. . . and Idol taketh away.
We had a really great first week of auditions. We had a really good second week of auditions. And then we had last week. Sigh! Very little of what we saw last week was even remotely memorable. It's not that the talent we saw in Austin and Los Angeles was all that bad. It's just that it wasn't all that memorable. Los Angeles itself seemed more mired in just really awful displaces of self-delusion more than anything else, and the genuine talent we did see seemed to benefit more from not being hideous than actually being good.
Instead of letting talent shine, Idol fell back on gimmicks and shenanigans so that I can't particularly remember much about, say, Courtney Penry outside of the fact that she does a chicken impression and is obsessively in love with Ryan Seacrest. (Oh, Courtney, you're in for a life full of romantic disappointment, sweetie.) We had the love story of Jacqueline Dunford and Nick Fink who made themselves memorable via extremely creepy PDA (and who were not nearly as interesting or talented as divorced lovebirds Chelsee Oaks and Rob Bolin from the Nashville auditions). There was Casey Arthur who seemed really cool but was kind of lost in the shuffle of the week. Of all the auditioners we saw, Casey may be the only one who has a shot because of his unique sensibility. Here's hoping he doesn't get lost in the Hollywood Shuffle.
Los Angeles was even more of a challenge if only because the talent seemed to have taken a holiday and this allowed producers to focus on more and more train wrecks. We got to see some crazy woman chase Randy through the studio. Yeah. We got some freak show of a dude who claimed to have produced a compilation CD featuring Chaka Khan. In terms of talent, though...meh. Karen Rodriguez, the myspace auditioner, had the look of someone who will make it to the semifinals but not make the cut for the top 12. Same with brothers Mark and Aaron Gutierrez (although I think Mark was definitely the cuter and more talented of the two and might have a better chance were it not for the fact that producers will surely opt to play this out as a brother story rather than a talented substitute teacher story).
What the lack of anything truly memorable from last week says, though, is that Idol may need to continue to examine its product. Why does each city need to have its own audition episode, particularly if things were as sparse in LA as we were led to believe? Again, why not focus on the talent and let us get to know these auditioners, particularly those fated to make it to the semifinals? Why continue to reward the freak shows and relegate the talent to montages and sob stories?
We have more auditions this week and then we're finally off to Hollywood where at least we'll be faced with more talent than freak. We hope.
PS -- Yes, I saw the commercial for The X-Factor. I wept. You know, just when you think you're over Simon, there he is in all of his v-neck glory to remind you of just what you've been missing. Don't get me wrong. I love the tenor of the new judging panel. I'm mad about Steven Tyler. But yes, I miss the cranky Brit a little bit more than I'd like to admit.