Wednesday, January 26, 2011

AI Season 10- Milwaukee Auditions, 1-26-11

We're in Milwaukee in October. Steven Tyler is maraca-ing his Altoids while he and Randy mangle the lyrics to some song or other. It's the first time that AI has held auditions in Milwaukee, though Danny Gokey is from there. Just in case you didn't realize it, we're in the midwest, dontcha know. Yah, you betcha.

Please Steven Tyler- shut the hell up. I do not want to listen to you shriek every single week.
JLo is perky in a pinky-beige sort of jacket with huge floaty lapels over sparkles and extremely high heels. She's wearing lots of rings and every time I look at her, I am struck again by how gorgeous she is. Randy is wearing an odd green and black jacket with a smiley face on it, and the word *adios*. It makes as much sense as anything else he wears.

Auditioner #1 is Scotty McCreery, from North Carolina. He's 16, and has a sort of Aiken-y face and a very deep speaking voice. He dares to sing real country music, with an extremely mature and pleasant voice, despite the fact that he isn't wearing a cowboy hat or a plaid shirt. This kid has a future in radio if he decides that music isn't right for him (though I hope he doesn't decide that, since his singing is really very good). Okay, Tyler- you should not have to be told not to say *that* word to a 16 year old. Sheesh.

#2 is Joe Rupka, 19 from ohio. Oh my, this is a rather pitiful, large young man, with radio DJ aspirations, and a propensity to sing the call letters of some radio station. Over and over and over and over. I think to myself that this kid cannot possibly sing well. He attempts Billy Joel's The Longest Time, and guess what? He can't sing. And he won't take the unanimous rejection. He keeps on singing, and then he does the call letters again. Yikes.

#3 Emma Henry is 15 and she's from Colorado. She has brown hair, dyed blond on top, and has loved American Idol since she was 5 years old. She sings Cyndi Lauper's True Colors in a very breathy voice, with a runaway vibrato. She's interesting, but she's also the exact reason why 15 year olds should not be allowed on this show. She absolutely needs a couple of years of seasoning, which the judges tell her as gently as they can. In fact, Randy actually earns his salary by giving her excellent, and compassionate advice. But she cries and begs and weeps and begs some more... and.... nooooooo... they change their minds and let her through, though JLo says that they will eat her up in Hollywood, which is true. They did her no favors.

We are subjected to a string of terrible singers, including a horrific goth girl in black velvet, and a guy who asked if he could have a drink of Randy's coke.

#4 is Naima Adedapo, who accessorizes with dreds, flowers, hoop earrings, sunshiny bright colors, red lipstick, and unshaven armpits. She's a maintenance worker at an auditorium, and she has a big and beautiful voice that is totally up to Donnie Hathaway.

It is now 2:00pm and the auditioners are going a little nutso, with limbo under a giant toothbrush, and a misbegotten tumbling run that lands squarely on the cameraman's chest.

Note to Bad Singers: do not sing Jenny From the Block to Jenny from the block. It does not amuse her.

#5 Jerome Bell, a Bar Mitzvah Singer, is wearing this year's first stupid hat (well outside of that feathery thing that Steven Tyler stuck on the back of his head last week) and very shiny shoes on his very small feet. He's singing Let's Get It On, and he's good, but he's trying way too hard. Marvin Gaye is about nuance and restraint, and longing. This kid is too much with the vocal gymnastics for my taste. He's going through, and he deserves to, but I hope he dials it back in Hollywood.

#6-Thia Megia is 15. She sings with a very mature voice, with great depth and a beautiful tone.

Unfortunately, we're going to be overrun with 15 year-olds this year, and it's all Justin Beiber's fault. Or rather, it's the fault of all the 12 year olds who buy  multiple copies of the Beiber oeuvre. I have enjoyed the auditions so far, but if the show really does turn into Beiberanistan, I will check out.

The show has shown very few outright crazies this year, but #7 Nathaniel James is a Civil War re-enactor, in costume, who cannot pronounce recreate. He came with his bearded father, and is anxious to assure us that said father is not a dirty, sex-fiend hippie (you think I'm kidding? I could not make this up). He sings The Lion Sleeps Tonight, or rather, he approximates singing. This kid is seriously off-balance.

#8 Mason Wilkinson needs a looooong time to compose himself before singing. He should have taken longer.

