“This is the unassuming season,” declared Randy during this week’s Milwaukee auditions. Granted, it’s difficult to be anything but “unassuming” when your town’s claim to fame is cheese. (And Season 8’s Danny Gokey!)
That being said, Jackson’s statement has validity. Bullied ginger kids, portly crooners and image-impaired ingenues have helped form one of the running themes of Season 10: “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Tonight’s auditions continued along those lines with a White House intern, a friend-deprived auditor and, of course, a few talented teens.
That’s right. Yet again, the standouts are young. In fact, Seacrest even mentioned that every 15-year-old who auditioned on Day 1 had garnered a Golden Ticket.
Honky-tonk baseball player Scott McCreery of North Carolina produced a baritone that rivaled that of country singer Trace Adkins. While he wasn’t quite Mr. Personality, the 16-year-old was savvy enough to sing a Travis Tritt number for Randy, who had produced for Tritt in the past. (Add him to Randy’s list of namedrops, right behind Mariah and Whitney.)
Another youngster was Thia Megia, 15, who booked it all the way from California because she just couldn’t wait for “Idol” to come to her state. Talk about teenage enthusiasm! Her voice was one of the biggest we’ve heard yet and, following this year’s trend, one wondered how her tiny body could house it at all.
I was getting used to this season’s talent to trainwreck ratio but I should’ve known. The episode wasted time by highlighting the stories of a tone deaf Civil War reenactor and a creepy deejay-wannabe. Doesn’t Joe Repka, 19, know that Ryan Seacrest already has every job in radio covered?
Venika Patterson complained that “the lady [is] lookin’ at me” before she warbled a horrendous version of “Loving You.” When she didn’t get the accolades she wanted, she accused “Idol” of discriminating against fat people. This inadvertently caused a defensive Randy to call Kelly Clarkson fat, more or less.
The time spent following these clowns could’ve been better used to learn more about 22-year-old Scott Dangerfield, a cuter, hipper Clay Aiken. All we know about this guy is that he can sing and that he’s a student teacher but his performance of “Dreamin’” by Amos Lee caused Lopez to exclaim that he may be her very favorite contestant so far.
So why didn’t we see more of him?
Yet another running theme is the joke that Steven Tyler has a myriad of illegitimate children sprinkled throughout the United States. Pouty-lipped Alyson Jados, 26, was tonight’s punchline. She has seen Aerosmith in concert seven times, so getting a hug from Daddy -- er, Tyler -- before breaking into an impromptu duet of “Dream On” was overwhelming.
The vote came down to Tyler, who, despite his doubts about her pitch, could not say no to someone who could one day threaten him with a DNA test.
Vying for the Danny Gokey Award for Sob Story was 26-year-old Chris Medina, whose longtime love and fiancée, Juliana Ramos, suffered brain damage in an accident. Doctors said she wouldn’t make it but Medina did not give up hope. He now serves as a caretaker to Ramos, saying “What kind of guy would I be if I walked out when she needed me most?”
As for the new panel, they are really getting into a rhythm (pun intended). If anything, though, they are still a little soft on the hopefuls.
Fifteen-year-old contestant Emma Henry of Colorado offered further proof that tearful pleas can earn a ticket to Hollywood. While Henry’s voice had a likable Ingrid Michaelson quality to it, her rendition of “True Colors” was permeated with nervous cracks. Like last week’s Ashley Sullivan, though, she turned on the waterworks as she told the judges how much she really, really wanted it, eventually persuading an on-the-fence Randy.
Jackson’s legitimate concern was that she’d “get swallowed up in this whole thing.”
How young is too young anyway? Ryan explained that Justin Bieber was one factor in lowering this year’s age requirement to 15. One has to ask, though: Can Bieber himself even handle Bieber Fever? Being a teen star can be soulcrushing; just ask Demi Lovato or “Stephanie” from “Full House.” It’s as though “Idol” is trying to pick up the slack where Disney dropped the ball.
This may not be the best plan when you consider that the “Idol” are contestants are plucked from virtual obscurity. How is someone from podunk Idaho supposed to handle the pressure and attention that comes from being watched and judged by millions of people?
Perhaps this season’s contestants, while talented, are a little TOO “unassuming.”
Then again, we have yet to experience this year’s requisite scandal involving topless photos or a contestant who was formerly in a boyband.