This week's Idol theme was Inspirational Songs which inspired me to skip that episode and rearrange my sock drawer. However, since nothing and nobody can escape the thing that is American Idol, I have since learned by osmosis that Siobhan had butterflies on her dress and Crystal wore an evening gown that she shouldn't have and bawled through half of her song for some unnamed reason. My sock drawer is now sorted by color and looks perfect.
Tonight is one big telethon in which various celebs show up to highlight one problem or another which can be either alleviated or cured by your generous donations. And in the spirit of true giving Idol is going to give one of these small-voiced wonders back to the their friends, family and corner Java Joe's open mic nights where they should have stayed in the first place. If that's not pure, selfless charity, I don't know what is.
From the top down
To kick off this very special night, President and Mrs. Obama are here to thank Idol watchers for their generosity over the years and to admonish Simon to “be nice”. Obviously, neither of them have ever seen an episode of American Idol or they'd know that Simon has been the nicest judge over the years if you appreciate honesty as a virtue. And the man in question is even wearing a suit jacket tonight! What more could you possibly want? Seacrest is pumped to announce that a bunch of selfless sponsors have selflessly helped offset the costs of tonight's big
ratings drivecharity efforts. And because this show is twice as big as any other it needs twice as many locations. Queen Latifah will oversee happenings at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium where a slew of guests will be performing for a live audience. Yay for a super long show that will run longer than the uncut version of Avatar!
Tonight's group number, performed by all Top 12 Idols dress in head-to-toe angelic white, is an especially syrupy number. It's got the cheesiest lyrics this side of a High School graduation choir number – something about hopes raised too high or some such which is nevertheless quite an appropriate sentiment for this bunch - but at least everyone seems to be singing live or at least lipsynching live.
It seems that tonight will be a slow, tedious progression from emotional segments about how your money can help people in need to guest performances to inane banter to some actual results. The first segment is actually interesting because I'm still awake for it and because of the person in it, namely, Jennifer Garner who takes a trip to Breathitt County, a place deep in the Kentucky Appalachian Mountains and not so far from where she grew up. The pictures and faces of poverty in the area are devastating: A family of six living in a trailer home amid what can only be described as squalor and hopelessness. Garner is here on behalf of Save The Children which works with poor families providing children with much needed books, supplies and actual human help in their homes and schools.
The segment is the best of the night and if the show only stopped here it would have made quite an impact but when has Idol ever been capable of self-restraint? Instead, we're on to Victoria Beckham in the studio, looking all glam, uncomfortable and pretty, sitting with two of the kids from California that were also helped by the Save The Children program and talking about her own experience in Kentucky.
Decision time: I'm sorry to report that this monster 2.5 hour show is filled with more of the above. Do you really want to read about each and every heart wrenching segment? Do I want to describe said segments in minute detail? I didn't think so.
A steady procession of stars and other people whose names you might know will be popping up throughout the night. Capt. Sully Sullenberger makes a plea for donations while Russel Brandt and Jonah Hill are cracking jokes about all the famous people who didn't show up to help Idol continue last week's ratings winning streak over Dancing With The Stars. Uhm, I mean, selfless charitable efforts.
The Black Eyed Peas are always a show and half and after Queen Latifah's enthusiastic introduction I'm expecting them to deliver some energy, glitz and a shot of caffeine straight into to my blood stream. Alas all I get are some elaborate, futuristic costumes, an underwhelming stage setup and a really clunky, vocally horrifying performance of the Peas' new single called Rock That Body. It will be coming to a radio near you in no time. This spectacle is paired with a moving video segment of Seacrest in Kenya advocating for Malaria No More.
Stoned and all Keyed down
We now interrupt this infomercial for some actual results!
Before before we can get into all that fringe stuff, George Lopez gets a chance to roast the show and the judges in a fairly funny comedy skit that you should youtube if only for George's silly crack about Seacrest's dim-the-lights routine and Danny Gokey's eyes. As plugs go it's not a really bad one and Gokey should say thank you that his name was mentioned on the season's third or fourth biggest event night. His bit is followed by another inane Ford commercial that's not worth commenting on and then Ryan finally gets down to business. Crystal and Casey are shepherded to the center of the stage for a typical Idol style pick-the-bottom style game which sees Crystal safe and Casey the first person on the stools of doom. Aaron and Lee are next and you get a cookie if you can guess who is a bottom dweller. Yes, Lee will be back but Aaron gets to sweat it out through the next hour and a half.
And that's about it for the serious business for now before we get another flashy performance over at the other location where Latifah is holding court. This time it's Jeff Beck on guitars with Joss Stone singing “I Put A Spell On You”. The barefoot jazz diva always delivers vocal pizazz and a statuesque stage presence and I find I don't have to fast forward through this one. This is immediately followed by a plea for help from Kara DioGuardi and the Justin Bieber to help stop deaths during childbirth in Africa. I'm sure the segment is meant to be emotional and all that but there's a really horrid joke in very bad taste lurking at the back of my mind as I watch Justin “The Fetus” Bieber making puppy eyes at the camera about an issue he probably couldn't care less and knows nothing about. Not to mention the irony of it all.
A quick succession of more guests include the Secretary of the United Nations Foundation, Morgan Freeman making speeches and Randy Jackson with a video for “Save The Children” on behalf of literacy in Mississippi. Alecia Keys is next with a live performance on the Idol stage which would normally be a good thing but she's wearing a dark gray silk one piece outfit that looks about as flattering as a dirty potato sack and I think her horrid outfit is affecting her vocals because there's some breathless, nasally and pitchy thing going on here dawg that I really would never have expected from her. The less said the better.
