‘American Idol’ Recap: Los Angeles Underwhelms

Was Thursday night’s (February 3) episode of “American Idol” the worst ever?!

That was the collective kvetch on the Internet after season 10’s Los Angeles auditions aired. Could that bold declaration actually be true? Let’s break down the hour and take a closer look.

Here’s everything that was awesome on Thursday night’s episode: Randy Jackson’s gold shoes.

Here’s everything that made me want to personally recreate Butthole Surfers’ Electriclarryland album cover: Everything else.


Granted, six hours into the season, we’re all suffering from Audition Episode Fatigue Syndrome (or AEFS). (Symptoms include daydreaming about Paris Bennett, engaging in a Twitter party with an “Idol” winner’s dog, dizziness, nausea and having the sudden urge to explore the 600 section of your cable package.) But good TV trumps being burned out. Case in point: The “Real Housewives” series. I feel like I’ve been watching this franchise continuously for three years now, but as soon as one of those walking facelifts calls her sister an alcoholic in the back of a limousine, I’m jonesin’ for more.

The problem with Thursday’s episode? The good singers weren’t amazing, and the bad auditions weren’t fantastically bad. The 60-minute ordeal was limper than season six contestant Garrett Haley’s anemic “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.” Even J. Lo complained that a contestant lacked balls at one point. (Yet she was so quick to give Jacee Badeaux a Golden Ticket a few weeks ago. Curious.)

Adding insult to injury, the producers opened the show with a recap of the best their favorites so far and then promised “the best talent we’ve ever had.” Well, Nigel Lythgoe, if a belly dancer with an addiction to blue eyeliner is the best “Idol” has to offer, let’s just put a fork in season 10 and save our energy for “The X Factor.” Don’t tell me I’m about to eat caviar and present me with gerbil poop.

That’s not to say I didn’t perk up when delusional (and rejected) Victoria Garrett hissed, “Everybody can’t sing like [cue the sarcastic handmade quotation marks] J. Lo.” (Burn!) And I’ll admit that I chortled when the chin-strapped/mustached/sweaty CEO of Matthew Scott Frankel Produc … tions deadpanned, “I got a compilation that features Chaka Khan.” (No disrespect to a legend, but having heard Chaka sing live recently, I wouldn’t brag about that booking, Matthew.)

But you know you’re desperate when your best audition is a MySpace contestant flown into Los Angeles from New York. (That makes perfect sense!) Once in the room, Karen Rodriguez tried a million different vocal tricks as she dazzled the judges on “You Give Good Love.” But if she continues to use a kitchen-sink approach with her voice, “Idol” will have to issue this warning before every episode: “The audio equivalent of strobe lights may be used during this performance.” Remind me to stock up on wooden spoons, because my eardrums are going to have a seizure every week.

Fun fact: Karen once sang in front of J. Lo during one of those silly “TRL” games that put weeping superfans and secretly disinterested celebrities in the same room. (The tape is on the way from the MTV library. I’ve got to see this.)

There was another MTV celeb in Los Angeles: 23-year-old Tim Halperin recently had a song featured on an episode of “The Real World: New Orleans.” Score! If there’s one thing that has been missing from “Idol,” it’s a guy whose songs perfectly underscore drunken co-eds three-way kissing. Here’s hoping Halperin has a ditty called “That Rash Looks Dangerous,” because MTV needs tracks for the upcoming “Jersey Shore” European vacation.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t blown away by Halperin’s audition. Why did he pick a tuneless Maroon 5 song that showed off how unremarkable his falsetto is? It reminded me of Tim Urban’s “Apologize.” (Shudder, then open your mouth while no noise comes out.) So why am I excited that Tim’s advancing to Hollywood? Because he bantered with J. Lo about her age and she cracked, “I’m young enough for you. Don’t worry.” Fun! I’d say screwball comedy legend Preston Sturges is smiling down from heaven, but I have it on good authority that God is a bit of a remote hog, and He never misses “Antiques Roadshow.”

It pains me to even write down the name Tynisha “I Come With My Own Microphone” Roches, whose painted-on eyebrows, funky bangs and half-hearted Sinatra homage sucked out what little joy I had left in my auditioned-out heart. And don’t even get me started on Isaac Rodriguez. “I didn’t tell my mom I dropped out of college, but I’ll be an even bigger waste of oxygen by hijacking ’Idol’ for five minutes with my boring tone-deaf warbling!” At least his equally terrible buddy Daniel Gomez had a wacky haircut to gawk at. (Imagine Florence Henderson fronting Panic! at the Disco.)

As if Thursday’s lack of talent wasn’t frustrating me enough already, then Nigel Lythgoe went and tweeted, “I agree LA auditions were in general awful. A lot made me laugh. It just shows you that you can never tell were [sic] the talent will come from?” Oh no he didn’t!

If the talent was so awful, why were we expected to sit through it? It appears entertainment value was compromised in order to fill a network episode order. They could have taken an opportunity to kill an audition stop and replace it with another Hollywood week episode to show off more talent. Imagine that! Instead, producers slapped together this torturous hour and said, “Why switch it up now? I’m too tired to rethink how these audition episodes are structured. I found some of it funny. America will too! Now if only we could include flashbacks to Lauren Elaina and Jacee Badeux in this episode!”

OK, rant over.

Did you think tonight’s show was the worst audition episode ever? (Even the token eccentric elderly nut was a head-scratching snoozer!) Did the charming brother duo Mark and Aaron Gutierrez make you wonder if Sanjaya and Shyamali would have auditioned together if given the chance back in season seven? When they re-aired a snippet of Lauren Alaina’s audition, did you see her (stage)mom mouthing the words behind her? As for J. Lo, were you pro-turban or anti-turban? Do you have any suggestions on how to combat Audition Episode Fatigue Syndrome? Leave a comment below, and for more “Idol” moral support, follow me on Twitter @jambajim.

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