We're still strong on Scooter Girl
I took a lot of heat last week for suggesting that Scooter Girl -- that overachieving, strangely endearing mess of a contestant from last Monday's premiere episode of ''American Idol'' -- was an early favorite in my book. Oh, sure, she's got a heck of a lot of work to do if she ever wants to approach Aiken-like mass appeal (and now seems like as good a time as any for me to remind you all that I've always been vociferously anti-Clay), but what a lot of you may not have realized was that, in my eyes, at least, Scooter Girl's got plenty of camp. And I looove me some camp. So, there it is: the simple, plainspoken reason for my love of Scooter Girl.
Now, judging from last night's lackluster episode, there sure ain't much in the way of competition for Scooter Girl. At least, from the sorry crop that was showcased in Los Angeles and San Francisco, I certainly had a hard time discerning the real talent from the real foul-ups. It didn't help, of course, that producers chose to turn Paula Abdul's two-day sick leave into an event that could possibly alter the course of this season's show progression. (Yeah, right! Like Paula's ever been the be-all and end-all when it comes to ''Idol'' talent!)
In any case, the stakes seemed far higher with Randy and Simon left to tend the herds who caterwauled their way through the audition process. Take, for instance, Jimmy Liu, whose horrendous version of ''We Will Rock You'' early in the hour nearly led me to shut off my TV set in protest. Jimmy, honey, it's one thing to make a fool of yourself on national television for a few yuks… but it is certainly quite another to subject me to time-wasting crap like this. I'm really starting to understand why Simon has such a sour glare on his face throughout these early episodes.
It didn't get any better with Nicole Ohm, who apparently thought that bringing her seven-month-old son might elicit a few sympathy votes. (Sorry, darling, but you're 17 years old, and in America circa 2004, having a kid sure seems like more of a handicap than an asset. And I'll just quit it with the political commentary from here on out.) Nicole's version of ''Fever'' was so utterly banal that I pretty much blocked it from memory the minute she opened her mouth.
Michael Recon's offensive version of ''Ain't No Mountain High Enough'' was enough to give me the vapors, and as for Michael Garcia? Well, let's just say that I'm not going to be listening to ''All That Jazz'' -- or my ''Chicago'' soundtrack -- for a good year, or at least until I can get the painful memory of his unnecessarily exposed treasure trail out of my head.
Enough bitching, though -- let's get to the good stuff. The unfortunately named Jefferey Dingle belted out a wondrous version of ''Desperado,'' and -- hallelujah! -- the kid actually has the looks to back it up. Here's hoping he gets far in the competition, if only so I can have the pleasure of imagining Gtoe Washington cringing in pain at home with each successive week. The judges really seemed to like Draeh Hancock, and I did too, after she admitted that she'd buy a Ford Thunderbird with her winnings. But am I the only viewer who, while blown away by her gorgeous good looks, had trouble focusing on anything but the constant breathiness in her voice?
Jasmine Arteaga, who, um, is an, um, little person, hit her target with a spot-on version of Christina Aguilera's ''I Turn to You,'' and the judges looked past her height (or lack thereof) to award her a spot in the next round. But let me just say it here and now: She needs to lose the excessive makeup, rethink the exposed belly-button ring (how '97 can you get?), and LOSE THAT LAME VISOR, for crying out loud!
I'm also not sold on Matthew Rogers, who seemed to fulfill his brother's pointed putdown (''He's a blockhead'') when he said that he's got what it takes merely because ''I'm an American.'' Huh? Do I detect a small dose of wartime racism, or have I just become mired in a sea of political correctness? In any case, he gives me the heebie-jeebies.
And finally, there's civil engineering major (and, again, unfortunately named) William Hung, who actually made me long for the days when Ricky Martin sold records with his astoundingly awful rendition of ''She Bangs!'' I wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry, or bow in deference to his determination, which is why I was thankful that Paula -- bless her ailing heart -- had finally resurfaced in time for his audition. After William finished torturing us with his performance, she enthused, ''You're the best! You're the best!'' Really, folks, who else but Paula could listen to William's eardrum-popping, soul-killing performance and still manage to come back with a compliment?! Make fun of her all you want, but when it comes to sheer camp perfection, Paula is right up there with Scooter Girl.
What did you think? Who made you smile, cringe, or wish you'd never become an ''American Idol'' addict in the first place?