This season of American Idol has been one big drawn-out, excruciatingly tedious exercise in boredom and predictability that has been a far cry from last season's thrill ride and has generated about as much heat as a melting iceberg. As the show slides slowly into irrelevance with the loss of Simon Cowell, it seems to be ending the way it began: with all the desperation to forge itself some renewed pop culture relevance out of thin air but patently incapable of doing so. There was a time when this season was lauded by Idol as the girls' year, a declaration which I'm sure they hoped would turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, voters had other ideas, as they so often do. Tonight, one of the last three standing – only one of whom is a girl - will be voted out and if you're looking to be shocked and entertained by the proceedings I suggest a round of mini golf at your local park district. This night is going to be the prime time television equivalent of an astronaut meal. I'll spice it up a bit for your entertainment but there's only so much one can do with a vacuum packed chicken and rice dinner that smells and tastes like recycled cardboard. Read on.
So, with things being down to the wire, the three finalists went home last week. Finally allowed to step out of the Idol bubble, each were confronted by the artificial reality created by their adoring hometown supporters. More on that later. Seacrest earnestly announces that Justin Bieber is in the house tonight which is a blatant lie since his performance bit was recorded weeks ago, but that's not Ryan's fault. He's only the mouthpiece for this war machine. All the previously ousted Top 10 Idols are also present, here to remind everyone that they exist. Some dude you've never heard of by the name of Travis Garland is also waiting to stand up and be counted later on in the show.
The other bit of news is that 47 million votes came in for this bunch which is roughly half the number of votes that came in about this time last year for the Season 8 contestants. Half the votes, half the show, half the talent, half the fun, half the everything. Hey, at least they're consistent! Which is more than some of the “singers” on this season can say.
Before any serious business can be conducted, Idol has a clean 55 minutes to kill so Ryan sits down for a bit of chit-chat with the three remaining contestants to milk them for answers to such crucial questions as how has their view of the show changed since their auditions and what they think of it all now. Casey says he didn't think he'd get far but when he kept advancing he kept wanting to advance, or some such. Crystal thinks people have no idea how much work the Idols do week to week. Yes, because we're all fresh off the turnip truck with this Idol show, have never watched it and therefore have no idea how it works. I love it when they open their mouths and out comes a truckload of stupid.
Lee says mostly the same thing the other two said but adds that he wants to be himself and do what he wants to do while staying true to himself. It gets fuzzy since he makes little sense and his face is less animated than a Henry Moore statue. Ryan also wants to know whether they can see themselves winning. Casey thinks he already won the lottery, Crystal can see herself the winner – of course - and when asked point blank Lee also admits to wanting to win. Gee, you don't say! Ryan asks a couple more things that nobody gives a damn about, however Crystal yammers on after each question, seemingly determined to have the last word about everything and she even mentions her diabetes for no good reason whatsoever. Well, actually, there probably is a reason and it's something along the lines of “I'm a single mother and I'm sick and I want to win this show”. You know, the usual. My eyes can't roll back far enough in my head at this point. Fast forward.
While the picture is rushing by I notice that Randy is talking. Sigh. He starts yapping about how Lee is this artist who has blossomed despite being shy. And then Crystal opens her mouth again to suck up to the judges and to hear herself talk. Again. And there goes my patience. Next.
There are a couple more opportunities left to see the Idols doing those ridiculous Ford music videos where they frolic around with various Ford products for some obscure reason. You've seen one, you've seen them all but at least this one is set to “Wild One” and it's a bit livelier than the usual fare. It's unclear which one of them is the wild one.
After this bit of bill-paying, we get to see Casey's homecoming in Texas during which he gets a taste of being a star, an illusory feeling that should last roughly till the end of this summer after which it will be back to real life. He travels back to the hospital where he recovered from his serious motorcycle accident of a few years ago and it's a very nice segment, more honest than most on this show.
