Season 3: She Bangs

Yay, we're now in Los Angeles. Or as Ryan "You Say Detox, I Say Botox" Sleazebag says, "Hollywood!" Sleazebag walks on the screen, with the ever reliable background of screaming teenies behind him, and talks about how LA is always a lousy place to find memorable AI contestants. He walks along a path cut along the screaming teenies like Moses parting the Red Sea ("Is that a name of a club I should know?" asks King Tut suspiciously) and says that some of these wannabes have camped here outside the Rose Bowl for the last few days. Some sad people announce to the camera that they are the next American Idol. Then the camera focuses on a large camping tent structure labelled "Camp Diva". Someone sings Vision Of Love because it ain't no Diva until Mariah Carey is brought up. Inside Camp Diva, various Christina, Celine, and Whitney wannabes doll up, tart up, expose their thongs, and sneak into the men's room to plug their hair driers and stuff. The last one is a good idea as some of the men there actually have better make-up on than these ladies and they will probably share the love of a good foundation and lip gloss with these ladies. Welcome to LA, people, where people work really hard at looking good while sounding as if they are eating shards of broken glass.

Sleazebag announces that he's now letting these wannabes through, lifts the yellow line separating these wannabes from fame and glory, and is trampled to death in the resulting stampede. The show is cancelled. I wish. Anyway, Rose Bowl is filled to the max. There are rows of tables for trios of producers to select the elite few to confront Miss Paula, Randy Randy, and King Tut. A guy sings A Whole New World, segued to a woman singing the same song. Then Randy Randy arrives, speaking into a cellphone. Sleazebag laments however that King Tut is very late as usual. Then King Tut arrives and steps out of his limo, to be accosted by Sleazebag wearing a tight-fitting "Welcome To The Lowest Floor On Flaming Fruit Pile" shirt. Sleazebag accuses King Tut of being disrespectful to the others that arrived earlier, King Tut greets him as if nothing is amiss, and they all bicker and argue until they can't hold back their pent-up passions anymore and end up making wonderful, noisy, and torrid hot monkey love in the men's room where King Tut is especially late, much to Sleazebag's delight. Um, not that you're supposed to know that all this really happened, as this is a family friendly show we are talking about.

Miss Paula is still under the weather. How disappointing.

There's a ventriloquist getting ready in the waiting room, but they show instead a beefy Asian guy growling and working through his constipation problems in a blood-curdling rendition of We Will Rock You. Then there's some loser singing Age Of Aquarius all wrong, followed by another guy that cannot get past the first few lines of his song without having to start again. Yay, looks like we're right on schedule where this show is concerned. Are we having fun, people?

King Tut says that he and Randy Randy are really in a foul mood thanks to the wannabes all sucking the wrong way. Cue him telling Nicole that her Fever is dreadful. Actually, she isn't that bad to me, just bland, but apparently the judges think otherwise. Nicole thinks she's good and declares that she doesn't care what the judges think. Randy Randy tells her never to sing again. As they argue, it occurred to me that the judges could have placated these wannabes better by telling them why they are dreadful. "Your voice is wobbly" or "you don't seem to have any passion in your singing" will probably defuse a lot of tension and it's not that hard to say these things. At least, it will be better than a blanket "Absolutely ghastly" or "Don't sing again". But I guess that will take real expertise on music and it probably won't make decent TV. Nicole cries to a friend or a sister, whining that they insulted her in there and this other person tells her not to listen to them. After two seasons of this show, I guess some wannabes still don't get it that they will be insulted and humiliated on the show and any overreaction on their part will be shown and reshown in promotional clips and on the show until the film reel is worn out.

More losers hurling brickbats on the judges for everything from insulting them to not seeing their real talent. King Tut and Randy Randy will be So! Sorry! that they missed out on such Great! Fabulous! Talent! when these losers become famous. Because make no mistake, they assure everybody that They Will Make It. Out of town, I hope. For good. Some large woman wearing a prominent scarf jumps and stomps her way through Fame. Needless to say, she is sent crying to her creepy stage daddy that announces how King Tut's problem is that King Tut doesn't like young girls. Ooh, that's such a clever insult, wow. King Tut calls a woman "musical wallpaper" and this woman is moved to tears as a result. Someone consoles a dejected loser by saying that King Tut and Randy Randy's opinions don't count, which I always find a silly thing to say because on this contest, their words do count as they are the closest thing to a ticket to stardom for many of these wannabes. Randy Randy ends the montage by wondering aloud when this contest has turned into a joke. The moment Jim the Sad Clown Boy opened his mouth in the first season, I'd guess.

