As we kick off the audition round in Houston, Texas, we head straight to outer space – where it turns out the U.S. astronauts on the international space station are big fans. Huge fans! They love Idol. I assume this is why we haven’t had contact with extraterrestrial life forms yet. One of the astronauts gives the contestants a shout out and we rocket back to earth where Steven Tyler is wearing lady glasses, further alienating the aliens.
While the announcer keeps, er, announcing that we are in Houston, the judges are actually in Galveston. Now, I’m no human Google Maps, but are they implying that the line of contestants actually runs all the way from Houston to Galveston? The first contestant to follow the trail of breadcrumbs to the judges’ chamber is Phong Vu, who is the unlucky recipient of the full obnoxious post-production Idol idiot treatment complete with gongs, tears and beams of light coming off his head. You expect him to be terrible and he lives up to that expectation. But he’s not even interesting bad, he’s just extremely sincere and resoundingly tone deaf. The judges blink at him a few times and he senses the bad news, so he whips out his “iconic moves,” which sound promising, but aren’t. The judges deliver the inevitable no, and Phong Vu heads to Ryan Seacrest‘s consoling embrace. Unfortunately Ryan is allergic to panic sweats and steps back with a curt, “Your hands are sweating. You’re a fun person to be around.” Ryan Seacrest is a terrible liar.
The teasers are promising that some legitimate contestants are coming, but before we can get there we must suffer through several wannabe Scotty McCreery types. I know we’re in Texas, but does every guy have to wear a cowboy hat and a can of beans? Even the guy singing “My Prerogative” wore a Stetson. There were so many hatted men singing country songs that Jennifer Lopez was prompted to say, “What is going on?” The producers hate you, J. Lo. They hate all of us. It’s going to take some Southern charm to get out of this Wrangler-sized hole and Skylar Lain has it in spades. She’s a rootin-tootin’ gun-totin’ 19-year-old from Mississippi with stars in her eyes and a struggling family restaurant where three generations serve oversized lemonade and bologna. She sings “Hell on Wheels” and gets a ticket to Hollywood. Then Skylar pulls in her extremely tall best friend to hug Steven Tyler. There is such a size disparity between the two that for all the world it looks like she’s Andre the Giant and Steven Tyler is a 12-oz can of Molson.
Repeat offender Baylie Brown is back for a second audition after making it to the Hollywood round at age 16. Randy Jackson adorably (admirably?) pretends he remembers her from five years ago, but now that she’s 21 and street legal, he may remember her strikingly pretty face. Oh yeah, she can sing too.
The minute Kristina Osorio walks into the room Randy asks her, “How old are you?” When she answers 28, all the judges hiss and tut-tut, because this is it for Kristina. She’s 28. There is no future for her. RIP Kristina. If that isn’t tragic enough for you, Kristina has three kids, is in the midst of a divorce and instead of paying her divorce lawyer she bought a plane ticket to American Idol. Questionable life choices aside, Kristina can really sing. So, um, anyone want to babysit three kids?
A series of contestants divide the judges, Boys against Girl. J. Lo wildly disagrees with Steven and Randy’s opinion of the screech owl Linda Williams. But the men are just as flabbergasted by her love of Rachael Turner, who they send packing. This causes J. Lo to collapse on the desk face first as her hairdresser tries to smooth her flyaways.
Luckily they can all agree on Alejandro Cazares. Alejandro wants to start a revolution, but it’s hard to take him seriously since a lollipop has stained his tongue green. I am pretty confident that revolutionary leaders shouldn’t have green tongues. He preaches of a world where Lady Gaga can be a star and a man like Barack Obama can be president. Since we already live in that wonderful world, the judges ask him to just go ahead and sing already, and then they ask him to leave, despite the fact that he is on his knees begging for a chance to sing in Spanish. If only J. Lo had replied, “I know that you may love me, but I just can’t be with you like this anymore, Alejandro.”
Then we meet the occasionally homeless product of a broken home Cortez Shaw, who speeds up an Adele song to the point that it is almost danceable. J. Lo is in love, but Randy has some doubts that Jennifer whacks out of him very Jenny from the Block-style.
Julie Shuman came all the way from New York to embarrass herself on national television. Vanessa Hernandez follows with a terrible rendition of “I’ve Heard It Through the Grapevine.” While Erin “Nire” Kittl re-broke Toni Braxton’s heart with his version of her hit song. It looks like Houston is going out with a thud and a whimper until Ramiro Garcia comes into the room. Ramiro was born without ears and was expected to be mute, but through the miracle of modern science he can hear, and more importantly, sing. As Ramiro sings “Amazing Grace,” they cut to his father who is crying before Ramiro can show off his golden ticket. As tears stream down his face, his father claims he is so happy now. After this dismal round of auditions, we are too.
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