Erica Nowak gets rejected"American Idol's 11th season kicked off this week, and already there's been grumbling in the Twitterverse/blogosphere that there haven't been enough trainwreck auditions. Where are this year's William Hungs, Larry Platts, Big Bird Ladies? In fact, Thursday's episode, in Pittsburgh, only featured one reject during the entire hour (while 38 legitimate Pittsburgh singers made it through). Personally, I haven't minded the emphasis on actual talent so far this season; after all, awful auditions may be fun for five minutes, but it's the great auditions that will lay the foundation for a strong "Idol" season in the long run.
That being said, an "Idol" season without any bad auditions would be like a day without sunshine, or like a Steven Tyler appearance without a ridiculous hat, or like a Randy Jackson critique without the word "dawg" in it. So of course, there were a few clunkers in the bunch to keep "Idol" rubberneckers entertained this week. Here's a roundup of who didn't get a golden ticket this week--but at least these wannabes got their 15 minutes of fame:
Erica Nowak - Erica's agenda when auditioning for "Idol" seemed to have nothing to do with grabbing a golden ticket and everything to do with grabbing her crush Steven's golden behind. "If allowed, I would kiss his feet--or anything else, for that matter," she declared. Well, Erica didn't get to do that, but she did get to gleefully grope Steven's backside. "You better sing good," Steven warned her, after she molested him. But then she caterwauled Joss Stone's "Superduper," and she was anything but super, or even duper. "The best note you hit was when you grabbed my [BEEP]," Steven told her. So Erica exited the audition room--though not in handcuffs or escorted by security, as she'd (jokingly?) predicted--but not before copping a feel of Randy's behind, too. Jennifer Lopez's famous posterior, however, remained untouched and unscathed.
Shaun Kraisman - Shaun didn't have the singing voice to make it to Hollywood, at least as a contestant. But with his somewhat unnerving resemblance to Ryan Seacrest, and a pretty good speaking voice, maybe he'll make it to Hollywood one day as Seacrest's replacement. There has been talk that this is Ryan's last season, after all--and Shaun volunteered to host "Idol" for free, which is about 17 gazillion dollars less than Ryan's salary. So maybe penny-pinching producer Nigel Lythgoe will ring Shaun up in Season 12. Or how about if Simon Cowell hires Shaun to replace Steve Jones on "The X Factor" this fall?
Mawuena Kodjo - This West African transplant said he had a dream to be "the first African country music superstar." Hey, it's nice to have a dream, but it's also nice to have a good voice, and that was something poor Mawuena just did not have. His Rascal Flatts cover simply fell flat, period. He had the confidence ("I am gonna blow you away," he declared), and he even had a random assortment of well-wishers plucked from off the street to endorse him and insist to the doubting judges that he indeed deserved a golden ticket. But it looks like the only ticket in Mawuena's future is a one-way ticket back to West Africa, sadly.
Shane Bruce - This 19-year-old coal miner, who was the only reject of the entire Pittsburgh episode, was not the worst auditioner of the week. And considering that he spends 40 hours a week in a soot-filled mineshaft, it was impressive that he had any lung capacity at all. But even before Shane sang, the judges should've ordered security to immediately escort him out the door for committing the unforgivable crime of introducing his audition song, Leonard Cohen's iconic (and overdone) "Hallelujah," as being "from the movie Shrek." Really, Shane? SHREK? Back to the mine for you. (He probably should have sang "Working In A Coal Mine" instead. Duh.)
Joshua Chavis - Apparently they were serving up WAY too much complimentary Coca-Cola in the audition room this particular afternoon. Joshua was almost literally bouncing off the Idol-mural-postered walls, from the moment he engaged in a little scream therapy that nearly scared the judges right out of their chairs. And his bug-eyed, absolutely unhinged performance of Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" was scary indeed. Joshua did not go quietly, either, as he cursed more than Steven while making his walk of shame back to the parking lot, cameras trailing him the entire way. Can I please suggest that Caffeine-Free Coke become "Idol's" new sponsor?
Jessica Whitely - This girl seemed to have promise. She bore a faint resemblance to last season's Pia Toscano, she claimed to have been singing since age 10, and she sure knew how to suck up to Steven Tyler. But even grabbing Steven's nether regions (or Randy's) would not have helped her cause--Jessica was bad enough to make Erica Novak sound like Kelly Clarkson. She blamed her ouchy vocals on dehydration (maybe she drank too much caffeinated Coke, like Joshua), and she promised she'd be heading to Texas this season to try out again. If she does, I may have to fast-forward over that part. Thank heavens for DVRs.