Aubrey Collins is relieved. At least that's what I'm guessing, since I haven't been able to speak with the affable chanteuse since her elimination last week from The One: Making a Music Star. While I'm sure Collins would like to weigh in about her time at the prime-time academy, ABC apparently plans to enforce the year-long gag order it clamped on Collins and all the other contestants on the reality show just in case anyone plans to badmouth the program. And that's understandable. I mean, producers of The One wouldn't want anyone else to make the network look bad. Because Lord knows, they've done a fine job of that all on their own.
Allow me to pick up the story where we left off in last week's Beatdown. When we last tuned in, on the first night of the show, Collins had turned in an ill-advised rendition of "Born to Be Wild," to mixed reactions from resident "experts" Mark Hudson, Kara DioGuardi and Andre Harrell. But Collins's performance was overshadowed by what appeared to be a burgeoning romance between her and Nick Brownell, a fellow contender from Sandusky, Ohio, and that's what posters on the show's message board focused on. Several armchair pundits opined that Collins was in essence an unscrupulous hussy, who, by flirting with Brownell, was being unfaithful to her boyfriend back home. The plot thickened on the next episode, when Collins revealed that she had actually called it off with her man prior to checking into the academy. Then, in a shocking turn of events, Brownell informed her that his ex-girlfriend was preggers.
Sound a little soapy? Yeah, that's what Collins thought, too, which is why she even risked permanent ABC censure by mentioning that she didn't appreciate how she was being portrayed on the show. And then she was ousted -- or granted mercy by the television gods, depending on how you look at it -- after having been designated one of the bottom three contenders alongside Adam McInnis from Jackson, New Jersey, and Caitlin Evanson from Seattle, Washington. Evidently, Collins's back-to-back performances -- "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" on Tuesday night, followed by "I Love Rock N' Roll" on Wednesday night -- weren't enough to save her from being eliminated. As a result, she was sent packing.
Collins ended up getting the last laugh the very next day, however, when ABC conceded that The One was so not even close. As predicted in this space last week, just four episodes into the season, the show was dunzo.
Now, as much as I'd like to seem prescient, like some sort of pop culture Nostradamus or whatever, forecasting that The One would be zapped was about as prophetic as saying that if you go to the circus, there's a good chance you'll run into a few clowns. Fact is, the program was just too insipid to continue. Although the concept was intriguing, the execution was horribly inept. And after it received lower ratings than, hell, just about anything else on television, the network wisely gave the show the hook. Last Thursday afternoon, ABC posted a tersely worded statement on its website -- something along the lines of "There are no plans for additional episodes" -- and proceeded to yank the show's message board and clips of previous nights' performances. By Monday afternoon, there was virtually no trace of The One remaining on the Internet; it was almost as if it had never existed.
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Truth is, for most Americans, it never had.
The upside is that Collins got to get in front of the million or so people who did tune in -- great publicity no matter how you stack it. And I've gotta think that years from now, if she becomes the star she seems destined to be, her blink-and-you-missed-it stint on The One will have about the same cultural consequence as Alanis Morissette's turn on You Can't Do That on Television or Fergie's time on Kids Incorporated had on their careers -- which is to say, none at all. At eighteen, Collins has plenty of time to prove to America that she's truly the one.
Child's play: I discovered this past Friday night that Collins isn't Denver's only wunderkind. I have to give major props to the not-ready-for-prime-time players in Velocity. I caught these precocious crumbsnatchers at the Oriental Theater, where they served as house band for the You Suck! Get Off the Stage! gong show. Led by ten-year-old vocalist Matthew Whiteman, these little dudes -- the oldest is thirteen, according to their website -- turned in a pretty decent version of "TNT" by AC/DC, as well as snippets of such classic-rock tunes as "Eye of the Tiger," by Survivor, "Crazy Train," by Ozzy, and "Welcome to the Jungle," by Guns N' Roses.
Granted, there's an inherent novelty factor in listening to a bunch of little kids rocking out. And once that wears off, you realize that you're, well, listening to a bunch of little kids rocking out. Nonetheless, when I think back to what I was doing on Friday nights when I was their age -- watching The Dukes of Hazzard and then going to bed early so I could wake up for Saturday-morning cartoons -- I can't help but give it up for the scamps.