Season 5: Neither One of Us

Sleazie's in a cable car and says that it's no secret that he's in San Francisco. Um, why is that? Is it because I'm supposed to connect his supposed sexual orientation to the city's sexual orientation or something? Anyway, yeah, yeah, the actual competition starts in March so we have to find a way to stretch the show and fill up the ad slots to bring in the moolah, so whatever, we're in San Francisco, the only stop on the West Coast (obviously the show realizes that there's more money to be made from the telephone-dialers in the red states in America). He asks me to hang on tight - to my gun, pressed to my head, perhaps - because he'll show me some great things. Please, darling, I'm not that naive. When a man says that to a woman, chances are the woman won't be interested in what he has to show.

Sleazie reveals that San Francisco is cool because Nadia and Latoya auditioned here. Oh, and William Hung auditioned here too. You know, I actually saw that loser when he showed up in Singapore and that guy has a problem: he genuinely believes himself to be an artist and he completely misses the joke that is his "career". I hope someone helps that poor delusional dear with some therapy sessions when he realizes that he's more of a human punchline than a credible artist. Back to this show, the kids are screaming, yelling, howling, pretending they are straight to win the Stupid Little Girls' hearts, hoping that they won't get cut and lose to that tone-deaf girly boy because they happened to be females - the usual. The judges show up and Randy Randy plays his optimist shtick hard, Miss Paula wears shades to hide her red-rimmed eyes, and King Tut calls home to Mommy and cries about how lonely he is because this show is forcing him to hide his grand love affair with Ryan Sleazebag. Gah. It's hard to recap the bad auditions episode when there's nothing to amuse myself with. No King Tut-Sleazie banters, nothing. How am I supposed to live through a month of this nonsense?

Never mind, I shall preservere. My will is sorely tested though when a walking Tropicana Barbie doll, Heidi Fairbanks, shows up with her two similarly attired buddies. She wants everyone to know that she wants to be called "Happy Heidi from Hawaii" and she especially wants people to think that she looks like Jessica Simpson. She also wants Nick Lachey to know that her smile makes other people happy. Happy Heidi with a Happy Smile to make you so very happy, ooh. Unfortunately, Heidi decides to perform an opera bit by Verdi (in a pretty average manner) which impresses Miss Paula, which is fine, but she tanks in her version of Jessica Simpson's Angel. King Tut thinks that Heidi is better in singing opera rather than pop and Miss Paula thinks that she's yelling out Angel. King Tut and Randy Randy turn Heidi away so Heidi has to take her brand of happy back to Hawaii.

Shawn Vasquez claims to sing like an angel and is now starting opera lessons to "further" his education. He claims that he is destined to be bigger - not a reference to his size, people, so don't snigger - than ever. He sings Neither One Of Us by Gladys Knight and the Pips and... hold it, he's a guy, right? He sounds like an overwrought and oversinging woman. His voice soars and soars until his voice breaks and Randy Randy begs him to stop. Not one to take the message, Shawn then launches into the song again. King Tut tells him to stop. The judges call him weird, turn down his pleas to sing again, and King Tut tells him that his voice is almost non-human. Randy Randy says that singing is not Shawn's "thing" and King Tut says that Shawn really can't sing.

Sleazie poses before the same spot in front of the Golden Gate Bridge - I think this show bought that spot so that they can put him there in every San Francisco audition episode - and says, hey, I shouldn't kill myself to end my misery at this point because things can only get better. He's going to spend the rest of the episode in only a pair of briefs! No, really, he promises that things will be better. And that guy who's supposed to be better is Jose Penala who wants to be known as Sway. He is quite a focused guy, although maybe he's just trying to hold everything in because the queue to the men's room is very long. He sings Luther Vandross' Superstar - oversinging it, actually, but that's okay since he wants to make an impression on the judges. I like his voice, he seems like he can sing unlike the other boys that went through in the past, and it makes sense that he is the first wannabe to head over to Hollywood. Lauren Wackerley is among the next four to go to Hollywood although she sings like she really needs to go to the ladies room now.

