American Idol Review: It's all Keith Urban's Fault!
. . . And we’re back, kids! It’s Week Two on American Idol, and nothing has changed since Week One. Seacrest is still douchey and annoying, Randy is still saying “dawg” and other terminology that was out in 1986, Keith Urban is still an innocent chess piece in the immature game between Nicki and Mariah, and, oh yeah . . . there is a singing competition going on. I almost forgot.
This weeks’ festivities took place in Charlotte, North Carolina and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. First stop on the audition madness tour is Charlotte, and the gang is all seated in their comfy chairs at the Motor Speedway. The show didn’t waste much time letting us know that this week would be all about Mariah and Nicki and their dumb, pointless hatred of one another, with endless clips of “coming up next!” and multiple shots of both of them exchanging quick glances of death at each other. Quite frankly, I find them both intolerable, and we are only at episodes 3 and 4. I really feel for Keith Urban, who gets to sit in the hot seat right between them every single week. Right about now, he is probably questioning why the hell he ever signed that contract. During these episodes, Mariah continues to play with her hair CONSTANTLY and say “dahhhling” to everyone in a really obnoxious fake British accent. Nicki continues to flirt with 15-year-olds that audition, asking them if they are single, which is really creepy and weird. Yuck. She also continues to give everyone a nickname, and her accent continues to be one of the most annoying ones I’ve ever heard. Meanwhile, Randy and Keith cancel each other out in pointlessness.
Still, there were some offbeat and memorable moments during Week Two:
Charlotte, North Carolina:
*Things started off strangely with a weird sort of dude named Joel Nemoyer, who sang while lying on the floor. He said a vocal coach on Idol recommended this for breath technique, so he did it during his audition. It didn’t help. He still sucked. Nicki nicknamed him “Jumangi.” I have no idea why.
*Brian Rittenberry showed up with his wife, who beat stage 4 cancer and got to meet Keith Urban, her hero. He sang “Let It Be” with a big, soulful voice and made it through to Hollywood. Another stand-out big voice was 25-year-old Jimmy Smith, who Nicki said was “poppin’.” Okay then. His vocals were a pretty and pure country.
*Two unique sounding female were Isabel Gonzalez, who rocked a Sam Cooke song with her sweet, jazzy vocals, and Taisha Bethia, who barely got through to Hollywood despite her cool, powerful-as-hell rocker vocals, with a unique rendition of “Folson Prison Blues.”
The Stupid Nicki / Mariah Showdown:
Okay, let’s get into this. First of all, the media and the show itself has been advertising this thing as if it’s a heavyweight boxing match, instead of two annoying egomaniac divas going at it with each other and doing lots of eye-rolling and cutting each other off. Secondly, this first verbal argument between them – isn’t actually between them. It’s between ALL OF THEM, and technically, Keith Urban started it (please read that last part of the sentence in a little kid, accusatory voice – “Mom! He started it!”) At the center of this ridiculous argument was a completely innocent girl named Summer Cunningham, who was simply trying to audition for the show. Summer is a cute blond with a really nice voice – not exactly memorable, but she ain’t hurtin‘ anybody. She gave a good audition, singing “Lean on Me.” The bizarre argument began when she was asked how she sees herself as a musician, i.e., what style she wants to be. She made the comment that she “had done the country thing,” and wanted to now try other styles of music. Keith took issue with that sentence or with the way she said it or with the word “thing”, as if country music was just a fad that she tested out and then threw in the garbage. That is how he perceived what she said, but she was actually just answering their question of what kind of artist she wanted to be. Keith muttered on about how he takes issue with people saying they “tried the country thing”, and then Keith, Mariah, and Randy all started yammering on about how Summer needed to choose a genre or style of music and go with it. Meanwhile, Nicki was pouting in the corner and not speaking. Finally, after a lot of dramatic shots of each panelist, and several of poor, scared Summer who looked like she wanted to run out of the room; this dialogue happened; and this is from memory and my notes, so Im paraphrasing slightly:
Nicki: I like her. While these 3 are having their little country debate, Im gonna say yes. I feel like why are we all picking her apart and making her choose a style and putting her into a box right this minute. I feel like ya’all are forcing her to choose a genre instead of just being who she is.
Mariah: Oh okay Nicki, I’m sorry if we are judging and giving our opinions on her singing. That’s what I do. I sing. I’m trying to help her, as opposed to just sitting here talkin about her outfits like you. . . (She keeps talking).
Nicki: I actually have more to say ……
Mariah: You always do ……
Keith: (trying to break tension, to Summer) You’re goin to Hollywood! (Summer awkwardly leaves as they all continue to yammer on)
Nicki: Why ya’all forcing her into somethin she isnt?
