Hopeless hopefuls speak of almost giving up on their ‘dream’

kevin winter/getty images


American Idol judges, from left, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell.

According to the voiceover at the top of last night’s American Idol, guest judge Olivia Newton John has been a hitmaker for four decades, which would be true if this were 1986, and Olivia had started singing with Harry James.

If this is the sort of polite delusion that the music industry considers normal, then you’re obliged to forgive the utterly unhinged audition by Martik, who seemed convinced that he was part cougar, part guy who collects shopping carts at the No Frills.

In his wake, we see a montage of hopeless hopefuls, one wearing a cowboy clown parade costume, another dressed like a banana.

By this point, Idol’s sloppy audition overture has come to attract attention hogs in near equal proportion to the pathetically deluded — the sort of people who paint garish murals on their houses and consider dressing only in lilac or stripes their “signature.”

They’re in Los Angeles, so there’s no shortage of aspiration, most of it frustrated, most of that for a very good reason. Several contestants tell the judges that they had, were on the verge of, or were considering abandoning their ”dream,” and there must have been quite a few like Brandon, a former backup singer for Christine Aguilera who elicits a big sigh from Olivia and Paula.

There is an age limit on Idol contestants — 28, we learn from judge Simon Cowell, when 60-year-old Sherman presents himself, and his petition, to the judges. Besides the petition, he has a story — his wife of 20 years had died just two days before, and the petition to exempt him from the age rule was his way of keeping her morale up in the hospital. It’s a gift for the producers, who need to go into the semifinals on a sweeter note than the cruel, taunting first two weeks of this season.

But not before the judges have a go at keening, tuneless Eric who, we learn in the bitter final moments, spent two years teaching himself to sing with a DVD made by judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, another example of how the Idol industry has become a self-contained industry devoted to promoting therapeutic deafness.