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January 29, 2012


Kristen the Yellow Belle
Kristen the Yellow Lab and I are Southern Belles! After all, what better way to celebrate The Savannah, Georgia Auditions on American Idol, Season 11?  Why, with a little southern cooking, of course! Paula Deen, a Savannah gal herself, won't allow us to waste away to bones as we cheer for, agonize over, and rant at  the new set of hopefuls who all aspire to be the next Kelly-Ruben-Fantasia-Carrie-Taylor-Jordin-David-Kris-Lee-Scotty. (Although, we're not sure too many aspire to be the next Lee ... bless his heart..) While Paula whips up a heapin' plate o' vittles, we're ready for the festivities to begin! For THIS is American Idol.

"Here! Have a dish o' buttah! "

click the link to read more!

Well, we do declare! Who's the hussy in the jeans so tight we can see what she looks like without her shimmy? Oh, hold on! It's just Ryan.
He's here to tell us that this is the ten year anniversary of American Idol.  (Which means that Season 1 winner, Kelly Clarkson, is hovering dangerously close to peri-menopause. But, Kristen and I are not ones to gossip.) Ryan introduces us to the Savannah talent, wondering if the next American Idol is in this crowd:

The judges arrive, and Kristen and I are instantly scandalized!  Mr. Steven Tyler of Boston is wearing the  same hat that Miss Lucy Crone of Savannah wore to last Sunday church services!  Sir? Have you no decency?

At any rate, the auditions begin.  Kristen and I have a sneaking suspicion that the producers are trying to recapture last season's success with The Country Bieber, Scotty McCreery  as the first half hour of the show is plum full of youngsters!

First up is a fine young man, David Leathers, who is 17 going on 12. He claims his friends call him Mr. Steal Your Girl, which does not seem particularly likely unless his friends are in 6th grade.  However, he did remember to dress for the occasion, wearing a shirt and tie. Kristen and I nod our feathered bonnets in approval.  He has a lovely tenor voice with an incredible range, which he displays by performing Century 21's Remember the Rain.  He reminds the judges so much of a young Michael Jackson, they ask him to attempt one of his songs. He does a spot-on version of Never Can Say Goodbye.  The judges say "YES!" in unison.

Gabi Carubba is a 16-year-old sweet thing who has waited her whole life to audition for Idol.  HER WHOLE LIFE, people.  I have bed sheets older than she is!  Gabi is a dancer who has been performing since her days in the Diaper Dancers.  She informs Ryan that the one reaction she wants from the judges is Steven's "mmmm hmmmm" look as that shows he loves the performance.  Oh, dear child.  Steven is 63 years old.  When he's doing that, he's actually napping.  Nevertheless, she gives a solid performance of Maroon 5's Sunday Morning, and makes her way to Hollywood.

Next we get a quick glimpse of a few more junior misses who are sent through, 15- year-olds Brianna Faulk and Molly Hunt.  We see a few seconds of Neco Starr, age 20, singing Bruno Mars Grenade in a fairly uninteresting manner. But, the most impressive audition of the montage belongs to Elise Testone, she of the dowager age of 28.  She has a bluesy, Amy Winehouse vibe.  Plus, she's full-grown, which is a pleasant change of pace..

Why, in my day, Kristen, children were best seen and not heard. That was the way of  The South! Now, how about a mint julip with that buttah?

After telling us that every single one of the first auditions made it through to Hollywood, Ryan introduces us to 19-year-old Jessica Whitley of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Kristen and I see where this narrative is going.  Jessica will be the first not to make it through., which will add insult to injury.  However, she seems to have the pedigree. She has been performing for years, even singing The National Anthem at sporting events.  So, how bad can she be?  Oh my.  Apparently, she left out the part where she performs the National Anthem at the sporting events at schools for the deaf.  Her voice has an odd, strangled tone that makes Kristen and I wonder if her head is going to start spinning and she'll be spewing pea soup. While Steven and JLo try to let her down easy, Randy cuts to the chance. "Awful," he says.  Jessica doesn't flinch.  "You'll see me in Texas!" she tells the judges as she exits sans golden ticket.  "What?" the judges query. "She's going to audition, again?" JLo feels that "someone needs to tell her not to." Oh, JLo. And waste a perfectly good opportunity to use her for mocking purposes yet again?  Have you ever actually WATCHED American Idol.?

