'American Idol' recap: Los Angeles, land of loonies?
It’s probably safe to say that Thursday night’s “American Idol,” in which the show’s audition wagon rolled into Los Angeles, did little to burnish this city’s reputation, as far as talent and sanity are concerned. On the other hand, the episode certainly cemented L.A.’s creds as the entertainment capital of the world with a procession of bizarros who were, for sure, hard to look away from. There was bad dancing, belly-dancing, the dropping of pants, and memories of “Pants on the Ground,” as contestants big and small, tone deaf and really, really tone deaf, delusional and possibly downright deranged filed through.
As Steven Tyler might say, Hooray for Hollywooooooo!
Sure, there were some good voices in the mix:
-- Tim Halperin, who sang Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved" just for Jennifer Lopez, his childhood crush, who complimented him on his "special tone."
-- Karen Rodriguez, who trucked in from New York after "Idol" found her on MySpace, and had the judges using words like "hot," "confidence," "spit," "fire" and "melody." "I want to be the first Latina American Idol,” she said after she made it through. One more word: adorable. (J.Lo’s not the only one rooting for her.)
-- Heidi Khzam, who wowed at least two of the judges with her belly dancing before singing with almost as much verve. “I mean, God, one of the best we’ve ever seen,” a randy Randy asserted. “Simmer it down,” Lopez told her overheated cohorts.
-- And perhaps the most talented of the night, a couple of scarf-sporting singing brothers named Mark and Aaron Gutierrez, who wowed the judges with a version of “Lean on Me” that Tyler called “God-like.”
But apart from that tasty handful, delusion was the flavor of the day. It starts with first contestant Victoria Garrett, who declares she’s going to “Knock they socks off,” only to sound so much like a bleating sheep that Tyler tells her, “You’re going to Siberia!” before scaling it back to crack, “Not baaaaaad.”
Isaac Rodriguez and Daniel Gomez, two totally tone-deaf pals who fancy themselves musically gifted superstars, let the judges’ seriously harsh criticism –- “I hate to be the harsh one here, but neither one of you should sing,” Randy says –- roll off their backs. “I’ll keep on practicing,” vows Rodriguez, who tells us he has dropped out of college to pursue his singing career, unbeknownst to his poor, sweet-looking parents. I hate to be the harsh one here, but, Isaac, please, do your mom and all of us a favor and go back to school.
Tynisha Roches, who hails from Hoboken, N.J., has scary eyebrows and an even scarier way of saying, “Ow!” into the dummy microphone she insists on holding. “I don’t need the mike. My voice is big enough!” she declares, before murdering Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” She won’t stop singing, chasing Randy around the audition room, until her microphone is wrested away by the judges and finally, finally, security escorts her out.
The big talker of the night is Matt “Big Stats” Frankel, a big guy in a big suit with big ideas about his stature as CEO of Matthew Scott Frankel Productions. “I have a compilation album with the legendary Chaka Kahn on it,” says the mustachioed freelance musical producer, telling the judges he’s worked with “millions” -- er “bunches” -- of “great artists.” After the judges send Frankel on his way sans golden ticket, he tells us they haven’t seen the last of him and that he’s “beefin’” with Randy. He also tells us, “My mother told me if I don’t have anything nice to say about someone don’t say anything at all, so on the subject of Randy Jackson, my lips are sealed.” My mother told me the same thing, which is why I am not mentioning Lopez’s headscarf and black widow dress getup.
Then, among a series of crazies, is a guy who drops his pants. Yes, his pants are on the ground.
And while we’re winking at Larry Platt, the viral sensation from last season’s auditions, here comes Cooper Robinson, an older, outlandishly dressed gentleman from Arkansas with whom the producers may be hoping to make another viral splash. But while Robinson’s rendition of James Brown’s “I Feel Good” does not lack energy, leaving him breathless and Randy and the rest of us concerned for his health, it does lack originality. Then again, I did like his rant in which he let us know he was “more good lookin’, more handsomest than any dog, chicken, giraffe, snake, cow, pig, hog or any gee-raff.”
What did you think? Did “Idol” do right by Los Angeles? Did Los Angeles to right by “Idol”? Weigh in.
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: Cooper Robinson performs in front of the "American Idol" judges in Los Angeles on Thursday. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox