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Unhinged Melody

Unhinged Melody


The greatest love songs of all time--and one by Bryan Adams too--go through the Idol blender. And the blond takes her calamari home in a "To Go" box...

I got spies. Two friends wound up at the show tonight, sitting in the audience. They've promised to report back on any weird stuff that losers like me--and you too--don't get to see because we're not holders of the hot ticket. So for the duration of this recap I'm going to let them speak in their own words. When you see brackets with the names [Aaron the Spy] or [Tony the Spy] then you'll know it's one of them. Aaron's a weirdo Gay who likes Norwegian black metal and Tony's a muscles and sleeveless T-shirt Gay. They're very different and yet they both adore me. I'm universal that way.

[Aaron the Spy: Before the show starts the back-up singers sing this 10-minute "funk lite" jam where they go, "Say Paula...Abdul...Paula...Abdul," and the crowd is supposed to chant their names. Then they go, "The Dawg's coming out!" and you're supposed to do the Dawg Pound woof woof woof and the backup singers go, "Randy... Jackson... Randy...Jackson..." Then they eject the judges out from the side door and Paula runs around like a crazy woman hugging people and stuff. The crowd is like 10% celebrities--I saw Tori Spelling and Miss Jay from America's Next Top Model--15% media assholes, and then 75% rich junior high school girls having their birthday.]

Seacrest looks good tonight I like his shiny, skinny blue tie. It's very Huey Lewis in 1982. He introduces the judges. Now, can anyone explain why does Randy does the faux-booing of Simon every week? It's so lame, this weird show of fakey misanthropy. And it's a word that just sounds wrong coming from Randy's mouth. Like he can't even do it right and is actually mispronouncing it. And, finally, who on earth really still believes that Simon is "mean?" Knock it off, Randy.

Andrea Bocelli is the guest star tonight. He's that Italian guy who sings the songs that women my mom's age like to hear while they take vanilla candle-scented bubble baths. I remember once there was a whole bit about Carmela on The Sopranos digging Andrea Bocelli. He's also the guy who got all male diva on Oprah when she had him on her show once. It was a great episode. Oprah goes, "And now Andrea Bocelli is going to sing "'The Greatest Love of All!'" (or maybe it was one of those other famous opera songs, I don't remember) and Bocelli flat-out refused to do it on live television. You could see the hate-fumes coming off Oprah that day. They were purple.

They say tonight's theme is the World's Greatest Love Songs. But it's really King Romantico Bocelli Sits in a Chair and Does a Lot of Not Much While Songwriter-Producer David Foster Busts the Kids' Balls Night. Foster has Poseidon-capsizing tsunami waves of negative don't-waste-my-time-which-by-the-way-is-worth-one-thousand-dollars-per-minute energy cascading off of him. They've brought in a representative Music Industry Asshole. Good. It'll toughen these kids up. Something has to prepare them for meeting people like Clive Davis and David Geffen. Cut to Celine Dion cooing, "If God could have a singing voice, he must sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli." Personally, I always thought that if God sang, he'd sound like Phil Harris as Baloo in The Jungle Book, but let Celine have her little opinions. Then comes the clip reel of "Isn't Andrea Bocelli the Greatest Singer in the History of Human Life as We Know It?" Cut to Sarah Brightman cuddling up all moony-eyed to Bocelli, fondling him as he sings some vaguely opera-ish adult contemporary bit of humpty-hump. Then cut to producer-songwriter David Foster--who wrote "I Have Nothing" for Whitney Houston--and Bocelli saying "David is the greatest producer in the world." Cut to the clip from last week--the most awesome one of all--of the guy on fire jumping off the bridge as Bocelli lays it down Rigoletto-style.

So the singing...

McPhee kicks it off. Her "I Met Bocelli" reel shows her holding her own with him, singing something operatic. Then she takes the bull by the horns and dives right into David Foster's "I Have Nothing," basically daring everyone to start shit about it. And they do. She knocks it out of the park with full-tilt cleavage and drama queen heaving and the judges scold her for it. Because why? Just because, apparently. Like, even Paula isn't on board for this. They all dismiss her. She's dying inside and you can see it on her face. Then one of them has the nerve to say McPhee's got no business taking on a song recorded by Whitney Houston in her prime. Have the judges seen Whitney Houston lately? (By the way, I just crossed myself and I'm not even Catholic--that's how freaked out I am by poor Whitney Houston these days. I don't make jokes about her. It's a tragedy, and I genuinely fear for her life. Take that, all you letter writers who accuse me of unbridled hatefulness. You don't know my life!)

