by John Jude Farragut
Okay. I’d better just admit it. I watch Fox’s hit show for one reason: Watching the people who suck. If it’s watching mass delusion or seeing Randy Jackson bury his face in his papers as he bellows out laughing, it strikes a comical chord in me! By accident or not, I found something deeper in these auditions – something that holds a grain of relevant truth. But before all that mumbo-jumbo, there are several auditions from this season that still stand out.
Temptress Brown. She wanted to win the competition and provide for her sick mother. I thought, “Now there’s a contestant with her heart in the right place!” When she was turned down, it hurt to see her weep in front of the judges. Thankfully, Simon Cowell laid off on the insults. He called her a sweetheart – and rightfully so. Even though she didn’t get past Philadelphia, she and her big heart definitely got past the thousands of contestants who sought after so much less than she did.
Sixteen-year-old David Archuleta had been awaiting a chance to audition for American Idol. Like Temptress Brown, he had a story to share. Paralysis of his vocal cords kept him from singing, and for years, he worked to overcome his condition. During his interview with Ryan Seacrest, I listened closely to David’s voice, and I thought, Oh, man, I hope he gets through. His voice sounds pretty weak. But I think he shocked a good number of viewers–one of them being me. He almost lost credibility when he performed “Waiting on the World to Change,” by John Mayer, but tackling such a difficult song and overcoming his condition at the same time are highly praiseworthy. Plus, the fact that he has been established in the Top 12 is phenomenal.
I can’t think back very far in the American Idol canon, but for those of you who began watching at season three and onward, you might have seen a familiar face – Blake Boshnack. He came back again to audition for his eleventh time! Yet again, he got turned down. Should he really be spending so much time auditioning when he looks as if he should be playing Dungeons and Dragons somewhere? He just doesn’t strike me as an American Idol. He somewhat bears a resemblance to fantasy author Christopher Paolini (of Eragon fame).
Philadelphia entry Alexis Cohen threw a fake tantrum. (No wonder it wasn’t funny.) Obviously, it was staged, but come on already!
Until the debut week, I never heard anyone on any season of this show singing “All the Pretty Little Horses”!
Milo Turk. There’s no way I can forget this quack. He was an off-record participant; the guy showed up without a number badge. Plus, he was 39–obviously way older than the maximum cutoff age, unless it’s a trend to be more than halfway bald at 28. (What makes me concerned about this show losing steam is that producers appear as if they’ll let anyone slip through.) Finally, Turk proclaimed that he had a message to deliver through his singing. But without saying “No, sir, have a good day,” Ryan Seacrest let him slip through.
Turk, a social worker, brought forth an original song called “No Sex Allowed.” Yeah, that’s the title. It didn’t go over well with the judges, and while I admire Turk’s message of abstinence, the method of delivering it deserves nothing more than a good sarcastic “O-kay!” I always thought that age and experience negate delusion, but in Milo Turk’s case, it only appears to enhance it. (Oh, yeah, and he’s got a MySpace profile and a CD under the same title on iTunes and CD Baby.)
Texas got a revelation on January 16, and it’s not that the people of Kelly Clarkson’s native state can’t sing “Since U Been Gone” worth a darn. It’s the show’s biggest identity crisis to date, also known as 44-year-old Renaldo Lapuz. Another contestant beyond the cut-off age! To be expected, this Simon Cowell fanatic followed the trend of wannabes already destined to be feeding grounds for the cameras. And it only got worse, of course! He performed an original song called “We’re Brothers Forever,” and I’ll compliment on him on his somewhat accurate pitch, but that’s as far as it goes. The judges and the network made a meal out of it; there’s even a video showcasing Renaldo’s segment on the show!
This pop-and-pomp entry proclaimed that he would “give hope to those who are in despairs” [sic] if he ever became American Idol. No chance of that last part happening. I’ve seen some identity crises on the show, but this was plain crazy. I will give him points for stability and audacity, but nothing more. But what the heck? Considering that he’s from my hometown of Reno, Nevada, I hope that I bump into him and be able to shake his hand. I’ve never met an American Idol contestant. However, I won’t bow down to him, as everyone else around him allegedly does. (You’ll have to see the video; it’s almost embarrassing.)
Which leads me to my last point: The video is up for grabs on iTunes. (Yes, Robert, I am a follower of the iTunes religion, and I don’t have any reason to convert!)
Now here’s the “idle” part. I want to go somewhere with this – beyond a tacky pun, that is. My iMac’s onboard dictionary has a good definition of the word “idle”:
“Without purpose or effect; pointless.”
What amazes me about the bad contestants is that they take this stuff so seriously. But if they can’t sing, then what’s the point? Is there really any purpose or effect other than an embarrassing thirty seconds on TV?
You’re probably like, “Come on, stupid! It’s just a show!” But I take some parts of the show very seriously. I find a grain of relevant truth. Eventually, the majority of contestants will have a moment of revolution and see that they have wasted so much time and effort thinking they were so great. Perhaps their Idol auditions will serve as their wake-up call. And even though I’m not a singer, I had a major wake-up call of my own in one of the worst and most permanent places imaginable – on the Internet.
I aspire to be a novelist, and I always have to contend with talent and my lack thereof. And I have embarrassed myself a lot because I used to be so deluded! One especially bad experience on a Super Mario Bros. forum continues to haunt me almost a year later. I lashed out because nobody was liking my horrible writing, and the backlash was like a bomb going off in my face. I can’t even go back there because it’s so humiliating. Sure enough, I now find myself deluded a lot less, especially since I have huge evidence of how horrendous my storytelling was. I had my wake-up call, and with the way everything happened, it’s impossible for me to forget.
Remember hearing about Birmingham, England, when Amy Winehouse began her tour and was slaughtered by booing and jeers? An article by Andy Coleman goes into detail about “one of the saddest moments of [his] life” as Amy Winehouse was reduced to tears during a horrific performance. (Here’s the full article.)
Granted, talent can be viewed as relative to an extent; Coleman calls Winehouse “a supremely talented artist,” although I personally don’t agree. But regardless of talent, and besides the fact that Winehouse never auditioned on American Idol, this breakdown isn’t far off from what happens on the show. In front of a viewing audience of millions, terrible singers are reduced to tears as they face the truth for the first time. Others lash out and dig their heels in deeper. Many remain in denial–a hard price to pay.
Back to the “idle” part. It really doesn’t matter whether or not those people have talent or whether or not God has placed those plans in their lives. As long as they keep hunting for a seat in the center of attention, then their efforts are idle. “Without purpose or effect; pointless.” Solomon gives us a synonym right in the beginning of Ecclesiastes: “Useless! Useless! The Teacher says everything is useless!” This prompts another question: Is it worth it?
Turning back to Amy Winehouse, we have seen the trade-offs of living in the limelight. Her life is no longer private, and her most glaring aspects–her unstable husband, her drug and alcohol issues, her reactions to the most severe criticisms–are displayed for the public. Despite the praise she gets, this publicly swearing, drunk “bad girl” is not honorable or admirable by any visible means. And her life in the paparazzi’s flashing lights will continue indefinitely. In contrast, going on American Idol for a thirty-second segment on television sounds much easier, but considering what some of these people go through, we’ve seen it – it can be crushing, especially for those who can’t face the facts. In both circumstances, I wonder, “Is it worth it?”
But let’s face it. When people delude themselves about their talent? It’s idle. Pointless. And, thanks to American Idol, hilarious!
But consider what will happen when those contestants get their wake-up calls. Who knows? Maybe, someday, their auditions won’t be so idle.