People are worrying outside the audition room because so far nobody has gotten to Hollywood yet. Then comes Bao Viet Nguyen. I am not at all impressed by his father's teary-eyed sad story about being immigrants coming to America to start anew and how America offers them the opportunity blah blah blah. Save that for the Hallmark movie, dude. I am impressed however by Bao's telling the judges that he sees himself as a businessman in that he wants to make himself and his overlords a lot of money. Spoken like a true Chinese/Sino-Asian guy. Where was he when I was younger? Bao's Lately is clean and his voice has what they call a "body" so he's in. He shuts his eyes too often during that singing though. Bao is so happy that he gives what seems to be the speech of a winner of the Best Actor In A Hallmark Movie category in the lobby. Dude, cram it already.

Some woman brings in a dog. As she blasts off-key New York, New York, the dog flees across the room with its tail between its legs, whimpering pathetically in the process. I'm sure nobody kicked that dog to get that scene on film.

Sleazebag voices over that as the first day ends, only six people are sent to Hollywood. The last person of the day is Matt Rogers. He's cute in that he claims that he's American so he qualifies to be an Idol, heh, he has a baby face to attract younger viewers and a receding hairline to attract the mature viewers ("Oh please, we want CLLLLLLAAAAAY!" the Soccer Moms of North Carolina fire back), a thin waist for the skin-queens and a bulky upper body for the chub chasers. Um, no, Matt, what gives you the idea that any of us wants to sleep with you? Matt's brother, whom for some reason I'd picture to be named Dan, tells Sleazebag that Matt is a blockhead with a great voice. Matt tells the two judges that he was an ex-footballer and he had played in the Rose Bowl before. Oh, and he used to be fat. Maybe his cat died when he was a kid. As Dan makes a show of listening at the door, Matt sings James Ingram's Just Once. I find that his voice has some richness to it, but he's really shouting too much instead of singing. But given the sorry state of the wannabes so far, Matt's a shoo-in. Yay. He celebrates by singing a much better rendition of what seems to be a Pavarottian operatic tune in the hallway.

In the second day, a Asian wannabe butchers and mangles Get Here in embarrassing Charlie Chan accent. Where do these people come from?

Jasmine Arteaga is what I'm supposed to call a "little person". Her rendition of I Turn To You is actually more passable than good, but she's in. She celebrates and is given a massive clapfest by the other wannabes. To be honest, while I'm glad with her that she got in, I can't help feeling that Jasmine can unbalance this show the way Josh Don't Tell did last season: the show would focus incessantly on her shortness and pat itself in the back because it is so enlightened and non-discriminatory, there will always be people that want to make themselves feel like good people by voting indiscriminately for her, and some better people will get shafted. Because Jasmine isn't that good: she sounds like a vocally-trained Carmurp, to be honest. I am not objecting to her presence on the show, just to make this clear, I just fear that she will go far for all the wrong reasons. I can tell already from the way Randy Randy and King Tut start talking to her as if she is a child and not an adult.

Draeh Hancock has Miss Paula's fashion sense in that she has a large pink flower pinned on her hair. Her Almost Like Being In Love Again is pretty okay but there are pitch problems. But I give her props for choosing a correct song to sing and singing it with some restrain. Besides, she only wants a car with her prize from the contest. King Tut and Randy Randy aren't too sure as they feel that she's a little too retro in her voice and fashion sense, but what the heck, she's going to Hollywood.

Rodrigo is hot. Unfortunately, that's all he is. He walks into the audition room with a huge chip on his shoulder. When King Tut says that Rodrigo is "not bad", he starts blasting King Tut by saying that he expected worse from King Tut. King Tut asks Rodrigo what he wants to do if he wins a million dollars. Rodrigo's wretched response ($100,000 to charity, $200,000 to be invested to make more money, the "rest" to charity) is probably the last straw that sends King Tut into turning him down. Rodrigo can't believe it. Randy Randy tells him to go. Rodrigo sings again, and the judges insist forcefully that he really must leave the room. Outside, Rodrigo laments that the question blew his chances and he will forever be haunted by it. He says that he should have shoved the money down King Tut's throat. Oh please, you lost because you're such an obvious fake: an arrogant cocksure dweeb trying too hard to be humble and nice. I would have turned you down myself. "Charity" - my bum!