#9 Molly DeWolf Swenson is tall, blond, a recent Harvard Grad, and a new White House Intern. And oh yes, she went to the Lewinski Well. On the judges' entrance that morning, Randy accidentally smacked her right in the face, but she appears to be undamaged. She sings Dock of the Bay, and starts out too low, but then she warms into it, and is excellent. I'd take her over thirty 15 year olds. It's nice to see that her celebratory dance looks like a normal kid's, and not a White House Harvard Grad Intern's (not that I'd know what that dance would look like, but it sure wasn't stuffy and staid- it was purely joyful).

On Day 2, Tyler is wearing a black riding coat, a black hat, and a black vest over a black and white shirt. Randy is in a gray sweater with either a large 8 or a cursive E embroidered on it. JLo is dressed for Grease Night at the Home in a white shirt festooned with a huge treble clef, and a strange silver sparkly neckline, a short full black skirt, and black tights. And a sloppy pony tail. This is the first time that she hasn't looked beautiful.

#1 Hayley Reinhart, from Chicago auditioned last year but didn't make it. She's trying again, and Randy pretends that he remembers her. She's singing Oh Darling, and her bluesy voice is quite nice. She makes it this time.

#2 Tiwan Strong is very tall, and dressed all in white, including his shoes. He sings Twistin' The Night Away, and while he's no Sam Cooke, he's certainly good enough. He has a very happy entourage, one of whom dances herself right into a charley horse, and needs Ryan's tender loving care to recover.

I groan when I see #3, Steve Beghun. He's tall and very doofy, and he makes really horrible puns about his name. And he's a CPA. My guess is that he's going to be dull but terrible. But I am wrong. Large and long Steve has an excellent do wop voice. Wow!

#4 Vernika Patterson cannot do Minnnie Ripperton, and she should not try. And Vernika honey, though I agree with you that there are far too many skinny chicks on this show these days (where are the Big Girls of Yore?), the judges do not reject you because you're chunky. They reject you because you can't sing. Trust me on this.

This leads to a string of weepy, angry, ungracious, swearing, and possibly physically abusive rejects.

#5 Albert Rogers III is a bad Obama impersonator who compares himself to Ruben, Luther, and Usher. He must be thinking of some non-musical Rubenlutherusher, because his Stand By Me is painful.

#6 Scott Dangerfield has a bit of the John Lennon look about him, if John Lennon wore shorts and striped shirts, and lipstick (it's not dark, but there's something that's not natural about his lip coloration). He's a goofy looking kid, but he surprises the judges (who still manage to think that only the pretty ones have talent, I guess) with a very good, bluesy voice. I think we'll be seeing more of this kid.

#7 Meghan Frazier is an obnoxious Packer Fan, with an equally obnoxious Packer Fan Father. She sings Beiber by way of Opera and takes the unanimous rejection well.

#8 Allyson Jados looks like a groupie, and I don't mean that in a good way. She's the first Rocker Girl of this season. She sings Come Together, and she's only okay but the judges put her through. Her look brings out the creep in Steven Tyler (which is not very far below the surface as it is), and her little sister looks just like her.

Ryan tells us that 53 kids made it through in Milwaukee, but that there's one more we need to stick around and meet. They've slated the last 11 minutes for this mystery guy and his sob story, so it better be good.

Update- I forgot to allow for 6 minutes of commercials. Still, that's 5 minutes for #9 Chris Medina, a Chris Sligh lookalike, who wears his fiance's engagement ring on a chain around his neck. Of course the Judges ask about the ring, and he tells them that his fiance, the love of his life, was badly injured in a car accident over a year ago. She had a traumatic brain injury, and sustained massive damage, but Chris and his mother take care of her. And of course she's in her wheel chair out in the lobby. I am ready to dislike Chris because this back story was obviously angled to garner sympathy, and future votes. Then he sings, and I dislike him even more because his voice is wonderful- it was plenty good enough to get him through to Hollywood without trotting out the big guns. The sob story simply wasn't necessary, and the sheer manipulation of it annoys me. Before telling Chris that he's going to Hollywood, they demand that the fiance be brought in, and Steven Tyler is genuinely sweet to this massively damaged young woman (which buys back a little of the good will that he spent saying naughty words to a kid earlier in the show). I predict that we'll be seeing shots of her all the way through to the Top 12 and beyond.

So, that's it for Milwaukee. We'll see all y'all tomorrow night in Nashville.

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