Those of you smart/foolish enough to linger on Fox last night after the New York Giants advanced to the Super Bowl (causing certain neighbors in certain Manhattan apartments to scream as if they had just discovered fire) were treated to a special bonus audition episode of American Idol! That's exactly what everyone wants to watch at 10:30 pm on a Sunday night, isn't it?? What's that? It's not?
Yeah, it felt like a bit of an intrusion into the regular routine, didn't it? Plus with the late start and all it was going to have to be a real bang-up episode to make it worth the while, but instead it was just a regular old audition episode. They spent some time crowing about how it was an episode unlike any other and then they were just like, "Oh, yeah, it's different 'cause it's on a boat. Who doesn't like boats, right guys?" Yeah, it was on a decommissioned aircraft carrier in the port of San Diego, which is of course where they have Top Gun school and where Maverick, now a loafer salesman in Chula Vista, has made his home. There's lots of plane noise and boat noise in San Diego, the Noisy City they call it, City of Noise, Noiseburg, "the Big Honk" sometimes, so it was maybe not the best idea to hold auditions for a singing show right in the middle of Noise Bay, but that's what they did. Oh well.
As a way to introduce us to the cultural majesty of San Diego, a place once described by Fitzgerald as "a place," our fist audition of the evening was the city's cultural ambassador, who was wearing the formal uniform of underpant-length jean shorts and a patriotic red-and-white striped bikini top. If you've ever been to a parade in San Diego or any municipal offices when the San Diego Council of Elders is in session, you'll know that this is the standard dress uniform for all public officials, women and men alike. When you begin a job in any San Diego city department, you are given a badge, a key card that can also be used at the cafeteria as a meal card, and a plastic sack containing booty shorts and a teeny weeny bikini top. So if anyone out there is writing a school report about San Diego, that's a good fact to keep in mind. But anyway! Unfortunately this emissary was not the best singer, so the judges didn't put her through, but she did still do an excellent job of representing her city, so everyone in Noisetown should feel proud of that.
There were some actually good people. A young single mom who works in insurance but also DJs at night did a strong "I Will Always Love You" that only involved a little bit of yelling. She's pretty and seems nice and can definitely blow (in Randyspeak), so let's keep an eye on her. There was a girl who kept messing up her interview with the producers, saying that she really wanted to be America's Next Top Model, wait no, America's Next Top Idol Model, wait that's not it either, America's Next Idol Model Top Boat, wait oops no, Best Next Model Ideal, America! Hm, nope, not that either. Oh well! She was probably just tongue-tied right? That's probably it. Though, hm, maybe it's not, perhaps she actually does have a little water on the brain; when she went in to her audition and did weird little giggles and coos which the Steven Tyler witch (who is perhaps not the best singer in the world) made cruel fun of (in the witch's kindly old way) and a little spittle burbled out of her mouth and then she said that she was going to sing "Feeling Good" by Michael Buble which... I've complained about this before, but I'll complain again. Saying "Feeling Good" by Michael Buble because Michael Buble sings that song is not right! It's like people saying "I'm going to sing 'Seasons of Love' by Rosario Dawson." Incorrect! "I'm going to sing 'Hava Nagila' by Crazy Jake's Klezmer Band, a song which they world premiered at my Bar Mitzvah." No they did not! I know that Mikey Bubbles does sing that particular song, but it's from a musical in the 1960s and was made famous by Nina Simone, so that was just a little bit before Bubbles' time. I know the girl was only 20 and had no idea what show she was on (America's Next Top Drive-Ins & Dives?), but come on. You're on national television. Know your history. Anyway, J.Lopes smirked a little at this but then the girl actually sang pretty well so she made it through. When she next sees the judges she'll be singing "The First Noel" a song 'N Sync wrote for their classic Christmas album, Home for the Holidays.
