American Idol: Season 12, Episode 5

Oh, boy! Tonight is the San Antonio episode, and because I have psychic powers, I predict: (a) Alamo (b) Riverwalk (c) those giant boots at North Star Mall (d) cracks about how everything is bigger in Texas, possibly accompanying footage of a fat guy. Sure enough, all these things come true in five seconds! (The fat guy is Randy Jackson, eating a cinnamon roll the size of an ottoman. The auditions take place at the “legendary Sunset Station”, which is a good deal less legendary than they make it out to be. Let’s not waste any more time on the preliminaries; I have to live here, folks.

Randy’s outfit tonight is studded leather armor (+3 Armor Class, -1 check penalty, 15% arcane spell failure chance); Keith Urban has his usual man-whore shirt on; Mariah Carey sports a feathered vest she got at Björk’s moving sale; and Nicki Minaj looks terrifyingly normal in a white sweater and Marcia Brady hair. First up is Vince Powell, a “praise leader” who resembles Urkel with some kind of genetic damage. Being a “praise leader” is a job that people have now, I guess. He is another drooling Mariah Carey fan, and sings “Rock Me Baby” with a sort of mid-tier competence and too many runs. It’s hard enough to muster any interest in Vince, but when I find out that he’s another “returning contestant”, I go to the kitchen for a taquito, because seriously, fuck these guys. This show should be like the Marines: if you wash out, you have to go join the Coast Guard, a.k.a. The Voice.

Derek and David Bacerott are a couple of dude-bro knuckleheads who audition together, never a good idea. They think they are great, even though they are terrible enough to be a joke act, but the surprise comes when they actually start getting pissy with the judges, trying to get a pass to Hollywood through the sheer strength of their Axe-bathed douchebaggery. Can they actually argue their way onto Idol? Nope! But they do instigate a fun contest between Nicki and Mariah to see who can tell them to shut up in the most efficient manner. Their excuse for being cruddy is that “We gotta make money, and life gets in the way.” Back to being cologned-up San Antonio ballaz for you, D&D!

Savannah Votion (EMOTION LOTION!) is a single mom with mental issues and some clothes she stole from 1991 Courtney Love. “This means the word to me,” she says three hundred times. She keeps staring off in the distance, like she is expecting the mothership from Independence Day to appear on the horizon. Then we get a “Parade of Nonsense” montage of terrible singers, including Ricky Jo Garcia singing a permanently damaged version of “And I Am Telling You”, before Cristabel Clack arrives with a haircut from a late-’80s new wave dog food commercial with the purple stripey top to match. Guess what Cristabel is? That’s right: she’s a “worship leader”! What are these jobs? How do you get them? What has happened to America? Anyway, she sings an Alicia Keys song and is good if not great, but she’s got style, charisma and earrings that are going to come to life and devour us all. Keith makes a clever observation about her phrasing, but it is blotted out by Mariah, who does a little dance and appears to be drunk! Oh, Paula Abdul. We all miss you.

Ann Difani is a big-mouthed freakazoid whose identity is build around Arkansas Razorbacks football. Hey, at least she’s not out there serial-killing people or whatnot. She is a grad student in, I will bet two American dollars, either communications or sports medicine. I can’t really say why, but I have an instant dislike for Ani and her husband, who suffers from a blandular disorder; she is too thin, too enthusiastic, and she does that kind of clapping where you hold your hands about three feet apart and then slowly make your palms barely touch while you smile until it looks like your face will fall off. She sings Faith Hill in a very Faith Hill kind of way. Mariah does another of her “YOU WANT TO SING COUNTRY SONGS, RIGHT?” bits, but this time Nicki doesn’t set the building on fire; I just sit there and stew in my hate.

