This year The Voice will get NBC’s plum post–Super Bowl time slot, so as a countermove — and a tourniquet to stop the flow of viewers from the open wound this show has suddenly become — Fox throws an audition episode of American Idol on immediately after the NFC Championship game. And it’s no accident that they’ve chosen the one they shot on an aircraft carrier, the one where the first auditioner is in a bikini top and micro-shorts. It’s like Fox is saying, “Come on back to Idol, boys: it’s jugs and fighter jets all the time over here.”
Tonight, Idol promises an audition episode unlike any other, by which they mean, “There will be a huge, distracting amount of background noise.” They are on the USS Something-or-Other, an aircraft carrier turned museum that is docked right on a busy San Diego port. Hence, ships, planes, and helicopters are arriving and departing all around them. It looks like the scene in Top Gun where Kelly McGillis shows up to teach the class, and it sounds like a location manager getting fired.
Anyway. First up is Jennifer Diley, the aforementioned bikini wearer, who is neither good enough to make it to Hollywood nor bad enough to goof on. No, she leads off the show strictly on the considerable merits of her real American breasts. Ryan Seacrest leers at her with all the convincing libido of an 11-year-old boy trying to bond with his stepfather. I want you to think about this for a minute, because I guarantee it will freak you out: Ryan Seacrest has an adult penis.
Shaun White’s fairy godmother Steven Tyler has a long printout of dirty limericks, because of course he does. I will transcribe this exchange so that you don’t miss any of its subtle, comedic intricacies:
Steven: There once was a fellow named FRICK. I think you see where this is going.
Steven: Oh, it’s dick.
Randy: WHAT! Ohhhhh! Whoa!
Ladies and gentlemen, Randy Jackson has managed to be less funny than a dirty limerick. God bless America.
Single mom Ashley Robles has kind of a Vanessa Minnillo thing happening, and her version of “I Will Always Love You” is actually quite good. All the judges say yes. There’s very little controversy, here or anywhere. They either all say yes or they all say no. There is no, you know, judging going on at the judges’ table, just a lot of confirmation of what we here at home who are not making millions can hear with our own ears.
Bucket drummer Jayrah Gibson looks like he’s being set up as a joke — he is not so good at saying words, you see — but he tears into a Musiq Soulchild song and is pretty decent. He gets sent through — unanimously, always unanimously — and shouts, “I got a golden ticket! It’s like a ticket from the movie Charlie to the Factory!”
Aubree Dieckmeyer brings Idol’s season eleven problems into sharp focus. First, in her pre-audition interview, she calls the show America’s Next Top Model. Then, she calls “Feeling Good” a Michael Buble song. Then she sings it like she learned it phonetically. Then she is judged by Jennifer in these exact words: “I like all the parts in your voice. Because you’re really good. All the runs and everything.” So, to review: people who have no idea which show they’re auditioning for come in and sing songs that they have no idea where they came from or what they’re about for people who have no idea what they’re hearing or saying. For four hours a week. You have unwittingly hit the cause of this show’s ratings decline right on the nose, Aubree Dieckmeyer. (She makes it through, unanimously.)
Ali Shields got chosen by Ellen to do red-carpet interviews at the American Music Awards, and while there, she received her first kiss — from Usher! “Well, technically, I guess my first kiss was from Mike Posner,” she says, in one of the more spectacular disses ever caught on camera. Ryan, who has no idea how any mature sexual thing works, passes her around to be kissed by various Idol crew members. Jesus, Ryan. Ali raps for the judges, Randy asks her if she can do any “ghetto dancing,” which is just a weird fucking thing to ask anyone, and she complies because she is a girl who longs to be on television. She then oversings Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Like a Star” and the judges send her through because maybe they are deaf from all the jets taking off.
Kyle Crews is a gayish frat boy, the end. Before the audition, Ryan asks him what he’s thinking of, and it goes exactly like this:
Kyle: I’m thinking of Jennifer’s face.
Ryan: What part of her face?
Kyle: Her … I don’t know. Her … lips.
Ryan: What about her lips?
Kyle: I don’t … how … voluptuous they are?
Jeeeeesus, Ryan. Neither one of these guys has their heart in it, and this was the very best take. His version of Monica’s “Angel of Mine” is lovely, and they all vote him through.
Mother and waitress Jane Carrey is the daughter of Jim Carrey, and has a refreshing, honest little pre-audition interview wherein she articulates the difficulties and pressures of forming one’s own identity in the shadow of a very famous person. In the audition room, after Jane reveals who her father is, Jennifer Lopez (who you will remember used to be a Fly Girl on In Living Color) says, “You were a baby then! When did I get so old?” So, to review: Jane Carrey attempts to develop a name for herself after a lifetime as a superstar’s child, and superstar Jennifer Lopez makes the moment all about herself. Amazing. They vote her through — unanimously — and the producers make her call Big Jim on-camera. And it’s all scored to Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”
You know what, Idol producers? I know you love to mock auditioners who are tone deaf, but MAN. Take the plank out of your own eye before you remove the speck in your brother’s. (Bible, dawg. WHAT!)
Tonight’s show ends with beardy mechanic Wolf, this year’s terrifying lug with a sweet voice. He brings in his guitar, which he calls his “git-fiddle,” and I have no idea whether he made that up. Is there a RuralDictionary.com? His first song is a little shaky, but once he has his git-fiddle with him, his confidence comes flowing back. He’s through to Hollywood. (It is unanimous.)
Steven reveals that San Diego was the best city yet: “There were seven triple-threats!” I strain to understand what he means by that; did they have the auditioners prepare monologues? But there’s no time, because we rush right into hilariousness:
Camera guy: Seven triple-threats? That’s 21 threats!
Steven: Yeah. And one of ‘em’s your girlfriend!
Come back, Work It. We forgive you.