Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's all one big mirage

Or is is The Mirage?

Either way, I'm retiring last year's limited glossary. Say goodbye to the handful of last year's singers who earned a silly moniker from me, and say hello to this year's crop. I'm sure I'll come up with more.
  • CBX - Crystal Bowersox, if her name were an airport code

  • GHA - Grandma Has Alzheimer's girl, Katie Stevens

  • TAG - Token Asian Guy John Park
We're in for 2 hours of filler and product placement tonight, so sit down and hold on. I'm told that this year, one of the changes is that they're minimising the fatalities caused by the craptacular theme weeks, but wouldn't you know it . . . this year, they're starting the post Hollywood rounds with a theme: The Beatles.

They're also continuing with the Idol institution of product placement by flying everyone to Vegas (cha-ching!), putting them up at The Mirage (cha-cha-ching!) and they're singing in the same stage that houses the Cirque du Soliel (cha-cha-cha-ching!) show, Love (cha-cha-cha-cha-ching!). I hope all the product placement dollars they're getting are being used to buy a nice deep catalog of songs the kids can choose from this year so we won't have to hear "Against All Odds", "Hallelujah", "Imagine", "I Will Always Love You" and "Band of Gold". Ever. Again.

Mrs. High Lord and I went to Vegas back in October and we had the opportunity to go see Love. Mrs. High Lord's friend is a big Beatles fan and she wanted to see the show. Instead we opted for O, which kicked some serious rear end. I recommend it for everyone.

What I don't recommend for everyone is 15 year olds singing on Idol. I think we've already seen more crying this year than usual, but on one level that's good because it means they're showing more people who actually want it (or at least think they want it) instead of the clowns who just want to be on TV.

They're back in groups, this time in duos or trios, and singing a Beatles song they picked out of a hat, which is almost like the Wheel of Death™ I proposed several years ago, only without the actual wheel, but the idea of being at the mercy of sheer random chance is oddly appealing to me. The only thing better would be Screw Your Buddy™ night.

We get a nice little montage of several groups crashing and burning, but nothing of the groups who did well. We did, however, see some footage of PCC and her boyfriend (Where's he staying? Is he stalking her? Maybe he's psycho, too . . . Do the other singers get conjugal visits?)

In the past, if you got whacked before the voting rounds, they were eligible to return in subsequent seasons. Does that still apply this year?

First up are T/AG and Stefano singing "Get Back". Aside from James's screeching, it's not bad. Fast, up-tempo songs are always good.

BFFs Pia and Karen are up next, and I think Pia's Maxim looks have already charmed Steven and Randy; they're already a nice refreshing big of female eye candy for me compared to all the guys that have been on the screen so far. Karen is also pretty good

Haley needs to go. Naima is okay, but what is "grounds cleanup" for occupation? Like Haley, Jacob needs to just sing the song and leave out all the runs and vibrato and other vocal crap.

So far the judges have gushed over everyone. They did this to us last week; opened with three strong performances and then a string of rejects.

Is Rachel going to a funeral? Why didn't her two sing-mates get any face time? Same thing for Lauren.

Each year, Nigel, Ken and the judges are contractually obligated to say, "This year's singers are the most talented group ever!!!!" Based on the first dozen or so singers to be shown tonight, I have to take that statement at face value this season. I just hope the field is deep and that the actual best singer wins, not the biggest sob story or the person who is left standing as the other singers's competing fanbases take each other out.

For me, the trio of Jerome, Lakeisha, and Tatynisa has the been the highlight show. I think they had the best chemistry, the most energy and the best performance. The judges give them some mixed criticism after softballing everyone else. WTF?

Kendra and a guy who needs to be introduced to Mr. Gillette (I forget his name because she's so hawt) are next they they get nicer reviews than the previous group. His name is Paul by the way.

"We're going to the place where Britney Spears got married, and she's my hero."

If I had a daughter and she ever uttered those words, I'd send her to a convent in the mountains of Nepal and string up her groom. Not that I'm wishing ill up on PCC's prospects of domestic tranquility, but the two components of that statement just seem to be tacking into the winds of prolonged happiness. Of course, Idol probably goaded her into getting hitched on screen and paid for the limo. I hope they also paid for the Honeymoon suite at the Mirage, too.

Teenagers Melinda and Thia are next, after we are reminded that their vocal coach verbally eviscerated them on national TV. The judges try to say nice things, but the bottom line is that they were not good. Jennifer (inexplicably) likes Thia.

