Here’s what happens when a reality show gets good ratings: They come up with reasons to make more episodes, even if it means bringing back the competitive dregs of previous episodes. America’s Most Talented Kid is no different, so they decided to produce two “wildcard” shows, where all the kids who lost in previous rounds got to compete for another chance in the finals. Imagine our excitement at being able to see the Weird Kid With the Yo-Yo On Roller Skates and Strange Ugly Boy Going Through Puberty (both from episode four) one more time!
In the interest of time and space, this recap will be slightly condensed and I’ve combined the two wildcard shows. After all, we’ve already seen these damn kids once.
At the start of the show, the viewers are treated to a big surprise! Mario and Lance appear centerstage together, wearing matching tailored button-down shirts with the cuffs undone. Mario’s shirt is slate blue, with two horizontal stripes of flowers down the front. Lance is wearing the same slightly sheer black shirt with silver sparkly pinstripes that he wore to pick up his Grammy swag. Lance will not be a judge for the wildcard shows. Instead, he’ll be trolling through the audience talking to families about their loved-ones who are in Iraq – “That’s so April 2003,” Brad says. (I’m just going to say right now: I won’t be recapping these. It’s cheesy pandering of the worst kind, even if it is Lance.)
The judges for wildcard episode one are Aaron Carter (wearing a tan see-through sweater with a tank top), Brooke Burns (she was on Baywatch) and Jon Secada. When I was 18 I dated this guy who was a Spanish major, and he used to make me listen to Jon Secada songs in Spanish. I thought this was very romantic. (Where is that guy now? He’s writing “Tips on Online Dating” for PopGurls.) On a different topic, I feel it’s only fair to warn you that Brad has been harboring a secret thing for Aaron Carter, which only just came out during the viewing of this episode.
Tommi (7), from episode one, is the first competitor in the 3-7 age category. Last time she sang “The Greatest Love of All,” and this time she sings a song about boy-girl love. Both her voice and her mouth are really big. Next up is the Weird Kid With the Yo-Yo On Roller Skates (Evan, 6)! He yo-yos to Elvis, and halfway through the performance puts down his second yo-yo and freestyles with just one. Brad is in awe of his mad skills.
The next kid is Easton from episode two. Brad is still rambling about Evan and his yo-yos, so I miss Easton’s age. He starts singing and dancing enthusiastically to some Jerry Lee Lewis-like song while I scramble for the VCR remote control.
Amanda: How old was he? I have to go back.
Brad: I don’t know, but I don’t like him.
The camera flashes to Easton’s dad and brother in the audience. Brad busts up laughing.
Brad: That kid’s crazy (Easton’s brother). He’s wearing a sweater vest! He’s so serious.
The camera shows Easton’s mom sitting to the side of the stage wearing a low-cut dress. She is busty.
Brad: Woah. Easton’s mom is kind of trashy.
Easton finishes, and the camera shows the judges staring at their scoring devices looking perplexed.
Brad: Hey! Lance isn’t there to rig the scores!
The final contestant is Jaime (6) of the “jay-mee/high-mee” debate from episode three. He performs a mostly uninspired dance routine, with the possible exception of his execution of The Worm. The Worm, however, cannot beat Evan and his roller-skating yo-yo performance.
Mario asks the judges what it was about Weird Evan that made them send him to the finals. Aaron Carter says a bunch of stuff that basically means he can’t yo-yo, and so he thinks Evan is way talented.
Brad: Aaron Carter is awesome! He should have been a judge the whole time! He really wishes he could yo-yo! Plus, it’s sort of a hippie sport, and you can tell Aaron’s totally getting into that. Someone could come out and hack for an hour, and Aaron would be like, “Woah, man. That’s totally cool!”
Before we get into the 8-12 category, Mario asks us if we remember Joanna from episode one. In case we forgot, they show us pretty much her entire performance. Joanna, it appears, was snatched up by a record label since her losing performance on AMTK. She is therefore disqualified from competing in the wildcard show. Once Mario stops patting himself on the back for creating a star, Mishon (10) from episode three, comes out to warble a little Michael Jackson.
Brad: This kid is totally phoning in his performance.
Amanda: He did Michael last time, too.
Brad: He’s not even trying.
Next up is episode two’s Whitney (12). She sings some Celine Dion song through her nose. She was way better last time. Her mom looks scarily like Joan Lunden. Lateefah from episode four follows. She sings and points and clenches her fists dramatically.
Brad: This is an American Idol performance if I’ve ever seen one.
Amanda: You mean because it’s like bad karaoke?
Brad: Well, yeah. It’s so over the top.
It’s kind of painful, so I try to fast-forward through the rest of the performance and the meeting-the-parent interview. I accidentally go past the part where Mario talks to the judges.
Brad: Wait! Stop! I wanna see what Aaron says.
I dutifully rewind so that we can watch Aaron talk about how he was sold into entertainment slavery at a young age. We also learn that Lateefah is the winner of her category.
The 13-15 category is kicked off with Aubrey (15) from episode four. Last time she sang a Michelle Branch song, but this time she does a song she wrote herself. When we get to the interview part, Aubrey says proudly that her website gets 100 hits a day now. That seems sadly low to me, for a kid who got nationwide television exposure. The camera cuts to the judges, who laugh at Aubrey’s paltry success. Brad points out that Aaron looks like he wants to “Well, you know,” with Aubrey.
Next up is Carolina (13). I don’t even remember this girl from episode two. She sings a Celine song, too, and it’s so bad we have to fast-forward through it. Seriously, she sounds like our cat does when she wants to look out the window and we have the blinds closed. Next up is Jared (13). He was apparently so unremarkable last time that I can’t even find him in any of my previous recaps. So odd. He sings the third Celine song of the night, very poorly. Oh! He’s from episode one. Oops.
