Practice your seal clap and warm up your dialing fingers, because "American Idol" is back! As the seemingly never-ending audition episodes continue to roll out, we'll help you make sense of all the Coca-Cola-sponsored insanity, breaking down the noteworthy wannabes (both good and bad) into handy categories.
The first Season Seven stop was the City of Brotherly Love. (Did Seacrest make that call?) Let's take a look at how the Philadelphia folks fared.
The Biggest Loser Challenge: Joey Catalano
With "Idol" going to head to head (or belly to belly?) with "The Biggest Loser" this year, was it irony or coincidence (or both!) that the first audition of the seventh season featured a feel-good story of a dude who had recently shed 200 pounds? This kind of random rival-reality-show-steals-another-show's-thunder incident hasn't been around since "America's Next Top Model" had a "Project Runway"-esque challenge the same night Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn premiered their fourth season. Tonight "Idol" drank the "Biggest Loser" milkshake. "Idol" drank it up. Plus, the guy's last name is Catalano. If he ends up singing a 30 Seconds to Mars song during Hollywood week, my head might explode.
Best Eli Sunday Lookalike: Jonathan Baines
OK, OK. That's two "There Will Be Blood" references in one "Idol" recap. But admit it: Seventeen-year-old giant Baines had an uncanny resemblance to young actor Paul Dano. Judging from his audition, he had a nice enough voice too. Let's hope he doesn't end up a false prophet. Fun fact: A quick glance at Baines' MySpace page indicates that he, like Dano's "Blood"-y character, Eli Sunday, is really into Jesus.
The Haley Scarnato Trophy for Most Unexpected Yiddish Usage: Alexis Cohen
Veterinary student Cohen could have picked up several awards Tuesday night with her memorable audition. First, I was ready to bestow upon her the honor of Saddest "Cribs" Episode Ever, after seeing her "I live in a studio apartment with a menagerie and my mother" taped intro. Once she began singing, it was totally going to be Best Grace Slick Impression Ever. Then, when she flipped the eff out, it was going to be Best Grace Slick 1978 Meltdown in Germany Impression Ever. But as soon as I heard her utter the word "chutzpah" (even if it came out more like "chusspa"), I knew she'd end up with the Haley Scarnato trophy, which incidentally is made of cheese and sculpted to look like a pair of legs. I can't wait to see Cohen's Jefferson Starship collaboration during the finale. You just know that's coming.
Most Welcome Cameo From an "Office" Star: Benjamin Franklin
You totally saw him in one of the montages too, right? Sigh, when will the strike end?
Worst Borat Impression: Alaa "Yuka" Youakeem
This might have been funny if it was on last year's show. Nope, even last year, this guy's shtick would have felt old (but not as old as that lame "wax your chest and you can audition again" 24-year-old virgin). If "Idol" wants to continue making movie references, it needs to cancel its Netflix account and start seeing flicks in the theater. I don't think I'll be able to stomach a "Juno" joke in Season 10.
The Jackpot: Angela Martin
Martin is literally everything I look for in an "Idol" contestant. First, she's a black female with a sick voice. Second, she has a rough back story that makes her impossible to dislike (unless you heartless bastards hate handicapped children). Plus, she has a really supportive family, so supportive that during the celebratory commotion, they all toppled over like dominos. And last, one of said family members has an endlessly mockable name: Latrina. But seriously, unless she has a personality transplant during Hollywood week, I can't imagine Martin not making it to the final weeks of this season's competition.
The "No Wonder Taylor Got Dropped From His Record Label" Ribbon: Melanie Nyema
I was shocked that this shriek-y mess made it to Hollywood. Finding out that she used to sing backup for Taylor Hicks (you know, back in that two-minute window when he had a career) was the least surprising thing all night.
Most Likely to End Up Like Rudy Cardenas: Chris Watson
He's charming, he's handsome and he has a "great recording voice." But he also has the potential to be a lame-o with a target on his shirt. Exhibit A: the Uncle Kracker audition song.
The Nakia Claiborne "Please, God, Let Her Be a Good Singer" Plaque for Participation: Temptress Browne
Remember the heartbreaking Nakia, who last year, after being denied a golden ticket, broke down and uttered, "I'm tired of hearing 'no' "? Well, Tuesday night we had an even more gut-wrenching "Idol" tryout, thanks to Temptress. The 16-year-old football player auditioned to help her morbidly obese mom, and producers milked the "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" story line for all it was worth. Unfortunately, her desperate and tragic audition ended with some heavy-duty holy-crap-even-Simon's-consoling-her weeping. (On a side note, was anyone else totally shocked when Cowell admitted to being a sucker for animals? I just didn't expect the guy to be a pet owner.)
The Martik "Eccentric" Manoukian Original Composition Honorary Grammy: Paul Marturano and Milo Turk (tie)
Sure, we've all whipped up a celebrity-stalker tune at some point in our life. I wrote one for Uma Thurman in eighth grade. (Sample verse: "I loved you in 'Pulp Fiction'/ I loved you in 'Jennifer Eight'/ I love you very early/ I love you very late!") But Paul's ode to all things Paula was just funny and clever enough to overshadow the fact that the guy was creepy as all hell. Meanwhile, Milo Turk's "No Sex Allowed" song was catchier than gonorrhea!
The Carmen Rasmussen Certificate (Written in Invisible Ink): Kristy Lee Cook
With an OK voice and a shocking lack of personality (not to mention a previous major-label deal with Arista Nashville, which oddly wasn't mentioned on the show), I worry that Kristy will quickly become the forgettable cutie of the season. Expect her to be back in her log cabin faster than you can say "Stephanie Edwards."
Most Likely to Have a Secret Porn Past: Brooke White
Come on. Did you buy that "I've never seen an R-rated movie in my life" crap for a second?
The Bo Bice "Where's the Orchestra?" Commemorative Plate: "American Idol"
With all the hubbub surrounding the news that "Idol" is now allowing contestants to audition with instruments, based on what we saw Tuesday night, it looks like only one girl took up the show on that offer. Did producers decide not to feature those auditions after some fans cried foul over the "unfair advantage"?
And more importantly, what do we think of Randy's facial hair?!