American Idol: Altitude Adjustment

February 2, 2010


I’M ABOUT AS EXCITED for another “Idol” audition round as I am to see snowflakes falling outside my window as I type this. But as much as I hope that this week’s bursts of white flakiness — we’re expecting another storm on the East Coast this weekend — will be Washington‘s last for the winter, “Idol” has at least given me hope without the guesswork. This week will be the last hurrah for auditions, and for that I am glad.

So let’s settle in, shall we, as for a burst of flakiness made for our TV screens.

DOPPELGANGER BUSTERS
“I probably get at least once a day that I look like Jack Black,” contestant Mark Labriola says with not very much humility. “I don’t have a problem getting compared with the ugliest guy in Hollywood, ’cause he’s funny and I’m sure he gets girls. So I deal with it, y’know.”

Right. Except I don’t. Because to my eye, Mark doesn’t look a thing like Jack Black. It’s almost as bad as the doppelganger fever that’s sweeping Facebook right now: the latest meme is to change your profile picture to an image of a celebrity you think you look like.

It’s had several lamentable consequences. For example, fielding new friend requests is more of a guessing game than usual, since I’d be a lot more likely to recognize my coworker’s pal Charlotte if she didn’t have Courteney Cox as her profile pic.

But the worst is watching friends overreach when choosing their doppelganger (having salt-and-pepper hair, for example, doesn’t make you George Clooney) — or seeing them pick a lookalike who’s just a little too spot-on. Can you ever look at your Aunt Fran the same way now that you know she’s a dead ringer for Edie McClurg?

Aside from being a moderately hairy man of somewhat larger carriage, Mark’s look doesn’t strike me as Jack Black-like. However, Jack Black annoys me. And right off the bat, so does Mark.

Annoying moment #1: This statement: “I’m the guy doing the thing that dudes do, and I’m here.” It’s like he’s channeling late ’80s Corey Feldman, but without the bank account and the groupies to back it up.

Annoying moment #2: He greets the judges with a snazzy finger-pointing thing and the word “Cello.” It’s like he’s gearing up to sell them a car.

Annoying moment #3: He sings — sigh — well, which means I’ll have to see him again. I’d agree with guest judge Victoria Beckham — I thought Mark was going to be a joke, but it turns out that he’s got skills. And quite a curious history, what with living on the lam and what have you, which for some reason piqued Simon‘s interest. Not so much mine, but whatever.

A SCALED SNAPPER
I usually try to support the local talent on “Idol,” but Austin Paul, what are you doing to us?

The D.C. local is in school out in Colorado, where he’s apparently packed every compliment he’s ever been given into his entitled little head, hence the swelling. I don’t know if I could peg precisely which local prep school he went to off the bat, but I’ll bet I could get it in three guesses.

He’s attractive, he’s athletic — he’s a long snapper on the University of Colorado at Boulder football team. Everything he touches turns either to gold or a keg of Natty Light, which in college is just like gold. So he’s just got to be a great singer, right? He even composes music while riding on his moped! “I’ll be like do-do-do-do … hey, did I just write that?”

He’s just that awesome, people. Want some awesome? He’s got extra to spare.

“I’m a singer, I’m a composer — and I’m a football player?” he says, so overwhelmed with his own spectacularness that he can barely keep from making out with himself right there on national television.

Oh yeah. He’s cruisin’ for a bruisin’.

As he begins to, um, croon? the opening line to John Mayer‘s “Bigger Than My Body” — “This is a call to the color blind” — it’s clear that his is actually a call to the tone-deaf. What follows is a bad John Mayer impression mixed with the sound a suffocating yodeler might make.

“Is that the way you normally, naturally sing all the time?” Randy asks.

“No,” Alan answers confidently (does he know any other way?) but without proper enunciation, “that’s just one of the tricks up my sleeve.”

Riiiiight. Only sleeveless shirts for Alan from here on out. He’d like that.

“For me, it felt a little bit arrogant,” Posh says, getting right to the nub of it as she always does. And looking a bit Olive Oyl-ish as she does it. Is Becks her Popeye?

Alan and his very white teeth don’t do anything “a little bit,” pretty lady. Even his exit is an exercise in puffery. “I’m shocked,” he jabbers. “I can still be a star; I think I still will be.”

Just keep that business out West, mmmmkay? Thanks.

On to superlatives.

MOST UNFORTUNATE ANSWER TO A SIMPLE QUESTION
“Oh, anything and everything!”
— Mario Galvan, he of the copious nervous laughter, in response to a “What’s up?” from Randy. It only made poor Mario all the more tightly wound.

CREEPIEST OUTFITS
» The gal dressed as a hot dog — with mustard.
» The Cleopatra/dominatrix hybrid.
» The dude in the boxer briefs. Wait — did they recycle him? I could have sworn we saw him earlier in the season.
» The woman with the pink hair and leggings that looked like they were covered in neon green silly string.
» The gargoyle, who I know I saw earlier this season. Cheating!
» Bikini Boy. Dude.

SIMON’S BEST LINES
“We’re doing ‘Project Runway.’ … This is really embarrassing.”
— Addressing Casey James after Kara was finished undressing him. That’s the first time I can remember the judges asking an auditioner to take his shirt off.

“You just killed every cat in Denver.”
— speaking to the gal who has a promising career as a dog whistle, since singing isn’t quite her thing.

BEST QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“My singing is sort of a public service for others, because it brings the community together.”
— Kenny Everett, the, um “male Mary J. Blige” whose prolonged “Heeeeeeeeeeeeey” sounded more like a plea for assistance than a performance. Maybe he’s the community air raid siren?

BEST OF THE REST
» Danelle Hayes: Wow. You need a solid set of pipes to take on a Melissa Etheridge song, and Danelle delivers. There’s a gritty emotion to her performance that moves even beyond her tears during the audition. I’m curious to see how she’ll fare in the tense atmosphere of Hollywood. It doesn’t always go so well for super-emotional folks.
» Tori Kelly: Her sound is an even more Southern-tinged Jessica Simpson. Her type of singing isn’t quite my style — she’s a little too Miss America for me — but I could see her being very commercially viable. And she seems nice.
» Nicci Nix: Her voice is Minnie Mouse but her singing style is pure pop syrup. Add in her ebullience and she’s a crowd-pleaser. Although I’m destined to mix up her name with Stevie Nicks and Nikki Sixx.

» WEDNESDAY NIGHT: It’s the auditions clip show! “The Road to Hollywood” will feature all of the greatness from this year’s auditions that we didn’t already see. Unless we did already see it. You never know.

I’ll have a recap on Thursday morning right here at ExpressNightOut.com/idol.

Till then, any thoughts about the contenders from Denver? The state of the competition so far? The well-funded train wreck that was Austin Paul? Chip in your thoughts in the comments section below.

BONUS: Well, as I was searching for videos to embed into this post, I found this gem of an original tune from local guy Austin Paul. The title is “Playin’ the Piano Naked,” and it’s as good as you think it’d be.

Included: Random video snippets of Austin shirtless, just vamping, ’cause that’s what he does. Still photos of Austin earnestly sitting at the piano or standing in a river fully clothed, as if he was walking around, just lost in thought and creativity, and suddenly there was, like, a river there, you know?

You’ll love the lyrics, too. Enjoy.

Photos courtesy Fox

Greg Barber is The Post's director of digital news projects. Find him on Twitter at @gjbarb.
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