Nicki’s hair has become black, and she is wearing some of Prince’s leftovers. Next up is all-girl mariachi singer, thus marking the first time all season that I have had any musical interest in a contestant. Unfortunately, she sings “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Britney Spears, because good God why. She’s also wearing bike shorts. The judges make her sing something in Spanish (Randy: “Sing us a little marrotchey”), and she immediately lights up and her voice goes from good to great. Then there’s another montage of wash-outs: Stefan Jones is the second Urkel look-alike of the night; Ongela Clark Farouey is so bad I actually get a ringing in my ears from her pitchy howling; and then there is someone with a bad wig and a dirty face whose name I didn’t catch because I was crying.

Next up: Papa Peachez. “How did you get the name Papa Peachez?”, asks Ryan Toothpaste. “Well, I work with homeless people in Jackson, Mississippi,” he replies, instantly winning the 2013 Award for Not Actually Answering The Question. Papa Peachez is painfully gay with an emo haircut at least 17 years out of date, and describes himself with no concern for accuracy as “a little white boy, but inside I’m a big black woman”. He is “super quirky” and doesn’t “like” covers, so he sings an original song that is the worst thing I have ever heard. His voice is impressive if you have never heard an actual blues singer, even a white one, and when the judges let him through (with a caveat from Keith that he is, ahem, “so theatrical that I can’t find you in it”), I think I might die. Oh, well. Everybody loves a clown.

Sanni M’Mairura is a 16-year-old pan-African kid from Pearland who wears oversized clothes, and, in keeping with tonight’s theme of made-up religious occupations, is an “outreach choreographer”. I have been unemployed for two years. Anyway, Sanni is talented, charismatic and appealing as hell, and he’s got charm coming out my bleeding ulcer. Ryan speaks to his parents and calls him “your boy”. Good job there, Ryan. Nicki calls him a variety of snack foods, and he gets tons of praise from Randy, who has changed into a uniform held together by the Hero of the Beach medal he won from the People’s Republic of Brohams. I can’t deny Sanni’s appeal, but I’m just getting a little tired of the churchies. Let’s get some backwards Hill Country trash buckets up there.

The last contestant in San Antone is Adam Sanders, another Mariah-loving gaybro, pear-shaped, accompanied by a coterie of hags, and rocking Anton Chigur’s haircut from No Country for Old Men. He’s got a crazy good voice for a girl, but HE IS A MAN! There are hairs on his face! What is going on here, my perceptions have been shattered, what’s next a lady in trousers, etc., etc. He probably won’t last long, because America will go predictably hibbety-bibbety over a boy who sounds like a girl, but he does bring a moment of enjoyment when he forces Mariah to claim she is too young to remember Etta James. After him, it’s off to Long Beach, to board the Queen Mary, which, unfortunately, does not run aground, get attacked by pirates, or become boarded by British separatists from Orange County. It also kind of takes the edge off of “you’re going to Hollywood” when that means “drive a half-hour north”.

Ryan brags about being the first to arrive in his shiny new FORD!; Randy is wearing a carpet-salesman jacket; Keith is wearing a car-salesman jacket; Mariah Carey is late; and Nicki Minaj is at the American Music Awards, whatever that is. This segment of the show, in addition to some shitty animation and a movie parody even worse than the Western parody they did in San Antonio, features an overload of sob stories. So I must once again register my extreme dislike of how Idol tries to play it both ways: they pat themselves on the back for letting them through and wallow in their highly mediated misery, but don’t say a word when they get dumped in the Hollywood round or soon after. Bah, is what I have to say about that.

First up in the LB is teen desi Shubha Vedula, wearing a kameez top and some kind of scary ninja boots. She sings “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”, and her voice is all over the place, but in a good way, and I love everything she says. Damn pantheists. Randy makes fun of her name because he is awful. Next up is Brian Martinez, who instantly makes this the gayest episode of all time: he was discovered in a men’s bathroom by a self-identified “producer“. Whose name was JOHN. Brian is a nervous, tweaked-out mess who looks like he just accidentally murdered someone and is worried that the fuzz is waiting outside; he sings a Phil Collins song about mice or something and is very, very bad. “This wasn’t a good experience for me,” he says. What are you doing, Idol.

