See you next Tuesday

Simon finally applauds Taylor Hicks, and Elliott takes his Donny Hathaway CD collection home.

BY Dave White

May 19 2006 12:00 AM ET

It’s the
penultimate Idol. That means “next to
last” for all you people who aren’t
professional writers like me. It also means that this
week is the last time you have to hear that shitty
“Bad Day” song after they send the next
person packing. Next week it’ll be all confetti and
explosions and people being shot out of cannons.
There’ll be no time to weep for the
second-placer.

Seacrest is
beardish again. It really doesn’t look bad on him at
all. It softens up all those right angles. I’m
a fan. He says, “This is where it gets serious,
America.” Like almost as serious as our decimated
privacy rights and the fact that our awful president
wants to invade Iran. That serious. Cut to Roseanne in
the audience with her son—the son with
Roseanne’s old nose still on his face. She’d
better get that kid to a surgeon soon or she’ll
never be happy with his appearance.

Seacrest
introduces an incredibly lengthy clip reel about
tonight’s guest, music mogul Clive Davis. First
I watch the clip reel, where we learn that Davis
invented music and created the following artists by
scooping up little balls of clay from the still-cooling
Earth and molding them into pop stars: Janis Joplin,
Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears, Billy Joel, Earth Wind
and Fire, Santana, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith (but not
the puppet that’s sitting in the shot next to Steven
Tyler), Barry Manilow, Patti Smith, Kenny G, Dionne
Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Alicia
Keys, Maroon 5, Luther Vandross, Annie Lennox, Rod
Stewart, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews, Christina Aguilera,
Britney Spears, Pink, Outkast, R. Kelly, Justin
Timberlake, Ciara, Chris Brown, and Usher. I pause the
TiVo and go to my copy of Hit Men, the book
about how evil the music industry is, and look up Clive
Davis in the back. All I can get from it is that he
was in trouble for tax evasion once and that
he’s got a big ego and did a lot of talent-roster
raiding. But whatever. That just makes him smart. Also
rich. So rich, in fact, that he can dress in superugly
clothes, like the royal-blue suede tunic thing
he’s got on, while he talks to Elliott. Davis has
chosen the crappy Journey song “Open
Arms” for Captain Caveman to sing tonight. Everyone
knows that Elliott is the hip-hop Hebrew. He’s smooth
R&B–quiet storm man 24/7, but Davis wants
him to do a rock power ballad. In the music industry
this move is called, “Get this kid out of here, he
bothers me.”

Elliott sings
approximately 27 seconds of “Open Arms” and
then it’s done. Seriously, I hate these
abbreviated versions of songs. I’m as
short-attention-span as anyone else in this great land of
ours, but I want to hear an entire song, even if
it’s a crappy Journey song I’ve always
hated. Good thing Leeza Gibbons likes it; she’s
applauding wildly. Randy likes it too. He looks
wet-eyed, as though he’s been weeping.
Choked-up Randy says that the song holds a special place in
his heart. “I was in Journey for a while. One
of the greatest bands ever.” This is
true—that Randy was in Journey for a while, that is.
The “greatest band ever” line is
bullshit.

Davis
“gifts” McPhee with the lamest R. Kelly song
in existence, “I Believe I Can Fly.”
It’s the love theme from Space Jam, by the
way, a movie R. Kelly probably used as bait to attract his
sexual conquests. Now, I own the latest R. Kelly CD
because I really wanted as much “Trapped in the
Closet” in my life as I could get, and I know for a
fact that there are cooler songs from his catalog.
“Sex in the Kitchen,” for one, which is
about doing it on the counter “near the buttered
rolls.” Or Davis could have gone back a few years and
selected “Feelin’ on Yo’
Booty” for McPhee. But no; my entertainment is, it
seems, not important to Davis. He tells McPhee
something about what he wants to do with her
“when we record together.” I mentally add,
after dinner, if you know what I mean,
because you just know that’s what he’s
thinking.

As McPhee
galumphs her way through the boring number, she looks
heavenward a few times to her pal God, silently begging for
a spot in the final. She’s got some hard notes
to hit in this one and accomplishes the task
efficiently, with just a touch of bratty shrieking at the
end. The judges aren’t totally pleased. Randy
says, “These kind of songs, you want to be that
singer, but you’re not there yet.” I want him
to say, “Look, I was in R. Kelly for a
while…”

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