Next up are PCC and Sophia and they're singing my favourite Beatles song. They "make it their own" and it just doesn't work for me. I think their voices are annoying, but at least they tried. The arrangement didn't do them any favours, but I'm not going to hammer them for trying something new.

Scotty, Lauren and a Denise also try something new with my second favourite Beatles song, and they have some interesting choreography. I'm happy to hear Scotty singing something other than his country voice. It wasn't awful, but it surely wasn't great. If you want to see how "Hello, Goodbye" should go, here it is:

There are some more singers who wrap up the singing portion of the show. I like that they're showing a wide swath of the singers and not just a few, as they've done in the past. While there is still a face time disparity, at least it's more than just Gokey, Archuleta and Adam Lambert.

The judges put the first group through, and then whack crazy Carson and OIG. At least she has another job to fall back on (not to mention a degree from Harvard). PCC also gets the axe along with a handful of others. Surprisingly, she accepts her elimination with no tears and takes it with grace and what is actually a reasonable amount of dignity.

The remainder get a bus ride back to LA for one more round of singing and then final judgment.

In other news, my captain is now at the level cap, giving me three level 65 LOTRO toons: a hunter, a minstrel and a captain. There's a new update coming sometime in March, so I'm hesitant to really start grinding for the Helegrod or Anuminas gear or finding the "perfect" legendary weapon/item because supposedly big changes are coming. I've also got a 31 rune-keep, 22 champion and 23 guardian, and I'm debating which one to work on next. Remember to hit me up on Elendilmir if you want to try the game out; I'm Vraeden or Vuvuzeyla and an officer in The Druadan.

Next we get to see some of the 40 remaining singers as they face the judges. Most everyone at this stage is reasonably good, which is in stark contrast to seasons past when it seemed that a lot of people were advanced at the request of the producers and not based on their vocal talents.

I hate this part because it seems so contrived and intentionally cruel, both to the singer and to the viewing audience. One thing I've noticed that the new judges seem genuinely invested in the singers, which is a sharp contrast to years past, when Simon was simply bored, Paula was just whacky and who knows what the hell was going on with Kara and Ellen. Jennifer in particular seems to have a hard time with the saying "No" and eliminations part, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

After this season, I hope that Jennifer and Steven both decide to stay with the show for a couple more years. Of course, I could still stand to see Randy depart and be replaced with someone like Harry Connick, Jr. or Barry Manilow.

I checked the schedule and it seems that tomorrow's 2 hour show will be devoted to the 24 people who will be singing for votes, so I'm not going to devote too much time to the last hour of tonight's show. Suffice to say that what I've seen this year makes me believe this season will be better than the last couple in terms of overall talent. I also like that many of the drama queens and sob stories have already fallen by the wayside so maybe this year truly will be about the singing, just as the first few seasons were (at least until the powervoting starts).

The big (and dramatic) shocker from tonight is Chris Medina (and his face time and brain-damaged girlfriend) getting the boot. I think he was a borderline singer who got through Hollywood based in part on sympathy, but from what I heard in Hollywood rounds, he just seemed to be a weaker singer than some of the others. Of course, they put Thia through, so not everyone who made it was necessarily good.

Tomorrow night will be the remainder of the eliminations spread out over two hours, so check back then.

High Lord. Protector of the Shire. Out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The end of the beginning of the journey

Here we are: the last day of the Hollywood rounds. Of the people who survived the group rounds, 60 will advance to take part in some Idol product placement, where they will go to the Mirage in Las Vegas to sing Beatles songs as that group is whittled down to 40. Those singers will, in turn, be culled to 20 semi-finalists whom "America" will advance to the final 10.

Here is where the singers get their first taste of how they will be judged if they make it to the voting rounds. Instead of singing acappella or in a group, they have the option of singing solo, with their own instrument or with the band.

First to be shown are three girls, all of whom are reasonably good.

Some leftover thoughts from last night:
  • Psycho Crying Chick needs to go. She has the same effect on me as a hobbit who asks me to deliver pie or mail: I want to slap someone upside the head.

  • I'm not going to miss SOB girl Tiffany Rios. Attention whores like here should never have gotten through the door, but I guess her big boobs blinded Steven and Randy.

  • Tourette's/Aspergers Guy (T/AG) annoys me, too. Get a job!