Oh there was some weird girl who almost assuredly does improv comedy who had like been on the Ellen show at some point and had gotten her first kiss from Usher on television or something? None of it really made sense but she kept laughing like a maniac about it anyway, while the judges all blinked and tried to laugh but were all secretly pushing the silent security buttons under their desks (at one point the Tyler witch hit the eject button by mistake and was sent yowling up into the sky, unable to fly without a broom, and landed with a distant splash about three hundred yards offshore). The girl did some stupid rap thing and then an even stupider (and vaguely offensive? Can we all agree to stop using the word "ghetto," because haha hilarious poor people?) dance that made Randy uncomfortable in exactly six different ways, but what the hell, she was sorta entertaining at least, so she was put through. As was another gal who sang only OK but had a little something extra going for her, in this case that her dad was a mostly unknown character actor named Jim Carrey. REMEMBER JIM CARREY??? He's the guy from Earth Girls are Easy and I Love You Phillip Morris? You know, Jim Carrey? Oh, I guess he was in a couple other things too, but mostly those are the two that he's known for. Well anyway, he has a daughter who's all grown up and has a kid of her own but she also has a singing dream. So she sang for the smiling judges (J.Lo remembered working with him when they were both on
The Wayans Family Variety Hour In Living Color) and it was not that great, it was good but not that great, but they let her through anyway, because hmmmm... Possibly because her dad was in Yes Man? I think that might have helped a little bit. Like, you let Jim Carrey's daughter through to the next round unless she's horrible. You just have to. The guy was in The Number 23 for cripes' sake. You can't say no to that.
Another person they couldn't say no to, because he was actually pretty good, was a doughy kid from a UC Berkeley frat. I didn't realize they had frats at UC Berkeley! And it wasn't like in a teepee made of hemp or a solar panel lean-to or anything. It was an actual frat house with fratty guys and blonde girls with home hair straighteners and everything, just like you'd expect at a regular school. Yeah, the cameras followed him back to campus which must have been a little bit of a lie, a bit staged, right? Because it was summer and there's not really any college in the summer? But who cares, it was funny to see. And it was even funnier to see Ryan Seacrest wave over one of the lead producers and say "Mike. Mike, what did we talk about? What did we talk about when I reupped this thing, huh? I said, 'If there's ever a visit to a fraternity or anything similar you have to let me —'" and then he realized that his mic was still on and he was on camera so he stopped, but you knew, you knew what Riley Seabeast was upset about. Before he turned back to the camera Ryan pulled Mike in close and said to Mike, "Did you see any kind of hazing? Like any paddles or... You know what, we'll talk about this later." And so they did. And the kid went through, because he sang "Angel of Mine" quite well. Before the kid left, Randy gave him a lecture about his sloppy college boy look, so maybe he'll come back for Hollywood Week looking like a million bucks. "Yeah, it was weird, in September Ryan came by the house and took me out to buy new clothes and just hung around with the guys a lot, like a lot. He said he does it for all the contestants. Man, that guy really is busy!"
The last person of the evening was someone they always have as the last guy on at least one audition episode a season. You know, the big stocky guy with the blue collar background and the gritty country holler that everyone loves? I feel like they've done this guy at least three times before this. But oh well, it's a perfectly fine thing to do. These guys never win or anything but they do well enough and always seem like decent fellows. This one's name is Wolf, or his nickname is Wolf anyway, and he's a mechanic for a golf course and has only been singing for three years, ever since his late father gave him one of his guitars. Oh, excuse me, not guitar, git-fiddle. That's what he calls his guitar, which is apparently a common nickname for a guitar. Which doesn't make much sense? Because "git-fiddle" is harder to say than guitar. And it doesn't even sound that good. If you called it a fiddle box or a strum-dinger or a hand piano, well I could get behind that, because those are fun things to say. But git-fiddle sounds a bit curt or something. It's that "git" sound. Clearly fiddle is a great word, but git is not. So this is only a half-good nickname for your music hammer. (We'll call it a music hammer from now on.) Anyway, he sang without the music hammer at first, and it was just OK, but then when he got that sound gun in his hands, man, he just wailed away. So he was put through, and then he went back down into the belly of the aircraft carrier and kissed Ryan on the cheek because he promised all his female friends he would, and Ryan thought about how he'd always wanted to be kissed on a Naval vessel, but not quite like this, not by Wolf, not when the only thing being fiddled was a git. Oh well. Sigh.
Then somewhere, deep inland, Maverick felt an old pang, a familiar tug. I think I'll play some volleyball today, he thought. I think that'd what i'll do.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.