Here comes Shaun Kraisman, all dressed in his Sunday best. He has been told for years he could be Ryan's twin.. Kristen and I say he needs to take off 20 pounds, spend a few months at a tanning salon, and overdose on Crest White Strips before he'll qualify for that doppelganger title.  Ryan challenges him to dual at 30 paces, and before either Kristen or I have the opportunity to swoon, the pair of them shout, in unison, "THIS is American Idol!" Ryan's job is safe as is the title of American Idol.. Shaun can't sing. He does a tepid, slightly off-key version of  Oh Girl by the Shilights.  He's not going to Hollywood, but he might be doing traffic reports at a local station near you someday. Shaun Kraisman....OUT.

"Aw, now don't be sad, darlin'! Have some buttah!"

Shannon Magrane is another from the youth brigade. She is 15 years old, six feet tall, and plays high school volleyball. Oh, and her dad is former St. Louis Cardinals baseball player, southpaw Joe Magrane. This impresses the judges so much, they ask Shannon to bring in the whole family.  A tall dad, a cheerful mom, and what appears to be several dozen teenaged girls enter the audition area.  What is this? Keeping Up With the Duggars?  Dad innocently asks Steven what the weather is like in Boston. "Hot, humid, and happening" replies Steven, "just like your daughter."   Before Dad can climb over the judges table and defend his daughter's honor, the other judges insist she sing.   She performs Etta James (RIP) Something's Got a Hold On Me. She can sing!  Randy is most impressed by her nerves of steel-(magnolias.) She is put through to Hollywood, but Kristen and I would like to suggest she be thoroughly chaperoned at all times to ward off unworthy gentleman callers.

Next up is the first of this season's sob stories.  Amy Brumfield is a 24-year-old homeless woman. She and her husband live in a tent in the woods in Tennessee.  Despite their poverty, Amy is happy.  She says her husband treats her so well. She never expected to be treated that good in her life. And he does, indeed, work odd jobs and do everything he can to provide them with food and fuel.  She calls herself a hipsy and says she's quite happy. Amy says she'd rather be outside and happy than inside and miserable.  Kristen and I can't help but wonder what this young woman's life has been like up until this point that she is content and  feels well-cared for while being homeless. But, we'll think about that tomorrow as tomorrow is another day. Amy does a lovely version of Alisha Keye's "Superwoman" and off she goes to Hollywood, where she hopes she can pitch a tent "behind the mansion."

Here comes Joshua Chavis whose dream is to sing the National Anthem at Nascar...for his Mama.  He is also JLo's biggest fan.  And he wears his jeans a bit too low per the picture to your right. Josh claims his voice has been compared to Brad Paisley and Chris Daughtry.  He performs Jason Mraz' I'm Yours like the guy who sings fairly well along with the radio in the car.  After being told No, he has a tearful meltdown referred to in these parts as a hissy fit.  Paula Deen to the rescue!

"Here ya' go, darlin'! Buttah will cure what ails ya'!"

Next is Stephanie Renae, yet another of the teenybopper crowd.  She also cut her teeth on Idol, so has chosen the coronation song of her favorite, Carrie Underwood. Kristen and I get the vapors! We DO recall when our own Bo Bice sang this song just for us on the American Idol Season 4 finale.


Stephanie is Kristen and my favorite of the teen performer despite her not being the strongest vocal. She has a sweetness about her that seems genuine. She makes it to Hollywood on the strength of Steven and JLo's belief in her. Randy is not sure that she's quite ready, and he might be correct..

