Four are left this week, three will sing for a change to go home to be feted like conquering Roman generals minus the whole winning battles, heroism, glory and bloodshed thing. And then, a day later, one will really go home. Idol, not one to skimp on the drama, sets off with a corny video montage of past Idols and their gloriously embarrassing hometown parades. I've remarked on the insanity of it all before but it bears repeating: Only in America do you get a big ass parade just because you managed to survive on a reality TV show singing karaoke covers for a few months. Why are these people heroes? What the hell did they do that's worthy of a parade? Is there life on Mars?
So the theme for tonight is some weird crappy combo of inspirational songs and the Lieber-Stoller songbook. Say what? It's just an excuse to have them sing twice and stretch the pain to another interminable 90 minutes. I resent this deeply and I will be cutting lots of fat tonight. Oh, and Mother Monster herself played mentor this week. Hello! Now we're talkin'! Something to look forward to after the inspirational malarkey that will be the first part of the show.
Don't stop believing... just stop singing!
Look who's getting pimped this week again! James gets the opening slot again which might be the dump spot in earlier weeks but not at this stage of the competition. He will be singing “Don't Stop Believing”t because, get this, it's all about him! Yes, folks. James was inspired by his own “journey” - Get it? Journey! - on American Idol thus far. He was moved by his own unwavering belief in himself saying “not for a moment did I stop believing”, presumably about his own awesome self. Interestingly, we don't get any rehearsal footage with the Iovine bot. Universe, I thank you!
Right off the bat it's the usual Tool Idol style egotastic horror show. He screams out to the audience urging them to get on their feet for him – shouldn't they be the ones deciding whether he's worth standing up for? - and yelling at Randy to sing along since he surely knows the lyrics to this old chestnut that has been covered by every karaoke singer known to man, the cast of Glee and on the Season 8 tour. All of them possibly did it better than James who couldn't find the correct pitch for five notes in a row if his life depended on it. He's alternately flat as a pancake and horribly sharp to the point that I have to mute him. JLo cringes during his final tortured off-key glory note and James ends the song looking all pleased with himself, pointing to Steven as if they're equal buddies, jumping up and down, wholly confident of his own sparkling magnificence and seemingly completely clueless that he's been off for three quarters of the performance. Weeks ago, I've come to the conclusion that the dude just has a bad ear and is completely unable to tell when he's off. Do you think the judges care to enlighten him on this crucial piece of info? Nah! Where's the fun in that?
Judgebots: Steven thinks James picked a popular song, JLo says she was waiting for the vibrato on the glory note at the end - See! She wasn't cringing! - and Randy says Tool Idol pulled off the Perry tails and... blah, blah, blah. Nobody mentions the chin rat situation he's got going. Ryan pretends that James got criticism from the judges last week and that made him “refocus”. Come again? What criticism? I seem to remember the judges fawning over him like he was the second coming of Barney the purple dinosaur and the lead singer of Slayer all rolled into one. Ryan, Ryan... Making up stuff is ill-advised. Don't you know crap lives on the internet forever?
Contestant Soundbite: James says “America, you're amazing!!” and he's very happy to... Whatever, dude.
Screw the Earth! All we care about is this bus that we want to run over you!
Haley goes second. She is covering “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson which is inspiring to her because of its universal message about people suffering, wars and the environment. This song got a gorgeous video treatment in the “This Is It” movie but it's not one of Michael's iconic songs by any means. Haley sings it in a different key than the original and while the beginning is a bit flat, and the huge ass choir that walks out to sing behind Haley is a bit too expected, this is a very tough song to sing, Haley delivers it solidly putting a lot of feeling into the lyrics.
Judgebots: What do you think she got for her trouble? JLo delivers a nasty little putdown saying James “set the bar” and Haley should have thought about that when choosing her song. Huh? That pitchy mess set the bar two inches below the sub-basement floor and she's supposed to take that into account? People in the audience concur and JLo gets loud boos for her stupidity. Randy babbles on about being confused about who Haley is, that she screamed the end and that the song needed to go an octave higher to really deliver. See how Randy is suddenly capable of critiquing somebody's voice? Haley says she intentionally sang it in that lower key and thought it was beautiful the way it was. Steven says they were both wrong and thinks she nailed the song with feeling.
