American Idling 09:02

american-idol_sm.jpg"Kansas City: Where troubles melt like a deluded Stay Puft named Jazz."







GENERAL OVERVIEW: Kansas City had a brain, a heart, the "noive"! (I couldn’t help it, sorry. Breathe; it’s going to be okay.) After what seemed like a mediocre warm-up band just ate two hours of our excitement and enthusiasm (get thee from whence you came, Phoenix!), the show finally gets going.

Kansas City, which begat David Cook, the one that was but a sidenote during the audition episodes of 2008, then coming ahead out of nowhere, winning the contest, beating the overexposed, overhyped and currently underwhelming "other" David, and relegating the supposedly industry-savvy American Idol producers and editors to a glorified group of backwardly kowtowing sycophants. What matters is the lesson must have been learned because, in line with the PR message, the inaugural two shows of the season have been low on the lowbrow and high on the highnotes. The Kansas City segment really stepped up—well… First, the show needed to sacrifice the virgin to satiate the Gods of Good-Ratings; and sweet, pretty Chelsea played the part well, screeching appropriately like, quote, a cat jumping off the Empire State Building, end-quote, and going SPLAT!

Ashely Anderson almost went splat with her audition. She started off on the wrong foot when she sang "footsteps" instead of "footprints," as in "Footprints in the Sand," a melody that Simon Cowell himself co-wrote for his Trilby, Leona Lewis. Her vocals made up for that foot paw and won a yellow ticket to Hollywood. Get it? Foot paw, faux pas? Foot paw? Faux—oh, never mind…

Casey Carlson will also go to Hollywood, but not Brian the self-described opera-trained singer who should have had the good sense to "Think" before he auditioned and with an Aretha Franklin song to boot.

Let me take a brief pause right now to let you know that, after I cover the first five or so Idol hopefuls, a story of strength triumphing over adversity awaits. Almost if not more inspirational as that blind guy last night, this young man is a true spirit facing tragedy the only way he could; with song…

James Michael Avance: messy. Billy Vinson: pathetic. Chris Jones: wretched. Deandre Hopkins: lion food. Von Smith… Ah, Von Smith. We’ve seen many boys like Von Smith on American Idol. He is theatrical. He is a belter. He is closeted, but females, even the ones who should know better, will interpret his lightfootedness as "He’s just sensitive." He delivers "Over the Rainbow" like an Axis power, sparing no notes, battering each beyond recognition. He gets to go to Hollywood. Destiny awaits Von like a crocodile to a duck quaking in the middle of a lake.

Jason Castro’s younger brother Michael makes it through, having only started a scant 20 days before the audition to learn how to sing. If he had another five days, he would’ve learned to krunk on water, too!

I am going to ignore Vaughan English and his silly banana song and return your shallow attention span to a backstory worthy of your five minutes. His name is Danny Gokey and his journey to Kansas City will touch your heart. It is more bittersweet than welder Matt Brietzke’s return to music after abandoning it to raise a family. It is more American than Jessica Furney’s devotion to her century-old grandmother. It has, dare I say, more soul than India McClain’s love for her gifted sister, Asia. Danny Gokey lost his wife only four weeks prior. Sheer will motivated him to try for the brass ring. And if he and the blind guy get the shaft in Hollywood, I will cut someone.

Emotionally wrought, I managed to pull myself together. Okay, with a shot of scotch, I managed to—oh, all right, with three shots of scotch, I managed to pull myself together and watched how anti-Sanjaya Anoop Desai shocked the judges with a performance that belies his computer-preppy geekiness. Even his eyebrows got into the action: I swear I saw them blow a kiss to K-K-K-Kara.

As Kansas City reaches a close and my mood has safely returned to cool-pickle mode, it is time to tidy the coffee table and get ready for bed. Tomorrow is another — Who? What? Lil who? Lil Rounds? She lost her home to a tornado? She had to stick it out with her family at a motel they could barely afford? Her husband is a zombie?!! Give her a yellow ticket!! Give the woman with a voice a yellow ticket! …

I’m going to a corner and lay fetal for a while… | Alan Quisimorio

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