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Country crock

Country crock


Kenny Rogers tries to scare up sales for his new CD by coaching on AI and just scares America in the process

First things first. Seacrest has stopped shaving. This comes hot on the heels of his other incredibly newsworthy event of the week, being photographed canoodling with Teri Hatcher. And it's been a while since I set up the Types of Gay paradigm so I think it's time to refresh your memory:

Type 1 Gay: You live in the 1920s and you're cheerful. Type 2 Gay: You are something stupid (golf, a cap covered in political buttons, most folk music). Type 3 Gay: You're a man who dates women but you still get manicures and your eyebrows shaped. Type 4 Gay: You're not even reading this because you're at the bathhouse on a weekday morning.

Dating a female cast member of Desperate Housewives = Type 2 and Type 3. Possibly Type 4.

But it's the facial hair that's really got me curious. It simultaneously makes him look fatter (something he could stand to be), more masculine (ditto) and, ironically, also more Type 4.

Clarity comes with this week's music legend-coach: Kenny Rogers, the King Daddy Bear of '80s smoove country-politan songs like "Lady" and "Islands in the Stream." Maybe Seacrest is getting hirsute to win Kenny's favor, a bid to become his cub if the Hatcher romance doesn't fly.

Then we see new improved 2006 Kenny. Why can't old people just get old anymore? Seriously, why? Wrinkles are not a moral failing. And it's supergross and disturbing when people go off and have tons of mutilation procedures on their faces. Gone is the widow's peak/receding hairline/poofy Kenny hair of old. Now he's bedhead-y and tousled, like the Abominable Snowman on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. And the face...there's just no good reason for this sort of thing.

On to the sangin'...

Taylor Hicks meets Kenny and manages to restrain himself from jumping into the chorus of "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town." In fact, Taylor seems downright muzzled this week. Is he sick? Depressed? Adrift in the country genre? Confused by Kenny's new face? And it doesn't help that Kenny decides to bust Mr. Soul Patrol's balls right on camera and tell America that Hicks's approach to the song "felt weak." And that's before the poor gork even starts singing. Things don't improve when he does, though. They toss a Hobbit fiddle player on the stage to spice things up, but it feels like desperation, nowhere near the excitement level of the saxophonist from a couple weeks ago. I never thought I'd say this, but GIVE ME BACK SPAZZY TAYLOR HICKS, PLEASE. I get enough boredom with McPhee.

Commercial break: The new X-Men movie is coming soon, and Ian McKellen's character talks about being a mutant and how people want to "cure" him. Does that mean Mandisa is in the movie? This commercial makes it look like the gayest installment yet, so naturally the gay director of the first two cut a trail. This one comes courtesy of barfy hack director Brett Ratner. Can't wait.

Speaking of Mandisa, she's up next, singing "Any Man of Mine." According to the few lyrics I could understand coming from her breathless, babbling mouth, any man of Mandisa's is going to tell her that the dress she's too big for looks sexy on her anyway. What would Trinny and Susannah of What Not to Wear say about that sort of thing? This song has 10,000 words in it, and Mandisa is huffing and puffing to get them all out before the band stops playing. If I were a cynic, I might be inclined to think that country week was a ploy to get rid of her because she's way out of her element here. Meanwhile, Kenny has nothing bad to say about Mandisa. You just know she got him in a headlock and "witnessed" to him at some point during the week. That's what conservative evangelicals call it when they badger people about Jesus.

Elliott's turn, but not before Simon and Seacrest get into it about Seacrest's refusal to shave. Or do they? Simon makes a crack about Desperate Housewives and tells the scruffy host to "lose the beard." Suddenly it's kind of up in the air as to what's being discussed. Now, I know that other viewers may find their endless gay-baiting tedious. But I think it's funny. And Simon's one up on his pal this week.

Finally, Elliott's bangs situation is being addressed. They're more texture-y this week. I can't take credit for this. Nor can I help the fact that he's not going to win this competition. He's got no idea what to do onstage beyond hitting all the notes. If this were strictly about singing, he'd win right now. But it ain't. It's about cuteness and poise and having a compelling off-camera story that's better than "I was a weak and sickly child." It's also about not looking like a rabbit soon to be ground into the pavement by an oncoming truck while singing a Garth Brooks song. Kenny encourages Elliott to make the audience cry instead of showing off his ability to vocally leap tall buildings in a single bound, so he goes for one of Garth's lovey-dovey ballads, "If Tomorrow Never Comes." It's a lot of whatever.

Paris and Seacrest discuss her hair and its ever-changing moods. (Type 3 Gay move on his part). This week it's serious and straight because she's about to do some heavy power-ballad lifting. She chooses Leann Rimes's biggest hit, the nominally country "How Do I Live Without You." Due to time constraints it's the heavily edited-down version, which turns it into 85% big finish and nothing much else. But what's great about Paris is that she sells it like she's about to defiantly take on an entire pack of village-destroying giants. Randy and Paula hate it. Simon digs it. The Earth falls into the sun.

