Idol's foray into California was inspired by the Lonely Island. No, not because the show has long-running and intimidating bosses; no, not because Steven Tyler wants to outdo Andy Samberg by turning himself into a one-man running gag. They're on a boat! All hands are on deck, all hair is either meticulously style (J. Lo) or wafting every which way (Steven), and like Kevin Garnett, everything is possible for those who audition there!
We really do mean it about the auditioners. The boat took up most of the screen and segment time, but San Diego probably had the best talent-to-chaff ratio so far; unlike the last two weeks even the joke contestants could sort of sing, and the standout contestants could probably win Idol at this stage. Who's which? Read on.
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THE HOPELESS: 24-18
24. Steven Tyler: Steven treats American Idol the way Harold would if instead of a crayon he had a purple piss stream. Vehicles in sight? He's waited decades for this--now he can break the pool rules with roughhousing horseplay! An opportunity to say the word "prick," or other colorless words? There are no opportunities, only done-deal mistakes! There's also....
23. Steven Tyler's Styler: Again, the episode's lack of continuity was revealed by way of Steven's eccentric accents. This week: Switching between old-timey steampunky pilot goggles and a blue collared shirt buttoned three buttons south of appropriate.
22. The USS Midway: This choice of location fueled 1.) An overly cutesy (read: typical) montage about the interference of plane and ship noises, the real-world version of this, and 2.) Nautical wordplay (“next on deck,” “finally back to sea level,” etc.) in an attempt to hide the fact that this location choice was a complete--don’t make us say it--shipwreck.
21. Jennifer Diley: Remember Bikini Girl? Bikini Girl was unfortunate. Less fortunately for the producers, J. Lo refused to engage in any exploitative battle of the sexes with this version, so they resorted to standard tricks: making the cameraman lech and pan up her legs, getting Jennifer to say "I am all-American, just look at me. Perfect" and getting Ryan to mumble boob jokes. San Diego started with a bust! There's love and support all around!
20. Ali Shields: If the Idol commentariat likes to complain about plants, by which they mean anyone not a noble infant tucked away in some demure corner of America free of TV and Internet but somehow still accessible to voice teachers, then tonight's Idol must've seemed like Little Shop of Horrors. The gist: she was on Ellen a while back and parlayed that into a correspondent spot on the A-minus-list part of the red carpet, where she hobnobbed and yukked it up with Usher and Mike Posner and far more celebrities than have ever been seen on an Idol audition. The problem is that she thought it would be a good idea to half-rap "Look At Me Now" while simultaneously laughing and making fun of it. The other problem is her mock-squeal response to "You really can sing": "I caaaaaaaiiiyeeee?!" The third problem is...
19. Ali's "Ghetto Dance": Everything about the name aside (Randy only suggested the name, but Ali provided all other details), it was no Joy Hop.
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THE HAPLESS: 18-12
18. Football: Was scheduling Idol after the big game some sort of ratings coup? With this kind of delay--the same thing that happened for X Factor--you sort of wonder why.
17. The Graphics: Fox job posting: “Seeking Graphic Designer for major TV show. Ages 10-12. Prerequisites: Basic PowerPoint Effects Skills (shadow/block lettering, crossed-out words, Comic Sans, etc.)
16. Randy Jackson: Pre-show introduction: "dawg." Total contribution to the show: saying things not far off from "dawg." Idol as usual.
15. Joanne Childers: Was she good? Was she bad? We only know that she was the recipient of the fake boat reaction shot. Our guess: this was plan B after the editors noticed all the accidental wind noise and boat horns in their footage. Hey, maybe she'll be the dark-horse victor! Possibly?
14. Ryan Seacrest: Has a job again! Sadly, his job consisted of making the aforementioned boob puns, bantering with frat boys about "voluptuous lips" and being uncomfortable when Wolf may or may not have hit on him. We're not calling this scripted, we're just calling it all a lot of exaggerated creepiness at once.
13. The Soundtrack: Oddest choice of the evening: Katy Perry's anthem of bicuriosity "I Kissed a Girl" during the segment where Shields got kissed by men like Usher. Less odd: Perry's other anthem, "California Gurls." Not odd at all: March of the Toreadors.
12. Jim Carrey: Not seen, but heard over the phone after his daughter--yes, we know, we'll get to her--made it. He was happy for his daughter; we just wish he was Jim Carrey happy. You know, more like Liar Liar than Eternal Sunshine. We're also a bit worried about the implications of "Daughters" over his spiel.
