American Idol
Auditions: Minneapolis

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Act Your Age, Not Your...On Second Thought, Don't Act Your Age
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Before we know where we're going, we must know where we've been, so American Idol Season 6 begins with a flashback to Taylor Hicks winning Season 5 and then having a seizure. Or because he kept having seizures. One of the two. Then, we go back even further, as Ryan Seacrest's voice-over reminds us -- and visual evidence supports -- that Idol has been responsible for turning Clay Aiken from a gawky Howdy Doody impersonator into a gay Tilda Swinton impersonator; for taking the natural talent of Ruben Studdard and...I guess putting it into a suit, if you go by the montage here; for rescuing Fantasia from a life on the streets and making her sing for her supper by dressing like Beyoncé and hawking her hard-luck story to basic cable. Kelly Clarkson's win seems even farther in the past than it usually does, and Seacrest desperately tries to get some of that "Since U Been Gone" Grammy dust on himself and the show. And, as you may have expected, he attempts the same thing with Jennifer Husdon's Dreamgirls future-Oscar dust. They're not even lying -- Idol IS ultimately the reason why we even know who Kelly and Jennifer are today. But it does serve to illustrate just how wide the chasm is between "Idol fame" and "real, actual fame." To wit, Ryan tells us about Carrie Underwood's mega-success this past year (real, actual fame), then transitions into how Kellie Pickler is a "household name" (Idol fame). Chris Daughtry's album is rocketing up the charts (real, actual fame, or at least the beginnings of it), while Katharine McPhee is wearing hooker clothes to the American Music Awards (Idol fame). Elliott Yamin is...oh, they didn't talk about Elliott. That'll cost 'em.

As the confetti of yestermonth gives way to the teeming throngs of slightly-more-recent yestermonth, Ryan promises this season will be the "biggest and best yet." The Who, from the background, counter that it's only teenage wasteland. We're promised the usual mix of exuberance and bitterness and boys crying and girls getting violent and personality disorders and mental handicaps and gimmicks and good singers we probably won't see until semi-finals, and then...this girl with a cowboy hat makes inhuman sounds with her mouth. Is she the next American Idol? Ryan Seacrest sounds dubious.

Credits!

Then it's more flashbacks. Remember when Prince performed at the Idol finale last season? I sure don't! Was that while I was passed out from seeing Toni Braxton's vagina? Or while I was passed out from seeing Meatloaf have a panic attack onstage? Or while I was sleeping from the overall boringness? Then again, everyone was on that finale show, so why not Prince too? Anyway, "Prince," in this case, is shorthand for "Minnesota," which is where tonight's auditions are taking place. "The state of 10,000 Lakes," Seacrest reminds us, "and when we showed up there were 10,000 people." So in about a half hour, when we want to drown them all, we shouldn't have much difficulty, then? Good news.

During the "judges emerge from their limos" montage, we learn that "acclaimed pop star" Jewel will be joining them as a guest judge tonight. And, look, like everybody else who was a member of the Columbia House Compact Disc Club back in 1996, I owned Pieces of You. But I won't lie and say I wouldn't be making with the sarcastic quotation marks all over the damn place with Jewel if it weren't for the fact that she's pretty wonderful tonight. In fact, I'm working with her on a charity single to benefit overworked TWoP forum moderators to be titled "Who Will Save Your Soul Patrol?" (...I'm waiting for my rimshot...there it is.) And while we're on the subject of Jewel, our first auditioneer of the season just happens to be Jewel's biggest fan. Jessica Rhode works at the Mall of America as a make-up artist for what looks like a Glamour Shots-esque operation. In the hallways outside the audition room, Seacrest breaks it to her that her hero Jewel is a guest judge. So now this isn't just an Idol audition for Jessica, it's her own personal episode of Made. She's crying just talking about it, so you already know this can't go well.

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American Idol

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