On Thursday, American Idol made its way to Los Angeles. When the show began with recaps of Lauren Alaina and Brett Loewenstern, two remarkable auditions from previous weeks, viewers were given an inkling that perhaps they would see no such talent in L.A.
But as the old saying goes, "When life gives you lemons . . ." So American Idol offered up a 60-minute glass of lemonade.
There was something about the parade of really bad auditions that seemed reminiscent of an earlier American Idol, when viewers tuned in more for the terrible than the terrific. This episode they made something of an art form out of selecting individuals who were at once entertaining and awful.
Tynisha Roches, possessed the kind of tenacity and confidence that all musicians need to make it in the business but struggled with the more "technical" aspects of performing, such as singing and remembering lyrics. She also has the dubious distinction of being the first woman to chase Randy around the table, cooing her half-remembered lyrics in a desperate but ultimately futile attempt to win him over. It was her last-ditch effort before being removed by security.
But the highlight of the evening, if one could call it that, had to be Matt "Big Stats" Frankel, CEO of Matthew Scott Frankel Produc - tions. Apparently, Mr. Frankel is a freelance music producer with anywhere between "bunches" and "millions" of artists and claims to have produced a compilation album with Chaka Khan. But, don't let his Hip Hop alter ego fool you, Matthew is also known for his support of environmental causes, which is why he proudly carries about his bus pass and can be seen on the LA County Transit System. Needless to say, his audition had little to do with actual singing, as even he seemed to know that his real talent lies somewhere in the realm of guru music producer.
While this episode's parade of weirdos may have been more palatable than another serving of tragic tales, the fact of the matter is, there will likely never be another William Hung (a 2004 Idol bomb who parlayed his 15 minutes into a celebrity career). Not because Mr. Hung was one of kind, but because the viewers of American Idol have evolved and matured over the years and the novelty of horrific auditions has passed. This was something that Simon seemed to instinctively understand when he made his decision to bow out. The larger question is whether it is just the novelty of bad singers that has worn out or is it possible that for all of the pomp and circumstance, America just isn't genuinely captivated by the Idol contestants anymore?
Some of the contestants in LA were banking on America investing in them.
Tim Halperin definitely had a cuteness about him, not unlike that of a gerbil, especially as he blushingly admitted to having a crush on JLo since the fifth grade; ah yes, what every woman wants to hear. He performed a charming rendition of Maroon 5's, "She Will Be Loved," directly to Jennifer and secured a golden ticket.
American Idol also featured "My Space" contestants this week. People still use My Space? Apparently, Karen Rodriguez does. Karen possibly had one the most grating voices of the season. Unfortunately, we'll have another opportunity to assess that statement, because for some reason, the judges put her through to Hollywood.
Heidi Khzam, made all of the weird auditions worth it for Randy and Steven when she performed a mesmerizing belly-dancing routine, while Steven obligingly provided the beat. Her voice was decent but like our old friend John Wayne Schulz, she was not making it through solely based on her musical talents.
Perhaps the most talked about "good" audition this week will be that of the Gutierrez brothers, Mark and Aaron. These two gentleman were affable and performed a duet of "Lean on Me" that Steven Tyler termed "God-like." While such a statement was completely and utterly without merit (and not just because of their outfits and the fact that they were both rocking their man-scarves), the brother's duet was definitely greater than the sum of its parts.
Although Thursday night's Idol may have been the thinnest on talent that viewers have seen this season, American Idol is promising lots of changes in store. With Nigel Lythgoe's return as the producer, many hope that he can breathe some of the life that has energized his other show, So You Think You Can Dance, back into Idol.
The show has promised to do away with old-fashioned theme weeks, and may even allow some original performances by the contestants. With the auditions nearly at a close, we're all eager to move onto the real bread and butter of the Idol experience. Here's hoping that the changes this season can remind us why we fell in love with Idol on that fateful day in June, nine long years ago.