Randy: Oh Im sorry, you’re right, maybe she shouldn’t take my 30 years of experience and insight, I don’t know what I’m talkin’ about …..
Nicki: (gets up) You know what? Finish your show. Im leaving. Im done ……..
And that, folks, is the end of Nicki vs. Mariah, Part One. Pretty lame, huh? And really, in the end, it’s all Keith Urban’s fault. That mild-mannered, polite, nice as pie country man started this whole thing. And now, because you judges cant get along, nobody gets ice-cream! And now, back to the contestants……..
*So, for the remainder of their time in Charlotte, Nicki and Mariah didn’t say much to one another, and Nicki did eventually come back to the judges panel. Of course she did. What else is she gonna do? Quit and not collect her ginormous paycheck for sitting there and acting like a child? I don’t think so. She did, however, sit there and pout the rest of the episode, and there were several shots of her texting on her phone during breaks or when the others got up to get some lunch. Am I crazy, or was their some sort of footage of a Nicki/Mariah slap that was shown on TMZ? So, I’m guessing that will be the next big fight that this show builds up and manipulates us with. Stay tuned . . .
*Brandy Hamilton tried to ease the tension with her beautiful soulful voice. The 25 yr old Navy Seal sang an Ella song with her gorgeous tone, and asked the judges to “please not fight. It makes me sad.”
*The “weird as hell with a beautiful voice” Award goes to Ashley Smith, who was the strangest person on earth with the voice of an angel. Janelle Arthur pleased Keith with her country voice, and Rodney Barber pleases everyone when he sings on the streets of Charlotte to make extra money, which he then gives to the homeless.
*On the unique side of things was Seretha Guinn, who brought her cute little girl inside with her, and whose boyfriend had just recovered from a serious accident. She sang the theme song to “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and it was oddly beautiful and jazzy. I looooved her voice and creativity. Also on the creative and gorgeous voice side was Candice Glover, who received a standing ovation from the panel, with Randy calling her “the best we have heard in Charleston.”
All in all, there were 37 golden tickets given out in Charleston. , and Nicki texted 94 people on her phone. Keith Urban went home to Nicole with an ulcer, Mariah stared at herself in the mirror and played with her locks of hair while husband Nick Cannon massaged her vocal chords with olive oil, and Randy went off his diabetes diet that night and ate 24 cupcakes while hiding in a closet.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
With the stupid argument that mild-mannered troublemaker Keith started with his quiet and unassuming persona out of the way, the panel was well-rested and de-stressed after pulling up in their separate limousines to their “job” of listening to people sing and then arguing about it. Here is some of what transpired down in Baton Rouge . . .
*Megan Miller came in to sing her audition, despite breaking her foot two days before and being on crutches. Using the crutch as her fake microphone, she made the judges laugh and got through to Hollywood. Another person who overcame adversity was Charlie Askew, 17, who suffers from a socially awkward mental condition, and only feels confident while singing. Charlie has a great voice actually, and it is very much a unique one. Keith called his voice “not of any gender. Its your own thing.” He reminded me a bit of Clay Aiken, who was also very awkward at his audition.
*Brought in straight from the streets of New Orleans was 17 year old Maddie Assel, who had a beautiful, raspy tone. One of my favorite voices to listen to so far. Her family drowned her in Mardi Gras beads and hats when she came out with the golden ticket.
*Paul Jolley just lost his grandpa, who was his biggest influence in life and in auditioning. The 22 yr old with model looks and a big pretty voice wowed the judges and got through. He seems a bit on the obnoxious, cocky side as far as personality goes, but a very good voice.
*Two guys I liked a lot were Dustin Watts, a singing firefighter who has a gorgeous country tone, and Dr. Calvin Peters, a resident physician who is nicknamed by co-workers “the singing doctor.” Both had immense talent and down-to-earth personalities.
*The show came to an end with one of the most powerful and memorable voices the panel has heard so far. Burnell Taylor, 19, whose family survived Katrina and then moved to Baton Rouge, had an absolutely incredible vocal range and sound. Singing a song from “The Color Purple”, he completely blew the roof off the place, and made Mariah fake-cry. Keith commented: “somewhere there is a spotlight just waiting for you to walk right into it.”
And so, there you have it, kids. Another week of mayhem. And it’s all Keith Urban’s fault too. You really gotta watch out for the quiet ones . . .
Season 12, Episodes 3-4: Charlotte and Baton Rouge Auditions (originally aired January 23-24, 2013)
For more American Idol tune in to FOX Wednesdays & Thursdays 8/7 Central.
Follow @poptimal. Follow @kelleyiskelley. Read Kelley’s blog, which chronicles the life of a young widow, at ripthelifeiknew here.