Miscellaneous celebs with various messages so far include Josh Groban, Jim Carey,
Slashand an entire stable of celebrity impersonators manning the donation phones in lieu of the real breathing celebs who could not be here because they are off vacationing somewhere. They are joined by freakshows like Octomom with half of her kids – really, Idol?? - and Tatiana Del Torro from last season, now with less hair on her head. I'm not sure what's worse, the feeling I get that Slash probably wants to slit his wrists – and wring his publicists' neck - for being forced to share breathing air with the Octomom or that I'm laughing hysterically at the absurdity of it all. Moving on.
Over at the Pasadena Civic Center, Carrie Underwood is introduced and I must say I kind of like that asymmetrical black dress she's got on minus the junior-high-prom-meets-funeral-parlor black rose wrist corsage she's wearing but after 30 seconds of her singing this cheesy, inspirational country song I'm ready to fast forward. However, I'm happy to report that when I watch her at high speed she actually seems animated and full of life. Amazing! After the performance, she talks to Ryan and explains something about 36 seconds of something or other being related to something or other in her song and that is the reason why Carrie will be donating 36 cents out of every ticket sale on her tour to “Save The Children”. All I heard was 36 cents.
“Feeding America” is next and it gets a montage with Ellen DeGeres and David Arquette out in Monrovia, CA distributing food and talking to people who rely on the food bank program for their daily bread.
A shoutout from Ryan goes to a Tampa radio station for their creative, but unnamed, efforts and another to the Adam Fans Give Back Adam Lambert fan group which raised the most money online for Idol Gives Back. I looked it up and the group raised $14,800 at last count.
Bill and Melinda Gates talking to Ryan about putting money behind “Global Health Care” and the “One” campaign.
Wanda Sykes snarking live about the entire Season 9 of Idol and how much it sucks. Well, not exactly but she makes fun of the basic fun of Idol's weekly cruelty towards the losers. The judges and the audience laugh politely as she grills the entire well-greased system and gives props to Michael.
Stairway to nowhere
This night seems interminable. In fact this recap will have five chapters and will qualify as a novel by the time I'm done with it. Finally, the last three remaining contestants are brought center stage and after a bit of non-drama Tim is sent to join the loser section which has shaped up interestingly with Casey supposedly in the bottom three. Ah, Idol and your silly, idle, lying games!
So now that we have our lovely bottom three, the show will fade to black soon. Right? Wrong!! There are more manipulative video segments, more guests and more performances to get through. Next in line is David Cook who needs both a shave and more hair. He's got some sort of weird spiky thing going on - not the good, cool kind either - and he is wearing an ascot. Yes, an ascot. I don't think anyone still wears an ascot except George Hamilton. David is here to introduce the video he made in Ethiopia visiting with underprivileged girls on behalf of the UN Foundation. He also played his acoustic guitar out on the porch for the school kids while wearing an in-ear monitor. Moving on.
It doesn't get much more fantastic than Annie Lennox and she's part of tonight's mix as well with a moving segment about pediatric AIDS in Africa and the need for life saving, early treatment. Annie was scheduled to be on the Idol stage but the eruption of that Icelandic volcano with the unpronounceable name has kept her in London. She gives a beautiful vocal performance via satellite from London while the band plays the music in LA. One of the best AI moments I've seen.
At this point, the show is nearly running overtime but does Ryan care? Mary J. Blige and a bunch of other people such as Orianthi and even Randy Jackson are here to perform “Stairway To Heaven” and screw it up royally. If the original speaks to you with it's brilliance then I suggest you do not google this dud and the less I say about it, the better but suffice it to say say Mary should not have touched Led Zeppelin. Not on this stage and not with such an anemic cover. Next.
The last judge to highlight a cause is Simon Cowell himself who went on the road to meet with people making a difference with the Children's Health Project, a traveling clinic serving poor communities in the US.
Your swan song
Hello! Does anybody remember that there are some Idols waiting to hear their fates while sitting on the stools of doom? I'm not sure but AI is not done with its stunts for the night just yet. None other than Sir Elton John is live with Queen Latifah tonight, here to talk about his AIDS foundation and its mission around the globe and to deliver a performance of “Your Song”. It's one my favorite Elton songs but this rendition is a bit less spectacular than his usual. Elton sounds a bit tired or old or both although that iconic voice is unmistakable. But really, he has earned the right to be beyond criticism at this point so... Hello, Elton!
We're inching closer to the end now after approximately 7149 hours of show time. After the commercial break, Ryan announces that it's Shania Twain week next week with the theme being her music. Should be twangy. Horrible thought of the week: Does Victoria Beckham have a solo album? I'm afraid to google the answer.
Aaron is quickly announced safe and after little fanfare Tim is announced the biggest loser. He gets the usual loser goodbye package with the cruelest exit song ever - “Leave Right Now” - playing in the background and then... Well, then that's it. Due to the show running overtime and all those big name guests, poor Tim doesn't even get to sing his swan song on the big stage. I hope you said goodbye to him last week if he was your favorite because he will never be seen or heard from again. So long, Timmy.
Be back here next week when I'm assuming we'll get country week by another name and another Idol gets bounced from the show. MotherSister and I will be here to deliver the news... or and not-so-news as the case may be. Oops.