If you're reading this, it's safe to assume that: a) You're not watching Idol this year and just want to get the lowlights with a side of snark, or b) You are watching Idol and are a dedicated masochist who just can't get enough of the pain, or c) You are both not watching and a masochist in which case, welcome to the jungle.
I'm sure you're expecting a regular rundown of Tuesday's painful events but I'm in no mood to oblige today. Well, at least not the usual way. I'm changing things up a bit, first because I'm aiming to keep myself, and three of you who still watch this show, wide awake and second because, well, why the hell not? The show sucks. The contestants are abysmally bad. The mentors have been laughable. The guest performances have been one step above the bloodiest horror movie you've ever seen. The judges, with the exception of Simon, are only there because AI had some seats to fill and Ryan is blissfully unaware that his job is in mortal danger from being obsolete by the end of May. Well, at least he pretends to be unaware.
The theme this week is Soul and R&B and the mentor is Usher. Whatever Usher did in his previous life, he will forever be known as the thoughtless bastard who deliberately unleashed upon the unsuspecting world that spawn of Hades known not-so-ironically as the Bieber Fetus. As such, his musical judgment will be forever suspect but he's good enough to mentor on Idol, I suppose, if for no other reason that whatever he has to say will make no difference to any of the contestants anyway. They sucked last week, they suck this week and it's safe to say they will suck next week again. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Una hirundo non facit ver.
For some reason, it looks like Idol is down to the Top 10. These fine, tone deaf specimens, ladies and gentlemen, will be the 10 reasons the contestants' friends and families will be buying Idol tour tickets this season. Join them and experience a echo bouncing off empty chairs like you never have before! Seriously. Although, who am I to judge what people want to waste their hard-earned money on? I mean, I actually own a copy of The Wallflowers' debut CD because Bob Dylan's son was their lead singer. Let me tell ya, singing is not an inherited trait which, I guess, in this case is actually a good thing.
Gratuitous pic of shirtless Usher to keep everyone awake
His Usherness is very confident of his mentoring skills and proudly proclaims to Ryan that we will see the fruits of his work with the contestants pay off tonight. I'm sure if that were me, I wouldn't have put it quite like that, Usher.
Ushering Siobhan: Gotta give to the girl, she lies well. Siobhan says she always wanted to do just what Usher does which is what he wants to hear so it's all good. In exchange, Usher lies and says Siobhan is very, very good. He thinks her infernal, out-of-tune screaming on “Through The Fire” is just dandy and great. But remember, this is the same man who championed Justin Bieber, who is currently responsible for all the evils in the world, so take his assessment with an entire truckload of salt.
What I liked about it: The shade of lipgloss she wears is really fantastic. I'm wondering whether it's Stila's Silk Shimmer Gloss in Kitten, the one I really like, or something else. I must find this out posthaste. Please direct all guesses to my PM box. Thank you.
What I hated about it: Everything. Screaming out of tune and past the point that you're comfortable with vocally is not sexy. Just ask Gokey. Imagining you are actually screaming in tune is even more pathetic and butchering a perfectly horrible song is somehow worse than butchering a really good song. Don't even ask me why that is so.
- Randy likes her outfit which is a cross between Planet Of The Apes, Gladiator: The Ladies' Edition and Star Trek: Cave Women In Space.
- Ellen thinks that hiking while having desert is a no-no.
- Kara thinks she screamed well but was off, off, off. I'm off-ended.
- The One Who Really Counts: I have pure searing hate for the dumbasses in the audience who booed when Simon declared that she was horrible and she should stop with the same old, same old song-ending screams.
When one shirtless wonder meets another shirtless wonder it's like two supernovas colliding in the cold depths of the infinite Universe and igniting a raging inferno of semi-nude awesomeness. Behold:
Repeat gratuitous helping of shirtless User. Gratuitous slice of shirtless Casey. For comparison purposes only.
As for all that mentoring stuff, Usher is delighted with Casey's choice of “Hold On, I'm Coming” because that's probably something he says on a day to day basis. Oops, hide your kids! I'm making dirty innuendo filled remarks because I'm bored and because Casey is again stroking his electric guitar and couldn't be any more annoying if he tried. Usher says Casey has a tool. Yes, I guess, he does.
