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Sing it, sister!

Sing it, sister!


The first installment of Advocate contributor Dave White's weekly recap of who ruled, who stank, and who cried on Fox's current season of American Idol

Finally. The boring-ass auditions are over and we can get to the real show. I tend to skip the William Hung weeks of American Idol. I just can't get down with all that "get a load of this guy who thinks he can sing" stuff. Except for the Crime Twins. They were fun for a while.

The Women

My TiVo subject line reads "Twelve female ho." I know it's middle-school of me, but that makes me laugh. When I hit the "select" button on the remote I get, "Twelve female hopefuls blah blah blah," but I like the first one better.

First up is Mandisa, 29, from Antioch, Tenn., the one Simon called fat. This made Mandisa cry. But much like Jesus did when they called him fat, Mandisa forgave Simon. Now, I'm fat myself so I'm just gonna lay it down here: Mandisa is fat. And if this woman thinks show business is going to be all "we love you, you big beautiful woman," she's got another thing coming and will possibly end up hooked on dolls and married to David Gest--after Da Brat gets done with him. Mandisa sings Heart's "Never" while wearing a Communism-red Valentine's Day sex-teddy and a black skort. She's a yeller, and Paula says, "You broke the record for magnificent." Paula is the best sentence-maker on this show, possibly in the history of television.

Kellie Pickler, 19, from Albemarle, N.C., is shown lying on a leopard-print bedspread talking about her messed-up relationship with her father. That's why she's going to sing a song about making a romantic relationship work with a difficult man--"How Far" by Martina McBride, the most boring female country singer of all time, right after Faith Hill. You can tell a lot about these AI kids from their song choices. But KP is adorable, buttery, and petite, and even though she squats when she sings and looks like a "mean girl," I don't hate her yet. She also says "Pick Pickler!" when Seacrest gets up onstage with her. It didn't work for her student council election banners, but it might work here.

Becky O'Donohue, 25, from Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., has sex hair, tangled and messy. She reminds me of Brittany from America's Next Top Model a couple seasons back, all porny and "here for the party." She is the Womanimal. She sings "Because the Night" like she's going to jump off the stage and begin gnawing on someone's leg. That would be appropriate for a Womanimal, transformed by the moon into a feral singing lady werewolf. Then it doesn't happen. None of my fondest wishes ever come true. Paula tells her she had some "notes off." One of these girls has to be a dyke, right? Just statistically speaking? I'd love it if it were Becky. I'm bad at lezdar, though, so I'm probably wrong.

Ayla Brown, 17, from Wrentham, Mass., is nine feet tall, gorgeous, and a basketball jock/prom queen/senator's daughter, or some infuriating combination like that. She's a dullard, of course--thank God--and decides to tackle "Reflection," a song sung by Christina Aguilera on the Mulan soundtrack. Mulan is one of Ayla's favorite movies. She probably owned it on Disney DVD in elementary school and watched it 4,000 times. She explains why Mulan is her role model: "Mulan had to overcome so many hardships being the only woman in the army." Oh, you mean all those Cartoon Land hardships? The ones that never happened? Paula tells Ayla she made the song her own, which is Paula's way of saying, "In lieu of a stronger prescription medication, which I am no longer allowed to have, you might be successful in putting me to sleep each night with your very average singing. Let's discuss putting you on the payroll."

Paris Bennett (pictured), 17, from Fayetteville, Ga., is my new favorite lady. First of all, she's so cute I want to eat her face. Plus she's got incredible Stacy Lattisaw '79 hair, a raspy squeak of a speaking voice, makes crazy "can you believe this shit?" faces when she knocks "Midnight Train to Georgia" out of the park, bounces around a lot just like Fantasia did, and just seems SO DAMN HAPPY TO BE ALIVE that I am now her robot servant boy. She wins. If she doesn't win, I will go outside and start fires in my neighborhood.

Stevie Scott, 19, from Fair Oaks, Calif., likes to rub her opera training in everyone's face. Yeah, big whoop, Sarah Brightman, thanks for the awesome limp-along death march of a Josh Groban song you just mewled for all of us. Where can I find a screwdriver to stab myself in the ears? I hate all music forever now. Paula comes to Stevie's defense when Simon calls her performance a "complete and utter mess," giving Simon that pained "why do you have be so mean, EMILIO?" face.