Here's what ain't country: marrying Nicole Kidman. Which is just what freaky Australian person Keith Urban is fixin' to do. If he were a true dude, he'd be chasing after Gretchen Wilson. The other thing that ain't country is most of Urban's songs. And that's what appeals to Ace, who sits down and performs--is there anything worse than someone sitting on a stool to sing a song?--Urban's "I Want to Cry." Ace knows all about the sensitivity pose and so he gets all kissy-kissy and weepy-weepy with it. He's full of faux-choked-up-itude, and once again his shirt is strategically tucked in at the belt buckle area only. Gotta keep that presentation at half-chub.

Seacrest's new job is to take on Internet naysayers who cruelly attack the contestants. Last week it was Daughtry he had to rush in and save from evil fact checkers. This week it's Pick Pickler. He wants to clear up the rumors that she is not as innocent and naive as she appears. She's quick to tell him that she is, in fact, as dumb as she says she is. That's comforting.

It's Check-Out-My-Rack week for Pick Pickler. She's been sexed up outfit-wise to compensate for the fact that her song choice, "Fancy," a Bobbie Gentry tune about a mom who turns her daughter into a prostitute, has been gutted of its most unsavory and hookerish lyrics. And here's what's good and true about Pick Pickler this week. She twangs. She does this effortlessly because she's a twangy teen. It gets her over and reminds you that this is in fact country week.

Golden boy Daughtry, having already won over the people in charge, is about to steal all of Ace's fan base by taking a Keith Urban ballad for his own. It's also worth noting that Keith Urban, as I said before, is to country what Creed and Live are to rock--the suburban shopping mall version of the real thing. So good move, Daughtry, at least your crap taste in music is consistent across genres. But back to dealing Ace the death blow: I would kill to know how these two deal with each other behind the scenes. I imagine Ace running around, plotting, strategizing, picking up tips from Daughtry's textbook of swaggery moves, scratching his head through his little knit cap, desperate to figure out the Bald One's appeal.

McPheever vamps her way through the hideous "Bringing Out the Elvis in Me." Clearly the song is meant to evoke young surly Elvis, but it sounds Vegas-y and bloated, dying of an overdose on the toilet. But then there's the part where she's superpretty and shakes her hips, and all the straight guys I know are seriously into her. Like at the masturbation fantasy level. And even for me, a certified Gay, her voluptuous physical presence is almost enough to make me forget that she's one audition away from starring in the touring cast of The Phantom of the Opera.

Bucky! It's time for Bucky! You can do it, Bucky! Sing "All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down!" Lay down some Bocephus! Show these Hot Topic employees what country's supposed to sound like! Go Bucky!

What Bucky does instead is called "The Best I Ever Had." Muddled and mumbled, he bites it. He bites it on country night. He bites it like it's a cookie bouquet sent from beyond the grave by Ernest Tubb. Cut to his wife. She has a pained expression of concern on her face. She knows he bit it too. He's totally going home tomorrow night. Damn it, Bucky!

OK, it's tomorrow night, time for this week's "Chopped & Screwed" moment.

Kenny gets one chance to promote his new record, and he gives it all he's got, croaking through a shitty new song. What's the new song about? Love? Hairplugs? Cosmetic dentistry? Casinos? Botox and scalpels to the face? A nation of teenagers, watching in real-time, keep hitting the fast forward button on the TiVo remote just to hear the BONK sound it makes. They (OK, I) do this many times. It's a fun sound.

Cut to Travis Tritt in the audience. I wonder if he's thinking what I'm thinking? I'm thinking about how sad it is that they closed the Kenny Rogers Roasters on Highland in Los Angeles. That place was great. Way better than the skinless, boneless, bland gay-approved breast-meat-and-broccoli emporium KooKooRoo. They had tons of pics of Kenny and Dolly on the wall. You could enjoy seeing them sing to each other while you ate your chicken. They had good desserts too and no gays in gym clothes to bring you down.

Commercial Time:

1. Shakira. God of Mandisa, please help me. Please no more Shakira and Wyclef for Verizon. Please.

2. AI Ford commercial. This week they're all grease monkeys in a garage, magically assembling a Ford with song.

Back from commercials Seacrest jumps on the Pick on Pick Pickler bandwagon and jokes that she thinks that's how cars are really made. Whoa, Seacrest, stop biting my rhyme!

The Bottom 3 this week = Mandisa, Elliott, Paris. NOT Bucky.

Elliott and Paris are safe. Mandisa's evicted. She begins to cry. No fair crying and making me feel sorry for you. She tells everyone that she blesses them "in the name of Jesus." The worst part about this elimination will be all the gays who think they somehow helped cast her out by not voting for her anymore. Have you ever been around gloating gays? It's a drag, trust me.

Then it's time for the You're Dead reel and her humiliation song. She launches back into "Any Man of Mine." Cut to Bucky, singing along with the chorus. He sees himself on the monitor and stops abruptly, momentarily embarrassed to be singing along with the male pronouns.

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