The Power of Suggestion
Welcome back to the newest edition of “The WB's Superstar USA”. The Powers That Be over at the WB have decided to stick to one episode a week for the final three shows, so you will only be getting one recap out of me this week. I have my suspicions that the legal departments there were fearful of hearing loss lawsuits from its viewers if they continued to play back-to-back episodes.
We are told in the voiceover that, in order to preserve the hoax, the contestants still have not heard each other sing. Apparently, in the last episode, the final two competitors will sing an unrehearsed duet and hear each other for the very first time. This is supposed to ‘reveal’ to them that the whole thing has been a setup. Call me crazy, but I’m thinking that if these kids are so tone deaf as to think that they can sing good, they aren’t going to recognize bad singing in their competitors either. I became convinced of this last week when one of the singers listed Prince (who has the rare gift of “absolute” or “perfect” pitch) as the worst singer of all time.
Bryan McFayden has a short talk with the judges about the contestants improving in the previous round. Vitamin C claims that because they have been telling them they were good, that they started to gain the confidence to get better. Personally, I didn’t see any improvement other than “bad” instead of “peeling paint off the wall,” but the other judges agree with Vitamin (or should I call her “C”?).
Is There a Pants Shortage?
This week, our eight lucky (or unlucky as the case may be) finalists have returned to perform songs from movie soundtracks for the judges. The panel gives a quick rundown on why each contestant was chosen. Their variety of comments seems to boil down to the fact that the person thinks they can sing but really can’t. It’s at this point that I wonder how successful a one-joke show can be. I also notice that Mcfayden says that the contestants have each been assigned a song from the silver screen. This will come into play when we reveal their dorky song choices.
Rosa-First up to bat for the night is the lovely Rosa. She tells us in her interview that when she hears other famous singers, she feels that her voice is much better. We then see her drinking tea with lemon and standing over a steaming bathtub as she warms up. She says that this competition was made for her and that no one can beat Rosa. She’s probably right.
For her performance, Rosa sings, “Wind Beneath My Wings” from the movie, “Beaches”. Throughout, she sounds like someone would sound if they were pretending they couldn’t sing. She has thankfully abandoned her squatting dance move this time and finishes to the praise of Vitamin C who says she had an excellent performance. Briggs predictably launches into a diatribe about his hatred of chick flicks, Bette Midler, and sandy places in general, but tells Rosa her performance was a delight.
Mario- We see our second contestant preparing for his performance by singing along to his cd player with his headphones on. Just a hint folks. This is the second contestant we have seen do this and it is the equivalent of strapping on a blindfold and then trying to paint a replica of a Picasso. You can’t tell what you are doing. Anyway, Mario disturbingly removes his pants so that he could feel the Tom Cruise vibe from “Risky Business”. He dances around in his tightey-whiteys and I find myself praying that his long shirt doesn’t retreat any further up his birdlike legs. Thankfully, he wears pants in front of the panel of judges.
As the opening refrains from “Old Time Rock and Roll” begin, Mario turns to the camera to flash a toothy grin. Unfortunately, the effect ends up more Norman Bates than Tom Cruise and for the first time, I’m relieved when he begins to sing. That feeling is short-lived as his monotone voice mumbles the lyrics like an Egyptian mummy brought to life. Mario’s dancing consists of Frankenstein side shuffles and stiff, zombie-like arm waving. He also executes a clawing maneuver toward the camera that fits well with the horror movie theme I seem to have adopted just for him. Perhaps he would have been better served doing “Timewarp” in full drag. The judges, of course, love it and congratulate him for becoming the bad boy of the group.
Omar- This show seems to be full of strange editing at times and it shows up again in Omar’s introduction. Not much to speak of in way of a pre-performance interview for Omar. He’s given just a brief comment before they cut to his audition for the panel. His song is “Endless Love” and he actually seems to do slightly better this week. I think that he may have even hit in the ballpark of a note once. The only thing that really bothers me about Omar is that he does a strange eye-rolling thing as he sings that makes me think he’s having a stroke.
Apparently stroke-free, Omar finishes with a shrieking high note. Vitamin C calls the performance “endless” and “special” and Tone Loc says that he wouldn’t trust his woman alone with Omar after that performance. Briggs calls says he was “incandescent” while admitting he isn’t sure what that means.