For the reason Jim Carrey's in this recap, plus Idol's reigning champ, click NEXT.
THE HARMLESS: 11-6
11. Jane Carrey, Jim Carrey’s Daughter: Randy sees "po-tential" (pronounced like Samwise Gangee pronounces "po-tatoes"), but her parentage is clearly why she's in, not her nice-but-unremarkable voice. My guess? Idol noticed how unapologetic The Voice was about poaching former contestants and big names, and how people complained when The X Factor's Stacy Francis elided her backstory but not when Audrey Turner, Ike Turner's ex-wife, told all of hers, and decided to let the fame hang out.
10. Shaggy-Haired Bro Who Gets Bumped By The Ship: Speaking of getting in for factors other than voice, this guy looks like Ashton Kutcher and can deploy a smile. No wonder he got the prominent "sit the camera down, they're rocking the boat!" segment.
9. Jennifer Lopez: The show introduced her as a "Fly Girl." This is kind of like introducing Britney Spears as a former Mouseketeer who's now a member of Innosense, or Beyonce as Mathew Knowles' daughter and a jazz dancer. Thus, a thousand automatic sympathy points. You're the best judge! You don't deserve this treatment!
8. Aubree Dieckmeyer: The poor girl slips up and says "America's next top model" while revealing modeling aspirations, and the show gives her the full ditz edit and Steven mocking her mannerisms. Then she slipped up and called "Feeling Good" a Michael Buble song, and I mind less. She's got a steely, composed voice, mind you--perhaps the misattribution (Michael. Buble.) is so the Nina Simone comparison eludes her?
7. This Quote: "I can't wait to hear forty people sing the same Adele song for six f***ing HOURS!" If only someone less obnoxious than Steven were that self-aware, or if anyone actually did sing Adele last night.
6. Scotty McCreery: Idol fanatics (and recappers) let out a collective exhale of relief when Scotty tweeted word that Idol would, in fact, go on. Surely even the powers that be at Fox were waiting for the green light from their reigning king.
For lycanthropes, Greeks and the most awesome person on Idol so far this season, click NEXT.
THE FLAWLESS: 5-1
5. Jayrah Gibson: Ever wanted to see the raw footage of a soul dying? Notice J. Lo's expression--or more specifically, what's behind it--after Jayrah performs the song he wrote for her called "Shake Your Money Maker." But enough about dying souls, he's good in a Kevin Lyttle way, and his 250%-speed speaking voice gives him a reason to get segments.
4. Kyle Crews: A member of Berkeley's Kappa Alpha chapter, who we'd say has probably blackballed him for this or for admitting he likes to serenade girls if the whole chapter didn't agree to shout "IDOL! IDOL!" The state of Greek life. Anyway, he's probably this season's Anoop Desai, which means he's a collegiate bro with a pretty great R&B voice (on "Angel of Mine") that sends the judges' expectations all pitter-patter. Oh, and his exit song was by the frattiest band working: Hot Chelle Rae. Subtext becomes text! I might love this more than his audition!
3. Jason “Wolf” Hamlin: He (and the producers) deserves massive credit right up front for his story (his father passed away) being handled comparatively subtly. There's so much else, anyway! He's a mechanic, which means tons of oil-spattered of him working with machines; he's a growler, this show's version of Josh Krajcik or Nakia, so he sings CCR and Johnny Cash; he's got the pimp spot, so he augments the latter with guitar and is great; his nickname is "Wolf," so he leaps about the camera after getting through and says things like "There are no werewolves in London, but there are werewolves in Hollywood!" This guy is either fantastically cool or an actual furry.
2. Tara, Ashley's Daughter: Not to cross-promote, but Tara might be Ashley's X-Factor. Because her daughter is so insanely adorable, you want Ashley to be insanely good. Tara's love of J-Lo, love of blowing bubbles, and love of mugging for the camera made us love Ashley a little more.
1. Ashley Robles: How relieving and, astonishingly, life-affirming was it that the show followed up a woman whose two occupations were "Bikini Girl successor" and "self-objectifier" with someone whose three occupations were a mother, account manager and DJ? Awesome people do exist, and they're awesome enough to be juxtaposed! Her voice's pretty awesome too, controlled and showing flickers of spark and personality even on the most overdone Whitney Houston song ever; we'll let the oil spill of melisma slide, because if you've got it, then why not prove it? This woman will go far. We hope she goes far enough for Steven to learn that her name isn't Ashley Robbins.