  • Jacee should not have been sent to Hollywood at 15. While he's going to get a gazillion sympathy votes, Idol is going to swallow him whole and expel him through the blow-hole.

  • Does Clint have as many different pairs of glasses as Gokey? He strikes me as a belter. I want to punch him, too.

  • What's with all of the unemployed singers on the show? It's not like they're students or single parents and not working. Is it the economy? Or are we just propping up too many people in our capitalist welfare state?
Early on, I'm happy that we're getting to hear a lot of the better singers, although they throw in some gratuitous footage of people singing off-key and forgetting their lyrics, the latter of which should result in automatic elimination, regardless of how much they raise the eye candy meter.

Is ADHD blonde guy Carson the second coming of Norman Gentle? At least he can rock. He seems like a lot more fun than the guy who will also get a million sympathy votes because his fiancee was left brain damaged by a car accident.

Speaking of whom, Idol has led to people raising money for he and Juliana Ramos. Read more here.

Hey, Colton and Brett, Mike Score and Kenny G called and they want their hair back.

Lots more good singers are being shown, which is both a good sign (as an indicator of talent) and a portent of the bad singing that was edited to be shown at the end of the sequence.

How deep was the songbook for this round? Like 10 different songs? Did Nigel blow this year's budget on the Beatles catalog?

Annoying blonde Jacqueline is apparently sick and withdraws. At least she can come back next year. Or go on to sign a deal to appear on the Reality Kings website.

Chelsea is crying and that's usually a bad sign. But her singing isn't awful. It was certainly better than some of the others we've seen. Plus, she's not annoying like some of the others we've seen. For the record, I don't think she should get back together with Giovanni Ribisi.

I'm sure our friend Beckeye wants John Wayne Schultz to advance because she likes male eye candy. Jennifer does, too.

Psycho Crying Chick forgets the words and leaves the stage in tears, knowing that it means she's gone.

Jacee does pretty well, but Scotty mush-mouthes the words.

We didn't see T/AG, nor did we see OIG (Obama Intern Girl), but they get some face time in passing.

After everyone sings, we get some manufactured drama in the form of the Rooms of Doom™. The remaining singers are divided into 4 groups and each group will learn whether they're eliminated as a group. Traditionally, this is where one of the judges stalls for time while making the kids sweat until they finally reveal their fate. And just as he does every year, Seacrest promises a "twist".

In the first room are (among others) PCC, Jacee, Seth Rogan, Clint, T/AG and Kenny G. They are sent through; the only surprise is PCC, who should have been eliminated based on her forgetting the lyrics, but I think her overall catalog carried her through.

The next group to get the news includes some people who don't really know and they get eliminated. Here's a tip: If you're going to get eliminated, this is the point at which you want to get sent home. You can still come back next year, and you know how the Idol system works now. Not everyone will try out again, and not everyone who does try out again will make it back to Hollywood, but we've seen people in the past come back for more and make it to the voting rounds.

The fourth group also gets advanced and there is some nice male eye candy for Jennifer and Beckeye. I just hope there is a Kimberley Caldwell or Becky O'Donohue in there for me.

Next week, the kids are singing Beatles songs in Vegas. Hopefully they will have the option to sing more than one of 6 songs.

High Lord. Mithril-Hunter. Out.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Here's where the fun begins!

That's right, it's time for what--in my opinion at least--is the best episode of the year: Group night.

It's always edited to be full of drama. It often gives us some of the best performances of the season. And it lets us see how the singers will fare under the pressure that they will face once the voting starts. Of course, it's also the time when Idol pimps out its faves, gives the Vote For the Worst crowd an early peak at whom they will be supporting and lays the foundation for the powervoting blocs that will dominate the show until May.

Seacrest reminds us that over half of the people who made it to Hollywood got whacked on the first two days, which lead some people (myself included) to wonder if they let too many people go through. The answer is "yes" by the way.

Since the show has been around for 9 seasons, the singers think they know the drill so some of the day 1 singers start practicing early. The producers wisely stomp on these plans by telling the singers they have to have a mix of day 1 and day 2 auditioners, so that one batch of singers doesn't have a marked advantage over another.

It's a fitting touch that SOB (Stars on Boobs) girl can't find a group. She would have been perfect with the Seacrest stalker! I just wish that had happened to Mikalah Gordon and Tatiana Nicole del Toro . . .

