Songs in the Key of Whatever

Week 4 of Advocate contributor Dave White’s American Idol recap: Idol’s dullest week this season makes our man in the armchair reach for his remote

BY Dave White

March 17 2006 1:00 AM ET

I interrupted
myself from watching Silver Jews on MTV2’s
Subterranean for this?

It’s
Stevie Wonder night on AI, which inevitably means
some fool’s going to be singing “I Just
Called to Say I Love You” or “Part Time
Lover.” It’s an important tradition on this
show that at least one or two contestants select the
worst possible song available from that week’s
theme.

The “Who
the Hell Is Stevie Wonder” reel plays to teach all
the middle-schoolers watching about this old dude
whose best music-making years are decades behind him.
I still find it hard to believe that the man who wrote
such incredible songs in the ’60s and ’70s
could turn to complete mush by the ’80s. And
then just stay that way for the next 20+ years. If you
look on Wikipedia for the expression “resting on
one’s laurels” it barfs up a picture of
Stevie Wonder. “Stevie’s music is just
as influential today,” Seacrest announces, as the
reel shows us Mr. Wonder, version 2006, in a big brown
track suit, looking like a giant roast beef. And even
though Seacrest is lying through his teeth, Stevie’s
old stuff is still so good that he gets a pass for all the
rest of his crap.

And speaking of
crap, here’s Ace attempting “Do I Do,”
but not before we see his personality reel where he
weeps over meeting Stevie. When Ace cries, his
fertilizer-rich tears hit the dirt and sexy little flowers
begin to bloom, making the path he walks on fragrant and
beautiful. When Ace chases after “Do I
Do,” however, and fails to catch it, he tramples
on those flower and they die screaming. When I was a kid I
saw John Davidson (he’s another old guy, famous
for I have no idea what) on Johnny Carson singing
“Staying Alive.” Ace’s performance
reminds me of that. Then he finishes the song and the
crowd goes ballistic with sexual hysteria—they
can see the Ace-Groin that the camera is studiously
avoiding—and then there’s a shot of the
audience, and then the judges, and then finally
Ace. After what must be a solid five seconds, Ace is
still holding his face in that seducto-stare
he’s perfected. It gets more and more unnerving
every week.

Kellie Pickler is
up next. “I’m not that familiar with Stevie
Wonder’s music,” she says. Of course
she’s not. That’s because she’s never
heard an oldies station—or any other radio
station, for that matter. She’s never seen a
radio in her life, period. She’s never been in an
elevator or a supermarket or a Gap or a movie theater
where music played. Not once. She didn’t even
know people sang things called “songs” until a
few months ago when she was led blindfolded to the
Idol audition by her grandpappy. So naturally,
since all Stevie Wonder songs are new to her and weigh
the same, she’s chosen one of the non-hits that
nobody knows, “Blame It on the Sun.” She
bores it to death, nervously winking at whoever it is
in the audience who’s been force-feeding her all that
yucky spinach salad and sal-mon since she arrived in
Hollywood. You just know that her little joke is that
she calls it HollyWEIRD and she probably thinks she
made it up all by herself. How is it that two weeks ago I
had such fond affection for this girl, and now I want
someone to make her STFU? The judges tell her she blew
it and she begs for forgiveness: “I’m
sorry!” And for a second I actually almost do feel
sorry for her.

I finally agree
with my domestic partner: Elliott Yamin is Captain
Caveman. But I don’t care. He’s so good it
hurts. I suppose I should say Crying Caveman, though,
because he blubbers over meeting Stevie too, just like
Ace. The difference is, I believe it from Elliott. He sings
“Knocks Me Off My Feet” and it’s
technically precise, like he’s been practicing
the life out of it. But that’s just it. He practiced
the life out of it. Come back next week, Captain
Caveman, and do better for me, your fan.

Tags: World

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