Jamie- Next we see Jamie warming up in front of her mirror. She is using the motorcycle sound-effect method earlier utilized by Omar. She sings into her hairspray can and employs the favored “headset and cd player” practice technique. She claims her voice is unique and sexy and says she’s been annoyed by the sexist comments made by Briggs during her previous auditions.
As she begins to sing “My Heart Will Go On” from the Titanic, my red flags begin to go up. She’s consistently been a bad singer throughout this competition, but tonight she was ungodly. She throws tempo and melody out the window and slashes her way through the song like a cat clawing its way out of a well. I’m not normally one to cry conspiracy, but she is so much worse, I can’t help but wonder if she’s either being coached to be worse or figured out the real way to become a “Superstar”. Either way, she was horrible.
Tone and Vitamin both praise Jamie for a job well done. Briggs, who listened with his back to Jamie, says that now that her breasts didn’t distract him, he was able to see what all the fuss has been about. He says he’s big enough to say he’s sorry if she’s big enough to accept it. She giggles an acceptance to his tongue-in-cheek apology and bounces off the stage.
Tamara- Trying to infuse some much needed drama into the show, McFayden introduces Tamara by explaining that she beat out two crowd favorites in a “controversial” decision in the previous episode. She sings a flat, nasally interpretation of the classic, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. The judges have a split decision, with Briggs commending her performance and the other two judges telling her it wasn’t quite good enough.
John Michael - The Ritalin poster child is next on the roster for the evening. He claims to have been trained classically in college during his interview. If he’s saying he was a drummer that took one semester of Chorus, I might be inclined to believe him. If he is saying he was a vocal major, all I can say is that I would check into the accreditations for that school, Slick.
“Eye of the Tiger” is John Michael’s assigned song for the evening and he does a rip-roaring, foot-stomping performance worthy of any Dixie Stampede. The judges all immediately recognize that despite his theatrics, his singing is a little too good for him to advance. Not wanting to play around with intimidating plot devices like suspense, the panel quickly hustles him off the stage, obviously sentencing him to Loserville.
Jojo- For some reason, we are subjected to Jojo taking a shower for his interview. To add insult to injury, we also get to see him frolic nude on the bed in a towel that is too small for my comfort. He starts to air-guitar a pillow and kicks his leg out, Whitesnake-style. We learn there is a god in heaven as the squiggly dot man quickly slaps a star across the over-exposed crotch of Jojo. Soon, we see him getting ready in front of a mirror, apparently fully clothed. Just when I think it’s safe to remove the blanket covering my head, he reaches down and rips a pair of Velcro “stripper” pants off in one swift motion. I decide to avoid further shocks by leaving the blanket in place until Jojo’s interview is finished.
Singing, “Footloose” by the movie of the same name, Jojo jumps around the stage and breathlessly gasps out the wrong lyrics. At this point, I’m starting to think that there is a limited amount of ways to say that a contestant can’t sing. He just sounds terrible, period. The judges, of course, pile on the praise and he leaves the stage sporting his trademark wolfish smile.
Nina Diva- If energy alone can ever make Nina’s Superstar dreams come true, I believe she’ll be a real star one day. The high-voltage contestant bops around her hotel room, excitedly telling her stuffed animals and the camera how she’ll reach her goals. Given “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” Nina is unable to do her usual energetic high kicks until halfway through the song, when she throws one in for fun. She becomes the second recipient of a crotch-star for the evening. Judging from the look on Tone Loc’s face, she has apparently forgotten to don underwear for the occasion. Regardless of her possible wardrobe malfunction, she sings just a little too well and the judges are not impressed.
Once again, the eliminations are neither shocking nor suspenseful as we are promised. Nina, Tamara, Omar, and John Michael are cut in a completely unsurprising ceremony. They leave with pledges to keep following their dreams.
My own dreams will be taking me away to sunny Florida next week for a trip to the Magic Kingdom. Never fear, however, as one of our other illustrious FORT writers will take you by the hand and guide you safely through the terror that is Superstar. Until then, keep your pants on, and I’ll be back with you for the finale.
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