Last week’s American Idol auditions in Atlanta gave us a reminder of how bizarre things can get when DVRs, Twitter, and YouTube mix with the nation’s collective impulse to latch on to a single cultural moment, no matter how asinine. It also demonstrated, much to the delight of Fox and the Idol producers, that people are paying attention to and talking about this season in the early going. Within minutes of “General” Larry Platt’s “Pants on the Ground” performance, hordes of dorm-boys around the country rushed to their guitars and camcorders to be the first to have a Dave Matthews-style “Pants on the Ground” cover up on YouTube. By morning, thousands of people had changed their Facebook statuses to “Pants on the Ground”, the most number of spontaneous status updates since Obama won. The next night, Jimmy Fallon performed a sober version of the song as Neil Young, and by the time Brett Favre sang it in the locker room after thumping the Cowboys on Sunday, the joke had run its course and “Pants on the Ground” fatigue had started to take hold.
Surprisingly, there was no mention of the General or his song on tonight’s episode, the third auditions show, this time from Chicago featuring guest judge Shania Twain. Thankfully, Twain was a much more constructive critic than previous guest celebs Posh Spice and Mary J. Blige. She didn’t yield to the temptation of a summative “That don’t impress me much” although she did tell one contestant that he had “a beautiful bottom end”, and you could sense Mutt Lange armageddoning it at home. The singer in question was an 20-year-old Asian undergrad named John Park, one of the few hopefuls worth a damn tonight, and even he was fairly lifeless.