A.I. returned Tuesday night and was basically the same old song, which is a good thing. I’ll admit—I abhor reality TV but love my A.I. I liked the new judge, Kara DioGuardi—she was honest without being brutal and she could sing. She seemed to fit in with the others just fine (in case of a tie, Simon gets the last say).
The team was in Phoenix, AZ and my favorite wannabes were:
- Emily Wynne-Huges, with the pink hair, pierced lip and tattoos, who ripped through “Barracuda” with confidence and a cool rock voice. Could she be this year’s Carly Smithson?
- Stevie Wright (named after Steve Nicks), who glided through a few bars of “At Last” in a smoky, husky voice which belied her age (16)
- Deanna Brown, a beautiful platinum blonde who sang “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” like a black woman with ache and soul
- Arianna Afsar, a perky, cute-as-a-kitten 16-year-old who sang “Put Your Records On” with surprising range, huskiness and power.
The girls were definitely stronger than the guys last night, at least the ones they showed. Even the males who got through to Hollywood were just good but not extraordinary. J.B. Ahfua from Utah had a big voice but no stage presence and Michael Sarver, a stocky 27-year-old “roughneck,” was likeable but bland. Scott MacIntyre, the mostly blind guy who went to college at 14, had a nice but forgettable voice. Though I think it was cool of him to audition, the producers are probably just putting him through so they can milk his handicap and try to make it a tearjerker.
No A.I. discussion is complete without mentioning the freaks. Standouts for me were:
- Michael Gurr, who hissed through Carrie Underwood’s “Starts with Goodbye” in a breathy, sibilant, unintelligible voice reminiscent of Gollum. I half expected him to call one of the judges “Precious.” When he was rejected, he collapsed and had to be given water and a banana
- Randy Madden, who put on a black rocker outfit complete with bandanna and attempted “Livin’ on a Prayer.” The dude couldn’t stop crying and Simon called him a drama queen
- X-Ray AKA Aundre Caraway, who had infectious energy and a big, beautiful smile but sang a weird song he wrote called “Cactus.” He thought he was a mariachi but sported Jheri curls
- Katrina Darrell, who wanted to make out with Ryan and have his babies. If that weren’t weird enough, she auditioned in a bikini so skimpy the producers had to censor her ass by placing the A.I. emblem over it at one point. Her voice had good tone but she was off key and flat in places. She also had a bad attitude and disrespected Kara. None of this mattered because Randy and Simon liked her (Randy: “Do you go to all your auditions [in a bikini]?” “No, just this one,” Darrell answered. “Smart,” Simon quipped) and she’s off to Hollywood. I have a feeling she’s gonna get nasty there but she won’t get too far. We’ve never had a trampy Idol.
In another two-hour segment tomorrow, the team visits Kansas City, hometown to last year’s winner, David Cook. Come back tomorrow night and every week thereafter for my recaps as the competition heats up.
Who were your faves? Did you agree with the judges’ choices? Who did you think were unfairly rejected? Did you see anyone last night who had Top 5 potential? Leave a comment!