American Idol Recap: Do the Fight Thing
Godzilla vs. Mothra. Batman vs. Joker. Coke vs. Pepsi. Michigan vs. Notre Dame. Randy Jackson vs. the English language. These are the rivalries that define the modern age. They’re long-standing. They’re heated. And pretty much everybody’s got an opinion on ‘em.
And now we’ve got…Nicki vs. Mariah? Divas, pleeeease.
On tonight’s episode of American Idol — centered on the Season 12 auditions from Charlotte, NC — a pair of wannabe alpha judges stomped and roared in an effort to establish dominance. Show insiders trumpeted the imbroglio months before it happened. Fox’s promo department heralded it as must-see TV. But when you break it alllll the way down, who gives a flying frog about millionaire celebs bickering and cussing and throwing shade? Not me (even if, to be honest, I kinda understood and appreciated Nicki’s position in the dustup — especially since half her vitriol was directed at the unspeakably irksome Randy Jackson.)
To put it another way, after 11 prior seasons of ratings dominance, you’d think Idol‘s producers would know the magic ingredients to the show’s success are the future Kelly Clarksons and Joshua Ledets and Brooke Whites of the world.
And the funny thing is, despite a lackluster opening hour, the Charlotte auditions actually delivered plenty of that amateur-singer-with-superstar-potential magic (along with a series of hilarious Nicki punch lines). Over the course of the episode, we got to see extended footage of 15 Golden Ticket recipients — including the fabulous Candice Glover, cut inexplicably during the Season 11 rounds but back in full-voiced glory for a chance at redemption. Wahoo!
Anyhow, with that in mind, let’s say no more about the carefully edited Nicki-Mariah blowout — indeed, we didn’t see the more explosive, expletive-filled shakycam footage that hit the Internet back in October — and instead focus on the talent. Who knows, maybe the contestant-centric vibe will prove contagious to Idol’s producers and judges? (I know, my optimism is really just delusion wrapped in a pashmina of goofy metaphors.)
Going To Hollywood
* Keith Urban stole the adjective right out of my brain when he described Brian Rittenberry‘s tone as “husky” (as well as cool), but the guy whose wife beat Stage 4 cancer made a few odd choices with his notes (or maybe he just veered off pitch) on “Let It Be.” I’m not sure I’d have given him a Golden Ticket, but I suppose the show needed to do something for the dude’s family after Ryan Seacrest grilled his wife about having a “hall pass” for Keith Urban — in front of their grade-schooler son.
* Jimmy Smith‘s “Bless the Broken Road” came off like a first-rate mimeograph of Rascal Flatts’ original, but I would’ve liked the judges to make him tackle a second tune to see if there was anything truly unique about his tone or delivery. (My money would be on “probably not.”) As for what prompted Randy to shout “let them eat cake in Hollywood!” as Jimmy left the room, well, that’s as much a mystery as whether or not Nicki’s hair actually was made of delicious cotton candy.
* We got a one-two-three of quick hits from Sarina-Joi Crowe, Haley Davis and Na’chelle Fullins-Lovell, but I’d be lying if I said any of them struck me as potential Hollywood Week standouts, let alone Top 20 material. Of course, the editors limited Na’Chelle footage to a series of “Mariah Dog Whistle (TM)” notes, without giving enough lyric or melody to decipher what she was actually singing. Even worse? We didn’t get to see if Nicki dubbed her “Nacho.”
* Please tell me I’m not the only one who briefly thought Randy was being sent back to 4th-grade English class when producers put him on a school bus to give Isabel Gonzalez a pass to the auditions. (I hear your rebukes of “Don’t insult 4th graders like that, Slezak!”) Then I had a good chuckle imagining Uncle Nigel asking Mariah to deliver the news. (“Daahhhling, you know I only do limos!”) But while Nicki declared she could listen to Isabel riffing all day, I found her tone to be ever so slightly strident, her power a little muted when she reached the ends of certain phrases. In the interest of brutal honesty, I’d rather see her come back and audition for, say, Season 15.