But all simple things must come to a horrifying end as after the commercial break Seacrest introduces Perez Hilton who is here to support his new
boy toymusical discovery called Travis Garland, who is completely unknown and probably fresh off a hog farm somewhere in Kentucky. But is ready to sing some new song that nobody cares about. Perez praises the guy to the high heavens saying he's better than Justin Timberlake which makes me naturally suspicious that the guy probably can't sing to save his life. My suspicions are subsequently confirmed as Travis himself, sporting the mole that Enrique Iglesias got rid of years ago, saunters in amid a dozen dancers, lights and drummers. We get a very helpful splitscreen treatment of Wonder Boy's breathy, off key performance of some song that sucks just badly enough to be a future big hit. By the end of his “performance”, poor Travis is drenched in sweat and probably deeply relieved that he managed to remember all the very meaningful lyrics to his craptastic song while he was mewling and breathing like a hip-hop obsessed serial killer into the mic in what must have been his unique attempt at singing. And just in case you forgot his name, Idol helpfully projects “Travis Garland” in big bold letters right on the stage for easier identification in iTunes.
Moving on. Crystal's hometown visit is next and it's one cheestastic affair complete with screaming dudes in trucker caps – and one whose bare chest she helpfully signs - and the, by now, customary police escort. Toledo, OH is apparently hot for her but I'm fast forwarding through this tripe before she mentions her illness sob story again. Back at the studio she talks about singing something or other for her home town because it's her home town or some such and how much she liked doing that. Of course. Ryan thanks her and she actually looks like she has way more to pontificate about but luckily Idol has a very well controlled on-air schedule and we can move on.
Lee's hometown visit closely resembles Casey and Crystal's hometown visits only it's set in a Chicago suburb and instead of dudes in trucker hats baring their chests for him to sign, he gets whole families wearing horrifyingly matchy-matchy electric lime colored T-shirts with the word “BeLEEve” emblazoned all over them in glow-in-the-dark puffy paint. It's much, much scarier than it sounds. BeLEEve. I repeat, BeLEEve. I think I scared myself just typing that. Sitting on his stool, Lee, with nary a facial expression on his face, babbles on with Ryan about how much traveling home meant to him and Yay! That's all I got. The guy is about as exciting as a gaggle of nuns at a church convention.
It's high time for some results but Idol has another 15 minutes to push another insult on America in the form of inexplicable tweenage Canadian import Justin Bieber. Ryan makes it look as if the Bieber is singing live in the studio but it's all a clever illusion since his bit was taped weeks ago. For those of you Bieber fans shaking with uncontrollable ecstasy over the very mention of his name – oh, you know who you are, don't deny it! - he is singing a mashup of “You Smile” and “Baby”, both masterpieces the likes of which Prince, Michael Jackson and Mozart would have given half of their blood to have written. Or at least a pint or two. With his oddly retro girlish bowl cut, baby features and thin, high-pitched, stringy voice Bieber looks and sounds about 11 years old but incredibly he's old enough for a learner's permit. By the time he gets tired of crooning his megahit which features profound lyrics such as “Oh, baby, baby, bay oh, oooh, baby, baby, baby oooh” and he hops on over to the drum kit where his drummer quickly scurries away to make way for his boss man, I'm about ready to throw something at my TV or at him. Or both. I wish Canada would issue a formal apology for spawning him then foisting him on us.
Finally, with only about 7 minutes of show time remaining, we get results. I see no point in dragging this out since I doubt all 3 of you still watching the show haven't seen this coming for a while now. Lee is the first one safe and on to the finale. He seems ecstatic and actually manages to display a new facial expression which I think is remarkable. He is quickly followed by Crystal who puts on a whole show again dumbly asking “I'm safe? I'm safe?” as if she hasn't been expecting to make the final two for weeks now. It's safe to say there's not an acting Oscar in this girl's future at least. Jhud's record is safe. This means that Casey is eliminated and while he gets a very nice send-off video montage the show cruelly makes him sing and me listen to “Daughters” again.
So, we have our final two with little real fanfare and minimal excitement. I expect a guitar soaked final two show next Tuesday filled with growly vocals and puppy eyes at the camera silently begging for votes from both contestants. One of them is Your.Next.American.Idol. Yes, America needs another plaid-wearing coffee shop crooner like we need an invasion of killer locusts but nevertheless come next Wednesday we'll be stuck with another one of them regardless of who wins. Third one in a row. Oh, joy.
Come back for two more fun-filled recaps of what is sure to be the most incredibly boring and overblown final week of Idol ever. Perhaps the votes and viewers will even pick up a bit although I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. The fab MotherSister and I will be here to give this turkey of a season, and the yawn-inducing winner, a proper send-off while cutting the eye roll worthy bits right out for you. You're welcome.
Are you a BeLEEver or more of a Belieber or maybe even a Bowereeber? PM me.