Entertainment behind the scenes
“Bikini Girl,” new judge heat up “Idol” season premiere
The eighth season of “American Idol” kicked off on Tuesday night, bringing back all the hijinks viewers have come to expect from the world’s most popular reality talent show.
The huddled masses of singers yearning to be the next Kelly Clarkson or Chris Daughtry came out to a sweltering Phoenix, Arizona, where the now four celebrity judges either cooed over or mocked them as only “Idol” judges can.
The new judge, Kara DioGuardi, even got into a singing faceoff with one of the contestants, a woman named Katrina Darrell who showed up in a string bikini, delighting male judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson and earning the scorn of DioGuardi and Paula Abdul. It’s unlikely that DioGuardi would have put her own singing pipes to work in an effort to show Darrell how it’s done, if not for the teeny weeny bikini.
“Honestly, you don’t have the chops to sing that song,” DioGuardi told the contestant, who the show dubbed “Bikini Girl.”
Bikini Girl responded by telling DioGuardi, “Your demonstration wasn’t any better.”
That set off a verbal battle between Bikini Girl and the two female judges, but in the end Darrell and her bikini made it through to the critical Hollywood round.
On a more upbeat note, 23-year-old legally blind singer Scott MacIntyre also advanced to the next round, wowing all four of the judges with his version of Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes.” MacIntyre is not only a talented singer, he told the judges that he started college at Arizona State University at age 14 and graduated at 19. Now he can add national TV exposure to his resume.
When MacIntyre walked out after his audition, show host Ryan Seacrest tried to give him a high-five, to Seacrest’s embarrassment since the contestant could not see the raised hand.
Despite the recent suicide of one spurned “Idol” contestant, the judges did not spare their criticism of the singers they deemed not yet ready for primetime. One singer named Michael had trouble raising his voice above a dull croak. In response, Cowell told him, “You could have been singing in Bulgarian, I couldn’t understand a word of that.”
Critics have said that “American Idol” too often exploits the failures of its try-out contestants. That became a major story in November when a woman named Paula Goodspeed who tried out for “American Idol” in 2005, killed herself from a drug overdose in front of Abdul’s home. Goodspeed apparently had a longstanding obsession with Abdul, and when she tried out in 2005 she brought along drawings she had made of the pop star.
On Tuesday’s premiere, none of the contestants seemed to have an unhealthy obsession with the judges, although one teen gushed that she was DioGuardi’s biggest fan. And there was plenty of naked ambition, and in the case of Bikini Girl — almost naked ambition.
Despite the hype around “Idol,” 10 percent fewer viewers tuned in for the season premiere last night. Could they have been put off by the idea of a fourth judge, or the promise of a kinder, gentler “Idol?”
What did you think of the premiere?
(Writing and reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis)