See you next

See you next

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

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.

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

“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

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

Paula starts to
agree with him, and you can see McPhee getting that I
can’t believe you’re criticizing me

look on her face. An audience member shouts out that
McPhee is incredible. Paula shoots back, peeved,
“Yes, she is incredible.”

McPhee: “You guys are hard on me the last
couple weeks.”

Randy: “Well, it’s song

McPhee: “I didn’t pick it.”
Which is true, she didn’t. The audience
applauds and cheers the sass.

Seacrest accuses
Randy of being disrespectful to Davis, and a melee
ensues. Paula encourages McPhee to stick her fingers in her
ears. This is the stuff that makes me happy.

Davis, in his
chat with Hicks, performs a dramatic reading of Bruce
Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,”
thumping his own chest when he says, “Man,
I’m just tired and bored with myself.” You can
see how happy he is to be reciting the words for
Hicks, holding the sheet in his hand like, Did you
know you can get any song lyrics you want off the
Internet? They call it Googling! It’s a
miracle, this modern world!
I hope that when
Hicks does the song the Idol people have done their jobs
properly and planted Courtney Cox in the front row for
him to pull onstage and dance with.

Hicks comes out
and does all the moves you’ve come to know and love
from him this season. The Hunch, the Crouch, the
Knee-knock, the Side-tilt, the
Side-tilt–Back-arch Combo, the Grimace, the
Face-scrunch, the “Oh, shit, I have to hit my
mark over on the other side of the stage, and I’m
very sorry, camera guy, but I’m about to mow you
down” Run. But it’s when he gets to the
line about “This gun’s for hire” when
he does my very favorite thing of the night.
It’s a six-part move, clearly rehearsed in
front of a mirror like John Hinckley as Travis Bickle
practicing to defend Jodie Foster.

1. He points his
imaginary gun at the camera. 2. He cocks it.
3. He shoots. 4. He raises it back up to his
mouth and doesn’t exactly blow on it because,
well, there’s just no time what with all the singing
he’s got to get done. 5. He tries to
put it back into his imaginary holster and misses.
6. He finds the imaginary holster and finally re-secures his
imaginary gun.

This is even
better than when he sparred with the mic stand a few weeks
ago. There actually was a mic stand to fight with; now
he’s battling an unseen prop that exists only
in his mind.

Then he’s
off the stage, down in the audience, dragging Paula up onto
the Taylor Hicks monkey-dancing platform for a little
shimmy-shake. Paula misses her days dancing with MC
Skat Kat, so this is a happy moment for her.
It’s also a happy moment for heterosexual white
males, the ones who work boring jobs and live in the
suburbs and have got married and a little chunky and
have stopped having sex with their wives. Hicks is
their id. They can live vicariously through him. They want
to shoot their gun too and Hicks is here to do it for
them. He finishes the song with the mystical-waiter
hand, holding it out to the camera, palm up, serving
the country. Courtney Cox is nowhere to be found, sadly.
Even Leeza Gibbons doesn’t leap up for her
turn. The judges love it, especially Paula, who says
she was worried about the lack of double-stick tape on
her dress. Hicks shouts “Soul Patrol” some
more. I don’t care. I’ve finally learned
how to tune it out.

And now, in honor
of the truncated versions of songs being performed on
this week’s show, I give you speed recaps of the next
six numbers:

1. Elliott:
“What You Won’t Do For Love”
Highlight: Riunite on ice–unplanned pregnancy
vibe Lowlight: Now you know what Elliott sounds
like when he gets all sharp

2. McPhee:
“Over The Rainbow” Highlight:
Camera making sweet love to her succulent babeness as she
practically lies down on the stage. I imagine them needing a
giant spatula to separate her from it when the song is
over. Lowlight: Long, unfamiliar introduction
that I’ve never heard before in my life. I
assume this makes me a failure at homosexuality. Whatever.

3. Hicks:
“You Are So Beautiful” Highlight:
The part where he goes, “Whoo-o-o, hoo-o-o- hoo-o-o-
hoo-o-o-oo!” I never knew he could make his
voice go up that high. Lowlight: I was
hoping he’d stop in mid song and just speak one of
the lyrics all seriously, like Sam the Eagle from
The Muppet Show did with “In the
Ghetto” last week, and he didn’t. I’m

Commercial Time:
A trailer for the new Sandra Bullock–Keanu Reeves
movie, The Lake House. It’s about a
that deserved all-caps, don’t you?

