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American Idol "Best of the Worst" Special: The Good, the Bad, the Uglyby Bruce Barker -- 02/20/2003
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When the announcement was made that there would be an American Idol special featuring the best of the worst auditions, there was a lot of discussion as to who would be best suited to write the recap. It fell to me because I can endure. It fell to me because I am brave. It fell to me because of my experience in music. It fell to me because I'm the one that's partially deaf.
Let me say at the outset that the person who decided to present the singers in short, fast-paced, themes instead of an hour of haphazard random performances deserves a big raise. A parade of terrible vocals would have made for exhaustive viewing, but there was some apparent thought that went into some of the grouping and it made for a much more entertaining hour.
The show started off on a very promising uh, note as we are treated to Carrie Hunt performing an impeccable "God Bless America." This is used as a segue to a collection of the worst of the "patriotic" auditions. We see Lamont Flanders wearing what is apparently a plain gray set of sweats except for the fact that it seems that so much static electricity is collected in it that half of his remaining wardrobe has clung to the front of it. From there we skip to Daniel Anderson, one of the more notable bad auditions who forgets and then mangles the words to the national anthem. Even his lame, "Play ball!" at the end of the song is bad enough to cause a mass exodus to Canada. The patriotic theme concludes with a falsetto assault by David Gavin who provides us with yet another of the things American Idol hopefuls should not do: If you have a size 34 waist, do not audition while wearing size 26 briefs.
Randy Jackson opens up the next sequence by introducing Monica Songok, who sings with an off-key quiver to her voice that made me long for a nice Yoko Ono boxed set. From here we quickly jump to Dino Yazzie's performance of "The Greatest Love of All." This audition causes us to realize that the real greatest love of all would come from the woman who can manage to sit through listening to him sing. In one of the more notorious moments from the early auditions, the judges are stunned into silence, which Dino fills by singing even more.
Intermingled in the special are auditions from people who dazzled the judges in the original cattle calls, but somehow lost it when they got to the second round of eliminations. Antorey Scott is one such singer. We are treated to the exciting rendition of the Stevie Wonder classic, "I Wish," that breezed him into round two. So what happened? He showed up for the second audition with a pom-pom hairdo that would have made any self-respecting poodle jump off a roof and a pair of glasses that would have stripped the cool off of dry ice.
The next sequence was a mock commercial for a set of cds entitled "Shmowtown." Numerous Motown classics are butchered in such rapid-fire fashion that the names of the singers can't even be displayed. Most are almost unrecognizable and all can be yours for the unbelievably low price of $247.99 - not including $23 for shipping, of course.
Randy is then shown explaining that the auditions are a long and grueling process for the judges. I started to dismiss this just as quickly as I dismiss professional athletes who get paid millions and cry about how unfair it all is, but then I thought about it for a moment. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what it must be like. Long days filled with an endless stream of humanity, each person believing that they have a real shot at stardom. How many renditions of "A Moment Like This" would you be able to tolerate? Just how easy is it to keep an interested expression on your face when a contestant walks in and proudly announces they will be singing the 400th version of "I Will Always Love You" that you've had to listen to today? Some things are simply not worth enduring at any price!
Randy continues on, speaking about the lyrical butchery that often takes place. We see Chris West not only mangling the words to his chosen song, but also shows us that if you are going to stick one finger in your ear and another on your chin, you had best be singing Jim Croce's "Operator" or you are only going to look like a refugee from a 1-800-CALL-ATT commercial. Then we get a reprise of my favorite moment from the cattle-call auditions. Patsy Charles delivers the longest version of "Unchained Melody" in history. The producers of the show give us a montage of the seasons changing, the sun setting, the judges growing beards (all but Paula of course) and a baby dozing in a pram. Simon then informs the girl that she could never make an album because it would only contain one song!
In yet another amusing mock advertisement, Edwin McCain appears singing his much-abused "I'll Be" as he strums his guitar. In this public service announcement, he pleads on behalf of songwriters everywhere that if you are going to audition for American Idol, have the decency to treat the songs with respect. A writer, he explains, displays his innermost soul to the public with each lyric and melody. The ad then cuts to several performers destroying McCain's biggest hit - butchering lyrics, losing the tempo, and singing so badly that one begs for rain to fall angry on a tin roof just so it will drown out the agonizing noise of the singers. We see McCain weeping and know exactly how he feels.
One of the unusual things about this year's crop of singers is the number of twins that showed up. There's Tawnya and Shawndry, a reprise of the Morgan Twins singing "Fallin'," and Paula tells us how surprised the judges were at the sheer number of duets this season. In a moment heavily hyped in the pre-broadcast ads for the special, Crystal and Kristen Shepherd are shown yodeling their hearts out. Sadly, the audition has been so heavily edited that the moment seems even shorter during the show than it did in the advertising. While certainly no threat to Jewel, this was a bit with a lot of potential to be a real high point and I was disappointed to see it brushed aside. In the last moments of this segment, we once again see masters of denial, Brandon and Brian Forrest, argue vehemently with the judges and refuse to accept the reality that they just aren't good enough to make the cut.1 2 Next-->
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