Film and TV

Idol Beat: Viva Nash Vegas

I was randomly scrolling back through past Idol Beats last night, doing my best to ignore mentally unbalanced dental hygienist Christine McCaffrey's butchering of "I Hope You Dance," when I realized something. The American Idol beat for Rocks Off is basically the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position at Hogwarts: it attracts questionable characters, is potentially lethal, and nobody holds it for more than a year at a time.

Why Nashville -- the so-called "Music City" -- only warranted one hour of coverage for its two days of auditions while Milwaukee scored the coveted Wednesday slot I'll leave as an exercise to the reader. And to the unquiet ghosts of Robert Altman and Johnny Cash, though as musical atrocities go, having Idol tryouts in the Ryman Auditorium probably is about on par with watching OneRepublic suck it up on that venerable stage.

Loath as I am to admit it, Steven Tyler is a lot more entertaining than I imagined, even if I almost choked on my beer when he urged the broken-up couple to get back together because of the importance of love.

You know who I'm talking about: Rob Bolin and Chelsee Oaks. They've been broken up for three years but still perform together. They're like Fleetwood Mac, only not successful or likely to become so. Seriously, after the novelty of your whole Stevie-Lindsay thing wears off, you'll be headed back home on the same Greyhound with Stormy Henley.

Who could forget Stormy? If contestants could skate through merely on how much they made Steve Tyler's pants move, the former Miss Teen USA (no relation to Don) would be in the finals already. As it is, she had to rely on Randy's predictable spinelessness to move on.

At this point, it looks like nobody is prepared to step up and be the Cowell this season. J-Lo has toughened up somewhat, and everyone takes their turn at being the dream-crushing asshole, but it's not consistent. Who knows? Maybe that's what the show needed to save it from the abysmal depths of mediocrity. I guess we'll see.

As for the rejects, I really wanted tattooed biker guy Allen Lewis to move on, because I think he'd have a lot you say..."offer" week 1's Ashley Sullivan. Alas, the meathead was booted after violating Skynyrd's "Simple Man," one of my all-time faves. Serves you right, beardo.

I also think we needed to see more of the Blue Man guy, who appeared (for the seven seconds of air time he got) to have a decent voice. Hey, 7 Seconds. Now there's an idea for a guest appearance.

I also could have done with more of the Russian contestant, but that's mostly thanks to an unhealthy fascination with Slavic accents stemming from my Regina Spektor infatuation.

Of those going to Hollywood, Jackie Wilson was very good, but she has two things going against her: her Fashion Bug by way of Wal-Mart sense of couture, and her creepy old ass boyfriend. Honey, you can celebrate your love of septuagenarians all the live long day, just don't let Ryan Seacrest see you. The man sniffs out and punishes weirdness.

Finally, in an unpleasant twist, we had two uplifting/horrifying stories to close out the show. First was Matt Dillard, whose parents have fostered some 700 children in recent years, many of the kids with special needs. He's the dude you knew will be moving forward, evem spite of his sporting of the bendy cowboy hat every girl I knew in my 20s wore while tubing the Frio.

But he barely made it. Worse yet, he had some stiff competition in the sob story category from Georgia's Lauren Alaina, who sang to raise money for her cancer-stricken cousin. The judges went bananas for her, which I'd attribute to hysterical exhaustion except they sleep in hyperbaric hotel rooms and fly private jets all week. In any event, Lauren is an early favorite.

Next week the show heads to Austin, home of ACL, SRV, and any number of other musical acronyms. Texas represent! Or something.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar