In the ''American Idol'' group-audition show, the Brittenum twins resign by mistake, and little cowboy Garet rides off into the sunset

By Michael Slezak
July 02, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
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”American Idol”: Meltdowns and flameouts

Logic would dictate that by the midway point in American Idol‘s Hollywood rounds — with fewer than 100 hopefuls left competing for a spot in the semifinals — seeing a truly heinous performance would be about as common an occurrence as hearing season 4 finalist Mikalah Gordon sing on key.

But as most of us know from experience, logic doesn’t always apply in the world of Idol — exhibit A: See reference above to ”finalist Mikalah Gordon” — and tonight’s episode was no exception. There was screeching, flailing, and a whole lot of ugly (not the good kind) on display at the Orpheum Theater — and that was all before a single note was sung.

Which, of course, brings me to the subject of the Brittenum twins. I can’t tell you how much I’d love to recap tonight’s Idol proceedings without mentioning the buffoonish brothers from Memphis, but that’d be akin to, I dunno, preparing a McGriddle without pouring on the syrupy goodness: It simply can’t be done.

And you can’t really blame the show for devoting so much airtime to Derrell and Terrell anyway. Hasn’t some of the joy of Hollywood week always been watching the judges puncture the bloated egos of arrogant wannabes? And in the Brittenums, Idol‘s producers managed to offer us all a double scoop of delicious takedown, with none of the guilt or calories.

After all, it’s been widely reported that the Brittenums have already been booted from the show after being arrested for allegedly using another man’s identity to purchase a new car. Who’s going to feel bad when the inevitable Idol guillotine sends them back to obscurity with one satisfying chop — especially after the way they behaved on tonight’s show?

I didn’t think it could get much more ridiculous than Terrell berating his group-audition partners for failing to rehearse till 5:30 a.m., then sharing his tale of woe with the judges (extra points deducted for reminding us he showed up to breakfast in his ”short shirt and socks”). But the sight of Derrell quitting the competition based on the erroneous assumption that his brother had been eliminated managed to ratchet up the embarrassment for everyone involved.

Huzzah for Simon, whose tart ”Okay, see you later, bye-bye” was the only acceptable response to Derrell’s verbose exit speech, which included a whole load of hooey about his spirit being broken. And while I’m kind of shocked the judges let him back into the competition an hour later, nobody out there really believes the show’s producers ever intended to let these dudes into the final 24, right?

As much as I imagine the Brittenum Show will prove a ratings winner for Fox, I’d argue that the network could’ve pulled in even more viewers if the evening had devoted more time to such fierce divas as Brooke Barretsmith, Sarah Enouen, and this season’s vocal powerhouse, Mandisa Hundley. C’mon now, there’s just as much (or perhaps more) drama inherent in listening to some anonymous kid pull off the audition of a lifetime as there is watching an egomaniac get his comeuppance. On the same note, how come we only got two-second glimpses of season 5’s leading men Chris Daughtry and Taylor Hicks?

What was even more unforgivable, by devoting scads of time to mildly annoying backstage shenanigans from the likes of Tyra Juliette Schwartz, Brenna Gethers, and Marcy Smith, we also missed getting an extended look at surprising missteps from two of this season’s early front-runners. I hated to agree with Simon, but he was correct in pointing out the lack of ”buzz” in Paris Bennett’s commonplace take on ”Emotions.” And considering that Katharine McPhee is a polished entertainer with years of vocal training, how weird was it to see her botch the lyrics to ”Sugar Pie Honey Bunch”? Granted, that played-out number needs to be quickly retired from the Idol repertoire, but triteness doesn’t excuse messing up what Simon noted is the easiest lyric ever.

That said, at least the show’s producers knew enough to pull the plug on a story line that had run its course — the brief rise and not unexpected fall of Garet Layne Johnson. While Idol played up the comedy in the small-town teenager’s group audition with fellow cowboys Matthew Buckstein (who ought to try to translate his hunk factor into an acting gig) and Michael Evans — lassoing them into a parody trailer for Brokenote Idol — I’ve got to say my heart broke a little when Johnson croaked his way through ”Do Wah Diddy Diddy.”

True to form, however, Johnson reacted to his ouster with wide-eyed charm, noting that his lack of experience had rendered him not quite ready for the big leagues, but he was nonetheless hopeful that with time and training, he might one day return to the Idol stage. Maybe that kind of humility and sportsmanship doesn’t translate into a great teaser for the Fox promo department, but that doesn’t mean Idol (and most reality series, for that matter) couldn’t use a little more of it.

What do you think? Were you surprised by all the bad auditions? Were any of your favorite performers cut? And do you think the group performances are a fair indication of individual talent?

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.
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  • TV Show
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  • 16
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  • 06/11/02
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