Film and TV

American Idol Gets All Southwest On Your Ass

So last night marked the return of the out-of-control musical delusionfest known as American Idol. And the first episode of the eighth season featured summer auditions that took place RIGHT HERE IN PHOENIX!!! Oh my God, the excitement was just too much! How exciting was it going to be to see watch an episode of AI featuring people I might bump into buying seems-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time drunken burritos at Filibertos! The jubilation quickly faded, however, after it became apparent that at least a third of the episode's featured singers were not, in fact, from the Phoenix area, but were from effing California! As if Phoenix didn't have inferiority complex enough because of California, now it has to take the spotlight away from our crappy singers, too???

But I digress. The first two weeks of AI are typically devoted to showcasing both the freaks who wouldn't know an on-pitch note if they heard it along with the voices in their heads and the likable contestants who you know will likely be big players come Hollywood week. Last night did not disappoint. Some highlights:

Cheesiest moment of the night
There really are so many to choose from, but I think the award goes to the quote printed across the screen at the very beginning of the show: "In life, the mic passes your lips but had better be ready to sing." Such deep, meaningful words were spoken by none other than uberproducer David Foster, whose ass AI likely now has to kiss into perpetuity for introducing his sister to Clay Aiken, who tapped her to be the mother of his gay-bie (oh yes I did!).

A close runner-up was Seacrest, who my viewing companion and I like to refer to as Seadouche, perched on the edge of the Grand Canyon, telling us "the beauty of Idol is the journey itself -- a journey we'll take together." All together now: Awwww.

Best hair of the night
California resident Tuan Nguyen, hands down, rocked his Afro like the love child of Suns player Robin Lopez and Sideshow Bob.

Best Wimpy Tommy Lee impersonation
"Rock star in a box" Randy Madden, who looks the part, but cries every two seconds like his mom just told him his cat got run over. Which, incidentally, is what his singing sounded like.

Sixth long-lost retarded member of the Jackson 5

Phoenix's Aundre Caraway, aka X-Ray

The WTF...for real, WTF??? Award goes to...
Michael Gurr of Mesa, who might be one of the worst (i.e. most awesome) auditioners I've seen in eight seasons of AI viewing, what with his complete mangling of Carrie Underwood songs, his near-panic attacks at the though of singing in front of the judges, and his need to sit on the floor and have a banana to calm himself down. Now he is somebody I hope to bump into tooling around the streets of Mesa, which I never normally do, but will likely now start.

The WTF...for real, WTF??? Award Pt. 2 goes to...
Paula Abdul for her ridiculous eyewear and Randy Jackson for wearing that fugly orange shirt that nicely displayed his manboobs.

Two chicks I wanted to punch in the face for vastly different reasons
There was 16-year-old Arianna Afsar, who I wanted to punch because a) she was adorable b) she was a do-gooder c) she had a really good voice d) she had really nice parents. Screw you, people who have it all!

And then there was Lea Golde, also 16, who, with her pink hat and shirt looked like the Pepto Bismal cowgirl and tried so hard to be cute and perky that of course my logical reaction is to want to sock her in the kisser.

Most awkward moment
Seadouche pulling away when bikini girl tried to kiss him. It was almost as if...he had never kissed a girl before! Hmmmm...

My nerd crush

Alex Wagner-Trugman, who I know is only 19, but he was a smartass and he sassed Simon and he taught himself to sing in his closet and oh my God I am in love with him can someone just send him straight to the finals?

All right, I'll admit it, I teared up

Scottsdale resident Scott MacIntyre's passion for music in spite of his visual impairment was inspirational, and on top of that, boy can sing!

Arizonan who I'm rooting for

Brianna Quijada of Tempe, who doesn't have the best voice, but is cute without being cloying and called Simon "Simey."

All in all, a good way to kick off Season 8, though the whole thing is starting to feel a wee bit stale. Looking forward to Kansas City and to getting to know the Arizonans who made it to Hollywood a little better. Post your comments below and tell us what you thought of Phoenix night.

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Yvonne Zusel
Contact: Yvonne Zusel