Just a side note: I love the Idol moms! I'd shoot myself if my mom went to Hollywood with me for Idol (and for the record, I love my mother), but it's funny when it happens to someone else.

I also find it interesting the way the different groups cope with the group formation. Some gel instantly and rock the house (think Blake Lewis, Chris Sligh, Tom Lowe and Rudy Cardenas), others are dramafests that implode (any time crying is involved). Some stay up late while others knock out their practice early and get a good night's sleep.

While I realise that much of the drama is "creatively" edited by the producers for maximum effect, one point worth bringing up is that each year, there are invariably people put through to Hollywood who are marginal singers. I think this year, with over 300 people getting golden tickets, the judges were clearly too generous and should have told more people, "Work on your tone, work on your stage presence, or work on ______, and try again next year."

A couple of other notes from the show:
  • What the hell is Drama Queen's boyfriend doing at the Idol auditions?

  • Kenny G and the other girls look like have trainwreck written all over them.

  • Even if it's the schtick that gets you through the door to audition for the judges, don't ever go into group night with your girl-/boyfriend, regardless of whether they're your ex or you're still together.

  • Regardless of how things sounded at 2 AM, go to bed early. Staying up late will only cause you to crash and burn.

  • The only person in this world who could look good wearing chunky white plastic frame glasses is Lucy Pinder, and even then it's only because no one is looking at her eyes.

  • If someone in your group is crying and isn't bleeding, you're in for a rough group day.

  • Idol is not "Stupid Human Tricks". If you can do something involving your nose and a spaghetti noodle, don't let the producers goad you into displaying this talent for the camera.

  • I don't know if I'd want to go first--just to get it over with--or later, after a nap and some extra practice.
I am really enjoying the show Being Human on Sci-Fi, which is based on a the BBC show of the same name.

The first group of girls is not only really, really hawt, but they're drama free and work well together. Their harmonies have a couple of hiccups, but the choreography seems to work and the singing is pretty good. All three advance, even without lecherous Steven's automatic "yes" vote.

The second group to be shown gets put through, but I didn't think they were that good. Following them (at least on TV) is the group that was involved in some drama, and they get sent through. Are the judges going to eliminate anyone today?

Maybe the first will be SOB girl and another IBG who will probably be featured in a video available for purchase from Dirty Sanchez within the next three months. Their harmonies are simply awful. They are wisely eliminated very quickly. Of course, Tiffany can't just walk away. You were in a group before SOB pulled you away; how's that working out for you, Blondie?

Next up is a group who had one member oversleep and couldn't seem to roll out of bet at the crack of 9. If that happened to me, I would punch that person in the face. This is one of the hazards of the group week; your fate is partially in someone else's hands. Oversleeper and another random guy are eliminated.

Note to future singers, creatively sucking up to the judges is good, especially when it involves pulling one of them up on the stage. Unfortunately, they ruined that trick for any future seasons. Also, only one of them got passed through.

We're half way through the show tonight and despite all of Seacrest's assertions that this season's group rounds had some of the most amazing performances evah, I've yet to see anyone that has blown me away or anything that can compare to this.

After the next commercial break is one of the worst group performances I can remember that was reasonably drama free; the harmonies were horrible, which leads into a montage of people forgetting lyrics and groups who can't find the same key. All are deservedly eliminated (see rule 1A to the right).

The best quote of night is from a very pretty girl whose name I did not catch, "I am very disappointed in myself." I admire that. Take you lumps. Don't beg for another chance. Don't try and blame anyone else. Suck it up and realise that this just wasn't your year. And then (unless you're 28 at the time of your audition), try out again for next season.

Then we see psycho crying girl's group and they're all advanced. What's the over-under on how many minutes into tomorrow's show that she bursts into tears?

Tourette's/Asperger's guy and his group are next, and things are (very) rough. They're followed by the stage mom's kids, who the judges fawn over. I thought their harmonies were only marginally better than the other group. The stage moms come out on stage afterward (probably directed to by Seacrest); you'd think Idol would have learned from Dadchuleta.

We've seen way too many bad groups. Were they all awful, or is Idol saving up to show us all the good ones at the end?

Idol has spend most of the night handing 15 year old JC about a gazillion sympathy votes should he make the voting rounds. Not only did he get bounced from his original group, he's only 15, overweight and clearly way out of his element. He's the reason why the age limit needed to be raised not lowered. He is advanced, mostly out of sympathy. He is clearly a weak singer and shouldn't still be there. No 15 year old kid should thrown into the pressure cooker of Idol.

