It’s a 2 hour Thursday night episode and there is a lot to cover, so let’s get to it. We’re in NYC so of course we need to revisit Jennifer Lopez’s humble roots. She is somewhat dressed down and is walking through her old Bronx neighborhood and finds the one person who does not know who she is. Idol is not so subtly trying to send us two messages: (1) no matter where you came from, you can be famous (subtext is that AI can change people’s lives – and we will keep pounding this into your head from every angle possible) and (2) no matter how famous you are people who have day to day struggles have other things to worry about. I appreciate the latter sentiment but am not quite sure if JLo does as she seemed incredulous at not being recognized. It’s a double header show so we again see more “Jenny from the Block” footage late in the episode, and I honestly can’t tell if it’s another AI segment or one of those cheesy Fiat commercials.
It’s NY week and we have a sense of pride throughout much of this show – from shots of the Brooklyn bridge, to a peek into the Nassau Coliseum. Right off the bat I get psyched to see a good old South Shore Italian kid. He is a bit over the top (or so it might seem to TV viewers) but I’ve met plenty of those of his ilk growing up and like Sal, I am somewhat offended by Harry’s mocking. Harry –if you’ve never been to Mulchay’s on a Monday, Bogarts on a Thursday or Sprats, ever, keep the LI accent impersonations to yourself. Strong showing from Strong Island, so we’ll see you again in Hollywood.
I am shocked that we spent 15 minutes and only got through one contestant. We then see the Nassau Coliseum where the bulk auditions must’ve occurred in order to weed down the masses to a manageable number for the judges. Again – some LI pride as throughout the episode we see flashes of Islander banners in the background. I do feel bad for all of the rebuffed contestants who have not only the stinging pain of rejection but have to also walk through the bowels of that concrete shithole in Hempstead with a camera following them the whole way. Nothing glamorous about that. I too know the feeling of disappointment walking across that desolate parking lot, as I have been an Islanders fan for the past 30 years. Grab yourself some comfort food at the Fuddruckers across the street, kids.
If you recall, we’ve been treated already to a few kids with stage names (remember Lovey?). I don’t get it. This guy J. None is sweet and likeable but I am not sure if it is proper to anoint yourself with a nickname quite yet. I can feel Hollie’s vote for him vanishing into the ether as he signs “J None” to the whiteboard. I have the same conflicting feelings with Jax – an 18 year old from LI with a good parent backstory and compelling voice. There’s Prince, Madonna, Cher and …..Jax??? Sorry kid – I don’t think so. Or perhaps I didn’t realize that this was all acceptable. From now on, I am changing my work signature to “Dollar Bills” or “Double U Swaggy”. Jax has a moment and who can root against a 911 hero Dad, but I am afraid she’ll be facing Angie Miller Syndrome, trying to recreate this moment for the rest of the competition. The insanely annoying commercialization efforts by these kids doesn’t end as later in the episode we are treated to Shana or “Shi” – a shy girl who has given herself a new name, is a model and has never sung in public. We get a cliffhanger commercial break but I couldn’t care less. Hollie wants her to get a ticket so we can see her have an absolute meltdown during Hollywood week. I am on board with this and so are the judges. Only question is whether she has a sore throat and needs to go to bed early, gets into a fight with her groupmates in front of the piano player and locks herself in her room and/or cries in front of the judges. Sounds like a good AI commercial break question for the Twitterverse #AImeltdown.
Aside from the trend of amateurs giving themselves stage names, there is also a disturbing trend of panhandling being acknowledged as an actual occupation on this show. You know how that blue graphic that shows up on the bottom of the screen with the name, age and something like “waiter” or “dog walker” or “Church group leader” or “teacher of special needs children”. I’ve noticed “busker” has now been substituted for “unemployed” this season. Obama’s America I guess….Anyway, we see another musician on the L train (although I am pretty sure everyone on the L train is a musician) and she is excellent. Najah Lewis is steady and mellifluous but also informs us that she makes $300 for every 2-3 hours on the train. Wow. Maybe I am the schmo with my silly 9-5 job. After I finish this write-up, I think I’ll change my to do list from catching up on writing Performance Evaluations for my team and finalizing business requirements to breaking out my guitar and practicing Smoke on the Water and Yellow Submarine for a few hours.
Before I reinvent myself, here’s a quick look at a few noteworthy contestants:
- Eric Lopez: He’s from the East End and he’s all Adam Lamberty. I see group week dramatics ahead for him
- 3 non descript blondes: they all get golden tickets and I don’t have the mental bandwidth to remember their names at this point. Idol has told me they are one in the same with their montage treatment so I’ll take the cue and spend my energy elsewhere.
- Qaasim Middleton: Brooklyn in da house. Likeable kid and even more likeable Mom. His family exudes cool but with the musical Dad and the dorky musical child prodigy vibe, I feel he may be another Malaya Watson.
- Travis Finlay: Harry is smitten with him and he has a sad story but a bright smile. More South Shore (Baldwin) LI. Go get it!
It’s now Adam Lambert flashback time. We get to revisit his initial audition and also am reminded of the terrible 4 judge Kara DioGuardi experiment. In case you didn’t get it, let me again hit you over the head with the Idol brainwash message. Remember Adam and how timid and unknown he was. Look at him now!!! This show makes stars (like no other show…ehmmm The Voice!). Got it? If you don’t I’m sure Carrie Underwood is still an Idol indentured servant and maybe they’ll cart her out again in a few weeks.
It’s time for Adam Ezegelian from…wait for it…WANTAGH MOTHER F’IN NY. He is a cross between Lost’s Hurly and Jonah Hill with a nice personality but who knows if he can sing. I haven’t been so pumped since the days of Levittown’s Kevin Covais (btw – where is he now? I really hope he is not busking outside the Tri-County Flea Market). If you told me I’d be hollering and waving signs for a parade down Wantagh Avenue in June, I’d have been certain it would be for the Stanley Cup. However, Adam is good and is sent through and I have grand visions of standing in front of Town Bagel all giddy during Homecoming Week, with a handmade sign that says “Adam is the EZ vote for American Idol”.
We’re nearing the end and I am getting emotionally exhausted. We see a duo in the “chamber” and I immediately ask Hollie which one of these kids is terminally ill. Awful. I am both relieved and annoyed that they are simply just boyfriend and girlfriend, the latter of which has a stage name, “Yanni G”. Let me guess – one makes it and one doesn’t. Not my first rodeo. Nick is in and if there are any teenage girls that still watch this show, and if they forget he had a girlfriend, I think this guy who looks like an Adam Levine-Bradley Cooper combo will get some votes. I do actually feel bad for him as his survivor’s guilt does not allow him to fully appreciate the Golden Ticket. For you Idol historians – see the Dixon siblings for reference.
Lastly, Idol does what it has always done best at the end of these marathon shows. My heartstrings are tugged upon as Hollywood Anderson (I’ll refrain from commenting on the name) sings a beautiful original and gets congratulated by this middle aged do-gooder from the Covenant House who helped this homeless guy and got him a guitar. Well done, Idol. Well done.