American Idol: Season 11 – Aspen, Colorado

As Idol takes its show on the road and visits new locations, it’s obvious that the producers are experimenting with other reality concepts, like travelogues. Here, Aspen, Colo. is presented as remote, frosty and idyllic, with snowcapped mountains and babbling brooks punctuating the various segments. Time was spent with the different show personalities goofing off, like Steven Tyler and his corny jokes or Ryan Seacrest ramming his golf cart into something. The higher altitude was to blame for their behavior. Nevertheless, it was Randy Jackson who expressed the hope, “I think we can find a winner here.”

The first showcased contestant, Jenni Schick, was just as loopy as the judges, if not more so. Her segment included her running around the hallways, screaming, pestering others and otherwise acting obnoxious. As a music teacher who instructs very young children, her personality is probably a good fit, but hopefully we won’t be seeing too much more of her throughout the season. Unfortunately, she received a golden ticket, so more airtime may be wasted yet. Before leaving, she got a kiss on the lips from Steven Tyler, which reinforces why so many boys want to be rock ’n’ roll stars – girls will want them regardless of age.

Quick segments for Curtis Gray who gave a solid rendition of Yesterday Boys II Men style, Richie Law who brings some Scotty McCreery country bass to the show, and Devon Jones whose high-pitched serenade was impressive enough. They all received golden tickets.

A longer segment was given to Tealana Hedgespeth who has a twin sister that is apparently a wonderful singer. Sporting a septum piercing, which is a departure from her sister’s conservative style, Tealana confessed that she wanted to get out of her sister’s shadow and prove that she could sing as well. She can’t. The judges let her down nicely, but let’s hope she didn’t watch this episode tonight, because the judges were merciless in their private comments. Finally, in a turn of true reality, it was delicious to see the daggers Tealana stared at her sister after emerging from the failed audition. Back in the shadow you go!

Haley Smith, an 18-year-old, working three jobs (I sympathize!), was one of the more laidback contestants. Tyler called her a true flower child and said that he was “honored” to hear her sing. That might be overstating things, but she did have nice audition. The question is whether or not she has staying power.

After some juvenile comedy with bartender Alanna Snare and animal testicles, it was time for tugging at heartstrings with Shelby Tweter from Minnesota – and she brought her accent along to boot! Apparently, this girl has been diagnosed with bipolar syndrome and has been living with depression since she was four. Poor dear! After singing a heartfelt tune with her soft, raspy voice, how could the judges not send her through?

Then Jairon (don’t forget the) Jackson tried his hand with a Bruno Mars-sounding song he wrote. Admittedly, it was pretty good and good enough to warrant a golden ticket. I would, however, like to see him pull up his pants for future episodes.

The most interesting highlighted audition of the evening goes to Angie Zeiderman who is heavily influenced by Lady GaGa. Angie’s style is dubious, but at least it’s color coordinated with her hair, which was dyed different shades of purple. On the other hand, she is attractive, with her toned body fitting her tight dress nicely. Nevertheless, her outlandish getup could only mean an outlandish performance, which could only lead to failure. She went with a show tune coupled with a somewhat burlesque performance, which Randy hated. That could have been the end of Angie, but Jennifer Lopez asked for another song and Angie gave a surprisingly tender performance with Blue Bayou and earned her golden ticket to Hollywood. Who knows how far she’ll go, but if she cracks the top 10, then expect to see Lady GaGa at the finale.

Finishing off the episode on a low note was Magic Cyclops – one of the most inauthentic personalities to audition. Affecting an English accent and trying to look like young Axl Rose, Magic Cyclops did his best to rip off the absurdity of This is Spinal Tap with his odd comments and behavior. He almost broke character in the beginning of his routine, which probably would have been more enjoyable from a viewer’s point of view. American Idol is a hit because we enjoy watching authenticity. It’s uplifting to see deserving people succeed and delightful to watch the untalented stare at their dreams crumbling before their eyes. What we don’t want to see is staged idiocy – we want real idiocy! So when Randy proclaimed “this is silly” and then later walked out, he probably spoke for the vast majority of people watching.

I’ll cry if Magic Cyclops makes it into the finale as a gag.