Contestant Soundbite: “Never thought I'd get emo on the show”
Good news! There's still time to get in on that songwriting gig with Taio Cruz! You can get your crappy amateur lyrics beefed up in the studio with a clubby hip-hop-pop beat while Taio will be autotuned to perfection as he's squeaking out your pearls of wisdom in his narrow range and paper thin falsetto. Fun times! He will even come by on the finale to lipsynch the whole sorry mess, you know, “live”. What a trooper!
Where were you when Scotty won Season 10 of American Idol?
If anybody doubted that Scotty plays a certain constituency of American Idol like his own private banjo, those doubts are be put to rest tonight as his choice for inspirational song is “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning”. Never heard of this gold nugget before but he says he was inspired by the song as an American and I suspect also by the vote baiting, flag waving lyrics brimming with post 9/11 patriotic bombast, Jesus lovin' and whatnot. Smart song choice given the current climate and Scotty lays it on thick by performing the whole bit strumming on an acoustic guitar with a single violinist supporting him. Abjectly embarrassing lyrics about ignorance - “can't tell the difference between Iraq and Iran” - Jesus, god, CNN and simple songs all converge into a perfectly insulting piece of shameless pandering but... well, Scotty is sure reeling in his voters like a pro. Playing to the proverbial base never felt so trite yet so inspired.
Judgebots: What can they really say to that and still sound politically correct on FOX TV? Randy says Scotty sang a great song and it was the perfect choice for the present. He says Scotty is ready for superstardom. Steven loved the passion in Scotty's eyes. JLo says she's in love with the fact that Scotty knows who he is.
Contestant Soundbite: “Those lyrics mean so much to the people in the country.” Wham, bam, thank you, m'am!
IN IT TO WIN IT!!!!
Ryan inexplicably introduced Lauren's song - “Anyway” by Martina McBride - as a “new contemporary country classic” before the commercial and she says she relates to it because of “all the devastation in the South caused by the recent tornadoes”. They lyrics are “God is great but sometimes life ain't good”, her delivery is pitchy and screamy and Scotty already cornered the market on the Jesus voters but she's belting it out well enough to make the judges nod sagely through the entire performance.
Judgebots: Steven says she did it again and it was “beautiful” and delivered it like a “blue plate special”. He also loved her shoes and dress and... I'm creeped out. JLo says they all the remarks she's been getting are designed to deliver her into the finals. Yes, America! Vote bitches, 'cause the producers wants this girl in the final two! Randy says Lauren is “back IN IT TO WIN IT!!!” and there was nothing wrong with that performance.
Contestant Soundbite: “It was so inspirational!” Giggle, giggle!
Round one is over and Ryan brings all the contestants out on stage for a final verdict from the judges. JLo says they all did well but Randy interjects declaring a tie between Scotty, James an Lauren with Haley in the bottom. Haley snorts in disbelief and seems as disgusted as I am listening to this absolutely vomit inducing attempt to bury her. Since the live audience is booing loudly again, Randy says Haley can deliver on the next round. How charitable of him. Oh, and incidentally... Haley is singing first! Way to psyche her. Whatever happened to that performance order thingy? Never mind. Trying to make sense of this show is like trying to find somebody with a three digit IQ at a Palin rally.
The best part of this show tonight is undoubtedly Lady Gaga. That girl knows how to put on a show by simply just being; a talent I greatly admire. She shows up dressed head to butt cheeks in a skintight black leather outfit, 80s skunk hair, her de rigeur alien face prosthetics, a big ole black mole on her cheek, red lips and dripping so much star power you can practically see it puddling on the floor below her chair. The crowning touch of that outfit is a pair of black platform pumps with Lucite dildo shaped heels which was not PG enough for the innocent American Idol audience or the FCC, I guess. Bummer! The fact that the Iovine bot is sitting next to her like he's her devoted hound is at once funny and pathetic. There's the woman who delivers your daily bread and butter, dude! Sadly, I will just have to ignore him this week.
I'm going for an abbreviated recap of this section, folks, since I'm just fed up with this whole charade. Sorry.
For her Lieber and Stoller pick, Haley, is going with “I Who Have Nothing”. Gaga's take is that Haley is perfect as a singer but needs to get on the psycho train a bit to up the drama and really clinch the song. Haley is happy to take that advice and serves up a shining Idol moment – man, I hate even typing that overused phrase! - and A++ vocals with her signature bluesy growl perfectly accenting the pain and desperation of the lyrics. The audience raves, the judges are forced to eat their previous words and Haley does a slam dunk.
