American Idol recap: California Screamin'
Let Ryan Seacrest’s grave voiceover tell you: “Our Los Angeles auditions have been far from successful.” But way to sit through an hour of filler, suckers!
A few times during last night’s hour-long costume party on American Idol, I found myself staring deep into my microwave, which lives at least 80 degrees counterclockwise from my television. What goes on in there? Are the bacteria having more fun than me? Why is the door always open? I didn’t want to miss a thing, but there’s no way I did. Apparently L.A. offered so little talent that at one point there was just a bewildered Seacrest watching a fleet of assistants deliver snacks. And sure, this is powerful stuff in its own way. We’ll never know which one of Ryan’s bleep-happy “friends” kept ordering all those appies. I’ll be pondering it for hours. But come on.
We met five golden ticket recipients, two women who could sort of do the splits, a poorly lubricated “freelance music producer” who had recently gone green, and something called The Human Tornado, 59?, who had come from a snake pit in Arkansas to “take the city” from the judges. J. Lo and her rippling honey highlights managed to escape from the possible crackhead unscathed, but The Human Tornado didn’t even notice her scurry by. There was a camera in the vicinity, after all.
Even though my most lasting impression from Los Angeles will probably be Steven Tyler’s impressively tanned and tatted bare arms….[indecipherable wail]….let’s do this.
Tim Halperin, 23, has had a crush on Jennifer Lopez for, according to Randy, “2500 years.” The shaggy-haired advertising salesman from Fort Worth, Texas sang Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved” directly to Ms. Lo, and their magnetic eye contact eventually translated into some very promising flirting after Tim dared to ask her age. “I’m young enough for you, don’t worry,” she assured him. “I like that!!!” he beamed back right away. Oh, yes. Do it, you guys. It’s a good idea. Randy questioned whether Tim was ready and couldn’t figure out who he wanted to be, but J. Lo defended him (and in a way, herself) by pointing out that “to be a recording artist, one of the most important things is to have…a special tone.” He’s also charming and cute, so he’s good to go. I’d just like to hear more power in his vocal. Listen to the song that bookended your segment, Timmy. Let’s Get Loud, c’mon. Now or never.
NEXT: Seacrest the Beanstalk towers over two well-dressed brothers
Karen Rodriguez, a 21-year-old from New York, was also obsessed with J. Lo. What are the chances? Hey, does anyone ever feel bad for Randy when J. Lo and S. Ty get the total gushers? Ha, I don’t either. Fakeout. Karen’s take on Whitney Houston’s “You Give Good Love” felt a little rushed, but that happens a lot with slower songs and nervous contestants. J. Lo summed up the performance succinctly (“Hot.”), then became 1000 percent more interested in Karen after learning that Karen once had a legit connection to her. Years ago, J. Lo herself had told Karen she had a beautiful voice on MTV’s Total Request Live. I definitely like Karen’s spunk (“You got the spit, you got the fire,” said Steven, who wore both a tee and a blazer during this oddly edited segment), her determination to become the first Latina American Idol, and particularly the way she lowered her voice on the “-wood” syllable of that magical phrase uttered in the presence of scores of still-freaked-out contestants, “I’m going to Hollywood!” For me (for you), that showed as much maturity and restraint as her vocal. We’ve got a polite one on our hands. They breed ’em well over at MySpace.
Heidi Khzam, 23, is a hot belly dancer. After a lengthy “first performance” accompanied by some pretty righteous Steven Tyler sound effects, she was finally asked to sing. Yeah, might as well. “You got something you could sing for us real quick?” wondered Steven. I mean, if you can’t fit it in to your busy schedule, no worries. J. Lo was less impressed than the men with Heidi’s vocal on Alicia Keys’ “Superwoman” and asked if they would kindly “simmer it down.” They most certainly could not. Belly dancer!
Marc Gutierrez, 28, and his brother Aaron Gutierrez, 27, were perfect specimens of humanity with their “Lean on Me” harmony, playful teasing, bright solid-color tees and patterned scarves. I was surprised the judges didn’t ask them to sing separately just for the hell of it (and to fill more time), but their talent was clear enough based on the shared sample. I’d love to hear more duets from them, but question whether they can make it on their own. We could have an Top Model Cycle 7-esque sibling rivalry in store for us in season 10. Math teacher Mark, who was in purple, played a sort of straight man to wacky red-shirted shoe salesman Aaron. They were very cute together, especially when they burst through the doors with golden tickets and Ryan Seacrest got in on some family hug action and looked SO TALL next to all of them. “Am. I. A. Page. In. Your. His. Tor. Y. Book?” wondered Paula Abdul in one of the straight-up craziest regions of my brain. YES. Mark it down. For on this great day in our nation’s history, Ryan Seacrest was a giant.
I also enjoyed: A crazy lady chasing Randy (though you know he wouldn’t have engaged unless he was truly up for some shenanigans), powder blue dancing dude, being reminded that MySpace exists, and J. Lo’s “Whatever; here’s my scarf” approach to a bad hair day.
Did you make it through the full hour of sunny skies? Who did you love? (Besides Steven.)
Annie on Twitter: @EWAnnieBarrett
Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.