American Idol 2008: The Best Talent In 7 Years?

2283745862_8a87392baf.jpgEvery Wednesday and Thursday at 8 pm, my parents claim to hear weird screaming noises from my room, even though the door is shut tight. Sometimes it lasts for an hour, or if they’re really unlucky, the ‘screaming’ goes on for long. Yes, I’m talking of the first round of American Idol, the most popular talent hunt show since 2001, also the most entertaining round of the whole show.

People were trying to impress the judges with their talents, which included comedy acts, weird costumes, etc. Each contestant had to face Randy, Simon, and Paula, all by themselves, across the room. Simon was at his critical best, calling many auditions ‘a karaoke performance’, ‘horrible’, and ‘atrocious’. After auditioning in many states they had selected 164 contestants to reach Hollywood for the next round. One hundred and sixty four American Idol hopefuls were assembled in Hollywood to begin the next round of the competition. Simon greeted them by reminding them of two things; first, this season’s American Idol was in the room. The second was that most of them would be going home before the end of the week.

For the first time ever, contestants were allowed to play instruments during their round one audition. I was surprised at the number of contestants who actually went with this option. I think, more surprising was the number of these who just went down in flames. In fact, considering how good most of the auditions were that got these folks sent to Hollywood, I was amazed at just how many of the round one Hollywood auditions were just downright awful.

After what could only be called a “mixed round” with some of the best, and some of the worst song choice and vocal ranges. In this round, fortunately or unfortunately, no one was going to be eliminated. Even if the contestant received a no from the judges (and quite a few did), they were given a second chance to prove to the judges that they deserved a shot at being an American Idol.

After the final audition and very clear remarks from Simon, the contestants were called to a room. The worst part is that the judges always pretend to reject the performances even if the contestants have a chance of making it to the next round. I could see the tension on their faces. The contestants who were sitting downstairs watching other contestants either taking a spot away or having their dreams crushed, were probably more nervous. It has to be agonizing sitting downstairs waiting your turn. Finally the top 24 were announced and a sense of relief filled the room. Most of the rejected contestants took the rejection very gracefully.

Personally, I believe this season is no different. You have the emotional moments and the funny ones, and nothing is good enough. Impressive voices were termed “too contemporary”, “very Broadway”, “ very Celine Dion/ Mariah Carey”. It gets harder and harder to impress Simon each season, and he gets even more cynical. During round one we even saw a fight between Ryan Seacrest and the judges, where he called them “overpaid”. Some contestants came with their emotional, heart touching stories and left the judges with tears in their eyes, quintessential American Idol ingredients. Tune into Star World at 8 pm, every Wednesday and Thursday and witness the roller coaster ride!

Swetha Ramakrishnan

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