We got double the audition cities Wednesday night on “American Idol,” and that meant double the crazies, weirdos and generally unusual people we got to know in one episode. Double the number of times we hear “A Change is Gonna Come.” And, best of all, double the wigs worn by Nicki Minaj.
The night began in San Antonio, where we got “everything’s bigger in Texas” jokes, delusional brothers, a guy called Papa Peachez, and in Nicki hairdom, straight blonde followed by straight black ‘dos. Then in the second hour, we went to Long Beach, California, aboard the haunted Queen Mary, where we met a death metal screamer, a guy whose speech nerves were messed up by tonsil surgery, and guy who’s just short. From Nicki: curly pink, and another Barbie-esque blonde wig.
Despite Nicki’s mane showing up, she seemed to be missing—at times even physically, when she was late to the Long Beach auditions because she had to be at an awards show at 10:45 in the morning. But even when she was there, Nicki was pretty quiet, not displaying any of the walk-out fire from last week. Case in point: the nominee of the night was Ann Difani, whose husband alerted Randy Jackson of her existence. She sang a Faith Hill song, and out came the box. She told judges she sings country but could cross over into pop. “Right, but…” Mariah started, and just when you thought Nicki’s head would explode from yet another you-must-sing-country-or-else discussion…nothing happened. Um, Nicki? That’s your cue. I mean, she only even rolled her eyes like five or six times.
Keith Urban, on the other hand, got in a few good lines tonight. It took Nicki’s absence and Mariah Carey being stuck in traffic for him to finally stand out. At one point, he said someone had a “Gavin DeGraw-esque thick thing” in the back of their throat, which is one of the most vividly disgusting things I’ve ever heard on this show, and yet, kind of awesome.
Mariah was late for work that day in Long Beach, blaming L.A. traffic and reminding her bosses, “When you want a diva, baby, you gotta pay the price.” Mariah also reminded us that she has been everywhere and done everything and felt it all—even the guy with nerve damage had something Mariah could identify with. Also—hello, Mariah’s boobs.
San Antonio auditions were held in a really pretty venue, the Sunset Station, and the carpeted stairs and velvety everything made most auditions seem a little classier than I suspect they would have been elsewhere. Brief words about the featured contestants: First up was Vincent Powell, a reject from last year’s Hollywood batch, who blames his elimination on nerves after Randy Jackson took an unusually long and intense sip of Coke (Hollywood). Vincent described himself as a praise leader, and Cristabel Clack described herself as a worship leader. The 29-year-old mom used her last chance audition wisely singing Alicia Keys, and was also sent to Hollywood. There was Victoria Acosta, a mariachi singer who definitely sings mariachi better than she sings pop, as is usually the case with mariachi singers on reality competitions, but she made it to Hollywood anyway. Sanni M’Mairura, who wants to be a role model, though didn’t specify for what, got through with his happy rendition of “Who’s Loving You.” Adam Sanders, who got a standing ovation from Mariah Carey for his audition of “I’d Rather Go Blind”—even though he implied Mariah was from the same era as Etta James. And Papa Peachez, who looks like the young blonde guy from “Queer as Folk,” dances in parking lots, and who sang his own original song with the line, “I may be gay, but that’s okay” (Hollywood). A change totally did come, for a guy like that to make it to Hollywood on “Idol.”
In Long Beach, Shubha Vedula stumped Randy and Keith (the only present judges) with her name, but did a solid Christina Aguilera imitation on “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” (Hollywood). Brian Martinez, a dude with a Steve Buscemi-quality paleness met a guy named John in a bathroom who told him to audition—guess how that one went. Matt Farmer suffered from traumatic brain injury after an IED exploded while he was serving in Iraq, and somehow that related to him overcoming impotence, I’m not quite sure how, but he made it to Hollywood anyway. Stephanie Sanson did not, however, after screaming—literally screaming—Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” and flipping off the judges. Jesaiah Baer’s Zooey Deschanel essence and scat singing got her through to Hollywood, despite a fire alarm going off in the middle of her audition. We had two bullied kids—one for a real reason, that he is 4’9”, and the other because she once appeared on “Maury Povich.” But both Matheus Fernandes and Briana Oakley made it to Hollywood.
And, last but not least, reminiscent of our Cuban stutterer from two weeks ago, Micah Johnson talks with a severe impediment but sings like an angel. Apparently, he got his tonsils removed and they were SO BIG that the doctor hit some nerves pulling them out. Talk about a Gavin DeGraw-esque thick thing in the back of your throat.