Last night Ryan Seacrest got on his big, bejeweled fanboat and whirred on down to the bayou. American Idol was headed to Louisiana! Land of swamps and alligators, of hanging moss and old, muddy history! Last night, though, it was all about song, about a bunch of youngsters squishing their feelings out of their mouths in musical form and hoping that the judges would like them for it. And for the most part? They did.
This was kind of a sleepy episode, wasn't it? I suppose that's to be expected. It's hot in Baton Rouge in the summertime, so nobody wanted to work too much. There were some good folks and some bad folks. The judges said some silly stuff, but nothing wonderfully so. And Ryan did his giggly Ryan thing. At least there weren't any staged fights between Nicki and Mariah for once. That was good. We've had too many of those already, and this is only our second week. (Our second week of three hundred.) Yeah, it was mostly a ho-hum, okee-doke kind of episode, but it was not without its highlights.
Probably the most memorable of the night's contestants was a young lad rather perfectly named Charlie Askew. He was a weird skinny beanpole of a kid with big bushy hair and an awkward way about him. His mother said that no one really knows what makes Charlie different, but that he just is — socially, mostly. He sings and plays guitar and generally loves music; he doesn't have many friends so tunes keep him company. It was all very quirky and uplifting and of course when he sang (he chose "Nature Boy") he had a big booming voice that impressed the judges. But let's be honest. He was bit too big and too booming, was he not? I mean, I get that he was nervous, that maybe he's always nervous, and that the pressure of lights-and-cameras-and-celebrities-oh-my might make a lad go a tad overboard, but it didn't really sound that good, did it? Much like Charlie himself, it was askew. But that didn't matter for the purposes of this show. His is a fine story — awkward teen sing-blasts his way past the awkwardness — and so he was put through to Hollywood. He went out and hugged his dad and said something about kicking ass, and then he was off, back into his weird Charlie world for the time being, playing his guitar, croaking at frogs, chirping at crickets, a nature boy at home in the world. I don't imagine that Hollywood will be too kind to him, but let's not think about that just now.