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'American Idol' in Denver

Victoria Beckham has been asked to rejoin "American Idol" auditions in Denver to reprise her role as Pretend Paula, even though she did a lame job last time.Why not more Neil Patrick Harris? How about a Fox sitcom star instead? Seth MacFarlane? Brad Garrett?

Denver's "Bikini Boy" Ty Hemmerling. (Michael Becker -- Fox)

Wannabe Idolette Mark Labriola says he gets mistaken for Jack Black at least once a day but he's okay with that because he's sure Jack Black "gets girls." He tells the judges he loves cheese when asked to name one interesting thing about himself. Yeah, this guy's a total chick magnet. He mentions his mother allegedly abducted him when he was just four years old and he spent six years on the lam -- which apparently he doesn't think is as interesting as his love of cheese. The judges are so relieved he didn't audition like Jack Black they put him through to Hollywood. Labriola, who is a dad, tells the camera, with his little son in his arms, that he's 28 and has this child so he thought his "dream was done." Hopefully, the tot is not old enough to understand his father just dissed him on national TV.

We move into a montage of anxious contestants, winding up with Mario Galvin, who is a nicotine addiction counselor and has a nervous laugh. Mario is nervous that he's auditioning for "American Idol" on national TV -- go figure. The 'Idol' judges find his tick hysterical.

Show host Ryan Seacrest notes the air is "always clean" in Denver, which is inaccurate, but the best they could come up with by way of introducing an expletive-laden montage which ends when an upset wannabe Idolette tries to escape the camera but cannot squeeze her fat self through the tiny space that separates her from a getaway. Nice touch, 'Idol.' Am I the only one noticing we're not seeing so much of Ryan during the auditions portion of this season? Do you too wonder what was the focus group testing that led them to make that programming call?

Kimberly Kerbow has an adorable little daughter, and sings a tune about buying judge Simon Cowell some hair restoring product when he starts going bald. Simon wonders why she's a single mum -- not. Posh wonders why Kimberly is wearing the world's cheapest looking wig. We wonder when a tune was written about buying Rogaine for Simon Cowell.

Denver is thick with tuneful single moms, also including Danielle Hayes, who begins to weep as she explains how hard it is to support herself and her three-year-old son with the income she gets hosting something called "live karaoke" and singing in bars, casinos, and at corporate parties.

Simon declares her "almost broken" but judge Kara DioGuardi loves that Danielle wears her heart on her sleeve.

Casey James was in a motorcycle accident when he was 21 and the doctor said he would never play guitar again. He looks like a poor man's Jason Lewis -- you know, Kim Catrall's boyfriend on "Sex and the City"? Anyway, his audition is mediocre and, not surprisingly, Posh decides she can't weigh in on Casey's singing abilities until she sees him with his long blonde hair let loose from a ponytail. He lets his hair down. Kara can't decide whether he can sing until his shirt is unbuttoned. He takes it off. Posh declares his voice to be "good." Simon tells Casey he's going to be embarrassed when he sees this footage on TV. But the judges convince Randy to send Casey to Hollywood.

Tori Kelly shows up with little Hope Starr but since Tori is only 16 we're hoping Hope is not her daughter. Hope has drawn pictures of the "Idol" judges which charm the judges. Tori has an annoying voice which Simon notes, adding she looks like a human orange. But Posh likes her "whole package" and calls hers the "best voice today." Simon has decided to plow this show under by leaving to launch "The X Factor" and so doesn't waste any breath arguing with Posh, instead spends time getting little Hope to autograph his picture and kissing her.

Austin Paul, who says he's from Washington, D.C. and is a student at the University of Colorado, has it all, he explains -- singer, performer and football player. He says making it to Hollywood on "American Idol" is No. 42 on his list of things he wants to do before he dies. His falsetto singing voice is "just one of the tricks" he has up his sleeve, he tells the judges. Though he's good looking, Kara decides - before even asking him to take his shirt off -- that she hates his whole "grabbing his pecs thing" and the lyrics to his tune - something about being bigger than his body." Posh, likewise does not ask him to disrobe before telling him the "bigger than my body" lyrics left her "a little itchy." Austin is stunned, telling Simon he would be a "really good story."

