It was a kinder, gentler "Idol" last night, a nice respite since tonight will seemingly be devoted to more awful auditions. But always keep in mind, it's been three weeks and just six episodes and the auditions are over. 90% of the show is NOT about making fun of bad auditions. Last night, I thought the judges came off nice with the girl Simon asked is her audition was for real. When she cried, they were all pretty sympathetic, but Randy said, "You want us to be honest, don't you?" And for the girl, Jasmine, who complained that the judges were rude and bored even before she sang, that's EXACTLY what "real" auditions are like. In fac, real auditions are far LESS friendly than "Idol." You don't talk back or get air time or explanations or polite explanations that singing just isn't for you. All you get is a barked out "Thank you. Next!"
Having said all that, several things were again uncalled for and buttress those who think the show is meaner. First, I don't understand Ryan's continued cooler-than-cool attitude with the contestants, especially his tactic of just remaining quiet and leaving people hanging while the cameras are rolling. It just seems designed to make them feel awkward when Ryan should be doing everything he can to make them feel NOT like idiots. It was also mean-spirited of them to show the relatives of Jasmine who sported a sign that said "Jasmine: Are Next American Idol." What's the point of making fun of uneducated people? That was followed by quoting one of her relatives who asked, "Where's Simon from? He should go back to English...." Later in the show, a voice-over from Ryan said something about Simon going to "English" in a further mockery. Finally, if they don't take two seconds next season to post a sign on the exit doors pointing to the one that isn't locked, they're just being dicky.
HALEY -- this was the girl with the dress that exposed her back big time. There was a quick reaction shot of Simon's jaw-dropping (as popsurfer aaron pointed out to me) that was priceless.
BAYLIE BROWN -- this 16 year old was great, though I fear she might think Paris Hilton is a role model. Hopefully she won't be wedded to country or she'll seem too much of a Carrie Underwood. But a terrific job on a Faith Hill song and very cute and her name is ready to be in lights. A real comer.
COUSINS -- the first cousin who sang "Amazing Grace" was hilarious when he explained to the judges he would be trash-talking on the way out and then let off a tirade that everyone on the outside believed was genuine. Very very funny. And Akron Watson sounded terrific on "A Change Is Gonna Come" and especially "Let's Get It On."
ASHLYN CARR -- I didn't think she made as many weird facial gestures as the judges said and I certainly would have said yes the first time around. She's got a nice distinctive voice and is certainly worthy of Hollywood. I wished one of them -- after their many many comments about her weird-looking tics -- had mentioned the fact that she was quite pretty, just to be nice.
JIMMY MCNEAL -- I hated Simon's sudden compulsion for referring to him as Jimbo but Jimmy's "Cupid" was smooth and very very appealing. He and Baylie were definitely the highlights.