His former group isn't half bad, but I think the judges probably should send the quartet home just to make an example of them, but they don't. At least Scotty seems to genuinely feel bad about kicking him out. Between the ugly glasses and being a jackwad, Clint should get the boot right away.

Giovanni Ribisi, his ex-girlfriend and the oddly perky IBG with the fake boyfriend are the last group shown and they're awful. The redhead isn't half bad, but the other two stink to high heaven. They forget the lyrics; you'd think that when you had the chance for what Idol offers (instant fame and limited fortune), you'd at least try and take it seriously.

Tomorrow is the final night of Hollywood, and it's our friend Jennifer's favourite night because it features the Rooms of Doom™. As much as I enjoy this episode, I wish they had shown more of the good singers and less of the drama, but I say that every year.

I think I'm going to see if there are any 65s out there who want to run Anuminas or Great Barrows for superior third marks.

High Lord. Climber of Stairs. Out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hollywood lessons

This is what we've learned from 9 past years of Hollywood rounds on Idol:
  1. If you're in Hollywood, you want to get into the music business. Treat this like a business trip, not a party.

  2. The Hollywood rounds are the second step on the journey, not the last.

  3. If you have to resort to begging or crying at any point, Idol would have broken you if you'd had made it to the voting rounds. And it makes you come off as pathetic.

  4. Just sing the song.

  5. Don't act like a jerk on camera at any point. You may have come out of the auditions with a ton of face time, but if you come off as pretentious, a-holey, stuck-up, or annoying, the voting public will turn on you in a heartbeat.

  6. Half of the crew gets cut on the first day. Your odds are not good.

  7. If you don't make it, there's always next year. And that's not a bad thing.

  8. If you don't make it, Idol is not the only way to get to the big time.

  9. Although Seacrest calls it "Hell Week", you guys ain't got nothing on what BUD/S trainees go through if they want to become SEALs.

  10. Don't forget the lyrics.
That is the sum total of what I've learned from what are my favourite rounds of the show. I find it interesting to see how people grow or crumble while on the big stage and under the bright lights.

Of course, just because you get through the first of the Hollywood cut-downs, that doesn't mean you're in the clear. There's still the group rounds and then the final individual round.

My least favourite part is the "Rooms of Doom"™ day, but I figure Idol needs to have a day of drama, so I tolerate it.

Why do they spend so much time showing the singers's auditions? Show the Hollywood singing!!!!!

168 people made it past the first of the Hollywood cut-downs, which seems like a high number. But as with past years, the group round should lead to some of the season's best performances and also let us know who the drama queens are.

I wish tonight's show had been 2 hours, so we could see more of the good singers.

High Lord. Pie Maven. Out.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Finally . . .

At last, the auditions are almost over!

It's only an hour tonight, which makes me wonder how much actual singing we're going to see. I have a feeling we're going to get lots of trainwrecks and sob stories, so if things get too bad, I'm going to stop the blog and go run the Grand Staircase.

I will say that I'm happy to see that Idol seems to be focusing more on the good singers than the bad this season, although I don't care for the way they hand some people gajillions of votes (mom has breast cancer guy, dude with the brain-damaged girlfriend, etc.).

The best addition of the season so far is Steven Tyler. Not only is he a rock legend, but he's very entertaining. I can only aspire to live as long as he has, so people will think of me as a dirty old man, and not a perv. I still wish they'd have kicked Randy off the island and replaced him with either Harry Connick, Jr. or Barry Manilow.

I love Frosted Flakes.

On Monday, Mrs. High Lord went out of town on business for two weeks. Next Friday, she's taking a trip I gave her for Christmas to go to Orlando to visit a friend and go see Harry Potter World at Universal. You know what that means, right?

Two and a half weeks of the High Lord lounging around the house in a wife-beater, leaving the toilet seat up, sleeping in the middle of the bed and eating all the garlic-laden Italian food that Mrs. High Lord despises! Yeah, baby!!!!!!

I'm surprised that Steven and Randy didn't put the belly dancer through. I figured Steven in particular would like eastern European girls who look like they're underage and can move their hips like that even if they can't sing.

In case you hadn't heard, Randy got tired of Simon and Paula's schtick like the rest of us did.

