San Francisco auditions offer lessons in anatomy as Kara continues to add value

After episode three, American Idol feels stronger to me than it has in years, and everything’s landing with just the right amount of balance. New judge Kara DioGuardi is a big part of that, as she’s still proving to be an awesome addition, as I argued at length in this essay, because she fits in perfectly and also is actually substantive, offering an excellent combination of the other three judges’ best traits.

Also working this year is the parade of bad singers, who fall perfectly in the space between famewhores/actors and delusional freaks; as a bonus, the show hasn’t yet mocked any obviously challenged individuals, as it did during its mean streak two seasons ago.

The editors are having some fun, though. Immediately after a contestant with hair color that Simon insisted was fake and bad told the judges that “the carpet matches the drapes,” the editors cut to the next contestant, a father with small kids who says that American Idol is a family show that he can watch with his kids. It sure is, because what other show is going to teach kids important lessons about pubic hair matching head hair?

Though that father was a pretty mediocre singer, the judges sent him to Hollywood simply after his kids joined him in the room, and they couldn’t say no. That’s quickly becoming a trend this year: spending money on Hollywood plane tickets and hotel rooms just to get an unexpected moment in the audition episode.

The terrible singer highlight for me Tuesday was Akilah Askew-Gholston, who had difficulty pronouncing most multisyllabic words, yet had a stack of well-worn diagrams of human anatomy, which she used to incorrectly pronounce names of singing-related body parts, like the trachea (“tratch-e-ah”).

She also had difficulty with simple facts, confusing Randy and Simon twice, even though she knew who Kara was. Best of all, after mangling a song, Akilah said, “I want to sing the same song over; that came from the wrong rectum.”

But she did get one fact absolutely right: “Paula had a very hit song out in the early ’80s when I was a child,” she said, sending Paula into a tailspin. Another contestant said something similar, although more gently. “I saw you when I was 10,” Adam Lambert said.

Adam has been called “gender-bending-glam-rock-theater-boy-deal” and “a gay goth guy,” claims that may be supported by Randy Jackson’s homophobic freak-out of the night, which occurred after Adam kissed Paula’s hand and went to shake Randy’s, and Randy panicked as if the guy was going to suck on his fingers.

But all was well as Adam left the room, because the editors used a Coldplay song, as they did before he faced the judges, and we all know the emotionally uplifting power of a Coldplay soundtrack.