Dishonest critique: Ryan says this song is a virgin on the Idol stage. I'm sure there must have been a reason for that and judging by Casey's matching red shirt and red guitar he is not going to revive this old turnip on iTunes. Hello! Everyone knows you match your guitar to your shoes. Duh!
Honest critique: I can honestly say that I listened to it all and all I heard was “Hold on, I'm coming, yeah, yeah/ Hold on, I'm coming, yeah, yeah”. It was good the way you assume your fourth fifth of Tequila was good because you can't remember it in the morning. I still find it odd when a dude just stands there with an electric guitar, plucking away at it and there are no drums behind him. It's like the Statue of Liberty without its crown.
- Randy: Hot zone, baby!
- Ellen: Holy generic bananas! She's not sold on the memory of his naked chest and wants to see something else. Sometime.
- Kara: She thinks Casey should go free range and start picking songs with more than 3 notes in them because so far he's been riding it safe. She wants him to get back on the acoustic train and just sing.
- Final Analysis: His Simonness says this was Casey's strongest week because he thinks the matchy-matchy stuff was very authentic and oh-so-different for Casey.
Ushering Big Mike
Big Mike is a proud new father. Yes, it's true. And he loves singing songs that remind people that he is not only a proud new father but that he appreciates a woman. He has, so far, covered every cheesetastic woman related song known to man and tonight he will cover another one called “Ready For Love”. He will also use his acoustic guitar because all boring songs about how men love women sound so much better when you pick at a couple of chords. Usher is very good at BS, so he mumbles something about projecting to the back of the room while singing and eyeballing the camera the right way. Please remember that, Usher, on Wednesday night, when you're performing!
The truth: I doubt Mikey wants to hear it, but he is ridiculous in every way. Not only is he sitting with his back to the judges on the little walkway behind them but that guitar he's playing looks to be the junior training size. But the dude is earnestly crooning that he is ready for love yet again.
The lie: He was wonderful.
- Randy liked the guitar and mentions the zone. He was not excited though.
- Ellen didn't like that Ruben 2.0 sang behind her back.
- Kara thinks he got the song right even though she's never heard that masterpiece before and therefore has nothing to compare it to.
- The One And Only: Simon thinks Ruben 2.0 was gloomy but not karaoke. I guess he didn't know the song either.
His High Usherness thinks Didi is emotional and sining “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted” is right on for her. He smiles wide as she dissolves into tears – which is how we know she's emotional – and says the audience will like her honesty. Uhm, I'm sure they will. However, I may not be one of them. She's got on a nice glittery dress, looking elegant and very Old Hollywood but aside from that everything is just off. Her notes are off. Her voice is off and breathy and in places shouty and downright painfully crude.
- Randolph The Great proclaims that she was flat and then sharp and then moment-less.
- Ellen, who has become the caricature of a person who is nice but doesn't know what she's talking about, says Didi was overly dramatic. And not in a good way.
- Kara reflects that Didi is lost in the desert of Idolness and she is puzzled that Didi has abandoned the whole singer/songwriter shtick. I mean, it was R&B week, wasn't it?
- The Only One Who Matters: Simon felt like she was off, old, anti-climactic and like swimming in jelly. He also manages to insult those criminally bad cover singers on Dancing With The Stars. Zing!
I don't know what it is about Tim the Hair, but he keeps not being voted off for some odd reason. Well, actually I do know. I think his hair and his dimples are keeping him in play because his voice, or rather lack thereof, sure isn't. Ryan even remarks that he is now being called Teflon Tim. I wonder whether his fans are called Teflonites or something... So, Tim the Dimple faces Usher the Shade and they mesh on a different plane when Usher tell the Dimple to pretend that he's in love with him while singing “Sweet Love”.
The end result of all this great coaching find poor Dimple making hilariously non-romantic puppy dog eyes at the camera while sitting on the big Idol staircase and earnestly squeaking out they lyrics with as much passion as I devote to my dishwasher on a daily basis. It's the best bit of comedy on the show so far, I'm telling you! The boy has a future on some soap opera that's not too particular about silly things like acting skills.
- Randy saw a pedestrian performance by a singing waiter, although at least it was in tune. Mostly.
- Ellen still think he's adorable. As if we didn't know that, Ellen! She also asks, why, which is a tough question to answer. I don't think there's an adequate explanation for Teflon Tim the Hair and Dimple although I have a sneaking suspicion that's not what she meant.