Kenny Everett, a self-anointed "male Mary J. Blige," sings because it's a service to the community, he tells the "Idol" camera. This can only mean he's terrible. Simon accurately describes his performance as the screaming of a man who'd been punched. The other judges follow Simon's line of thinking. "How can four people tell you you can't sing and you know you're a good singer?" Kenny asks the camera, adding, "Something has to be up with that."

A medley of lousy auditions include someone who's voice is so high and piercing Simon tells her she just killed very cat in Denver.

Nicci Nix came all the way from Florence Italy to audition. Wait, isn't this "American Idol"? She has a helium speaking voice, a mercifully lower singing voice and a super-shiny face which Posh mistakes for "beautiful skin." Which means "yes" in Posh-speak; the other judges vote "a million percent yes," "a thousand percent yes" and "yes." She's Hollywood bound.

Cute Haeley Vaughn tells the camera she was a "miracle child" having been born months premature and losing her father when she was just 10. She has aspirations of being the "first black pop country mainstream singer." Randy votes "a hundred million percent yes" to having Haeley go to Hollywood; the other judges are slightly less hysterically enthusiastic but vote to send her to the next round of competition.

And, finally, Ty Hemmerling comes out dressed as Bikini Boy - an homage to last year's Bikini Girl. The judges stand up and leave the room.

"That's kind of rude" Hemmerling says, as he stands in the audition room, in his bikini. We see him scratch his bikini-ed butt.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 3, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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When I saw your headline, I assumed this article would highlight what a complete air head Victoria Beckham showed herself to be. Throughout the show--and with absolutely no tongue-in-cheek irony--Ms. Beckham made her judgments about the performers on the basis of their looks. Their singing, to her, was at best a secondary consideration, and probably less. A few times, she even lectured Simon and Randy about how looks was what it was all about! Kara also went along with this approach. That's what led to the amazing spectacle of Casey James doing a strip tease for the two gals and then getting his ticket to Hollywood. Simon, of course, took exception to a lot of this, but was outvoted by his looks-besotted colleagues.

Put the above together with one tear-jerking personal story after another and you have an incredibly distasteful episode. For all the show's deliberate exploitation of freaks and no-talent idiots, the judges--prodded by Simon--have maintained some integrity on who actually got selected. No more. And Simon is leaving. He seems drained and non-caring. Not good for the future of American Idol.

Posted by: tbarksdl | February 3, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

My celebrity-oblivious husband asked who the plastic coated woman was. I'm so over the almost died and single mom karaoke singers. The fun of watching this show is past. Hilight of the hour: Ryan vegging on a classroom chair in another hallway, then says 'oh, screaming!' like it meant time to get back to work.

Posted by: kirstenpaulson | February 3, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I didn't think anyone/anything could be more disgusting than bikini girl, but bikini boy top even her.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | February 3, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

anyone else think that Posh Spice looked like a swizzle stick when she had her hair up in that weird fake bun?

Posted by: Gaylek | February 3, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

the rogaine song is "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson, good little pop tune.

Posted by: gorilla_monsoon72 | February 3, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

It'll be hilarious if the entire top 12 consists of orphans, cancer survivors, homeless, foreclosed, downsized, single parents of special needs children, and recoverers from various and sundry accidents and diseases. Just before each sings, we get a recap of his sad-sack story and how much he needs to win AI in order to climb out of some desperate hole.

It'll be the contest of the most pathetic video package. Who cares about singing? Just ask Mrs. Beckham. Maybe they'll all have to sing in their underwear, just to be on the safe side.

Posted by: SheldonAlexandria | February 3, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

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