My mom watches the audition episodes religiously, mainly to laugh her ass off at the putzes that audition despite lacking any semblance of talent. I hesitate to call them "unfortunate putzes" because most of them are hamming it up in order to get on TV, so they simultaneously get exactly what they want AND what is coming to them, so everybody wins. Distinguishing the genuinely crazy people from the "look at me, I'm on AI" crazies would make for a fun drinking game if anyone out there wants to invent one. Or even the simpler "Simon makes incredulous bug eyes: One Drink; Randy laughs and hides his face behind a piece of paper: Two Drinks" kind of drinking game.
I watch these episodes, uh, "distractingly" (not always catching every episode, making dinner or talking or reading while they're on, etc.) and mainly to get a first look at future stars. It's a near certainty that one of the top three or four contestants, if not the eventual American Idol, will appear on our TVs during the audition episodes ... can YOU spot a breakout star amidst hundreds of pretenders? It brings out the closet talent scout in all of us. Here's where I conceitedly point out that I flipped out over Taylor Hicks right off the bat*, as opposed to svengali-man Simon "Westlife" Cowell who passed on both Hicks and Clay Aiken for the trip to Hollywood. Besides duping the no-talents into singing bonus songs for the show-ending clip chorus (e.g. Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" from last week) and rolling the cameras on their semi-deranged auditions for far longer than in past seasons (let's pass this car crash at 20 km/h instead of 30 km/h), this season hasn't distinguished itself from the others yet. After a dull Season 3, Seasons 4 and 5 rejuvenated the show by infusing it with country, rock, and blues Idol wannabes. This year, they're back to cycling through R&B melisma-obsessives as their bread and butter. We've seen all this before, but next week they travel to Alabama so maybe there's still hope.
* Kat too!