Jan. 26, 2012 at 10:37 PM ET
“American Idol” took its show on the road to Texas for Thursday’s episode, by way of the International Space Station.
Sadly, the astronaut in charge of kicking off the show gave a conventional introduction and didn’t go with a riff on “Star Trek.” After all, he could have said: “Space: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the 'Idol' auditions. Its four-week mission: to explore strange new cities, to seek out new talent and folks who got cut in previous years, to boldly go where every ‘Idol’ season has gone before.”
That would have been fitting for an episode that was in turns both nostalgic and wacky. It was as filled with clichés as any “Star Trek” episode, complete with the egotistical folks on the bridge.
Yes, it’s true. The bickering judges were back! Finally!
After two weeks of constant 3-0 votes, we finally had an incredulous J.Lo find herself on the wrong end of a series of 2-1 decisions. She was the only supporter of Rachael Turner, Reagan Wilson and Cheyenne James, but somehow resisted the urge that all viewers felt to reach through the screen and whack Randy Jackson in the head for mocking her. But she was able to get in a dig after James sang. "If I had two people who were hearing correctly right now, they would have said yes and then we would be putting you through to Hollywood and you might make it very very far," J.Lo told the hopeful.
Then she was the only no vote for Linda Williams, a contestant notable mostly because she said she was going to pee on herself.
“They’re sending the good singers home and they’re letting the bad singers through,” Lopez griped (accurately).
After everyone’s hair and makeup were refreshed, J.Lo said, “I don’t wanna fight.”
Steven Tyler answered, “Then say you’re sorry."
Here’s a tip: That never works to end an argument with a beautiful woman, as my wife could tell you because I've tried that line on her many, many times with no success.
We also got some old-school, really terrible singers. Phong Vu, for example, is a worthy heir to season three’s William Hung. He didn’t make it to Hollywood, but should contact Hung’s agent and see if he can get the same record deal that Hung got. Isn’t it about time for a new cover of “She Bangs”?
And Alejandro Cazares, who implored the judges to “grant me the power to bring revolution to the world.” Please. They don’t have the authority to drink anything that’s not in a Coke cup. Do you think they have the power to create a revolution?
Even the successful auditioners looked familiar. In the case of Baylie Brown, it’s because she was one of the early stars of season six as a 16-year old and made it to the group round, where one of her teammates was Antonella Barba. It doesn’t sound like she had fond memories of that, but five years later she’s back for another shot and Barba’s remembered as the girl who had risqué pictures show up on the Internet. So maybe that was a blessing in disguise for Brown.
Skylar Laine could be this year’s Kellie Pickler. She’s the country girl who offroads and hunts deer and would be equally wacky if asked to eat sushi with Wolfgang Puck for a sketch during the finale like Pickler did. She was charming enough in her introduction to the “Idol” voters, and could last a long time.
Then there were the traditional hard-luck cases. Kristine Osorio was the mom who bought a plane ticket to the auditions instead of paying her divorce lawyer -- good luck with that court case now. Cortez Shaw was homeless for a couple of years but sang really well and made Adele’s “Someone Like You” into something that didn’t cause the judges to cringe.
And like every other episode, “Idol” ended with a tearjerker. Ramiro Garcia, a worship leader whose parents were told he’d never be able to hear or speak when he was a baby, sang “Amazing Grace” and earned a place in the next round.
Let’s just say that was a showstopper that any astronaut could have seen coming from outer space.
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