- Kara thinks Dimple sucked the joy out of the song and sent it to Broadway and Vegas on an old horse with a two cent stamp on it's ass. Dimple's only response is to laugh like an imbecile puzzling the judges and everyone but Teflon Dimple's 12 year old fans.
- His Britishness: Sir Simon thinks nothing they say makes a difference since Tim won't win but the audience will still vote for him, “nobody cares” and well done. And I think Simon needs to be worshiped in a dedicated temple with 12 virgins attending an eternal flame in his honor 24/7 for all eternity.
I bet Usher has never met this many people with acoustic guitars in such a short timespan. Neither have I, to be honest, and I keep wondering what would happen if they suddenly disallowed instruments again and these thin-voiced losers would be forced to actually just stand there and, you know, sing for a change? I'm not sure my eardrums could handle that epic calamity but I'd like to see it nonetheless. Andrew picked to croon “Forever” by everyone's favorite woman beater, Chris Brown. That should be reason enough to vote him off right there but I guess that would be too much to ask. Usher has to tell him that he needs to connect with the song if he is to sell it and Andrew tries as much as he can, which is not much at all.
The performance. Well, I can only describe this thing as Andrew trying for Elvis in a silver suit but delivering a country yokel in a plaid shirt. Yes, shoulder-less dude with the black rimmed glasses is wearing a purple and white checkered tablecloth under an ill-fitting silver suit. How can anybody with this little sense, fashion or otherwise, be trusted to sing decently? I don't believe he can. I lasted about 10 seconds into his weak, puny attempts at a sick-kitten-in-pain falsetto-ish mess of a voice before I fast forwarded through the molasses, so I guess he could have delivered an aria from Rigoletto and I wouldn't know it. Oops.
- Randy liked it and calls it Andrew's thing moment. Gee, what did he do? Find a fourth chord on that guitar? I'm almost tempted to rewind. Almost. He even liked the outfit. This from the dude in a red argyle sweater. I think the judges are so excited when somebody only hit 2 or 3 bum notes that they'll praise anything.
- Ellen parrots Randy and adds something about gingivitis.
- Kara parrots Ellen, minus the gingivitis part.
- Ultimate Decider: Simon thinks Andrew did well but is as boring as his tablecloth shirt. He wants Andrew to show more personality. I agree. I hope AI producers don't take this as an encouragement to show his parents-in-gangs sob story footage again.
At this point, things go from merely boring and annoying to downright trashy and embarrassing when Ryan, perhaps knowingly, calls on Andrew's dear zebra-clad, spiral-permed momma to stand up and have a go at Simon for daring to speak the truth. She sets off like a rocket toward Simon, yelling something at him in a shrill voice in two languages as if possessed by a banshee while her proud son stands by watching and while the whole country lets out a collective scream of abject horror. Yes, people this is what it has come down to on Idol: Jerry Springer-like desperate attention-whore antics atop excruciatingly bad singing. Only things missing were the 300lb one-armed strippers and the con men who love them.
Katie is an Usher fan and, ohemgee, she would've almost met him once if it weren't for his bodyguards. Usher is delighted that they almost met and offers some advice about “Chain Of Fools” - Katie's song choice – saying that she needs to personalize it. Sheesh, Usher, it's not a tote bag! I sort of expect Katie to ask what he means but of course, she doesn't. She probably thinks he just delivered to her some sort of secret key to the Universe.
For the first time ever, Katie is not wearing either a flower, a ribbon, a headband or a sweet junior prom dress. Instead, she's in an unflattering, wrinkled grey short jumpsuit over black leggings and with her hair up in a huge granny bun. Her vocals are sterile, unexciting and uninspired but compared to what came before she's a downright revelation.
- Randy thinks she was disconnected but he liked the vocals. Of course he then goes and ruins it by comparing her to a young Xtina. So much for Randy's cred.
- Ellen apes what Randy said but she wanted her to be younger. Again.
- Kara thinks Katie's destiny is R&B/Pop.
- Voice of Reason: Simon thinks Randy is full of it and Kara is full of it because Katie was robotic and cold tonight. He thought it was very Star Search-ish.
