What's that thing the judges have been breathlessly squawking about for the past few weeks on American Idol about how this is the most talented season ever in the history of forever and all the stars are aligned for an epic round of awesomeness the likes of which have not been seen since... ? Well, they usually leave that part out because they don't want to be too crass and obvious – even though this whole show is crass and obvious - but if you think about it, this season has so far been nothing more than one big Herculean effort to recapture lightning in a bottle, that unique somethin' somethin' that you can't buy or cast or engineer because it just simply is.
Unfortunately, in the absence of that unique electric energy that only true star power can provide, Idol has been quite happy to fake it, thankyouverymuch, hoping that if they just keep repeating the mantra it may eventually come true. But good news! Tonight you can leave off the Prozac, chuck the vodka and take out the icepicks from your ears 'cause Idol's golden boy is back to show them how it's really done. I love his annual Idol seminars! Read on.
Tonight's dramatic Idol intro package seems designed to ram home the New Gospel of Nigel Lithgoe which says that Idol is great, all the contestants are stupendously talented, poised on the verge of world domination – all 13 of them, natch - and we're watching the Superbowl of singing circuses or something. Never mind that none of the performance shows have even been live so far. Who needs live stuff when you can cook this turkey in a lab? And they swear that you can build a mansion on that bit of swampland they're gonna sell you cheap down in Florida! Trust the Nigel!
As Seacrust descends the big Idol staircase we get a glimpse of the audience which seems overly giddy and unusually excited considering that Idol is about to flush one of these people down the drain tonight. Not that pushing some of these yodeling troll dolls into the refuse pile wouldn't qualify for fun times. Or maybe they're just jumping out of their skins because Adam Lambert is in the house! Judging by the deafening squeals when Ryan announces the “electric Idol alum” I'm guessing it's the latter. Dirty Diddy Money is also here but nobody really cares about him. The Ryanator coos that 30 million votes came in and mentions that the infamous Judges' Save is back in action this season. You remember how the Judges' Save goes, right? America says “take your crappy contestant and shove 'em, Idol!” while Idol says “Noooooo!, you're gonna have to pry them out of my cold dead hands, America!”
How to waste 20 minutes on crap
The show is only one hour long tonight and I'm halfway to happy town between that fact and Adam's upcoming performance when Ryan cruelly interjects that he has some filler to get rid of first. In a sad bit of news, Casey Abrams is in the hospital. Sad, but when he comes back he'll be living in a huge Beverly Hills mansion along with his fellow contestants. Idol runs a lavish montage of the Idols' first day in the palatial, yet oddly cavernous and impersonal, abode which is at once pitiful and hilarious. Talk about dangling the impossible fantasy in front of these novices. The contestants are duly impressed and Idol has successfully wasted nearly 10 minutes of show time so far. Yay!
Speaking of wasting time, we get the first group number of the season and it's to a Michael Jackson medley. Normally I'd say that's a great idea, however, this group enchilada is just plain bland. Not only are some people completely out of tune but the dancing ranges from dorky to terminally cheesy. Seeing as how this was the first group number of the season and I heard it was going to be Gleesque in it's magnificence, I elected to suffer through it for the edification of my dear readers. I'm sure my sacrifice is duly appreciated. Sadly, in the future, because I value my excellent hearing and don't really feel like assaulting my eyeballs with the sight of some of these people hamming it up for the camera, I will be forced to fast forward through all similar masterpieces of singing and choreography. The same will be true for that trite bit of embarrassment known as the weekly Ford Music Video which is always set to some obscure song using hokey special effects and earnest junior high cadet choir style crooning. Idol's got to pay the bills but I don't have to watch them do it.
With that bit of awkwardness and another commercial break out of the way, Seacrust the Terminator is finally free to presents some results. But wait! There's more filler to get through first. Some chick from the new Red Riding Hood movie is here to put in some face time and give Idol a reason to gush about the movie. Incidentally, all 13 wide eyed noobs were dispatched to the movie's premiere and given a taste of what a red carpet premiere is all about. Sort of like the mansion, it whets their appetite for what most of them won't ever have. Cruel, but fun! I won't waste your time with the stupidity so I'm skipping this too. I love my DVR!
Scraping the bottom
In case you're counting, we're now exactly 20 minutes into show time. Ringmaster Seacrest dims the lights and calls forth Jacob, Karen and Stefano. Believe it or not, I actually watched Wednesday's big turnip of a show, so I know that Jacob screamed up R. Kelly's “I Believe I Can Fly” gospel style with half a dozen churchbots swaying behind him. Man, that song just reminds me of R. Kelly flying high with underage girls so now I want to kick Jacob. The judges fawned over it though because they're permanently stuck on the cheer setting. Not Steven, though. He just plain refuses to judge. Jacob admits he shouldn't have used a meat cleaver to murder the song but promises he can still fly next week.
Karen, this year's pageant cupcake, comes complete with nasty puffy hair and a willingness to copycat every damn thing JLo has ever done including her movie outfits. The only person creepier than her this season is Durbin, the bandana bandit, who has so far been aping stuff Adam Lambert did on Idol. How long before he covers “Whole Lotta Love”? Stay tuned. These two need to just hold hands and sway in unison to the theme of Single White Female. So, Karen stunk it up with a Selena cover the other night – did I call this one or what? - but failed to impersonate her well enough for the judges' tastes. Whatever those tastes are.
