Our wacky extended family vacations in tranquil Colorado for another round of auditions

By Annie Barrett
Updated January 26, 2012 at 03:55 AM EST
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American Idol

S11 E4
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  • ABC
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Welcome to Colorado, a wonderfully placid landscape in which many species thrive — bull testes on plates, cows, the “frightening and homeless,” and a person whose job is to shake dirty fake snow over Ryan Seacrest. At least that guy probably doesn’t have a twin brother who specializes in shimmering sleet. But if he had, and if he’d done a weepy confessional including the line “I’ve spent my whole life living in the shadow of his saltshaker figure,” this episode might have been a lot more compelling.

Oh, that was tragic, that poor twin. First of all her name was “Tealana Hedgespeth.” I’m so sorry already. And she just kept going on and on about how her twin sister was so talented. “I feel like she’s so much better than me,” said Tealana. “I CAN BE AMAZING TOO.” Maybe so, maybe so. But are you sure you want to wear that belted yellow romper while you give it a shot?

That whole segment horrified me in a “maybe this shouldn’t be televised” kind of way — much more so than even the pointless final spotlight on “Magic Cyclops.” Still, I was somewhat delighted when Tealana told Randy Jackson he could call her “Dawg” and then proceeded to sing a song called “Bring Me Some Water.”

If I keep writing about the faulty twin, I might become as bummed out as contestant Curtis Grey when he had to wake up on camera at 6 a.m. So let’s get to last night’s amazing singers — or in this case, people who got golden tickets in Aspen. The aforementioned Curtis was a pretty endearing guy, struggling to figure out how to maneuver a hug with his parents after his audition (sometimes you pick the wrong way to lurch!) and turning an awkward front somersault outside. His voice was (ugh) just okay for me, though, on “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” I detected a little boredom in Steven and Jennifer’s faces. Their comments were so generic (“major talent”) (“good looking”) that it’s hard to believe this guy will go far. I’d like to hear him again on his keyboard, though.

Ewwww, before Curtis was Jenni Schick, 24, an overly energetic blonde gruntmonster who might also be your kid’s music teacher. She’ll run away screaming if you play a recorder within her earshot, so definitely do that if you’re an American Idol producer on the hunt for the juicy scoop. After jerking her way through Pat Benetar’s “Heartbreaker,” Jenni ran up to kiss Steven Tyler on the mouth. So THAT’S why we’re watching her audition! Her boyfriend won’t mind because Steven’s on her list of celebrities she’s allowed to kiss if she gets the chance. On her boyfriend’s list are Lady Gaga, Adam Levine, and Ryan Seacrest. Honey, your boyfriend’s gay. It’s fine! All the good ones are.

NEXT: A flower child powers up Richie Law (Scotty McCreery with shaggy hair), Devan Jones (lovely falsetto, face you could gaze into for days), and Mathenee Treco (got Steven to sing “Hey Jude” along with him, looked on the verge of toppling over while bopping) got the dreaded three-for-the-price-of-one edit. See ya never.

Vegetarian sausage-maker Haley Smith, 18, has a tendency to finish sentences in this really enthusiastic way as if the subject matter at hand — clearly stuff she already knows to be true — is constantly new and surprising. “I live in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere I LOVE NATURE!” “Landscape is to die for IF YOU’RE GONNA DIE FOR ANYTHING.” So true! It’s kind of amusing in that I don’t think she can help it. Right away, Steven and J. Lo dug her ’70s vibe, and she got right in on that buzz. “I really do enjoy THAT ERA OF MUSIC!” Good for you girl! You go on and get it.

Haley put her own spin on Rufus and Chaka Kahn’s “Tell Me Something Good” — a bold choice with perfect pick me, choose me, love me lyrics. I ended up really liking her and can’t wait to see how much more comfortable Haley is with a guitar. Steven went overboard (good thing they weren’t still lounging on the deck of an aircraft carrier) and told Haley, “I’m honored to be here listening to your voice.” He was just so excited to have met someone from his own era.

After a busy morning of filming cans of Coke and Diet Coke in their natural habitat — the signup table at a convention center — it was time for Day 2. Steven Tyler ate blueberries and cleaned his teeth with a knife. It would be weird if he wasn’t eating tons of fruit at this point. Maybe for the live shows they can set up a special cornucopia for him to snack on. I’m not kidding — he really seems to come alive when he’s eating fruit, and even though it’s Steven Tyler, you know how bored he can get once we’re live. I’m just planning ahead. (Fine, I want American Idol to turn into The Hunger Games.)

Shelby Tweten, 17, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in March, so she was a good candidate for an extended hometown edit. Her mom’s genuine relief and renewed hope that she could finally have her daughter back (only to release her into the wilds of Hollywood) made me cry just a bit, knowing how tense the mom-teenage girl dynamic can be even without the complication of a mental disorder. Shelby and her mom would sing together when she had hypomanic episodes and had lost control of her body. The way they stood in the middle of a field so grateful for each other had a very “the calm after the great big storm” feel to it. Be our guest, camera crew, they said with their eyes. It’s been years since we’ve had anybody here, and we’re obsessed! Anyway, why am I taking the backstory bait so readily? Sorry. Shelby’s actual audition was honestly not as special as the judges made it out to be. J. Lo loved the rasp in her voice and how she really felt it. I thought she sounded okay. Maybe I’m biased because for some reason I never think “Temporary Home” sounds that great a cappella. Haley Smith’s vocal was much more memorable.

Jairon Jackson, 19, did some pushups…and then an original song! Right away, J. Lo could tell her was “a lover.” She said this like every few seconds, clearly scheming. I liked the tone of Jairon’s voice and the passion for his lyrics (“I’m so lost in love and I don’t know about you…”) but thought his transition to the upper register was pretty shaky. He took good risks with that melody, though. We’ll have to do something about that huge white t-shirt, but there’s definitely potential. He may want to stop needlessly breaking overhead lights due to his boundless excitement, though. That’s not going to be cute in Hollywood. Ryan’s snow shaker — terrified of being upstaged — will especially not think it’s cute. You do not want to mess with that guy. He is not a lover.

NEXT: But mommy, why is Lady Gaga wearing grandma’s glasses? Angie Zeiderman, 25, announced that people sometimes call her Lady Gaga when she walks down the street, and at that point I basically tuned out. Bleep, bloop, bleep, done. Next. But there was no next! Magic Cyclops, who was not even smart enough to pull off “delusional Russell Brand impersonator” convincingly, got the final segment of the night. Angie was the end of the road for us! Excuse me for a moment as my eyes slowly fill with tears.

The self-proclaimed “vintage glitter queen” made a just-shy-of-heroic effort to almost reveal her underpants to Steven Tyler in an extremely misguided Broadway number. Some of Randy’s better instincts kicked in and he dismissed her (and the whole concept of THE STAGE) with one tired diva hand, but J. Lo would not stand for that. “How many people came in here and could do what she just did?” she asked the Dawg, and if you really take a moment to think about the answer to that question, you’ll realize it’s one of the most meaningless questions ever asked. Randy obviously hated it, so…..

So. Angie got to sing a “real song” (“Blue Bayou”) and sounded much better but still not that great. So what did Randy do? He suppressed every fiber of his Dawgged nature that was trying to bark at him that “this is kind of not the right show for a vintage glitter queen,” and had a change of heart. “I LOVE HER!” decided Randy. So it’s settled! We will (probably not) see Angie soon.

See you tonight for Texas — think that crazy girl will show up? (WHICH ONE?)

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American Idol

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.
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