Songs in the Key
of Whatever

Songs in the Key
            of Whatever

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

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

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.

Mandisa hates it
when she can’t yell, so you know she’s kind of
freaking out over the quiet parts of
“Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing.”
It’s soft/loud/soft/loud, like when someone
waves their hand over their face and changes their
expression from happy to sad, back and forth, like
that’s their big magic trick. Mandisa puts on the sad
face when she’s singing quietly because, you
know, it’s just not fair that she can’t huff
and puff and blow the studio down every single second of her
life. The judges are mixed on her performance. But
I’m not.

Commercial time:
Jessica Simpson is singing about pizza. Nick loved to
order pizza with Jess. That was one of their special things.
So this is one of her ways of rubbing his nose in the
bittersweet memories. “These bites were made
for poppin’,” she sings. It’s some
pizza with a crust made of cheese bits that you break
off and pop into your mouth. I think. Why does pizza
have to be this complicated? And why is Jessica Simpson
allowed to mangle Nancy Sinatra songs in the process of
marketing it?

We’re back
and it’s Bucky’s turn. Simon thinks
Bucky’s hair looks like Jessica
Simpson’s tonight. Is that comment a bit of corporate
synergy or just a coincidence? In any case,
Simon’s off the mark because Bucky actually
looks like Lisa Whelchel. He sings
“Superstition” and, like Pickler, he has
no idea what he’s singing. I’m sorry, did I
say singing? I mean croaking. But Bucky’s
secret weapon is that when he can’t sing
something, he just straddles the stage, spreading his legs
wider and wider like he’s going to gallop away
on the magic. He sucks big moose tonight. After
Simon’s comment, Seacrest comes along to fag it up a
bit with a joke about hair extensions.

Let’s talk about the four types of gay.
There’s only one type of lesbian. But there are
four types of gay.

Type 1 Gay: You
live in the 1920s, and you are totally happy.

Type 2 Gay: You
do something really dorky and lame. For example,
let’s say you like to play golf. And golfing is
stupid. So that’s when someone says to you,
“Man, golfing is so gay.” And you get all

Type 3 Gay: You
are probably heterosexual, but you’ve been beaten
down by the lady-fication of the culture. Now you
shave your pubes and wear those stripey shirts and
drink vodka with cranberry juice.

Type 4 Gay: You
are a guy who has anal sex with other guys, pretty much

Ryan Seacrest is
Type 3 Gay. Also usually Type 2.

OK, now back to
the singing…

Melissa McGhee is
seen messing up the lyrics while practicing her song,
“Lately,” with Mr. Wonder. She goes in to hug
him and apologize. Stevie gets all J. Lo on her and
goes, “Don’t hug me!” I have to
eight-second-repeat this on TiVo many times to maximize the
entertainment value of the moment. But wait, it gets
better. Then she says, “Watch out, America.
Here comes Melissa in a dress.” Because America
didn’t have anything else on its mind besides
the totally burning issue of “When,
when, will Melissa McGhee trade in her tight low-rise
pants for a more feminine outfit?” Maybe
instead of spending your time trying to decide between
pants and a skirt you could have been memorizing the song
lyrics, honey. Because then she comes out on the stage and

“I have
many, many wishes [which is an OK revamp of the lyrics
because the original is “I’m a man of
many wishes” and it’s CLEAR right now that
this is a dress-wearing woman we have in front of

“I hope my

And then she goes
on, fluttering an eyelid, knowing she’s blown it.

And not 30
seconds later she not only does it AGAIN but she sings the
exact same made-up mush-word, leading up to the
song’s final lyric—“this time
could be goodbye.”

Yes, it could be.

Paula says,
“There’s something very soothing” about
Melissa’s singing. Like Klonopin, Paula?

More commercials:
Oh, hey look, I know that dude in the new Got Milk? ad.
That’s awesome. He’s the taller alien on the
right. His name’s Jack. Did you see the movie
Girls Will Be Girls? He was Evie Harris, the
boozy has-been woman. He also played Renée
Zellweger’s male secretary in that ’60s
movie she did with Ewan McGregor. I forget the name.


