American Idol Week Three: Birmingham and Los Angeles Go Auditioning!
Paula Abdul is all the buzz at the start of this year's American Idol season, and though this week she was far from buzzed herself, there is still speculation a-plenty that her cup is filled with a little more than Coke. Ever the gleaming source for reputable information, Us Weekly reports this week in an "Us Investigates" exclusive, the answers to countless (okay, 5) Burning Questions.
"Seriously, What's In Those Cups?" was a low-priority question number 4; the answer to which is reiterated by Randy, "it's all Coca-Cola products, like water and diet soda." If you think that's a revelation you might be confused to see the photo the editors chose to accompany this piece, where a toothy-grinned Paula sways sideways with her eyes closed. The picture was taken from the first day of auditions in Minneapolis, a date that will live infamously as her most drunken debacle on national television thus far.
But I'll defend her again this week: she was sober, or at least appeared so. In fact, the first thing I noticed when the first day of Birmingham auditions began was how great she looked. Her commentary was on par. Even Simon noted that he agreed completely with one of her assessments of an audition. Though, the evening could not proceed without at least one contradiction from Simon of Paula's words. She called one Bernard Williams off key; Simon disagreed, and of course, told her so. Cut to: close-up of Paula's Botox over-dosed dermis, her deadeye stare into empty space, as she sits shocked and speechless. For the rookie Idol watcher this shot may be interpreted as stone drunkenness; but to the trained fanatic who has witnessed years of sporadic slurred remarks from Paula, this was clearly a moment of innocent befuddlement.
One must remember that Paula is a very inarticulate person. She does not react well to contradiction, especially the kind that comes from Simon. His is the opinion she values most. From him she longs for mutual agreement—it gives her a boost.
And why not? People like Simon. He said it himself in one of the rapidly multiplying moments of explicit ego caressing, that he, like the contestant he was addressing (Brandon Rogers, from the L.A. auditions), has a "likeability factor." "It's true. It's true," he said.
Paula was absent from the second day of the Birmingham auditions, Ryan said, due to "family matters." I know what you're thinking, but I am sure it was not an intervention.
Meanwhile back in the Birmingham auditioning room, Randy and Simon got down with their bad-boy selves. Hissing with laughter through their teeth, they devilishly fed off one another’s drollery, but without the kind chemistry Paula intervenes with, leaving one contestant, Brandy, with the fierce final words, “THANK YOU, Brandy, for an absolutely rotten audition.”
Paula was present for both days in L.A., and so was guest judge Olivia Newton John. Ryan called her 1982 song, Let’s Get Physical a “pop sensation.” Randy reacted to the first contestant who named himself, “the most exciting entertainer on planet earth,” with a chilled, “Noooo, man.” The ladies looked scared, Simon annoyed. It was business as usual.
There was truly only one moment of disappointment this week when Brandon, a singer from Season 5 who was cut after Hollywood auditions, tried out again with a tired performance that reminded me of Clay Aiken on a dull day. I would blame the content of those Coke cups for the judges’ impaired choice to let him pass to the next round, but that would have to mean Randy was shellacked, too; and anyway, Simon was the sole, and sane, judge to say no.
Two other moments worth mentioning this week come from 60-something Sherman Pore, who “auditioned” with a song for his wife, who had died from cancer two days before. And when Eric, who was perhaps the worst audition of the day, was done torturing the judges with his song, Simon took a closer look at his profile: Years of training from, what’s this, but Randy and Paula’s instructional DVD, “Sing Like The Stars.” Simon ran after him to have the fact confirmed on camera, but not without a fight. Right behind him Paula was dragging herself at full-speed, and in high-heels, while Randy chugged behind at a slow stride, cursing the unexpected aerobics.
This week's mentionable auditions: Bernard Williams, the funny guy Chris, the almost-failed actor/singer Alaina, and Brandon Rogers.
Next Week: San Antonio auditions, and Wednesday night, the “Rest of The Best.”