[*With thanks to all the hard-working English teachers who collated and contributed the actual analogies and metaphors from their high school students’ essays into one hilarious article, which I am going to “lift” for my analysis of January 13, 2010’s “American Idol” Atlanta tryouts. If you are the nameless student, condolences and apologies.]
Mary J. Blige joined the regulars as guest host. Ellen DeGeneres won’t join the judges until February 7th, when the contestants reach Hollywood.
First up this night was a 27-year-old African American singer (I use the term “singer” loosely) named Dawon Robinson who said that his uncle had discovered Gladys Knight and the Pips and his father was known as Motown Bobby. Dawon kept pronouncing the word “lady” (while singing) as “lay tee.” The free associating thoughts Dawon shared tumbled in his head “like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.”
Another black male singer who sang in an extremely high voice, like someone who has undergone castration, followed Dawon. We were saved by the appearance of Keia Johnson, who wore bright lime-green pants and was once named Miss Congeniality in a preliminary to a Miss America contest. (Simon ventured that, were it him, he’d rather win the beauty part.) Keia sang the love song from “Titanic” and she sang well. Keia was given a golden ticket to Hollywood and was followed by singers named Meriam Lemnoumi and Noel Reese.
Then came one of the diamonds of the day, Tisha Holland, 18, of Georgia, a waitress. She was followed by another star, Germaine Sellers from Joliet, Illinois, a 17-year-old church singer who cares for his mother, who suffers from spina bifida. The comments? “I think that’s the best we’ve seen all day.” Germaine sang Joan Osborne’s “What If God Is One of Us.” He’s going to Hollywood. Mary J. Blige said, “You’ve got skills. Best we’ve seen of all the cities. That was incredible. It was anointed.” Plus, Germaine has the all-important back-story that this year’s competitors seem to need. (Talent, alone, isn’t going to be enough, it seems.)
A TV hostess from “Hotlanta,” Christy Marie Agronow, then regaled the group with a Pat Benatar song. The revelation that the judges did not share her feeling that she was a great singer hit her “like a guy who goes blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.” She left in a huff. (“How dare they!”)
Next up was Vanessa Wolf, who shared the news “I jump bridges.” She is either from Baltimore, Tennessee or Vonore (population 658) and shared this sad statement: “I’m stuck in Vonore. I can’t get out.” She had purchased her dress for $4.50 at a Dollar General store in Smyrna, which I seem to remember was Julia Roberts’ birthplace. Tennessee must be so proud, at this point in time, of the way their state is being portrayed. Vanessa was very likeable, but “her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.”
Jessie Anison, 26, of Alabama, #99342, shared several near-death experiences he had recently endured, which allowed “American Idol” to make several “cheap dramatizations” related to Jessie’s riveting stories. Jessie grew on us “like he was a colony of e coli and we were room temperature beef.” As for his audition, it didn’t help that Jessie couldn’t remember any of the words in the song he had selected and had never before sung in public. Mary J. Blige collapsed in helpless mirth and had to be comforted by Kara. Jessie had a mind “like a steel trap, but one that has rusted shut.” ”The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and ‘Jeopardy’ comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m.” Jessie, also, left in a semi-huff. He traveled down the 47 stories in the elevator, “hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.”
After Jessie and the “cheap dramatizations” (once, at band camp, Jessie was almost hit by a stray bullet or a falling flute or some damned thing) we were treated to Holly, age 27, who sang Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man.” Holly proclaimed, “I’m the next great thing.” She was as modest as Donald Trump during one of his Rosie O’Donnell rants. “She had a deep throaty voice like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.” Holly made it through to Hollywood.
At one point, Simon actually said, to one contestant, “You sound like a cat barking; it shouldn’t happen.” The gargling noise of contestant Hansel Enriquez was not well received. Blake Smith of Covington, California came to his audition attired in a tee shirt that read “Britney Spears Changed Her Life.” (It didn’t change Blake’s). “Guitar Girl” (attired in a guitar outfit with guitar glasses) lucked out. She caught your eye “like a wet nose hair glistening after a sneeze.”
Tony Skiboski, contestant #91870, actually could sing, but his attempts to make himself sexually appealing, in the process of singing “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye were about as enticing as “ maggots just before you fry them in hot grease.” When it was pointed out to Tony Skiboski that he was missing a letter on his shirt, he replied, “That’s what they’ve got discounts for.” Skiboski actually made it through, which seemed “as unlikely as a little boat gently drifting across a pond, exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.”
We were treated to Loren Sanders, age 19, of Baxley, Georgia, and her BFF Carmen Turner, 19, also of Baxley, Georgia. Unfortunately, only Carmen sang well. The news that she was being cut from the competition hit Loren as a rude shock, “like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.”
Police officer Bryan Walker sang “SuperStar” and earned a golden ticket to Hollywood, but he looked very old. “He looked as old as a 60-year-old retiree.” (Or as old as General Larry Platt).
Lamar Royal sang Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” song. Before he went up in the elevator for his audition, Lamar was quite pleasant, saying how much he was looking forward to meeting Mary J. Blige. After Lamar delivered the loudest version of a Seal song ever heard and would not shut up (security had to be called to stop his audition), he changed his tune considerably and uttered the night’s most hostile remarks, yelling, “F*** Y’all” as he left. This earned him a round of applause from a passing carful of motorists. (At least Lamar said “Y’all”).
Last, and certainly least, General Larry Platt, age 62, sang his own original composition “Pants on the Ground.” “General Larry was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But, unlike Phil, General Larry actually works.” General Larry earned praise for his attempts to break dance for the judges, although, in his case, the word “break” is meant literally.
And congratulations to former contestant Jason Castro, who, in addition to his budding career as a performer, got married. I noticed his smiling dreadlocks on the “American Idol” website while scoping out the schedule, and it reminded me that I heard this news somewhere. Ah, young love. “Jason fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.” Imagine “the star-crossed lovers racing across a grassy field toward each other, like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 66 mph; the other from Topeka at 4: 19 p.m. at a speed of 35 miles per hour.”
Stay tuned for next week’s shows on Tuesday, January 19th, from Chicago and on Wednesday, January 20th, from Orlando