Paul F. Tompkins on American Idol’s Austin Auditions

American Idol
Episode Title
Austin Auditions

Hello, Idolliputians! Here we are in Austin, the city that exists so Texas can feel separate not only from America, but also from a part of Texas itself. The episode opens with a title card, upon which is a disclaimer stating Steven Tyler is just too, too outrageous and has been asked to tone it down. Blah blah blah, next thing we see, Steven Tyler almost says “fuck.” Look, I know that not all of entertainment is geared toward me. It wouldn’t be fair if it were. But if you find this guy’s shtick entertaining, YOU ARE NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH. Yes, I am saying it goes beyond personal taste and it is incumbent upon you to find better things funny. I don’t know how you will do this. Have a Flowers for Algernon operation, something. Please. There’s so much more out there for you, if only you weren’t the way you are.

Let’s begin! Cory Levoy’s biggest fan is his sister Brooks. Cory and Brooks grew up mere minutes from each other but didn’t actually meet until they were teenagers “due to parental differences,” as Cory so tactfully puts it. Thanks for the tact, Cory. You know that the story of your meeting is only truly interesting if we know why you were kept apart, right? No? You don’t know that? You aren’t actually reading this in the past and will tell the story of your crazy upbringing so that I can see it tonight, in the present? Fair enough, Cory. Fair enough. Brooks loves watching Cory sing and the judges invite her in to do so. These are happening a lot, lately, these invitations. I’m not a fan. Cory sings nicely and gives Brooks “chill-bumps.” I bet these chill-bumps figure into the mysterious origin of parental differences! Perhaps they’re from space! Cory gets in. It is worth (to me) noting that Cory and Brooks wear sort of matching striped shirts, except Cory’s stripes are vertical and Brooks’s are horizontal. They might think they’re twins. This is a disorder common to children born of parental differences.

Holly Cavanagh is 17 years old and sings “At Last,” the perfect song choice for someone who has barely been alive. She is clearly nervous. Comedian Steven Tyler gets serious for a moment and tells her she’s all over the place with the melody, which is true. Randy tells Holly it’s a no, and Holly starts crying from, it looks like, the very depths of her soul! It’s actually really hard to watch because she seems like the nicest kid in the world. The judges ask her to take another shot with a different song, and — we cut to a commercial! We cut back and … Holly’s in. That was a real nail-biter. During the commercial I was thinking: They might make her sing a second song and then tell her no! They might throw acid in her face and yell, “Sic semper tyrannus!” ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN, NOT JUST THIS CRYING GIRL SINGING ANOTHER SONG AND EVERYTHING WORKING OUT FINE! After Holly gets in, my wife asks me, “How many people do they take to Hollywood?” And I realize I don’t actually know. I respond, “A million?”