American Idol Returns: Part II

Another night of auditions and we may have found the next William Hung. And somewhere along the way, Paula and Simon switched brains.

I'm still trying to figure out why

target="_blank">American Idol chose to start season seven with a two-night premiere. After watching auditions Tuesday night, I figured they must have something special up their sleeve for Wednesday.

Uh... no.

Part two of the season premiere on FOX had more auditions, this time from Dallas. Which basically meant that most of the contestants had southern drawls thicker than molasses. In February. In Siberia.

Don't get me wrong: From a traditional perspective, the evening did not disappoint. We saw glimpses of who the heavy hitters might be when the season really begins, like Katie, a vocal impressionist who Simon called "super talented" and one of the best he's seen all year. (Her Britney Spears impression was dead on!)

And we saw plenty of train wrecks too. A Texas-sized batch of wannabe Idol-ites making complete idiots out of themselves. Call it embarratainment.

But night two of the Idol auditions also completely confirmed my initial observation that more people try out for the show knowing they don't have a shot, but hoping to make it big by being the absolute worst. It's a case of: Who can be the next William Hung?

And they just may have found him. More on that in a sec...

Can you blame anyone for going that route? I mean, think about it. We've all seen the caliber of singers who become THE American Idol, much less make it to the top 12 or 24. Most of us have a better shot of hitting the lottery or being struck by lightning. But if you're bad, and I mean really bad, you might just get your 15 minutes of fame.

And the show encourages it. They can't put some of these people on fast enough.

Like Kyle, a super-tanned guy wearing "manscara" who said he was ready to rock out, but couldn't carry a tune. Paula called him scary.

Or the other Kyle, a complete nerd who showed up in a shirt and tie and said he wanted to run for president. Shockingly, Kyle's voice wasn't too bad and he got a ticket to Hollywood (which he probably didn't expect).

Or Douglas, who said his family sarcastically "hates him" because he sings so well. After he put on quite possibly the worst audition ever, I think he was wrong. Your family's not being sarcastic, pal. But maybe now you can return the favor and hate them back for lying to you all these years.

Seriously, I'm a little reluctant to make too much fun of Douglas. He was either on drugs, mentally unbalanced, or on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In a pre-audition interview, he talked seriously about not wanting to damage his vocal chords. Then during the audition, he performed a bizarre warm-up and proceeded to belt out the most unintelligible version of... um... uh... You know what? It was so bad; I can't remember what he was trying to sing.

Doug pretty much refused to stop his audition, continuing to singe even as Simon ordered him to get out. He was led away by security. Does A.I. report some of these people to authorities, I wonder?

There was one truly wonderful moment last night, when Simon and Paula apparently did a mind-meld and swapped brains. When a bubbly young woman named Micaela walked into the room, you thought for sure she was Cowell cannon fodder. But she was sooooo lovable, Simon actually gave her shot, despite her voice. Paula turned into the bad guy and said no. But Randy came through in the clutch and said yes. So we'll see more of Micaela, although probably not much more.

I predict that the last contestant of the night might actually have a shot at stardom. Renaldo Lapuz. Remember that name. Wearing a silver outfit and cape, Renaldo belted out a rendition of his own song, "We Are Brothers Forever," dedicated to Simon. In fact, he serenaded Simon, with Paula and Randy joining in. Renaldo and the song were terrible. Just terrible enough to get him a one-time recording contract, I suspect. The perfect stocking stuffer instead of coal.

By the end of the night, another 24 people earned a golden ticket to Hollywood. Next week, it's more auditions from San Diego. But frankly, I'm getting a little weary. I don't know how many more Dougs and Renaldos I can take.

Ethan Morris: "Not always right, but never in doubt." Go ahead and write me.