American Idol
Auditions: Philadelphia

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Joe R: C+ | Grade It Now!
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Yes! You're Going To Hollywood! Whatever!

You guys? It's back. Like Javier Bardem stalking you across the length and breadth of this great nation of ours ready to plug you in the brain with a bolt gun full of audition episodes, THIS...is American Idol

Seven audition cities this year, attracting every variety of freak you can imagine (and for some reason a disproportionately large number of balloon-animal makers), mostly because you've seen variations on these people before: girls with big dreams and bigger hair, boys with gold lamé shirts who have some things about themselves they need to come to terms with, girls who sing Aretha, boys who sing Aretha, and boys who will no doubt try to sing Rihanna and trigger every one of Simon's ugliest impulses. Ryan Seacrest flashes us forward through things we'll be seeing later on, and once the credits are finished, he finally tells us we're in Philadelphia tonight. So much American history just waiting to be defiled.

First up is Joey Catalano, who's lost 230 pounds but still can't manage a shirt that flatters him. He's the first lead-off auditioner since I've started recapping this show to be any good, singing Maroon 5 (damn you, Blake Lewis, what have you done?) and getting unanimous "yes" votes from the judges. Simon can't resist snarking on the weight loss, but Joey's too busy getting down with his people out in the hall to notice. Ryan wants to date Joey's grandmothers, of course, and they giggle but you know they secretly think they can do better.

Alaa "Yuka" Youakeem is from Egypt and has only lived in the States for three years. I guess the show wants him to be their Borat, what with him talking about loving American girls and how he has "sexyface." The show makes fun of him for the following reasons: 1) he can't speak English that well, 2) he's kind of smarmy in that way only Mediterranean dudes and/or eighth grade boys can be, and 3) he's got a prodigious gap in between his front teeth. He has a conversation with a tranny prostitute and when that doesn't scare him off, he's sent in to audition. The judges futz around with his name, despite that fact that it's on their call sheets, and he sings a Bee Gees song, because they're his heroes. He sucks, of course, and not even all that interestingly. Paula struggles mightily to tell him so, with Simon prodding her along, until Randy finally puts him out of his misery. Randy, by the way, has some weird facial hair action going on, with the sideburns that look like the blade of a hockey stick and the hint of a goatee. I'd make an "evil twin" joke, but thus far he's been the nice guy.

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American Idol

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