There are some hot guys that are rejected following Rodrigo's departure, which culminates in one of them begging Miss Paula to come back. While Miss Paula may appreciate the eye candy, I don't think she has that much power to keep Randy Randy and King Tut in line. So shut up, hot guys. You want to be famous, go do some adult films or something.

Sleazebag points out what he feels is a disturbing pattern: so far fifteen women have been sent to Hollywood but not one guy qualifies. Oh no, not more hot guys on the show! No more Sleazebag is horrified. To be honest, I am mildly horrified myself. Miss Paula is interviewed, where she coyly says that she is told of this development and she finds it funny that this happens only when she's not there to keep "her boys" in line. After a montage of uniformly similar blond or brunette thin girls getting sent to Hollywood, King Tut is shown to pooh-pooh Miss Paula's words. I love how this family-friendly show implies that the male judges are perverts that select only nubile young women for some flesh farm located in Glendale. These women are talented, King Tut announces, not letting on to the fact that he is operating this season on the principle that the fewer hot guys there are on the show, the more tranquil his months-old union with Sleazebag will be. The guys don't have it, King Tut insists, and the show provides a montage of men singing wretchedly to prove this.

Now a few guys announce that they will be the first guy chosen to go to Hollywood today. Gtoe is especially confident about being this guy, but he is thrown out after a few really wobbly lines into his song. Jefferey Dingles is next and his Desperado is too much like Justin Guarini's, even if Jefferey looks easier on the eyes that the fuzzpick celery that is Guarini. He's in. Outside, Gtoe is foaming mad, going on and on about how the show would regret not picking him. Inside, Jefferey is given to pass-go card. He rushes out of the room just as Gtoe and his father are raving and foaming like embarrassing lunatics and oh my, I swear I can see Gtoe and Godfather turn green the shade of sour grapes as they declare that "this" is "nonsense" and apparently the show wants a "pop idol", not an "R&B idol". Nice, now they're playing the race card. As Jefferey hugs everybody he knows in the lobby, Gtoe's father tells the camera that King Tut has robbed his son. Yeah, because Gtoe is entitled to be famous. Stage daddies and mommies, I tell you.

A few more guys are chosen after Jefferey. Maybe Sleazebag's private off-camera schmooze and smooch with King Tut has something to do with it.

From New York, we move on to San Francisco. I wonder why Sleazebag is so excited to be here. Maybe the trannies, oops, trolleys have something to do with his jovial mood. He describes SF as an eclectic city where hippies and dipsticks have lived, loved, contracted STDs, died of overdoses, and had all sorts of funs before. He asks a trolley geezer whether there would be any talent found in this place. The man says yes, sure. Then King Tut shows up and drags Sleazebag back to the hotel before Sleazebag asks about the talents of other kinds to be found in SF.

Oh look, Miss Paula is back. How's the flu, hon? Sleazebag says that it is appropriate that Miss Paula is back for SF, an eclectic city apparently after her own heart. There's a joke, I bet, in there somewhere. King Tut and Randy Randy aren't impressed with SF though, apparently it being just another city for them. So rumors of King Tut sightings - dancing with Sleazebag in abandon to Kylie Minogue in an exclusive disco - must not be true then.

The auditions begin with a truly awful guy murdering All The Jazz as if he's singing while being attacked by rabid dogs. Hands flailing, voice wobbling all over the place, he still has the nerve sing Fever when he's told how horrid his singing is.