All good things come to an end, as Sleazie says, when "twenty-one year old" Matthew Paulson shows up. He wants people to call him Wolfie and he claims to sound "a little bit" like Kewpie only different. Yeah, that's what they always say. He sings Measure Of A Man like his nostrils are clogged and he has no sense of pitch anymore. He is sent packing with extreme prejudice. Matthew insists that he is comparable to Kewpie and the show proves him wrong by playing Kewpie's singing the song alongside Matthew.

Sleazie says that this episode is Idol By The Gays... oops, Idol By The Bay, which is a way for him to introduce some loser military dude who auditions for this show the moment he is discharged. Most people will run off to the nearest bar to pick up the ladies or the gentlemen depending on whether they ask and tell or don't, but John Williams here decides to go see Sleazie instead. I don't know what to say. He claims to have taken singing lessons since only six weeks ago. He looks like the quiet and strong type and I am liking what I see... until he sings. Oh gosh, it's another male soprano again. And he's singing Michael freaking Jackson's Human Nature. Okay, jokes about Michael Jackson aside, I love that song and I think it's one of the finest pop songs ever but this guy is making that song even more high-pitched and girly than it should be. And what's with his inexpressive killer robot face and that weird shaking hands he is doing while he's singing that song? He then claims that he will do a remix of that song, start beat-boxing, and starts "ooh"ing and "aah"ing as he tries to do some breakdancing thingie. It's official - he's military only in the "Area 51" sense. King Tut says no but Randy Randy and Miss Paula say yes. The Robocop Gay Soldier from Planet Suck is going to Hollywood. At this rate, I'm starting to feel that poor Happy Heidi is robbed.

John brings his vocal coach along with him, which is a cue for the show to introduce some less-successful wannabes and their unfortunate vocal coaches that tag along to the auditions. They make their students do vocal warm-ups, breath deeply, and more. Meet Katharine McPhee, whose mother is a voice teacher that brutally makes sure that Katharine will never be anything but a singer. Of course, Katharine and her mother both act like "stage mother" is a nice and happy phrase. King Tut snarks that her mother is living her career through Katharine and Katharine chirpily agees. However, Katharine's God Bless The Child is very nice indeed if way too melismatic but hey, melisma is what this show is all about so she's going to Hollywood. The judges all act like she's the second coming of music. Katharine's mother can now buy some new shoes, yay.

Sleazie says that some people tell him that it's risky to come back to this place that gave everyone William Hung but he is confident that there is hope and there is talent to be found here. And here comes Latoya threatening to beat Sleazie with her shoe, screaming, "And I'm not talent enough for you, BITCH?" Eric Cornforth wheezes through a song like he's about to die. Shalicia Carlisle claims to be a poet and claims to have recently discovered that she can sing. Therefore she quits her job to audition today. Wow, she needs to change her prescription STAT. Her singing is atrocious and she acts like she's possessed by the ghost of a melodramatic failed actress while she's at it. Halfway through a song she launches into a poem about drug addiction and the painful life in the ghetto. King Tut asks for something more cheerful and less choreographed, so Shalicia sings the Pussycat Dolls' Don't Cha for a few lines before moving on to Mary J Blige's Sorry. Even when Shalicia says that she quit her job and this show is her life, the judges send her packing. King Tut then launches a staged routine where he calls up Jenny, Shalicia's ex-boss, and gets Jenny to take Shalicia back by telling Jenny that Shalicia is the best salesperson he has ever met. At least this ersatz segment has a happy ending, I suppose.

Oh God, another disgusting "I'm a countrified innocent girl, really!" lass is up. Shawna White looks particularly disgusting in that cloying Shirley Temple with ponytails manner and she flogs her ignorant bumpkin act to death. Still, her dad was a rocker so that's not so bad, I suppose. Her singing is pretty painful to me and her gyration to Alicia Keys' Fallen is quite skeevy but since America loves their countrified virginal blondes, Miss Paula and Randy Randy are sending her to Hollywood despite King Tut's reservations. This leads to Sleazie calling Shawna a "rock star" and more fake "arguments" between King Tut and Randy Randy. Randy Randy is a bad actor - he speaks his memorized lines very, very slowly like he's trying very hard not to miss a word.

