I usually watch American Idol when I’m exhausted on a school night, setting the kitchen timer at 20 minutes to jot down my thoughts. Well, it’s a rainy Sunday, I’m well rested, and I just watched an amazing two hour episode, so get comfortable as there won’t be much self-editing happening today.
What’s a New York episode without some classic Jenny from the Block footage? There’s Jlo, casually strolling past the house where she grew up, and the current resident conveniently out on the front porch and having no idea who she is. The innocent viewer in me wants to believe this is all true; the jaded viewer who has watched every season except that year I was living in Australia knows this is classic American Idol Production magic. Nothing is left to chance like this.
Will and I quickly start to debate the logistics of the New York auditions– we just can’t help ourselves. Clearly the initial mass ones were held in the Nassau Coliseum. The final judges table has a Manhattan backdrop, which I think has to be more AI Production pixie dust fake– traffic does not move that consistently on the FDR and Brooklyn bridge, AND I’m not aware of any hotel with ballrooms that have that kind of view. I kinda do this crap for a living, so if this is a real place, someone let me know and save me some work.
Enough about me, let’s hear it for Strong Island, who sent some mean talent, filling us up with Long Island pride. Sal from Bethpage is likeable and one of the strongest “crooner” type contestants I recall [insert here Google search for the names of the terrible crooners of seasons past who Will loves to incorporate into American Idol trivia].
LI also sent Jonah Hill-esque Adam Ezegelian, who we were hoping was good because he’s from Will’s hometown of Wantagh, and he hasn’t had that kind of Hometown Hero to beam about since the Kevin “Chicken little” Covais of season 5. He was very good, very likable, and I look forward to looking out for him working in CVS the next time we’re visiting Will’s parents.
The strongest LIer was Travis, who Harry especially gushed over. Good looking, super talented, authentic… though it doesn’t appear I cared enough to write down what he sang or his last name.
All of this really makes me regret that this show didn’t exist when I was a high schooler on Long Island, because I bet I can name every single kid I went to school with who would have given it a shot. I can hear them practicing in the hallways, see them picking out their outfits at Jean Country in the South Shore Mall. I have to settle for faux reminiscing over Facebook messenger with old friends, mocking the high school people we hated whose failed American Idol auditions-that-never-were would have been so painful it would have made our lives. I faintly recall one person having a short stint on Star Search, but that was nothing compared to what could have been with this American Idol machine and the false hopes given to the kids of today.
The generation who grew up with social media, reality TV and the selfie are really showing where we are as a society with the advent of Stage Names before any of them have performed on an actual Stage. I’m sorry, but I don’t care how talented you are, J. None, Jax, Shi (my real name is Shayna, but that means beautiful and I don’t want strangers saying that), and Arianna (call me Yanni G), but you are competing for a bunch of middle aged peoples’ votes, and they do not appreciate this type of crap and will not be rooting for you!
I do need to give a special self-appreciation shout out to J. None, who didn’t say but rather sang his name not once, but twice, which is something I’m going to incorporate into my introductions during my next conference call.
Another production highlight from this episode was showing the buskers in various Williamsburg L subway stops, natch, where apparently you can pull in hundreds of dollars for 3 hours of work. I did some quick math, and let’s just say I think Najah, an intriguing and talented guitar playing singer, is following her Fidelity Greenline at a faster pace than I am.
I also appreciate AI producers doing some work for us, mashing up footage of three nondescript pretty blonde OK singers. Those of us Advanced American Idol viewers would have realized that these girls cancel each other out at some point in Hollywood Week, so it’s nice to have that stage set for us from the get go.
We have our first “two people in the holding booth at once” of the season, and Will and I both let out an “uh oh.” Will asks me, “So which one of them do you think is dying?,” as the Producers typically don’t break audition protocol unless they are teeing up some sort of heartbreak story—or twins with varying talent so that you can see one feign happiness for the other.
Fortunately, it’s just a classic case of Young Love. The girl—the aforementioned YANNI G — is not good enough to get through. But her sexy ski cap wearing boyfriend Nick sure does. Insert an amazing few seconds of restrained excitement as they greet their friends with the bitter sweet news… then CUT to an elated, pumped sexy Nick flaunting his Golden Ticket as soon as Yanni G is out of sight. We break for commercial as Yanni G gives a desperate, supportive “I love you” and kiss to her boyfriend-for-not-so-long.
One of the winners of the night is Qaasim, who slays it with Stevie Wonder. He’s so likeable and is also winning the contest that I think is just as important—Best Family, as Family Shots are vital to my enjoyment once we get to live performances. This dreadlocked musical whacky family is just so much cooler than mine (I know my sister reads this, as this blog is for her, but I can’t imagine she is going to disagree).
But we are all rooting for Hollywood Anderson, who makes me quickly shut up complaining about kids giving themselves stage names. He is an exception and is the real deal, from his original song that is actually good, his “I’ve seen some shit” interpretation, and his Covenant House story. And can we note that he’s only been playing the guitar for a year? I bought a second hand guitar 3 years ago and I’m still working on my “Yellow Submarine.” It’s really so impressive, and I’m crying alongside JLo.
I will take an extra paragraph as I luxuriate writing on this lazy Sunday to address something that’s been perplexing me. This #TurnUpForIdol … does that mean people are physically turning up for idol, as in the contestants getting up to go to Nassau Coliseum? Or is it like a phrase that means something like the Little John “Turn Up for What”—or is that “Turn Down for What”? Do I need to go on to my Twitter account, which is only used to yell at companies I’m mad at, and search for this hashtag and figure it out?!
You’re doing great so far, Producers!