeback.
Jessika Baier is a reminder to all you child beauty-pageant competitors what happens to you if you don't remain thin and blonde. Jessika won The World's Most Beautiful Baby Contest some time ago -- she just turned 20 -- and hasn't looked back since, entering, she says, 700 singing contests and winning "a lot of them."
"It was absolutely awful -- I can't believe you won all those shows!" Simon whines after her glass-shattering performance.
Jessika is stunned as the other judges pan her, and keeps insisting she has done this her whole life. Simon says he can swim but he's not Michael Phelps.
Simon has just exceeded Jessika's powers of deductive reasoning, so she has no snappy comeback.
Heading back to New Yorksey, Melinda Camille says she wants to "uplift humanity to a place of love and positivity."
Melinda believes "humanity is taking a shift now" and says she wants to be a part of it. She will accomplish this by dancing naked front of a mirror in her bedroom.
"Dancing naked I feel like my soul is kind of released," she tells us, in the holding room.
Once inside the audtion room, she tries out her "uplift humanity/feel like a shift is going on with the universe and want to be part of it" gag on the judges.
Simon's more interested in finding out about the whole nudity thing -- he's read about it on the Melinda cheat-sheet the producers gave the judges.
"Do you wish you could be naked now?" Kara asks. Kara, who only joined "Idol" this season, appears not to have yet taken the American Idol Corey Clark Sensitivity Training.
Melinda has a nice enough voice. Simon pronounces her a "happy little thing," Kara calls her a "vitamin boost," and they all send her on to Hollywood.
Jackie Tohn would make an okay weekday bar singer if you didn't have to watch all her ticks, but the judges come unglued when the glare-reducing thinggummy that's covering the picture window behind them comes crashing down during her audition and they give her a golden pass to get her and her crazy vibe out of the room. It's the only plausible explanation.
Self-described crazy-rocker Joel Contreras manages to first appear in a rat costume, then audition as a GuyPod, then fling himself into a swimming pool while dressed as a superhero when the judges reject him. Don't think about it; put it out of your mind. Likewise, the judges' decision to give a golden pass to weirdsmobile, Nick Mitchell, stage name Norman Gentle, based on his talent for face-making, flinging himself about, making homophobic remarks, and singing two bars of "Amazing Grace."
After that, you'd think Monique Torres & Her Precocious Moppet Baby Brother would be a shoo-in. Monique, 16, has a modicum of talent. "I think you'll love it," Baby Brother tells Simon of Monique's talent. The judges split on Monique but Simon has the final say and he admits he's smitten by Baby Brother -- she's Hollywood-bound.
Remember Alexis Cohen -- last season's Angriest Auditioner Ever? She's back and trying really hard to be all calm and normal, and mostly sort of succeeding, until after her performance, when the judges tell her "You were better when you were you." They seem pleased when she resorts to her old finger-flipping, obscenity-hurling ways. Nicely done, judges.
Back in Puerto Rico, Patricia Lewis Roman has apparently learned nothing from all these years of "Idol" and attempts a Whitney Houston tune. The judges hate that and nearly nix her but, because she breaks into a ballad, they relent.
Join Lisa for a live discussion every Friday at 1 p.m. ET.
Lisa de Moraes
January 30, 2009; 8:24 AM ET
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