A montage of freaky facial expressions and loud howlings of some desperate camera-seeking wannabes leads to a montage of singing and dancing both good and bad. There are rapping and beat-boxing, and there's me resting my cheek on the cold marble floor as one hand desperately tries to reach out and grab the bottle of painkillers that have rolled out of my reach. Marcus Phillips is the "quadruple threat" according to Sleazie because Marcus raps, beat-boxes, sings, and does comedy. He does all four to the camera and the judges but he is banished because the judges feel that he's a better entertainer than singer. Judging from his falsetto, I think he's a much better entertainer than a singer. At least he can now add "As seen on American Idol" to ads publicizing his appearances at the local clubs, I suppose. Good luck, Marcus. He really doesn't want to be on the show and we all know that.

Jayne Santana dresses like some little girl who has raided her older sister's wardrobe for something "sexy" and her version of Anita Baker's Sweet Love isn't too interesting but Randy Randy and Miss Paula let her through to Hollywood. She vows to prove King Tut wrong when he says that she hasn't "conquered" the song. Once more Randy Randy hammers on King Tut in a very rehearsed manner and this leads to another montage where King Tut has contrary opinions to that of the collective shared brain cell of Randy Randy and Miss Paula. I hope Randy Randy doesn't start to believe that he has actual credibility or something. The fact that the whole fake drama doesn't effect the actual outcome of the wannabes going through or not is just icing on the cake. Anything to stretch the show to maximize ad revenue, after all.

Sleazie earns his pay by giving a talk about how the judges are in a foul mood and therefore there are plenty of drama taking place on the show. It's sad when Sleazie comes off as one of the less contrived speakers on the show. Maybe he should give Randy Randy acting lessons.

Deborah Dawn Tilly claims that her big hair makes her the rock girl. She tells Sleazie that she has been in seven bands since she was seven. Her version of is really good to my ears and I like her image which is a little Stevie Nicks crossed with a startled llama. King Tut however thinks that he needs to listen to Deborah with his eyes closed because she looks like "somebody's mother who has been told to look like Cher for some ghastly party". Miss Paula, who says yes, reminds King Tut that he said the same thing about Kewpie. King Tut reminds her that she wasn't there when they let Kewpie through three seasons ago. He says no, so with Randy Randy's no, Deborah is out of here. Miss Paula says that she has heard King Tut say that about Kewpie on live TV and King Tut storms off to retreat to his hotel. When there's nothing to put on the show, a little manufactured drama can't hurt, after all.

I don't know whether to find Manuel Moses sexy or repulsive. He looks okay, I suppose, but he drinks Hot Sauce before he sings, ugh. He tells the judges this story about how his mother vowed to name her child to her patron saint and lo, Manuel was conceived shortly after, which is how he gets his name. His version of Stevie Wonder's Ribbon In The Sky is very nasal and overwrought. He's trying too hard and he doesn't have the vocal chops to back up his promises. Randy Randy thinks that he's on another planet. "What's with the voice?" he wonders, leading Manuel to sing another song. He tells Manuel to stop, and Manuel launches into another song. Randy Randy forcefully interjects his final "No" and Manuel finally gets the message. He is given the boot.

Sleazie reveals that eighteen people from San Francisco is headed over to Hollywood and I have to endure another week of auditions episode before we are even halfway to the actual competition. Sleazie wonders whether King Tut will return to sit in the next audition in Las Vegas. Well, is that like those King Tut rumors that he will never come back for the next season? He always comes back, snort. Just like how I keep coming back, week after week, sigh. Excuse me, I need to tell my doctor to increase my dosage of painkillers for the upcoming week.