[Before I go any further, a quick apology for my lack of recap for last night's Tuesday episode of "American Idol." As you may have noticed, I'm in Park City for the Sundance Film Festival and after rearranging my entire schedule for last night, I promptly got confused on time zones and missed the episode. Mea culpa, y'all...]
Wednesday (Jan. 21) night's "Idol" took the auditions to Louisville, Kentucky, which meant lots of racing metaphors ("To put it in horse-racing terms, imagine 22 horses and a donkey. You just wouldn't stand a chance," Simon explained to one contestant) and even more filler. In the hour-long episode, we had two different "I Got a Golden Ticket!" happy-jumping montages, plus a long clip package of the judges yawning and complaining about boredom. Here's a hint, "Idol" producers, the best way to make a dull episode seem exciting is not to show footage of the people being paid to be there expressing their own disinterest.
And it wasn't like there weren't one or two talented people showcased on Wednesday's hour.
[More after the bump...]
If you like your "American Idol" contestants with a lifetime's experience, I recommend Joanna Pacitti.
Last year, "Idol" took a bit of flack for only selectively mentioning when contestants had a previous recording history, but when Pacitti walked into the room, judge Kara DioGuardi instantly recognized her from her time at A&M. She could have gone further, though, since Pacitti's profession credits make Carly Smithson look well-and-truly amateur.
Not only has she been on A&M, but she also had an album released in 2006 by Geffen. She's had singles on the "Legally Blonde," "First Daughter," "Nancy Drew" and "Bratz" sountracks. She also appeared on the MTV series "First Year."
What's more interesting about Pacitti, though, is that she was famously fired from the lead role in the 20th anniversary production of Annie, a role she won through a Macy's talent search. After her dismissal, her family sued the "Annie" producers for $50 million, eventually settling out of court. Heck, even I remember that scandal.
Since she isn't signed to a label currently? I guess it's fair play. Did she sound good in her audition? Sure, I guess. She's a pro, after all.
But I can take or leave the Joanna Pacittis of the world. What's the fun of discovering somebody who's already been discovered at least three or four times previously?
Give me Leneshe Young any day of the week. I don't even care about her sob story. Yes, she grew up poor and it would be great if she could help her entire family, but that isn't such an uncommon story for "Idol" contenders. What I admire is that she walked into the room, said she was going to sing her song and her song turned out to be sassy, melodic and fun. We may find out tomorrow that it's really somebody else's song, but for now? Leneshe has moved ahead of Anoop Desai on the list of people I really hope we get to spend more time with this season.
I also liked Teen Pregnancy Poster Girl Alexis Grace, a stay-at-home mom and all-around cutie whose rendition of Aretha Franklin's "Dr. Feelgood" made me wish she'd sung Motley Crue's "Dr. Feelgood" instead. The best thing about Alexis was that after Simon told her she had a commercial face and implied that she needed a bit more edge, Kara was prompted to recommend, "Dirty yourself up. Go home and make love to your fiance."
Kara had a mixed bag episode. Yeah, she recommended raunchy sex as a tool for self-improvement and I'm all for that, but she also humiliated poor Rebecca Garcia, the girl from the news. Rebecca came in and did a subpar rendition of "Before He Cheat," a cover so inept that Kara went to her tip sheet, saw that the girl had been voted Most Humorous in high school and announced that it was all a joke. It wasn't and it was left for Simon to be in the uncomfortable position of doing that "I'm sure you're a lovely girl, but you should never sing again" thing.
That prompted Kara to look at Paula and purr "Just hit me." Why? "Because I was mean."
Kara DioGuardi: Singer! Songwriter! Judge! Masochist!
She has potential.
And how about this week's singers? Did anybody else have potential? Well, the judges were giddy over several guys, both of whom seemed like Chris Richardson types to me (that's neither good nor bad). I thought Matt Giraud's Gavin DeGraw impression was so-so and I didn't get why the judges didn't point out his weird side-to-side rocking, but he's a dueling piano player, so that's something. And Brent Keith Smith was less memorable than the judging skirmish that occurred when Kara and Paula kept interrupting Simon mid-advice because they thought the Brit was about to say mean things to the pretty guy.
In terms of freaks and geeks, Louisville was a huge disappointment.
The judges jumped to strange conclusions when Mark Mudd told them to be careful, especially Paula, who's just paranoid about everything. Mudd's relative Samuel Mudd is a very interesting historical figure (and subject of the underrated early John Ford film "The Prisoner of Shark Island"), but the expression "his name was mud" predates Dr. Mudd. Thanks "Idol" for perpetuating misinformation.
Otherwise, the bad contestants were a familiar lot. There was the nerdy guy with the deep voice, the hyper energetic guy who shouted and the trampy girl whose parents had convinced her she could sing. Yawn.
Last point: Other than Leneshe Young, the best singer I heard all night was Felica Barton, whose one sentence of Corinne Bailey Rae's "Put Your Records On" was good enough for me to take note of her name, even if she barely received any screentime. I hope we'll see her again.