Yap, yap, yap: JLo says it was one of the best performances of the year, Randy says she got mad and got even and is now “IN IT TO WIN IT” and Steven says she just “Reinharted herself into the middle of next week”. After this there's a very awkward bit as Ryan calls for Haley to come down and hug the judgebots who wronged her in the previous round.
Me: Oh, snap!
What happens when you put Gaga and Scotty in the same room? Remember when Idol did that with Adam Lambert and Randy Travis? If that was one big bowl of comedy gold, this encounter is an obscene serving of hilarity as well as Gaga tells Scotty to get into an intimate relationship with his mic and sing to it like it's his girlfriend wanting him to stick his tongue down her throat. Hee! After their session, Gaga says Scotty is more conservative than she imagined while Scotty feels the need to kiss his cross and apologize to his good lord saying “it's no my doing”. You'd think he just spent an hour communing with the devil or something... Ignorant fool! His song is something called “Young Blood” by The Coasters and to call this a horrifically cheesy mess would be mild. The demonic light in his eyes as he stares into the camera while attempting to romance his mic is quite the sight to see. As for the vocals, it's nothing we haven't heard before: Good but meh. Hey, at least he's on key if nothing else.
Yap, yap, yap: Randy thought Scotty is ready for the big time. Steven liked the humor and his whole Gaga bit. JLo feels he is sprinting to the finish line.
Me: Only Hades could keep the goody-goody, cross kissin' Scottster from getting to that finish line.
Lauren gets a sitdown interview on the stage which I'm skipping to get straight to the goods with Gaga. Her song is “Trouble” by Elvis, a song which contains the lyrics “I'm evil”. These are grave, grave words, devilish words even, that squeaky clean Lauren does not want to sing because, ohemgee, it might give people the wrong impression. Gaga tells her to man up since she's not a kid anymore and get the hell over the lyrics. In the end, she gets down into the song and delivers it well enough, if only vocally. She's not quite believable as a vamp but she gives a good show of it which is all that counts.
Yap, yap, yap: Steven isn't sure he believes it but he liked the character. JLo appreciated the more mature approach and her commitment to performing. Randy liked the bluesy, rocky attitude and the new quality in her. He thinks Gaga really gave her good words of advice.
Me: A little bit country, a little bit godly, a little bit evil, a little big rock 'n roll equals a whole lot of votes.
Looky here, who is closing the show? Holy double whammy of pimpage! James goes last with that enduring anthem of fabulousness entitled “Love Potion #9”. I wonder who talked him into this one and whether I should send them a fruit basket and my eternal thanks? Gaga's advice for James is not only to get down into the song but she is also showing him by pawing at his flabby muffin top, trying to get him to move his hips a la Elvis. Did he appreciate this attention? Not really. He says she made him uncomfortable. Ok, then.
On stage, what is supposed to be a completely silly song with a lighthearted message of not that much, really, gets turned into this serious business, metal tinged sideshow performance during which James wobbles down the big pink staircase, prances earnestly around the stage, cavorts in the audience again like every other week and ends the show on a raised platform giving the cameras a not-so-flattering angle of him. Hold the skinnies, man! The final infernal, cat murdering screams that follow no less than two dramatic pauses are, I guess, James' trademark “sound” along with the alternately flat and sharp vocals. It all ends with a split jump and pyro behind him. What, no marching band? Bummer. James looks very pleased with himself though, completely unaware that he comes off as a laugh track and a complete caricature. I thought he'd be aping David Cook again this week but I think he went for the full Taylor Hicks treatment instead. Novel!
Yap, yap, yap: He jumps around even as JLo says he can Jamesify any song. Randy says all four finalists are “IN IT TO WIN IT” and says James is peaking at the right moment besides having a moment every single weak. Geezus. Does he speak English? Steven says it was a beautiful thing. Of course.
Me: I'm so sorry, kitty! I know I promised to mute him last week but I wasn't quick enough. Please stop meowing now!
That's the end for today, folks. Randy says “this is the week that Daughtry went home” and to vote, vote, vote. Hee! Somebody is getting bounced this week and then we'll be down to the final three which will be followed by only two more weeks of this insanity before we can stick a fork in Season 10. Looking forward to that.