Okay more speed

4. Elliott:
“I Believe To My Soul” Highlight:
He name-checks himself. It’s a Ray Charles song where
Ray name-checked himself too. So Elliott just changes
the lyrics from “You know my name is
Ray” to “You know my name is Elliott
Yamin.” My name is Dave White and I love this
shit. Lowlight: It’s one of those
“challenging” songs. Goodbye Elliott.
You’re going home tomorrow.

5. McPhee:
“I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the
Blues” Highlight: Anything that reminds me
of Kathie Lee Gifford hosting Name That Tune
pretty much makes my night. Also, watching the judges diss
her and seeing her You’re not loving me enough
face is pretty good too. I never get tired of that
bratty Valley Girl thing. Lowlight: Twenty years
from now she’ll be in a revival of The Drowsy Chaperone. 

6. Hicks:
“Try a Little Tenderness”
Highlight: Advanced gork aerobics. Plenty of hot-foot
jumping, self-hugging, and freakish
“Yow” shouts. I think the alien is going to
pop out of his stomach by the end of the song. The judges
love it, and Simon says, “See you next
Tuesday.” Lowlight: I had my heart set on
him doing “Up Where We Belong” and
singing both the male and female parts, dressed half as a
man and half as a woman and turning to that profile
depending on which part he was singing. It was just
this little fantasy I had. But nothing I wish for ever

Chopped and Screwed Night 

Oh, good,
it’s an hour long—to cut one of three people.
TiVo is about to fast-forward through: - Ace and Pickler sitting together in the
audience, not being an item - Tons of
footage from last night’s performances, and who
cares? - A commercial for McDonalds’ new
Asian salad featuring a free McYoga DVD - A
commercial for Verizon featuring Nelly Furtado. The hipness
never stops over at Verizon.

Oh, crap,
it’s the worst, most unsettling Ford commercial of
the season. All three Idols are in old-age makeup, and
they’re rapping to “Young At
Heart.” But McPhee is on a Rascal. I’ve always
wanted one of those. Elliott sounds a little like Beck
when he raps; McPhee sounds like Barbra Streisand when
she raps. And Hicks just sounds embarrassed when he has to
do his. And they make him be shirtless in a hot tub with two
elderly women. He can’t be digging that much
either. But at least now that Daughtry is gone he gets
to drive the car for once. 

Back to fast
forwarding through:

- Hugh Jackman
and Rebecca Romijn meeting the Idols, plugging their new
X-Men movie, and giving all three of them bootleg
copies of the DVD. I’m going to get one for
myself next weekend when I go to Chinatown for dim
sum. - Blah-blah-blah, the Idols go back to their
hometowns. Each one goes on a radio show like Rick
& Bubba in the Morning;
Hicks does a
weather forecast (“Your Taylor-made
forecast!”), some horny Sherman Oaks, Calif.,
high-school boy gropes McPhee, Elliott returns to his old
pharmacy job for a minute to put in his notice, Hicks meets
the governor of Alabama and the governor’s
wife, who is dressed like a giant pink egg.

Then they all
sing encores of songs they’ve done earlier in the
season. Hicks revisits “Taking it to the
Streets” and drags Elliott and McPhee out on
stage to dance with him. They should feel lucky because
there’s about a 10-mile single-file line of
human beings waiting to monkey-dance with Hicks now.
McPhee sings…uh…I forgot to write it
down…who cares what she sings, really? The best
part is afterward when Seacrest asks her to talk about
how important her family has been to her during the
competition. Her answer: “I don’t ever talk to
them that much.” Finally Elliott sings
“Moody’s Mood for Love,” which may be
the most difficult song ever written. His mom cries.
Paula cries.

Davis comes back
out with a roll call of former Idols and their record

Kelly: 13
million; 2 Grammy wins Ruben: 2 million
Clay: 3 million Fantasia: 2 million; 4 Grammy
nominations Bo: “on his way to” 1
million Carrie: 3 million The combined
sales of Justin Guarini and Diana DeGarmo: 372

And then Elliott
gets shown the door. Apparently it was very close, they
say. Everyone cries except Elliott, who knew he was leaving.
When learning that his baby is safe, McPhee’s
dad looks like he wants to punch something. See you
next Tuesday.

Tags: World, World