Huge Aerosmith fan Alyson Jados was star struck when she met Steven Tyler. “You look like you could be one of my… nope. Can’t say it,” Steven laughed when the leather clad lady walked in. “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” With a little shrug, Alyson said simply, “Um, I love you?” This persuaded Steven to award her with a hug before she launched into “Come Together.” Alyson wasn’t the best artist to ever hit the Idol stage, but she definitely knows who she is and what kind of music she wants to sing. She has that Gina Glocksen (think Season 6, 9th placer) vibe – the good, not great, rocker chick. Randy asked her to sing something by Aerosmith, so she chose “Dream On,” and roped Steven into the act by having him sing his signature ending to the song. (You know, the one that Slash convinced poor Danny Gokey to murder two years ago.) Even with that display of affection for him, Steven wasn’t convinced that Alyson has the chops. “Very pitchy. You jump all over the place with your notes. That kind of scares me.” Jennifer disagreed, though, saying, “I think you have a great quality in your voice. I think you have some really great performance quality that comes alive on stage.” Randy didn’t justify the no that he gave, but his giving it, in conflict with Jennifer’s certain yes, put the pressure on Steven to decide Alyson’s fate. Manipulated moment much? Of course, unlike what Simon Cowell would have done, Steven just couldn’t bring himself to break his fan’s heart. Alyson earned herself one more chance to impress in Hollywood.
Aaaaaaaaaand the show still wasn’t over.
What would an audition episode of Idol be without a sob story? Chris Medina’s was a heavy hitter, too. He and his fiancée, Juliana, were two months away from getting married when Juliana suffered a traumatic brain injury due to a car accident. Though doctors didn’t think Juliana would survive, Chris was confident that she would make it through, and she did, after being in a coma for a month and a half. Now Chris and Juliana’s mother are her caretakers. After sharing this story with the judges, Chris began to sing The Script’s “Breakeven.” When he first opened his mouth, I didn’t think anything that special was coming out. On the chorus, however, Chris hit his voice’s sweet spot. They lyrics, when taken out of the song’s context, echoed the sweet sadness of the couple’s story. Chris felt the music and flowed heart wrenchingly over the notes. Before the judges would give Chris their verdict, they had him bring Juliana in. This poor girl, who, PS, is drop dead gorgeous, is wheelchair bound, can barely speak, and can’t seem to express emotion on her face. As the judges told her that her fiancé would be heading to Hollywood, the viewers were unable to see what sorts of feelings this was stirring up in poor Juliana.
This is where I discovered that I’m really just a big mush. I usually am the first to proclaim that I can’t stand Idol sob stories – not because I don’t feel bad for these people, but because this isn’t a show about feeling bad for people. Leave that to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Or make another reality show out of it where everyone has suffered some kind of hardship and needs the money that fame would bring them. And I’m not saying that Chris’s story was any different and that I don’t resent Fox for going, “Look at this poor girl in a wheelchair! Her fiancé can sing! Vote for him!” I hate the fact that, like Danny Gokey before him, Chris will probably now be accused of exploiting his ill fiancée for a shot at superstardom, when, really it’s Fox that’s doing the exploiting. Either way, I couldn’t help myself, and as the incredibly sweet Daughtry song, “Life After You,” played in the background, I felt tears slipping down my cheeks. I feel genuinely awful for these particular people, and I hope for their sake that this show can make a huge difference for them. But I also hope that Fox doesn’t feel the need to trot Juliana out every week and make us all pity her. That would be degrading to the poor girl.
Regardless, Chris is heading to Hollywood along with 52 others from Milwaukee. Some of them are unfathomably talented and may prove to be as great as some past Idol winners. Some are mediocre and won’t stand a prayer of making it past the first round of Hollywood.
And a whole bunch of them, from both camps, are only 15 years old. Get ready for the youngsters, Hollywood! Oh, and youngsters? I hope you guys are steeling your nerves for Hollywood week.