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 Wednesday, 22 January, 2003, 10:49 GMT
US Idol still hits the spot
Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul
The judges are as tough as ever

American Idol was a huge hit last year, drawing in 23 million viewers to see waitress Kelly Clarkson win the final. But can the second series prove as popular?

Fox television is hoping American Idol 2 will continue to wow the viewers and help them win the ratings war.

It is hard to know who to feel more sorry for in the second series.

The judges who had to sit through thousands of excruciatingly bad auditions or the contestants who bared all only to be publicly humiliated by Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell.

Certainly not the viewers, on this first outing, who were the main winners.

Cowell, of course, has been dubbed one of television's most hated people for his barbed tongue and insensitive comments.

One young man shooting for fame was told by the UK record producer his singing was so bad that: "If you lived 2,000 years ago they would have stoned you."

Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson won the first American Idol in 2002
To another, he said: "If you were to win and sing a song you would kill the American record industry."

And yet another was told in no uncertain terms: "I've heard better people sing outside subway stations."

The first programme started off in New York and the body of talent was so poor there that at one point all three judges came and told the contestants to shake things up.

"We've just sat through a day and a half of some of the worst auditions," intoned a weary Cowell. "You are boring."

The mild mannered Abdul, who normally always has a good word to say about everyone, added: "You've lost your mojo."

Poor souls

Thank heavens for a contestant called Frenchie, busting out in a lurid yellow top and with a red choker around her neck.

Her voice was as big as she was and the relief on the faces of the three judges was a sight to behold when they practically gave her a standing ovation and said the magic words: "See you in Hollywood."

Call it "cruelty central" but it was fantastic television, watching all these poor souls prostitute themselves for a chance of fame and fortune.

Cowell's one-liners were so cutting that they almost left you breathless.

And some of the singing was really so painful that it should only have been performed in the shower.

A few contestants however got their own back and did not walk off meekly and mildly into the sunset.

One told Cowell: "At least I come from a country where people brush their teeth twice a day."

Anger and disappointment

Other rejected hopefuls who may have left their auditions stunned into silence got the chance to mouth off in a video box afterwards.

Not surprisingly most of the comments were reserved for Cowell and tended to rely heavily on expletives to express anger and disappointment at not making it to Hollywood.

70,000 people auditioned for the second series compared to 10,000 last time.

If the ratings increase at the same rate, Fox will be happy enough.

See also:

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