Everything’s bigger in Texas. Except the episodes, which are smaller.
Armadillo : Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside! Armadillo! I don’t really know why she was crying and grizzling. Who WOULDN’T want to be an armadillo forever? Or at least for a little while longer? ARMADILLO!
Casey Abrams : Step aside Chris Medina. Take a sidewards slide Lauren Alaina. Remove yourself from the picture entirely Naima Adedapo. Your tales of tragedy just got trumped. You may think you know hardship, but Casey Abrams has had to go through life LOOKING LIKE SETH ROGAN! Except not really looking like Seth Rogan so much as just being overweight, with curly brown hair, and a beard. But, even with the bias in Hollywood towards a world of funny chubsters being married to hot (/skinny and a bit haggard) babes, there aren’t quite enough of them for the huskier gentlemen to have a proper range of celebrity look-a-likes. Anyway, there was more to Casey than just his tragic backstory, he’s also this year’s SOUL MAN. In the long and storied tradition of Taylor Hicks, Sundance Head, and…erm…Leslie Hunt, Casey Abrams is a skatting, wooing, juking Soul & Jive Machine. This time, with a MELODICA! I am so excited to see where this is going to leave us. I’m guessing at least one Sexy Boy makeover though. It’s only right.
Corey Levoy : Never before has mine and Chris’s pre-performance game of “good audition or comedy bad audition?” gone on for quite so long or experienced so much backtracking. His intro started out all apple-pie wholesome, so we assumed he must be a good one. Then there was all that slightly weird stuff with his sister, about how she’s totally his best friend, and he had total gayvoice, and was talking about how his sister was his harshest critic and they went as far as bringing her into the audition room to sit with the judges – by that point we were utterly convinced this had to be a comedy poor audition. And then he started singing, and we were like “…huh.” Because really he wasn’t bad enough to be comical, and he wasn’t good enough to be a total star. He was just slap bang in the middle. Which is fine, and it was pleasant enough to listen to, but I don’t like it when this show confuses me. There’s something faintly damning about being outsmarted by American Idol. Also, just in case the gayvoice and being total BFFs with his sister weren’t enough to clue us in, he then told us how he had a bottom like J-Lo. And then showed us. Flame on!
Courtney Penry : Every so often, a nutjob comes along who basically does the show’s job for them, to the point that they really don’t try very hard to cover up the fact that the entire thing is totally fake. Courtney Penry is one of these: came on with some terrifying story about being obsessed with Seacrest, to the point of hamming it up in the background whenever he was interviewing someone else, and bursting into tears when he touched her, etc. She then went in to see the judges, where Seacrestmania was promptly forgotten and she decided to do an impression of a cross-eyed chicken instead. Then she sang, and turned out to have quite a pleasant voice – perhaps not strong enough to have gotten her through had she turned up in a non-nutjob capacity, but still a good voice. Then she gets through, does more manic chicken stuff that’s of a totally different nutjob genre to the Seacrest obsession, and then she isn’t looking where she’s going on the way out and walks right into Seacrest, and has to take a moment to shift back to her other schtick. I’m like the last person to call a reality show contestant “fake” because Lord knows that’s just about one of the emptiest, most meaningless insults you can hurl at a person on your TV, but there was not a single second of this audition that was genuine. She knows it, the judges know it, the show knows it, you know it, I know it, she’ll disappear in Hollywood. Let’s move on.
Hollie Cavanagh : Chris and I got very excited when she came in to audition, being that very rare breed: a Texan Scouser. (From the brief snippets of her parents it seemed like her dad was from Liverpool and her mum was from Texas, but I may have got that wrong.) She started singing ‘At Last’, which is kind of blemished in the minds of X Factor viewers by the memory of Katie Waissel, and also she kind of sucked. Randy gave her a straight no, but Jennifer wanted her to sing something else. What is it about people called Hollie on talent shows crying a lot and getting second chances? She settled on ‘The Climb’, which if anything she sucked harder on, but the judges claimed to see improvement and put her through to Hollywood. She’s a strange one, because there were definitely notes in there where she’d suddenly pull through and have this beautiful tone to her voice, but they tended to get lost amongst the chaotic, tuneless meandering. I wouldn’t have put her through. We’ll see who’s right in the long run.
Jacqueline & Nick : Gawd bless ’em, it’s the US version of Same Difference. Except with slightly less of a sexual frisson. I mean, Lord knows in these troubled times the youth probably need some positivity and love and happiness, but even Glee cuts the treacle with Sue Sylvester occasionally. It’s kind of a shame, because they both had strong voices that they’ve made themselves unmarketable as anything other than a joke act with this business, but anything to get on the tv I guess. At least it came across as more genuine than “Seacrest’s “stalker”” (plus about seven more sets of inverted commas) any way. Really all the long term there is for them from this point on is seeing who gets cut first, and how the other reacts. I hope it’s spectacular.
Janelle Arthur : My main memory of her is really that she looked a bit like Lucy David, or perhaps Leighton Meester before she dyed her hair black to play Blair Waldorf. Beyond that I remember little about her, except that she was cute in a too-earnest, country sort of way, and Chris totally thought that her dad was a cult leader of some kind. This remains to be seen.
John Wayne Schulz : Yeah, yeah, yeah. You wanted to call him John Wayne so he’d grow up rough and tough, just like that noted tough guy and American folk hero, John Wayne Gacy. Or maybe that one who got his winky cut off by his wife. Figures at the core of the concept of American masculinity both. And joining them now, John Wayne Schulz, masculine enough Ryan Seacrest to act like a big old weirdo, not that it takes an awful lot. I think Seacrest was selling himself short anyway. He knows the value of branding shows a mastery in the ways of the bull every week, and has clearly grabbed hold of a horn or two in his time and used it as leverage to buck around on a steer for a good oooh…20 to 30 seconds or so.I also loved that John Wayne Schulz’s dad thought that the power of his genuine Texas family could beat Seacrest’s Seacrestiness out of him. Oh John Wayne Schulz’s dad, it’ll take more than one family to do that.