Matt Farmer has a daughter named Cadence, even though he got his nuts blown off in the war. Oh, no, wait! He had brain damage and it was supposed to make him sterile, but Cadence was born anyhow. We don’t get a look at Matt’s mailman. Everyone “appreciates your service”, Matt, even Keith Urban, who is a foreign national. I immediately hate Matt despite his cute kid, because he sings “A Change is Gonna Come”, which, as I have mentioned for the last 12 years, is not a song for white people to sing. Also, he shouts it. Of course, he gets through, because he is a handsome white war veteran with an adorable toddler, but I wish he would get hit by lighting. Then Stephanie Sanson, a purple-haired girl in a band called You Only Live Once, comes and does a deathcore scream at everyone while making unacceptable finger motions. Boo! Mariah implies that Stephanie is not a proper young lady.

Finally, Nicki arrives, accompanied by some hulking bodyguards and wearing an outfit composed of the skins of several endangered species. Jesaiah Baer, a teenager who stole Daryl Dragon’s hat, comes in to sing, but someone — I suspect that dirty purple-haired ragamuffin — trips the fire alarm and everyone has to go away so the QM‘s insurance rates don’t go up. It turns out that Randy’s busted Sodexo lunch burst into flames, thus ensuring he will be in a foul mood for the duration. Jesaiah gets to sing again, though, and she’s got some fun jazzy rhythms and cool phrasing, boatloads of charisma, and an accent I can’t pin down. Good for her. After that, there’s a montage of bad singers and a bit about how the Queen Mary is haunted or something; I can’t remember the details because I slipped into a hate coma.

Micah Johnson has been making music “ever since I came out of my mom”. If you say so, Micah. Some hack doctor gave him a speech impediment while taking his tonsils out, so he really doesn’t need to be on this show, since — I’m hoping at least — he got a massive payout from a medical malpractice suit. Anyway, he doesn’t have the impediment when he sings, which, as I have mentioned before, is perfectly normal, but it’s a miracle if you are dumb, which the panel is (Randy calls the phenomenon, with his usual tact, “a fakeout”. Still, Micah is pretty damn good; he says excitedly that “life as I know it is gonna be very different”. Maybe not! A ten-year-old sings “Valerie” and says she will be the winner of American Idol in five years; why not just give it to her now and free up my winter 2018 viewing schedule?

Then Kimberly Rachel Hale appears, singing “People Get Ready” exactly the way you would expect an extremely peppy white girl with three names from rural Arkansas would. She’s a total snooze, but there’s been a shortage of pretty white girls on this episode, so the judges goob all over her and give her a ticket up the I-10. Nicki: “You didn’t try to do too much”. And how! Mariah momentarily slips into her outer space persona: “I am really enjoying you as an entity.” Next up is Brianna Oakley, and her sob story is that she was bullied. This could be juicy, but it turns out that she was on the Maury Povich show as one of the “most talented kids of 2009” (in other words, she’s a ringer), and after that people picked on her. Speaking as someone who was pretty severely bullied through most of high school, I don’t think “I got hassled because I am so talented and famous” quite resonates as much as Idol thinks it does, but she’s fine, good voice, pain is not a contest, whatever.  I guess having to be anywhere in the vicinity of Maury Povich is trauma enough.

Finally, there is Matheus Fernandes, who is a hobbit. What’s the big deal? People love hobbits! At least he makes a better case for having been bullied than Brianna Oakley. He has a tiny little cardigan and a great big bursting heart; I wonder if he can sing, gosh! If nothing else, it will stop him from saying the word “bro”. His song choice is “A Change is Gonna Come”, and you know what, fuck it, I’m done trying to argue about why this song should be hands off, but he also shouts it and makes up ‘special’ lyrics name-checking the judges. I feel zero guilt about making fun of this dude.

I think tomorrow night is Oklahoma City; I’m not sure, because my DVR switched over to The Americans, but nothing interesting has ever happened in the last few minutes of the audition episodes of Idol. But join me anyway, won’t you? I promise 100% fewer weeping hobbits!

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