Onto 16 year old Schyler Dixon who happens to be the sister of one Colton Dixon who made it all the way to top 40 last year before being cut.  Schyler is nervous and ready to show her stuff to the judges when they ask about Colton. Uh-oh.  Really, judges?  She tells them that he came along with her for moral support but chose not to audition this year.  The judges won't hear of it.  "Bring him in here!" they demand. Colton enters, hems and haws, and finally agrees that he will steal his sister's thunder and perform for the judges.  Kristen and I wonder if this has been Schyler's entire life's existance.  "Hey Schyler. Can you come to my birthday party? Oh, and bring your cute brother!"  Schyler, though, has a lovely voice in her own right.  She sings "Break Even" by the Script and shows some real chops.  Colton, on the other hand, is only just okay with David Cook's "Permanence." But, since the judges know him well from last season, and also, since they pretty much set it up to put him through to Hollywood, they both move onto the next round.
"That's okay, Colton. Steal my audition. Really, I don't mind. I'll just go home and cut myself like I always do when everyone loves you better."

Lauren Mink is a lovely 25 year old who works with adults with intellectual disabilities such as Down's Syndrome and autism.  She is smart, poised, and brings a pretty voice to the table.  She gives JLo "Goosies!" as she performs Country Strong from the movie of the same name. Three yeses, and Kristen and I hope she goes far. She is a nice break from the chipper teens who have not experienced much real world adventure and diversity in their barely-over-a-decade lives.

"Isn't it a pleasure that everyone in the world is exactly like us?"
Now we've got Mawuena Kodja, a man from West Africa who is currently living in Nashville. He sings some Rascal Flatts song or other, but it's hard to tell, really. He is tuneless and the lyrics are buried far too deeply in his accent.  He argues with Randy that he is, in fact, a great singer. Randy makes a deal with him that if he can find one person on the street who wants him through to Hollywood, he'll put him through. Ryan and Mawuena find a small group.. a granddad and his shy granddaughters.  They are far too filled with southern politeness to say otherwise, so they inform the judges that Mawuena is good enough, in their humble opinion, to go onto the next round.  The judges aren't about to keep this deal, and Mawuena is sent packing.
Mawuena gets an enthusiastic response from his fans!

Ashley Altise is an interesting 28 year old who comes across as a potential joke audition. She dances around the waiting area doing her patented "Joy Hop."  However, she can sing and does an interesting performance of The Beatles Come Together.  She could be this season's Sanjaya if it she makes it far.

We do declare!

W.T. Thompson is a former prison guard. He has a Michael Sarver vibe to him with a decent enough voice but nothing that says, "Star quality." He sings Little Big Town's Boondocks pretty much as expected... like a good ole country boy who can jam it down at the local saloon.  Despite Steven not thinking he's ready, JLo and Randy put him through. Kristen and I are pretty sure that's the last we'l'l see of him.

Erica Nowak thinks Steven is smoking hot.  In fact, she calls him her future ex-husband.  She gives him a hug before she sings and goes for the little grabby-grabby. She then performs Joss Stone's Super Duper Love. She's got a little bit of the whiskey-soaked voice going on, but really can't pull it off.  No golden ticket, but she's happy because she got a little Steven Tyler in her hands. She also tells us he has an amazing behind.
Well, great balls of fire!

"I said BUTTAH, not BUTT!"

Brittney Kerr is a Carrie Underwood on stilletos. She sings yet another Joss Stone tune, Spoiled, but does not even come close to giving it the grit and flavor it requires.  She can carry a tune and is drop-dead gorgeous, so Steven and Randy take a chance and put her through. JLo is not convinced she's got the goods.  No, JLo does not think she has a chance at all.

"Meow.... y'all."

Finally, the high point of the night. Phillip Phillips was apparently named after his grandfather's last name. He is this season's boy with the flannel shirt/guitar. After performing a very decent version of Stevie's Superstitious, the judges allow him to break the rules and pull out said guitar. He does his own version of Michael Jackson's Thriller that is quite impressive both artistically and vocally.  Realistically, he has already leapt to front-runner status based on the fact that he a. has a penis b. has a flannel shirt c. has a guitar. However, Kristen and I are happy to report that  he does also seem to have a little something going on that could make him far more interesting than the average white guy with guitar we've seen in the past.  He's more Kris Allen than Lee Dewyze, and far more David Cook than Scotty McCreery.   Definitely our favorite of the night. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's got the potential to make teens hearts throb.

.And that is a wrap, belles and beaus! Kristen and I are headed north  to test the metal of the kids in the Steel City of Pittsburgh, PA! Y'all come join us. Hear?

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