Idol Beat: Schlemiel. Schlimazel.

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So it seems the only difference between the two-hour Wednesday Idols and their one hour counterparts on Thursdays is twice as many "wacky" interludes (├╝ber Green Bay Packer fan Megan Frazier is going to make one lucky man...really miserable someday) and a third more shots of Steven Tyler walking into places wearing a funny hat.

Milwaukee offered most of what we've come to expect from these extended-play episodes. A few genuine talents, a handful of genuine train wrecks, and a story that pretty much trumps every depressing thing we've seen on the show to this point.

Which means it was that much easier for Fox to manipulate for maximum effect, of course.

First of all, the Brew City must be a little short on celebrities if Season 8 third-place finisher Danny Gokey is the best they could rustle up (Bob Uecker must have been opening another car dealership somewhere). We also got to hear the fallacy about Summerfest being the world's largest music festival in the world because it runs a week and a half.

Naturally there are some high points. Perhaps unnaturally, few of them are actually from the tri-county area. Country crooner Scotty McCreary hails from Garner, N.C. (his voice reminded me of that joke with the "You mean the one with the olives in it?" punchline), while Emma Henry came all the way from California to just barely make it with her rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" (Randy can always be counted on to cave in).

Then there was Molly DeWolf Swensen. She made it easily with a throaty take on "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay," but I was probably in the minority rooting against her. She's a Harvard grad currently working as an intern at the White House. Maybe it's time she experienced some disappointment, hmmm?

Before this season, I could count the number of AI episodes I've seen on one hand, so it wasn't until tonight, with its slew of indignant failures, that it hit me: some of these people have never been told they suck. Certainly there are people auditioning, like the guy with the big toothbrush and the twitchy Mason Wilkinson, who are only doing it for a goof, but some of these folks -- I'm looking at you, Juanita Borges -- have gone their whole lives believing they were going to be stars. And from the sad cases on display last night, the weepers and shriekers and Lady Gaga tributes (three so far), there's lots of you out there.

Last up for the night was Chris Medina. Jesus Christ. The 26-year old was set to marry his girlfriend of eight years when she suffered a traumatic brain injury in an accident. Medina, bless his heart, has stayed with her, helping rehabilitate her when certain guys I could name would've made their stammeringly rationalized exits months before.

So it's a good thing the dude can sing. I wonder sometimes what would happen if they presented one of these climactic hard-luck cases... and then sent the person home. It probably wouldn't lead to riots in the streets, mostly because I can't believe the average AI fan is capable of direct action beyond autodialing. I'm sure they'd start a hell of a Twitter campaign, though.

It's on to Nashville tonight. I hope they keep the Rascal Flatts to a minimum.


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