So far, Lee has perfected two things during his time on American Idol: 1) How to look and sound appropriately vanilla rock generic and frat boy-ish, and 2) How to deliver a sort of self-satisfied, yet seemingly humble, smirk that makes me want to kick him in the shins. Never let it be said that I will indiscriminately root for any hometown schmuck. Hey, I live in Chicago not the sticks of Arka.... Whatever. Usher tells Gokey 2.0 that he should believe in himself because he's in history or something. Usher is so full of it.
I must say that Lee has the lite rock fake growl down to a science. You know the one that Cook ripped off from Daughtry, Daughtry ripped off from Nickleback, Nickelback ripped off from Creed and Creed ripped off from Eddie Vedder back in the day. Lee, treats the song like a lady of ill repute but doesn't do anything to it that Cook wouldn't have. In other words, you've heard it at least a hundred times before.
- Randy's assessment is that Lee was unbelievable. Da bomb!
- Ellen, the show parrot, says the same thing.
- Not to be left out, Kara says it was amazing. She's so eloquent.
- The Brain: Simon declares that he's always believed in aloof Lee but he thinks this night have changed his life forever. Yes, I think this is the night that every record exec watching went “Oh, not, not another one of those!!” But shhh, don't tell Lee that. Let him fantasize about his amazing future in the music biz for a little while longer.
Ok, so last week Kara told Crystal the Ice Queen that she needed to switch it up a bit because the whole guitar bit was getting boring. She then retorted that she was planning a huge surprise for the coming week. Well, OMG, what could it be? Is she going to – gasp – sing without a crutch to hide behind? As it turns out, no, not really. But she did find a bigger crutch than her usual! She shows Usher that she is a versatile artist because she will clomp away at two or three keys on the piano – that's all she can recall from her childhood days – and shock everyone. Yes, America, you heard it right. Crystal's big plan is to play the piano. Alert CNN! For the most part, Usher is faking being impressed and remarkably well, if I may say so.
In other shocking news, somebody got Crystal to wear stilettos and a dress that adds, uhm, curves in all the wrong places. I'm not even going to mention the hairdo because what's the point, really. Her song is “Midnight Train To Georgia” and not only does she clomp away at the piano for about 20 seconds but gets three background singers and launches into a bit of a desperate scream there in the middle. The rest is a bit breathy and unemotional. She also looks like a fish out of water without her guitar and all dolled up which makes her performance about as convincing as an alien abduction story.
- Randy loved her outfit and the whole thing as a whole.
- Ellen also loved it and thinks Crystal is competing. Finally! Took her long enough.
- Kara liked the big risk she took.
- The Decider: He thinks Crystal chose the right song but didn't like the old fashioned backing singers. He also thinks she looked uncomfortable and should have stuck to the whole guitar and rug shtick she had going before. How's that for mixed messages?
If I were a betting woman I would put some money on Aaron because he's a cross between the Bieber kid and the past two AI winners and maybe even a Backstreet Boy or two. He's certainly tween friendly and while barely old enough to drive and about as exciting as a stack of wet newspapers, he can deliver what Idol seems to desperately want this year: The Taylor Swift thing. Yes, Aaron is to Idol what Taylor Swift was to the Grammy's, only I suspect Aaron could sing circles around the country crossover guitar Barbie who butchered “Rhiannon” just a couple of short months ago in front of the whole world.
His song is “Ain't No Sunshine” - groan! - which he sings while wearing a hoodie and a plaid shirt. It's like a beacon that says “look, I'm almost country and a smidgen lite rock and your 12 year old and her grandma will love me”. The vocals are halfway decent but the delivery is weak, overwrought and boy band-ish. What does the boy know about women going away and such at the ripe old age of 16 anyway? Probably not enough to sell this song even to his own mother. Sigh.
- Randy thought it was just aight and not that hot.
- Ellen remarks again that he is 16 years old and thinks he was okay.
- Kara liked it but wanted him to go higher.
- The Voice: The Voice sayeth that Aaron wasn't up to the Lee standard of the night and he also thinks the whole thing was an okay sort of cupcake.
It's over, folks. All ten have contributed to my accumulating ear damage and their work is done. By the time you'll get to read this, one of them will be gone and we'll be down to only 9 people who can't sing. Yay for us! Catch MotherSister and I as we nurse our pain next week and hope beyond hope that the Bieber Insult is not slated for a guest performance. I may not survive that.