Check out the best of the Super Bowl ads from this year.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, how about them Packers? Although I wanted the Steelers to win, I'm happy to see the post-Brett Favre give #4 the big eff-you by winning without him. I just wish Rashard Mendenhall could hold on to the ball. Of course, if Jordy Nelson didn't contract a case of the drops just before the game, the Packers would have been up by about 30 points at the half.

Why, oh, why do they let people in costumes through to the judges? That should be against the rules. Even if they do turn into a human-sized robot. At least remember the lyrics . . .

Or have blonde hair and big boobs.

Speaking of Transformers, I'm posting this video in honour of my old college roommate, Kendrick. (Warning: Not necessarily for children)

So far, I haven't seen anyone in San Francisco who has blown me away. Sure the judges did some fawning, but I don't think there was anyone who really stood out. I guess the Hollywood rounds will be more important than ever this season since they've put so many people through.

Have I mentioned that Mrs. High Lord is spending almost as much time playing Angry Birds on her iPad as I play LOTRO?

Tomorrow is the first of the Hollywood rounds; let's hope there's a focus on singing and less drama than in years past.

High Lord. Pie-Eating Champion. Out.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Idol in Texas

So how about Texas? The home state of Kelly Clarkson is home to the auditions this week. Texas is also home to the Super Bowl this year. This morning it was -9° with the wind chill. And they're going to have the Super Bowl in New York in a couple of years . . .

Here's what I think about a cold weather Super Bowl:
  1. If you don't want weather to be a factor, not only in the game, but for all the hoopla surrounding the game, then it can only be in 5 places: Miami, Tampa, New Orleans, Phoenix and San Diego. People love to go there and it's almost never freakishly cold (except in New Orleans, but people won't care because it's New Orleans). The players, fans and corporate suits love the warm weather in February.

  2. If you want weather to be a factor, stop giving the Super Bowl to the city that hosts the NFL franchise with the newest/biggest/baddest/most expensive stadium. Play it in the home stadium of the team that has the best regular season record (tie-breakers: head-to-head, division record, conference record, common opponents, points scored). If Jerry Jones wants to host the Super Bowl, let him hire a general manager and win some games. If Miami doesn't want to go to Chicago for the Super Bowl, they need to beat some people.
The game needs to be played either in the elements the Football Gods made for the game, or it needs to be in a place where girls walk around bikini-clad or topless.

The first guy who's up has an oddly creepy relationship with the sister who he didn't know existed until just last week. It's too bad he can't just sing the sing. Why do people do all that crap with a song? (See rule #2 to the right). The second girl also violated rule #2, but then just sang and she wasn't all bad. She's going to get mowed down in the first round of Hollywood, but it was better than how she started.

Mrs. High Lord thinks John Wayne Schulz is cute. She also notes that the "Beef . . . it's what's for dinner" theme is playing. Interpret that any way you want. He's also got a sob story about his mom and breast cancer. It's too bad she's not as attractive as Bo's hawt mom. Of course he sings a Brooks & Dunn tune. He's actually pretty good. I wonder how he'll do out of the country genre.

You know where I've been playing a lot of Lord of the Rings Online lately? Mrs. High Lord has "discovered" Angry Birds on her iPad. I think she's cleared the first 90 levels and shows no sign of stopping. I wonder what she'll do when she gets to the end credits.

What's with the Seacrest stalker? Doesn't she know he's gay? (That's a joke! . . . maybe . . .) She's obviously a plant. And crazy. She reminds me of Alan & Charlie's neighbour Rose. And my psycho ex-girlfriend. What's really crazy is that compared to some of the others we've seen on the show, she's not half bad, which shouldn't be confused with half good.

As always, the auditions are underwhelming me again this year. Maybe it's because I think they're handing the VSCs (Very Special Contentants) votes, showing too many bad auditions, and only showing people who are going to get cut early in the Hollywood rounds. Of course, I can't complain as long as J-Lo is on the TV. (Now if they can only promise to not show Marc Anthony again this season).

Look, it's a couple, Nick and Jacqueline. She's way out of his league. Steven will put her through on looks alone, even though she also violates rule #2. What, no duet? I think they should have done "Endless Love" or "Cruising". Or maybe "All I Have".

I would be worried about rejecting people from Texas. Surely the Idol people know that for every person in the state, there are 10 head of cattle and four guns. Anyway, there are now 5 audition shows in the books, which means next Thursday should start the Hollywood rounds, which are usually the highlight of the pre-voting rounds.

High Lord. Bane of the Barrows. Out.