Michael Slezak
January 27, 2010 AT 05:00 PM EST

American Idol

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

It’s time for an American Idol pop quiz. Grab your No. 2 pencils and get ready to answer the following ”True or False” questions:

A) There is a federal law against people with spouses and/or children signing major-label record deals.

B) People employed by churches are essentially turning their backs on God by auditioning for Idol.

C) Professional women working side-by-side must either behave like giggling Harajuku-obsessed besties or bitter, sniping rivals.

D) ”Girl Power” is defined by slobbering and blind agreement among humans who do not possess a Y chromosome.

E) Idoloonies would not be interested in seeing a season 9 audition segment starring season 6 ”Crying Girl” Ashley Ferl.

Okay, pencils down. That was easy, right? If you answered ”False” to all of the above — and I believe in my heart that you did — you’ve scored a perfect 100 on your exam. If, however, you happen to be an alien visiting Earth for the first time tonight (and, naturally, had your spacecraft’s entertainment system tuned in to Fox), you’re probably crying bitter tears over all the red ink on your paper. But that’s not really your fault, E.T.: Verbal nonsense and sociological idiocy were the overarching themes of tonight’s let-down of an audition show, with the nation’s ongoing search for its next musical superstar getting shunted to the footnotes.

So cue the sad trombone, and let’s talk about some of the more maddening/ridiculous goings-on from the season 9 Los Angeles tryouts.

Shall we start with that sour-patch kid in the ”hip” black hoodie with ”amusing” devil horns? To be fair, I don’t think there was a person on the planet (with the possible exception of Cecile Frot-Coutaz) who anticipated that Avril Lavigne would provide witty and/or insightful commentary during her trial run in the Paula Abdul Commemorative Swivel-Chair. But low expectations aside, I’m still having difficulty grasping how and why Avril implied that bearded ”worship pastor” Jim Ranger shouldn’t get a Golden Ticket because he was (gasp!) married, and (oh-em-gee!) said marriage had produced three (how do we say this politely?) child-type creatures! Okay, so that’s not exactly how Avril put it, but her weirdly dismissive questions about Jim’s brood, and her condescending newsflash that ”to be a pop-star you have to travel” seriously rubbed me the wrong way.

Now, look, I would’ve had no problem whatsoever had Avril voted ”no” to a Golden Ticket and explained that she didn’t think Jim’s singing or songwriting skills were on par with what it takes to be a viable pop star. In fact, I half-wanted to score her five cool points — which, given the aforementioned hoodie would’ve left her at -20, but I digress… — just for voting ”No” immediately after Simon said ”Yes.” Because, really, it was nice to see someone (anyone!) finally break the unwritten rule that you can only disagree with Simon’s audition-round opinions in those instances when he’s dissing a singer you like, but that you should automatically join in a rousing chorus of ”yeses” if he deems someone Golden Ticket-worthy. (Question for all you ”history” buffs: Have Simon’s fellow panelists ever ganged up against him and stopped a contestant he enjoyed from going to Hollywood?)

NEXT: Tasha Layton and Andrew Garcia make their marks

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