Brad: What happened to the talent on this show? Puberty?
The final contestant is The Dancing Naked Girl from episode three (Laine, 13). She’s wearing more clothes this time, but revives her Chicago number from her last performance. This time she isn’t as good. Or maybe her appeal before was directly related to the nudity. Laine joins her mom on the couch for her post-performance interview.
Brad: Rewind! Rewind! What did Aaron just say? Aaron mouthed something! I think he mouthed that she’s hot!
Brad: Oh. I still can’t tell what he said.
Amanda: Right. Let’s move on.
Songwriter Aubrey wins her round and everyone meets centerstage to hug Lance and Mario as they remind us to tune in two days later for the second wildcard show. Thankfully, we’re watching it weeks after it aired, and already have it on tape. So let’s get on with that, shall we?
Lance and Mario walk out on stage together. Lance is wearing a cream-colored shirt with flowers that are shades of blues and yellows that I can’t describe. It’s kind of like faded wallpaper, if wallpaper were a tight shirt on a hot boy. The judges for this episode are Brooke Burns (returning from last week, and I should point out that she may have been on Baywatch, but all her comments are actually thoughtful and smart), MC Hammer (“Awesome!” Brad shrieks) and Jody Watley (who fills in for Lance in the judge-who-looks-really-bored role).
The 3-7 category is kicked off with our fiddle-playing pal Haden Von Duncan (7) from episode three. “Haden Von Duncan! Haden Von Duncan!” we sing-song from the couch. Haden is a mean fiddle-player, but he’s so freaking serious that he stares blankly at the crowd. This makes for poor showmanship scores. To make up for his deficiency, Haden tonight is wearing a gold-sequined vest and a bowler hat with a jaunty yellow feather. He even dares to smirk, once.
Next up is Brandy (6), who was AMTK’s first-ever competitor. She sings “New York, New York,” and is wearing a pink satin vest and a bowler hat. She kinda bugged on her first performance, but since then she developed a scarily amazing voice. Just. Wow.
Brad: She’s a chubby little blond firecracker!
Next up is PianoProdigy!Arju (6) from episode two. Mario announces that he will play the theme to Star Wars. Which he tries to do, except, the theme doesn’t actually sound like whatever he’s playing.
Brad: The judges are confused. They’re saying, “This isn’t the Star Wars theme.”
The last competitor in this category is Madelaine (5) from the final episode. I can hardly watch her. She’s the little beauty-pageant girl. Her mother has dressed her in denim hip-huggers with yellow fringe, a yellow satin and denim top tied over her baby stomach and a denim newsboy hat. Her long blond hair is pulled back in a side ponytail. She sings and dances to a Jackson Five song. She is so professional and scary and her eyelashes are really long. I cannot possibly describe how much this child disturbs me.
The blond firecracker wins. The judges gush about her smile and her charisma and her smile. Also, her charisma.
Time for the 8-12 year olds. First up is Jack (12) from episode one. He’s the one who listed both Jimi Hendrix and Albert Einstein as influences. His dad has obviously forced this upon him, and sits through his performance nodding his head as if he’s thinking, “Yes, yes,” and rubbing his chin like an evil character from The X-Files. MC Hammer plays air guitar along with Jack.
The Sassy Little Yodeler from episode three (Lindsay, 9) is next. She yodels some more. When she’s done Mario says, lamely, “That was some fast yodeling!” Next is episode four’s Morgan (12). I swear that I see this kid in the commercials for American Idol Junior. He sings and sashays. Brad laments that he cannot sashay.
Last up is L.D. Miller (9). Brad yells, “L.D. was robbed!” referring to his stunning loss in episode 2. He goes crazy on his harmonica solo. Brad keeps pointing to the thing he’s wearing around his waist and calling it a “suicide belt.” I smile dumbly until he says it half a dozen times, and then I ask what in the hell he’s talking about. He says that it looks like a big leather belt with bombs strapped to it, like the one Dennis Hopper makes Sandra Bullock wear in Speed, only I guess hers was a vest. At any rate, he is not wrong. In the interview portion, L.D. tells us that Ringo Star told him, “That’s a whole lot of blues for a 9-year-old.” L.D. wins his age group.
It’s time for the 13-15 category. Ashley (14) from episode three is up first. Last time we made fun of her for wearing braces, but I didn’t tell y’all that part. This time, she sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” with a Mariah Carey twist. It’s bad.
Following her is Chris (14) from episode two. I heart me some Chris. He looks like the younger brother of Nick and Aaron Carter. This is the kid who plays the keyboards and sings his own songs, which are about his boyfriend who went away. Hey! He’s a boy, and he’s a friend, okay?
Brad: He’s a kindler, gentler Carter.
Amanda: He’s very sensitive.
Just as we’re being wooed by the teenaged love song, Chris executes a bizarre turn that involves his arm snaking around his head and his wrist popping out in a very “snaps in a zee formation” sort of way. We dissolve into giggles, and Brad makes us rewind so that we can watch it in slow motion. It is even funnier this way. Chris’s dad sits in the audience and mouths all the words to the song his son wrote. Aw!
Next is Strange Ugly Boy Going Through Puberty, or Zachary (14). The nicest thing I can say is that he has sort of learned to control his bad new voice. I think he sings Duncan Sheik. He starts off the song in a crouched position, and then unfurls almost like a ballerina pretending to be a flower reaching for the sunlight. And last is Kasey (14) from episode one, who is hot in a strapless ice-blue dress. She kind of a crappy singer but, hey, hot, so she wins.
And that’s it, folks. We never got around to recapping the finals, but we hear that Cheyenne won. Hooray for the hot pre-teen girl!