Lisa Tucker
unpacks her Aaliyah-Goes-Broadway suitcase for
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” Wow, her
hair has grown about a foot since last week. That
crazy puberty. She’s fine. Doesn’t knock me
over. Mandisa would have had a blast with this one.
All the judges are into Lisa for some reason, but I
think she’s totally dull.

We have a winner!
Kevin Covais sings “Part Time Lover”! And
he’s got on crazy blush too. And I think they
did his brows. But he sings through the Cover Girl,
doing a jerky shuffle-walk dance, anticipating the other 14
members of Madness to join him onstage for it, I guess. Part
of me wants to get on board the whole thing and another part of me
wants to reach through the screen and shake him and go,
“Dude, they’re LAUGHING at you!”
OK, I’ll vote for him. Let the boy have fun.
Randy is shocked by K.C.’s appearance, though.
“You’re wearing makeup!” he
shouts. Uh…SO ARE YOU, RANDY! DAWG! Then Paula
praises K.C. for staying in tune and staying in time
with the song. And that’s all you need to do
when you’re Kevin Covais.

Katherine McPhee
is the first person to knock one out of the park
tonight. She sings “Until You Come Back to Me”
She reminds me of Lynda Carter, who also put out a
record once, I think, and the judges line up to kiss
her ass. Katherine’s, not Lynda Carter’s, who
is not here tonight that I know of. Lance Bass is,
though. Seacrest tells Katherine this after she sings.
Katherine seems unfazed by that information and says
that people have been very nice to her this week.

And then the
weirdest thing ever happens. Seacrest says something
that’s truly funny: “The more famous you
get, the nicer people are. They’re your true
friends.” He grins when he says this. I have to stop
disliking him for about 10 seconds after that, which
is difficult and makes me sort of dizzy.

They fixed Taylor
Hicks’s hair and put him in some supertight pants. Am
I actually looking at Taylor Hicks’s package?
Because I don’t want to do that. It
hurts to witness things. He sings “Living for the
City” and herks himself around like a woodsman
figure in a Black Forest cuckoo clock. He’s
heavily made-up, mannered, and mental, careening out of
control, the voltage shocking his 2,000 parts, everything
flailing. But at least he’s not howling
“Whoo-oo-oo” and “Hey” after
every verse.

Dear Paris
Bennett, You, dear, are my very favorite, and I
am absolutely crushing on the pink whatever-it-is
you’re wearing tonight. But I have to tell you that
it is TOTAL CHEATING to keep singing after the song is
over. Just because you’re adorable
doesn’t mean you get to milk it. You sang
wonderfully. You don’t need to remind people of
it 10 seconds postsong. And then again. Now, behave

Dave, Who Is Your Biggest Fan

Chris Daughtry
makes three men in too much makeup tonight. All I can
think of when he sings “Higher Ground” is
“You…are to become…GEISHA!”

On to Chopped
& Screwed night…

First we have to
listen to Stevie sing a shitty song from his new album,
a song that makes “Part Time Lover” palatable.
I know, right? If you didn’t see the episode,
then count it as a bullet missed, and put it in your
gratitude journal.

Bottom 3 = Ace,
Melissa, and Lisa. Ace is safe, and then Melissa gets the
heave-ho. Nice one, Lisa—don’t give her the
consolation hug or anything. Dang.

Now that
we’re down to the Top 12, it’s time for each
discarded person to enjoy their very own
“You’re Dead” reel. This is the clip
montage where they show you the axed
contestant’s “journey” from audition to
bittersweet goodbye. It’s like watching the ending of
Philadelphia every week, only with singing,
because then it’s time for the Humiliation
Song! TiVo cuts it off mid McGhee, though. The evil Fox
network is trying to force me to watch The Loop. 

Tags: World, World