'American Idol' Recap: Rocky Mountain High - Rolling Stone
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‘American Idol’ Recap: Rocky Mountain High

Steven Tyler gets flirty – but no one seems interested in a kinder, gentler ‘Idol’

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Aspen contestant Magic Cyclops performs for the judges on 'American Idol.'

Michael Becker / FOX

The neverending math equation that is the American Idol audition rounds continues in Aspen, Colorado. While one doesn’t normally find anything too humorous to say about Aspen, Steven Tyler never stops being punny and the second he gets on camera asks, “Does anyone have any Aspen?” See what he did there?

Having learned their lesson from last week, this week’s auditions are not being held on an aircraft carrier nor in a working harbor, but in a regular old building with actual walls. First through the Aspen doors is Jenni Schick, who claims that Tyler is on her “list,” as if the world is awash in beautiful young women dying to lock lips with Grandpa with a soul patch and feathers in hair. If that was true, then the Oregon Country Fair would be quite the intergenerational spectacle. Jenni tells Ryan Seacrest that not only is Steven on her list, but so are Adam Levine and Lady Gaga. That’s when Ryan starts backing away slowly, going so far as to deny her a good luck kiss, lest her bad taste in humanity turn out to be contagious. Once she’s in the judges’ room, Jenni immediately tells Steven that he’s on her list, causing Steven, who’s on a roll, to drop a “Holy Schick,” which probably made the FTC censors do a double take. Jenni sings “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar. She’s a good enough to merit a golden ticket and a kiss from Steven to boot. Cootie shots come later.

It seems that the Idol producers are as bored with the audition process as we are because in Lil Jenni’s high-heeled footsteps we get a quick succession of shoo-ins. There’s Curtis Gray from Florida who gets so enraptured with his own voice that he forgets to stop singing. The judges don’t have time for that nonsense and put him through to Hollywood before he can take up more time. Then there’s Richie Law who isn’t wearing a cowboy hat, but is implying one heavily with his country croon. Free idea: Implied Cowboy Hat as a band name. Devan Jones is a 26-year old hotel clerk with a disconcerting knack of looking into the camera. His voice is better than his performance skills and he, too, is going to Hollywood. Mathenee Treco sings the Beatles and Tyler can’t help but join in. Not only is he going to Hollywood, but now he can add “sang a duet with Steven Tyler” to his resume.

Twin Envy (which ironically is Sibling Rivalry’s less famous twin) rears its ugly head when Tealanna Hedgespeth walks into the judges’ room. She has been living in her more talented twin’s shadow for the last 19 years and now she wants to prove that she’s the gifted twin. Unfortunately, Tealanna couldn’t carry a tune in her sister’s bucket and will be living in her twin’s shadow for a while longer. Don’t worry Tealanna, there’s always ham radio operating.

A self-professed “vegetarian working in the meat department” Haley Smith from Orem, Utah, belts out “Tell Me Something Good” with a flower child inflection. Steven is smitten, claiming, “You’re right out of my era and I’m honored to be here listening to you.” Um, Steven? Is the altitude getting to you? Because you just told an 18-year-old she’s in your age group.

Idol has been taking some flack lately for the way it conducts its auditions and the cruel, joke-y way it handles some of the less talented contestants. With the advent of X Factor and The Voice it seems likely that we will see a kinder, gentler Idol soon. Unfortunately for Alanna Snare, that day is not here yet. Once the waitress explains (twice) that she works at a bar that specializes in serving Rocky Mountain Oysters (a.k.a. bull testicles) you know she’s doomed. Sure enough, as she sings her tone-deaf heart out, the editors splice her performance with snips of cows mooing in discomfort.

Next we meet the wannabe bipolar poster girl Shelby Tweten from Mankato, Minnesota, who doesn’t want her bipolar diagnosis to define her – and yet it is the only thing we know about her. She adds that American Idol gave her a reason to stay on her meds, which raises the uncomfortable question: If they reject her, what will happen? Blessedly her voice brings tears to Jennifer Lopez’s eyes. She’s going to Hollywood with a brief layover at the Lifetime network for a made-for-TV movie casting session.

Jairon Jackson sings an original song with original dance moves to help you interpret the lyrics. (When he points at you, he means you!) He is so excited to make it through to the next round he breaks a light on the way out, with his hand, not his voice. He’s not that good. Angie Zeiderman walks into the judges’ room with a tiny dress, purple hair, blue glitter eyeshadow and bright red lipstick – and the judges congratulate her. Good grief, don’t encourage her! She channels Lady Gaga via the Great White Way, and ends up somewhere near Gypsy Rose Lee (Google it, kids), which gives Randy the heebie jeebies. J.Lo is intrigued by the glitter-covered theater geek, and once Angie sings a tune from the Idol songbook, she wins over all of them.

Last but not least we have Cyclops Magic who had to leave Iowa due to gambling debts, which he can’t pay off with his collection of imaginary guitars. Magic has an English accent that he hilariously claims he got because he grew up extremely poor and only got BBC programming on the television. The judges roll their eyes and ask what he’s going to sing. Their options are Neil Diamond or James Buffay, a.k.a. Jimmy Buffet. He does a poor rendition of “Crackling Rose,” but J.Lo asks for another song and he breaks into “Margaritaville.” Then he blows feathers out of his ass and everyone goes home. I think they just got Borat-ed. Or maybe that was Banksy?

Last episode: Highway to the Danger Zone


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