For the most part, “American Idol” has stuck to its promise to be kinder and gentler in the audition stages in season 10. But hey, the producers have to be looking ahead here, and every season finale needs some brutally terrible singers to come back for the sketches that help fritter away the two hours before the winner is announced.
Instead of spreading those people throughout the cities, it looked like "Idol" just brought all of the weirdos to Los Angeles. You can make your own joke about how seamlessly they fit into the established Hollywood scene.
Start with Cooper Robinson, or as he’s better known, “this season’s General Larry Platt.” But while Platt caused a viral sensation with his “Pants on the Ground,” Robinson is more of the traditional street performer you find in most major cities. Obviously he was brought in strictly for entertainment value, since at 59 years old (he thinks), he’s not eligible, and it would take him a long time to earn enough for plane fare home to Arkansas doing his act on the streets of L.A.
He performed after Matt “Big Stats” Frankel. If you’re an accounting whiz or a baseball numbers guy, “Big Stats” is a nickname filled with honor. If you’re a would-be “American Idol,” not so much. The name was about as good as the singing. In other words, he had no shot at moving forward.
But at least none of them chased Randy Jackson around the stage. That was Hoboken’s own Tynisha Roches, who came to Los Angeles via the MySpace auditions and was determined that the only way she would give up her microphone was if Randy and Steven Tyler pried it from her cold, dead hands. And that’s pretty close to what it took, except for the dead part. But that’s really MySpace’s fault. No way she makes it through a Facebook or LinkedIn music screening.
Place your bets now: How many of those three will be back for the finale, live or on pre-taped skits? The smart money’s on all of them. Robinson and Platt can do a duet, “Big Stats” can continue his beef with Randy, and Roches can do some cross-promotion with NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” by chasing Randy around again while being hectored by Jillian Michaels. Don’t think that’s not under consideration.
Hey, look! Real singers!
Of course, there were a few rays of sunshine in the field of crumminess.
Mark and Aaron Gutierrez sang a great duet of “Lean on Me,” which made them shoo-ins since this panel of judges loves them some duets. The performance might have made a better impression because of the awfulness that came before it. We’ll see if it stands out as much in Hollywood, but it was a breath of fresh air tonight. “It was God-like, the way you guys sang,” Tyler said. “After today, it was just what we needed.”
Predictably, Tyler also liked Heidi Khzam. After she began her audition with a belly dance, she had the two male judges’ votes in the bag already, but she had a good enough voice that she’s at least a better version of Bikini Girl from season nine. And depending on how desperate Fox is to get more viewers among the coveted young male demographic, she could go a long way.
And kudos to Karen Rodriguez. She saved the MySpace reputation by earning a golden ticket of her own. Look for her to get all the promotion that social networking can muster if she makes it far enough that the audience has a say in her survival.
What not to wear
Isn’t Los Angeles supposed to be a place where people know how to dress fashionably? Because man, the judges came up very small in that regard.
Randy wore a pair of what looked to be yellow sequined shoes for the first day of the auditions. Note to Randy: Judy Garland called, and she’s super annoyed that you dyed her ruby red slippers without asking!
J.Lo topped that on the second day. As my TODAYshow.com colleague Courtney Hazlett tweeted, the singer looked as if she came to the set after a pit stop at "Grey Gardens." When you’re modeling your hairdo based on what Drew Barrymore wore in a role that was supposed to make her look frumpy, that is a very poor use of J.Lo’s natural good looks.
On the other hand, maybe she was just sick of everyone crushing on her.
Craig Berman is a writer in Washington. Follow him , where he live tweets each "Idol" show.