Stefano sang a Stevie Wonder cover but I think I took a bathroom break during his bit so I'm not sure how it went. The judges liked it, of course, because Stefano is the only dude who is in that Bieber ballpark so they're not going to diss him at this stage. Duh! Stefano babbles a bit about how happy he is to be here before Seacrust tells them they're all safe. Then, just as JLo's stalker makes wide surprised eyes, he takes a breath and says “except, Karen!” Ahh! Ye olde cruel fake out is back in da house! Me likey. Karen, one of the bottom three tonight, is dispatched to sit on the stools-of-doom and we're rolling onward.
Shhh! Class in progress.
Back from commercials, Ryan is mingling with the commoners up in the balcony. He announces that we have finally arrived to the whole point of this miserable show because, Adam Lambert “the guy who truly set the bar for style and spectacle” is here live to sing a gorgeous acoustic version of his song “Aftermath”. The Idol audience's screams rise to an ear splitting level, the finalists lean forward in their chairs and then there he is, surrounded by three band members plucking on acoustic instruments, the dude who killed Idol, back to administer a healthy dose of flat out fabulous. I hope the poor saps in the chairs are taking notes 'cause they're getting schooled here by the master. Adam delivers a soaring and lovely version of this song, very reminiscent of the version he sang on his international tour, casually pushing the gas on the vocals and driving it through the park at a leisurely but still electrifying pace.
Gratuitous picture of the Idol Killer
In the post-performance chit chat, Adam talks about writing Aftermath, the song's universal empowerment message and the higher octane dance club version of the song that benefits the Trevor Project of “It Gets Better Fame” which Ryan premiered the other day on the radio. Then it all gets a bit SNL skit as JLo vows to teach Adam how to Dougie after the show, Ryan nearly bounces out of his skin squealing giddily bantering away with his favorite and Steven tries to move his dead facial muscles into a grin. It's lighthearted, easy, unscripted fun and I kind of want to put this stuff on repeat and junk the rest of the show. I noticed that half of the time Steven is barely present anyway but tonight I'm thinking he just said the hell with it and straight up hit the bong before the show. Or maybe grandpa just needs a nap.
Thanks, but, no thanks
Alas, the fun can't last forever and Idol still has some serious business to paddle through. Seacrust calls on Lauren, Ashton and Haley next. Lauren had a so-so night with a country vote courting Shania Twain cover and got duly panned by the judges for not being sparkly and interesting enough. Lauren thinks she sucked, which is at least an honest self-critique, and I'm on the verge of feeling sorry for her but then the camera swings to show her family and... Holy mother of Aquanet! Mama Lauren's hair is bigger than Texas and stiffer than Steven Tyler's face! I mean, there's so much volume in that fluffed and sprayed up helmet, that the entire city of Chicago could slip comfortably under it. But I digress. Lauren is safe and will get another go at that whole Kelly Underwood thing.
Ashton was plucked from the jaws of certain obscurity when she was picked as a wild card last week. However, she failed to bring more than a dead head of hair to Wednesday's cover of a dusty Diana Ross chestnut that was probably old a decade before Ashton was born. Haley delivered a Leann Rhimes imitation but left the judges confused when they couldn't properly box her into either country or R&B. Randy says she's floating between genres and he wants her to sing some Stevie Nicks next time while JLo opines that Haley needs to add Pop/Rock to the mix. I think maybe Haley needs to sing a mashup of “Whataya Want From Me (Judges)” and "Forget You" next week. Just kidding... almost. Stick to Hip-Hop, Haley! In the end, Ashton and Haley both get to experience the bottom three as neither is safe. This means the sheep back on the couches are safe, including, Casey, the dude in the hospital. When they don't look duly enthused by their incredible good fortunes, Ryan tells them to get on their feet and dance for a cameras. I'm not sure why he stepped in. I think a producer was going to remote taser them into action anyway. Oh, well.
So, who is going home? Before we can that to that, the world will be subjected to Diddy Dirty Money and his song “Coming Home”. Dude has Skylar Grey on piano, he has thick fog swirling around his legs, swaybots in the audience and he's wearing some sort of priestly shirt while he raps about, what I can only assume, is his extended family. While Diddy yaps away center stae, I spy a string orchestra behind curtains, two more background singers, pics of his family flashing on the screens and I'm quickly getting bored so I'm helping him out with a bit of speed. When he's finally done, we inexplicably get flames shooting out the back of the stage and Ryan drags Diddy over to the chairs so he can give a speech to the newbies. I caught an interview with him on Access Hollywood the other night and he said he was "mentoring" the Idols. I guess this is the mentoring session then. His advice is some cheesy malarkey about keeping god first and not stopping or some such. Run while praying? Then Diddy gets a chance to pimp himself and his traveling show and I'm done with him for good. He shuffles off back and we're finally into the home stretch.
Only one piece of business left tonight and the Ryanator dims the lights. Karen is quickly declared safe. I guess America is into her whole pageant Muzak thing. Who knew? Haley is safe as well which means America decided it didn't want Ashton, the judges' wild card. Instead of just letting her go with a modicum of dignity, with four minutes of air time left, Ashton is forced to sing for her supper. She chooses to murder the same Diana Ross song that got Middle America to run screaming and it's a bloody thing indeed. Half the notes are unrecognizable, she sobs through the rest and it's just a big ole' mess. JLo pretends to be a bit sorry but in the end she gets another no and it's Sayonara to Ashton. She gets the customary, tear soaked loser package with the new boot song – David Cook's growly cover of “Don't You (Forget About Me)” - playing faintly in the background.
That's it for tonight folks. I'll be back next week to bring you all the excitement of performance day – properly edited to remove as much crap as possible – and the fab Arielflies will swing by to make merry with another elimination. She gets all the fun next week.