Last night’s American Idol, showcasing the Los Angeles auditions, devoted plenty of airtime to Southern California’s loony-bin-ready fame seekers — what do you expect from a town where locals consider being filmed by TMZ to be a gig worth adding to the resume? But not every contestant set out to make a fool of themselves on TV: twenty-two of the auditioners who showed up at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena were talented enough to get the chance to re-appear before the judges in a different location twenty minutes away: Hollywood. Did guest judges Avril Lavigne or Katy Perry help pick the next American Idol? Find out by reading our recap.
WAY TO BE PRO-ACTIV: Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry share more than a knack for blockbuster hits and a history of breakouts (it’s ok girls!) — the two also turned out to be the most outspoken, critical guest judges so far this season. Katy may have resembled a bowl of sunshine on the surface, but that appearance was deceptive: she seemed to dismiss every other contestant (though she saved her wittiest put-downs for Kara Dioguardi, with whom she co-wrote a little song called “I Do Not Hook Up” — wonder if there were any hard feelings when it became a hit for someone else?) Avril went for a more appropriate fashion choice to match her unsympathetic personality: a pair of devil horns attached to her hoodie (from her Abbey Dawn line, in case you’re desperately searching online to buy one yourself.) Maybe they turned the ”mean” dial up because they’re both gunning for Simon’s soon-to-be-vacant seat at the table?
HOPE DOESN’T ALWAYS FLOAT: Neil Goldstein, a self-proclaimed “geek,” says he has an IQ of 168, but we’re dubious of this claim, since he wasn’t smart enough to relax on the hair volumizer or apply some foundation on his T-Zone. “I want to give him a towel,” says Kara, staring at his extremely shiny face. Ryan asks Neil what the name of his album would be if he ever recorded one, and Neil dreamily says, “Hope.” Hope, as Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption never said, is not always a good thing, and Neil has too much of it while in front of the judges. “There is no reality but what we make for ourselves,” Goldstein exclaims. “And I am going to Hollywood!” No, he’s not, since the judges all pass—but he is going to run into a sign and get smacked by a door as Simon leaves the room.
THIS EPISODE WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY GOD: Could we have City of Angels-themed episode without at least a little spirituality? Of course not. Tasha Layton is a minister by night, and she gets through to Hollywood by proficiently singing “Baby, Baby, Baby” by Joss Stone. Another hopeful, Jim Ranger, is a worship pastor, and he belts out an original song called “Drive.” It’s no “Pants on the Ground,” but we’ll take it, especially since this man of God can really sing. Instead of discussing his vocal chops, though, Avril focuses on his personal life. Avril explains, “to be a pop star you have to travel,” and she doesn’t think Jim would leave his family or his church for his career. So, she says no based on that alone. Fortunately for Jim, all the other judges (obviously aware that his backstory will play well on TV) break with Avril and send him on to Hollywood.
YOU NEVER HAD THAT LOVING FEELING: Damien Lefavor is not only a martial arts aficionado and sandwich artist — he’s also a pacifist. He explains that as a pacifist, one must be comfortable “swallowing your pride and looking like a fool.” He certainly came to the right place. He struggles though the Righteous Brothers’ “You Lost That Loving Feeling”, then takes a roundhouse kick to the ego when when the judges send him packing (Dazed as if he really had taken a kick, Damien heads in the wrong direction to the exit.) “I choked badly,” he tells the camera post-audition. Hey, at least he’s honest with himself. That’s a lot more than we can say about most of the delusional contestants we saw tonight. .
I DREAMED A NIGHTMARE: Daniel Franco (a Project Runway alum!) nearly tore a hole in the universe (or at least the Twitterverse) when he described himself as the outcome of “Susan Boyle and Adam Lambert [having] sex.” Apparently, Idol producers begged to differ, and created a horrifying composite photo of an imaginary inheritor of both Boyle and Lambert DNA:
NEPOTISM ONLY WORKS IF YOU ACTUALLY KNOW THE PERSON: Continuing the theme of trying to tap back into last season’s fan frenzy over Adam Lambert, Idol producers spend a moment spotlighting all the lookalikes who turned out in Pasadena. AJ Mendoza might be Lambert’s doppelganger if only Adam were sweaty, greasy, and incapable of opening his mouth when he sang. Mendoza claims that he sent Adam his demo and only received positive feedback. If that’s true, we must assume Adam was either just being nice or momentarily distracted by the scent of leather at the time he offered his critique. Because AJ was loud, screamy, and bombastic while singing “Cult of Personality.” It’s a no, dawg.
SIMON’S LONG LOST CHILD: Mary Powers, a rrrocker chick and mother of an 8-year old, sings Pat Benatar’s “Love Is A Battlefield,” and her raspy voice wins over the judges. Well, almost: “Everything about you is very clichéd,” says Simon, dismissing her all-black and less-than-convincing rock n’ roll ensemble. But even if her style lacks authenticity, her voice ultimately earns four thumbs up, and she’s off to Hollywood! But not before her precocious daughter tearily meets Simon, whom the child admires “because [he's] mean.” “Are you sure this isn’t my daughter?” asks Simon. Hey, maybe she should take over when Simon’s gone? Let’s throw her onto the ever-growing pile of potential Cowell replacements!
SMOOTH NON-CRIMINAL: Andrew Garcia, a young father, sings Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning,” and dare we say, we enjoyed it more than the original? (Sorry, Adam Levine.) He performs a beautifully soulful rendition, but his sob story needs work: basically, his dad cries at the mere though of him joining a gang or going to jail. But, to reiterate, Andrew: your backstory is that you aren’t a criminal or a gang member? We can feel Idol producers wringing every last drop of drama from his narrative, but it’s hard to tell how dramatic it really is. But in any case, he’s through to Hollywood, and deservedly so.
I DON’T WANT ANYONE ELSE… OR YOU: During Jason Green’s performance of “I Touch Myself,” he literally gets down on his knees and re-enacts an Herbal Essence shampoo commercial, flipping his hair from side to side. Baffling us even more: he gives Ryan Seacrest his phone number and ogles Katy’s cleavage. It’s really just best to see it for yourself (Jason’s bizarre audition, not Katy’s decolletage):
We feel dirty, too.
HOLLY-WOOD GOLIGHTLY: We want Chris Golightly to continue in the competition based on his incredible last name alone. (Don’t tell us you wouldn’t want to go see a pop star named Golightly in concert.) Unfortunately, not everything is bright and cheery for Chris: he’s been in foster care since he was 18 months old, and says he’s lived with around twenty-five different families. He sings a lovely version of “Stand By Me”, and despite some shrugging from Katy and Simon, he sails through to Hollywood.
Best Guy of the Night: Andrew Garcia
Best Girl of the Night: Mary Powers
Best Cameo of the Night: Sanjaya’s Crying Girl from Season 5 appeared during a montage! And guess what: she cried! Either her audition didn’t go so well, or she was thinking about the fact that someplace… somewhere… Sanjaya was destroying a pop song.
Best Quote of the Night: “This is not a Lifetime movie, sweetheart!”—Katy Perry to Kara, after Kara says that Chris Golightly has an amazing backstory.
No, it’s not a Lifetime movie, Katy. It’s a reality show. Which means we’re no longer shocked when judges and producers hand-pick compelling characters with dramatic storylines as the contestants. We’ve had eight seasons to get used to it.
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