American Idol
Auditions: Memphis And New York

Episode Report Card
Joe R: B- | 25 USERS: A+
Don't Cry Out Loud
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!


Memphis, Tennessee is: scenic, fish-eye vistas, Graceland, ballparks, grain elevators, NASCAR, B.B. King, Elvis, the mighty Mississip, Elvis impersonators, other people walking, and then, eerily: empty, deserted streets. Was there an apocalypse? Perhaps the Memphis version of Tom Cruise is having his own personal Vanilla Sky experience? No, no. It's just that the Idol auditions have actually drawn every citizen of Memphis away from their normal lives and into a baseball stadium or basketball arena or whatever so they can hopefully embarrass themselves on national television. As usual.

The judges arrive -- Paula's in giant hangover sunglasses, though we'll see this is a little misleading -- and Ryan makes a voice-over joke about Randy ordering donuts, because he's a big fat fatty whose left ham hock weighs more than all of Seacrest even after he's been recalibrated for the extra hair-product weight. Since the show is only an hour tonight, we get right to the auditions rather than waste time with a dumb montage of crazy people, which is near the top of a very, very long list of reasons why this show should never be allowed to expand to two hours. Frank Byers is first up, and it looks like he brought an entire marching band and cheerleading squad with him. He's a cheerleader -- and also cheerleading coach -- at Southern Arkansas University, and he gets his perky squad to scream "Be nice, Simon!" in unison. As cheerleaders often do. It's funny, because we see Frank at the registration table, getting his contestant number, and they're chanting "Register! Register! Register!" and now I can't stop imagining Frank going through the rest of his day like that. At the deli ("Mayo, no tomato! Mayo, no tomato!"), driving home ("It's called a turn signal, jackass! It's called a turn signal, jackass!"), doing his laundry ("All-temper Cheer! All-temper Cheer!"). That's a fun game to play.

Inside, Frank tells Simon that his nickname is "Franks and Beans," which is just so sad. They don't call me "Cuppa" Joe R for a reason, you guys. Frank sings "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," and it's on the shallow side of "average," but he's very animated and tries to get the judges engaged; alas, Randy and Simon are pretty clearly not having it. Simon "hated it," and calls it "cabaret" and also "hotelly," which I think means a prostitute's TV set in British. Instead of taking the criticism gracefully, Frank immediately jumps into another song, "Unchain My Heart," which is always my signal to check out of a given audition. That's like getting down on one knee, proposing to your girlfriend, and then when she rejects you, switching knees and asking again. Simon desperately tries to get Frank to shut up, and he finally calls for a vote: Randy and Paula also say no, so it's back to the squad for Franks and Beans.

Back in the hallway, Ryan's standing with the cheerleaders and the band, and when Frank emerges sans golden ticket, someone from the brass section plays a "wah wah wah" sound that's pretty funny even if it was set up. Also set up is the cheer Frank and the squad break into, that I really need to transcribe: "Give! Me! A! Big ol' Frank, big ol' Frank! [what?] Big ol' Beans, big ol' Beans! Frank-Frank-Frank-Frank-Franks & Beans! Frank-Frank-Frank-Frank-Franks & Beans!" It's so bizarrely likeable. Back inside, Paula snarks, "Cheerleaders, man...they're always there for ya," which is doubly hilarious when you consider that the Laker Girls may have been many things, but they were not real cheerleaders, so you know there's an ocean of buried tensions going on inside her temporarily unhazy mind. Back outside, wee little Ryan has been hoisted up by two stout men (wouldn't be the first time -- hey-o!) and he's still not touching the ceiling. He's all, "We'" and generally acting like he doesn't have the entirety of Bring It On memorized and at the ready at all times, but you can tell this is already his favorite day ever. Back inside, the judges are grumbling at all the noise the cheerleaders and the band are making, until finally, Grandpa Simon gets up off his rocking chair, sticks his head out the door, and Brits, "Not being rude, but can you shut up?" Ryan, who's just had his fun ruined and been caught gaying it up in front of Simon (who's his gay guilty conscience), must respond in kind. So he sticks his head back inside the door and says, "Some-one's a bit of a bitch today!" Simon protests that they're trying to hold auditions here, and Randy's all, "Excuse us, Ryan," in his best "I am not getting in the middle of another lovers' spat" voice. Back outside, Ryan kicks it to commercial and starts clapping along with the chastened cheerleaders, but it's just not the same. You can see it in his eyes. Like someone took his favorite toy away.

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American Idol




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