Sleazebag now brings up wannabes that were rejected in previous auditions but come back again and again for more punishment. The main focus of this segment is Victoria, a woman that was rejected in LA but came to SF after getting a haircut. Because all you need is a haircut to impress the judges. She also calls herself "Victory" now. Oh, please. She also brings along his friend, Sir Jac (really, that's what she calls him), who as it turns out has given her pointers for this particular audition. Victory's singing, however, must be really bad in LA if her version of Doo Wah Daddy here is anything to go by. She isn't singing as much as she seems to be forcing every word out of her through violent contractions of her diaphragm. She comes off as really trying too, too hard. King Tut likes Miss Paula's "affected" so much that he uses this word to describe Victory. Randy Randy agrees. He says that Victory seems to be gnashing her teeth as she sings and he finds that an unattractive sight. Miss Paula says that Victory is too cabaret and not what they are looking for. So all three judges are unanimous in this: Victory is not going to Hollywood.

Sir Jac throws a temper tantrum as if he is the one that is rejected. He blames her as well as the judges for not "getting it". As he leads her around as they bug various producers to let her audition again, I wonder what kind of relationship these two must have because poor Victory really comes off like a whipped puppy led by a Stage Best Buddy as opposed to your usual Stage Moms and Dads. Finally security has to lead them off the premises, upon which Jac orders Victory to sing and she does, performing in that same forced way of hers before asking the camera defiantly whether that is "cabaret". No, it's not cabaret, it's "bad karaoke". Victory, find a new friend, please.

A young lady holds up a poster of herself. Which leads, incongruously, to Sleazebag talking about how some of the wannabes here are straight out of central casting. Like him, Paula, Randy Randy, and King Tut? Like how every contestant in the Final Ten or Twelve is lumped into some label like "the fat girl done good", "the virginal sweet thang", "the G-rated ho", "the diva", "the bad boy", "the Marine", et cetera? Nope, Sleazebag is talking about how they have a used car salesman, a cowboy, and a surfer dude among the wannabesthis season, and no, I am not talking about Sleazebag's past careers or love life. The slick Ken Doll used-car-salesman ruins Drops Of Jupiter, the cowboy violates Ain't Goin' Down Till The Sun Comes Up to the point that musical sodomy should be outlawed if it isn't already, while surfer dude (whom King Tut guesses accurately as one after seeing the dude barefooted - assuming he hasn't read the dude's personal details in the file before him, that is) gives the Patridge family a well-deserved finger with his cheesy rendition of I Think I Love You. All three are sent packing and they take defeat with graciousness rarely seen so far on this season.

Marisa Sobecki-Engle and Dina Lopez sound alike, look alike, fitting the generic wannabe-diva mould, and they are in. Someone murders I Surrender and King Tut announces dramatically, "So do we!" Katie Webber is a cheerleader and she looks like one, so of course she's in, never mind that her I Wanna Dance With Somebody is even less interesting that last season's Jennifer Wanna Dance With Somebody's version. King Tut believes that Katie is the person that can do anything well should she puts her mind to it, but she will never be exceptionally good at any of these things. She can probably go as far as Top Ten but that's about it, he feels, but Katie's going to Hollywood nonetheless.

Sleazebag announces now that they are looking for the next Ruben but instead, they found the new Keith, only this time, this Keith was "hung". Put away the machete, King Tut, Sleazebag is making a bad pun on Will Hung's name. He looks like a stereotypical Asian nerd. We Chinese have a term to describe people like him, and it translates to "Big Potato Head". He sounds like a pleasant man, which they always do, and explains that he's originally from Hong Kong and is now currently studying civil engineering in the University of Berkley. While he probably trounces everybody in his class tests, he can give men cameltoes with his laughably awful rendition of Ricky Martin's She Bangs. The singing is awful, but what makes him wonderful is the movements he perform with the song. Oh, those awkward hip sways, the spastic hand twitches, the dreadful Charlie Chan accented "Che bank! Che bank! Stink like ah be!" He's not as "good" as the Virgin Keith, but oh, he's a well-deserved runner-up to the Hall of Shame.

Randy Randy has his face behind the file throughout the performance. When it's over, King Tut mildly tells Will that Will can't sing, can't dance, so King Tut really has no idea what to say to him. Will says that he has done the best he can and he has no regrets. Miss Paula applauds this attitude, but ends up laughing along with the other two when Will announces that he has no "propeksional tlaining". King Tut sarcastically expresses surprise at that announcement. But they are all surprisingly mild on Will as he and his cute grade-school schoolbag are sent home.

Next week, Hawaii. Just one more episode. One more. I can do this, I hope.