WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S EPISODE OF AMERICAN IDOL GAVE ATLANTA LOTS TO SHOUT ABOUT! IN FACT, EVERYONE WAS SHOUTING! EVEN WHEN THEY WERE SINGING! THEY LIKE IT LOUD IN ATLANTA! OR MAYBE IDOL PRODUCERS JUST LIKE TO CRANK THE VOLUME! EITHER WAY, ALL THAT SHOUTING RESULTED IN 25 WOULD-BE IDOLS GETTING TICKETS TO HOLLYWOOD! HOLLYWOOD, BABY! WHOO!
OK, we're done shouting for now. Whew. That's better. Here's the 411 [hand scoop!] on some of the things that went down in Hotlanta:
* Mary J. Blige is our guest judge, replacing Skeletor Spice from Tuesday's Boston auditions. She doesn't say much. In fact, it's 12 minutes into the episode before she utters a word and then barely strings three together until the end of the episode. But she does note that former Miss America contestant Keia Johnson was voted "Miss Congealiality." Is that the beauty queen most likely to turn into suet?
* The best line of the night comes after Christy Marie Agronow, the vivacious host of Atlanta's "411 the Show" [hand scoop!], enunciates her way through Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield." "I think it's more like 911," Simon says as he gives her the hand scoop out the door and down the 27 flights by elevator that all of the auditioners are forced to endure.
* PeopleOfWalmart.com apparently is the sponsor for a long segment featuring several people of the, um, strongly Southern persuasion. Vanessa Wolfe, a "fast-food associate" from the gnat of a town of Vonore, Tenn. ( pronounced VO-nore TEN-uh-SAY). "I have no life," she says sadly, and then she's shown jumping off a bridge into the water below -- not to end her life, but to have some "fuhn!" But then she's all sad again as she notes that Idol is her only ticket out of her hick town. She manages to wow the judges with a twangy voice that could be right for country music and a timid personality that proves endearing, and she gets her golden ticket. But then she's all like "Whoo!" and jumping around like it's closing time at Jim Bob's Tavern. But then when she says, "I'm gonna ride on an aeroplane! They eat peanuts on an aeroplane!" she's endearing all over again. Then welder Jesse Hamilton makes Wolfe look refined as he tells us how he was nearly up for the Darwin Award three times. But he can't even make it through the audition. Why? "I done froze," he says, explaining why he forgot the words to a Garth Brook song. But don't fret, because the hick trifecta is complete when Holly Harden comes out dressed like a "human guitar," complete with fishnet stockings (because all guitars have fishnet stockings and talk like Kellie Pickler). But the Pickler comparison holds true when -- surprise! -- she can sing as well as be a ditz.
* Mallorie Haley of Winner, S.D. -- the closest we've come so far to getting a Minnesotan on the Idol roll call -- impresses with a great rendition of "Piece of My Heart" that prompts Mary J. Blige to say the most words yet, all good.
* Skii Bo Ski (Baby) is up next. He's wearing a suit that has his name plastered all over it but apparently doesn't realize that one of the I's in "Skii" has been left out until a producer mentions it. That's what you get for paying discount, he says, as he compares himself to a dollar store. Why? "It's a package deal," he says. Huh? "I'm worth a lot," he goes on to explain. Oh, OK -- that makes sense. He gets a golden ticket anyway, because the dude's singing is worth at least a dollar.
Other contestants include:
* Two BFFs, Carmen and Lauren, whose friendship is tested when only one of them gets a ticket.
* A police officer who likes "helping people out" by giving them tickets -- and has a voice good enough to get a ticket of his own.
* A Mary J. Blige stalker who says he knows how to take constructive criticism -- until he actually gets some. Then he goes all crazy eyes and bleep-ity this and bleep-ity that, and security has to be called. And Mary J. Blige has to practice "getting her duck on," as in hiding under the table in case he lunges at her.
The whole episode comes to a rousing close with various renditions of General Larry Platt -- at 62, too old for Idol but plenty young enough for ratings -- singing his original song "Pants on the Ground." It is actually hilarious, especially when a whole herd of contestants is shown singing it in unison in the lobby. Expect to hear it on a future Dr. Demento collection.
Did last night's American Idol leave you with your, um, pants on the ground? Give us the 411 [hand scoop!] on what you thought.