Brenna Gethers, 25, from "money-earnin' Mt. Vernon," N.Y., is this year's Kimberly Caldwell. If you watch AI in the same obsessive manner in which I watch AI, then you remember Kimberly C. as the blond aggressive camera hog to end all blond aggressive camera hogs. Brenna is very "Tits Up!" at all times and super into herself. I don't remember anything about her song, just her pouting, vogueing, and tongue-flicking at--ew, gross--Simon. I feel sexually harassed by her and worry that she exists in the same city that I'm in right now. When the Pussycat Dolls start thinking they're all talented enough to have solo careers, she could be first in line to replace one of them.

Heather Cox, 22, from Jonesville, N.C., is very, very nice. And sucky. So is Melissa McGhee, 21, from Tampa, Fla., who chooses--ACK--a Faith Hill song after announcing that it was going to be the moment that "America will finally see just who I really am." The revelation, in song, of Melissa's true inner self inspires me to go to the kitchen in search of a snack, but a certain domestic partner of mine has already polished off the last of the Karamel Sutra Ben & Jerry's. "You made it your own," says Paula [see translation above], who by the way is looking rad tonight with teased-up June Carter hair.

Lisa Tucker, 16, from Anaheim, Calif., goes for Jennifer Holliday's "I Am Changing." I get the feeling this kid is already "in the biz" and has probably sung in a few McDonald's ads or something. She has fresh-faced-zero-personality-very-very-very-good-singer vibrations coming out of every pore like too much Mary-Kate and Ashley perfume. Also that old-school vibrato that shouts Broadway and makes me want to go listen to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to cleanse my palette.

Kinnik Sky, 28, from Duluth, Ga., eases her way into "Get Here" by Oleta Adams. Kinnik, however, ain't gonna get there if she keeps bringing the "fancy lady at the cabaret in an elegant gown and sparkling diamante tiara" moments. Ask LaToya London how well it worked for her.

And finally, Katharine McPhee, 21, from Sherman Oaks, Calif., makes an old Barbra Streisand song--she says, anyway; I've never heard it before--into something resembling a blues number. Well, blues via a 21-year-old white-girl graduate of Ridgemont High. Anyway, she's cute and should be allowed to stick around. She's slightly less boring than almost all of these other young women.

The Men

Patrick Hall, 27, from Gravette, Ark., is first up here. He has a pretty voice that he decides to abandon in favor of trying to growl out Melissa Etheridge's "Come to My Window." He fails as a lesbian blues-rocker but has the support of two very interesting friends in the audience: a dapper senior gentleman who appears to be the basis for Scott Thompson's Buddy Cole character and a woman with wacky Hindenburg-size collagen lips. I want Patrick to sing all night so I can keep looking at these friends.

David Radford, 17, from Crystal Lake, Ill., is a...excuse me while I barf this word up...crooner. Here is my letter to all you kids who bought a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy CD once and decided that you were going to do that for the rest of your life:

Dear Kids,

Shut up.


Dave White

This boy's pelvis has Down syndrome. He moves like Jet Screamer and Liza Minnelli all at once while burping out Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." I replay it on TiVo three times in a row just to make sure I saw it all correctly and wasn't imagining the mind-bending insanity. Paula loves him.

Unlike the first two male singers tonight, who both read supergay to me--and no, that's not the same thing as "outing" someone--Bucky Covington, 28, from Rockingham, N.C., kicks it like the kind of young man who's already been on Ricky Lake a few times over his baby-mama drama, only to be surprised by a mystery lady guest who informs the crowd that he's been responsible for two of her three abortions. Naturally, he chooses a Lynyrd Skynyrd song and attacks it like Killdozer. I like him because he's ratty.

Will Makar, 16, from the Woodlands, Texas, in a too-big jacket from the boys' section of Brooks Brothers, spaz-dances to "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5. He's what would happen if Steve Guttenberg and Fred Savage had a baby. He yells the song and stinks up the place, but he's a-dork-able. I feel perverted for writing that. But whatever.

Jose "Sway" Penala, 28, is from South San Francisco, Calif. I never knew there was a different city called South San Francisco. Is this just a way of saying, "I'm not a homo," or is it a real place? Someone tell me, because I'm too lazy to go look it up. Sway likes pimpy Babydaddy hats and velveteen jackets. Sway also likes to screech his way through Earth, Wind & Fire songs. He is not an easy lover. He sets off car alarms.

Chris Daughtry, 26, from McLeansville, N.C., is the married one with the stenciled-on sideburns, bald head, and wallet chain. He's screamy and hot(ish), and I bet he has a bar-code tattoo on the back of his neck. But then he sings "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi, only if Bon Jovi were actually Nickelback. He waves the mike stand like Bo Bice and does his best to rock. Why does anyone try this on AI? This show is the opposite of rock. Go home and be in your band. Quit trying to shoehorn yourself into this sanded-down version of rock music. Would Joey Ramone humiliate himself this way? No, he would not.

Kevin Covais, 16, from Levittown, N.Y., is a DUDE. He's the dork in your school everyone likes who has the cast-iron ones to just go up to the prettiest girl in school and ask her out on a date. And when she rejects him everyone takes his side. Oh, and he openly declares Brian McKnight to be his favorite singer. You're 16 and you LISTEN TO BRIAN MCKNIGHT?! This is the gutsiest statement to come out of a human being's mouth on live national television since "Have you no sense of decency?" Then he sings, panic-stricken and pinched, but it doesn't matter. Everyone loves him. All the girls line up to pinch his cheeks afterward.

Gedeon McKinney, 17, from Memphis, Tenn., is going to sing "Shout." But before he sings "Shout," he is going to read to you from a teleprompter like he's giving a book report.


" 'Shout' was a very big hit in the late '50s and early '60s, and it is a song that is still rolling and it is still putting people right up on their feet as soon as they hear it. It is not a song that I can just sing but I can also really, really perform."

Then he sings "Shout," which was a very big hit in the late '50s and early '60s. Then he grins like a maniac. Simon tells Gedeon that his smile is bothersome. Simon is right.

Elliott Yamin, 27, of Richmond, Va., stumbled in from the set of Gummo to surprise everyone with a sweetly enthusiastic, not-out-of-tune rendition of Stevie Wonder's "If You Really Love Me." So far he's my favorite guy. But I also have a thing for jacked-up teeth and jug ears. No, seriously, I actually do.

Bobby Bennett, 19, of Denver, is most likely not drunk, but he barks out Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" (for his grandmother, by the way, always a bad idea) like Jackie Gleason at the Tropicana. He seems to think that Barry Manilow is also his personal friend and talks about Barry fondly after the song is over, assuming out loud that Barry himself would have enjoyed his performance. Simon lays into him, but Paula rushes to Bobby's defense, prompting a weird finger-wagging moment from Bobby to Paula that says, "Oh, yes, you're right about my excellence, Paula. You truly understand me."

Ace Young and his groin, both age 25, from Denver, sing George Michael's "Father Figure." Ace has a pleading voice and a burn in his eyes like he has every hot woman in the world, and maybe David Geffen too, waiting for him backstage, his kittenish David Cassidy "Love Me" face honed from watching hours of Partridge Family reruns on TV Land. He is going to go very far. I just wish he wouldn't allow the stylists to half-tuck in his T-shirt. That look is already as stupid as the unbuttoned-striped-shirt-over-T-shirt look.

Taylor Hicks, 29, from Birmingham, Ala., is like what happens when you get cast as the grandfather in the high school play and they throw white powder on your hair. His catalog of Ray Charles-swiped affectations throws me into a homicidal rage. When he sings, he tenses up in a calcium-deficiency hunch, and after mush-mouthing Elton John's "Levon" into a pulpy glop he yells "Soul Patrol!" What does that even mean? Is this some secret religious-cult code word? But at least he's not boring.

And finally, the third episode: what I like to call the "Chopped and Screwed" hour:

All 24 of them make like Kidz Bop with a cover of the Eagles hit "Take It Easy." Have you ever heard the Langley Schools Music Project? It's a bunch of 1970s-era Canadian elementary school kids doing pop songs with their music teacher. Their version of "Desperado" will bring real tears to your eyes. It doesn't sound much like this at all.

Anyway, first out the door are the Womanimal, Opera Girl, Jackie Gleason (who blames his loss on his grandmother--nice), and the Melissa Etheridge guy with the freaky friends in the audience. Damn. I wanted to see more of those friends. I've already forgotten their names.

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Dave White