Elliott is Ryan's blue necktie twin tonight. Same shiny shade of sky. Elliott's is wider. But it's basically the same tie. And his bangs are finally grown out enough to work properly on his head. Elliott is going to sing Donny Hathaway's "A Song for You." This move means Elliott has secret knowledge. He knows the obliterating power of a Donny Hathaway song and he's going to unleash it. And if you don't know about the late Mr. Hathaway, then I suggest you go back and start with "The Closer I Get to You," his biggest hit, with Roberta Flack. Then you'll begin to understand. Donny Hathaway was The Man. I can't wait to hear Elliott do this because he's going to wreck shit (P.S. Dear Old People, "wreck shit" means he's going to sing very well.).

He sings. They close-up on his wascally wabbit teeth again. Damn that camera crew!

And I am correct. Paula is reduced to sobbing wreckage. So now it's official for me. I love Paula Abdul right now and for all time. I love every whacked-out thing about her. I love her inability to construct coherent sentences. I love the tard way she claps her hands. I love her terrible fashion choices. I love her inappropriate flirtation with male contestants. I love the white eye shadow she's got on tonight. I love that her tears make Simon crack up. I will be the friend who really "gets" you, Paula. I will be your designated driver whenever you need a late-night burger from In-N-Out. You are forever my girl.

[Tony the Spy: I sat right behind Elliott's and Paris's families and--big shock--Paris's family is more fun. Elliott's clan is nice but more conservative, all wearing yarmulkes and whatnot. I spoke to Elliott's cousin, a young guy who referred to himself as Elliott's "mentor." This sounded weird to me, but what do I know? I told him how I approved of Elliott really changing his look. He was hesitant to go along me on this at first but I said, "As a Gay, don't think I haven't noticed." That actually worked, can you believe it? He melted, as if his safe answer would never hold up against my gayness. Like, it reminds you that we have everyone who doesn't live in New York or Los Angeles snowed and that to them being gay means that you are automatically an expert in fashion and styling. He just deferred to me after that. "Yeah, he does look a lot different," he said.]

Tons of commercials time... Wow, a new movie with Lindsay Lohan. It's called Just My Luck, which is kind of what I was thinking when the commercial started.

And it's also time for The O.C. senior prom! Which one of them will die in the drunk driving accident? And what designer will they be wearing?

[Tony the Spy: In the commercial break after Elliott sang, McPhee's McFather comes over to the judges' table to complain about how they dissed Katharine. Simon and Randy get the hell out of there, but Paula gets trapped by him for the whole break, much of it with her hands holding his face, consoling him while he cries. I can see Paula clearly, mouthing stuff like "It's just our job" and "She's gonna be fine." I lean into Paris's mom and grandmother and whisper, "I didn't know you could do that." And Mom whispers back, "We're not supposed to..."]

Pick Pickler is next. "I don't have a boyfriend! I'm lonely!" she wails. So the Constantine thing was all rumor then? Like it matters. Then she goes on about the movie Ghost. Of course she likes Ghost. It's the default romantic drama for people with no opinions about anything. They see Ghost in the $8.97 DVD rack at the checkout in Wal-Mart and go, "Oh, look, a movie," and then they buy it. "You know that movie Ghost? The little pottery scene?" Pickler says. "Isn't that sweet? The little pottery? I don't have anybody to play pottery with!"

Hey Pickler, I have this book you should read... It's called The Second Sex... Yeah, it's by this French chick Simone de Beauvoir... No, really, it's pretty good... Look, you can just keep my copy... It's my gift to you since I never voted for you, like, even once... No, not even when told me to.

The "Pickler Gets Ignored by Bocelli" reel rolls. Foster is tentative about Pick Pickler. Bocelli says he knows she's blond. Ouch! And can I just complain about the editing process again here? They show you the part where Foster is telling her how to do the big finish. And then she takes a practice stab at it. And then another. Well, thanks, now we all know at what point in the song we're supposed to be the most moved. They did that with McPhee too. Could I please be allowed to be surprised by what these kids are going to do when they get to the "love me NOW" part of the song? Geez.

So Pick Pickler tries her hand at "Unchained Melody." Along with spinach salad, naughty little minxes, and calamari, she does not know something she should have done her homework on. That this is Simon's all-time favorite song. She's doomed. Even if she does a passable job, he'll tear her apart. And so what does she do? A not-passable job. She's pitchy. Again. And she's got the Dead Eye happening. Again. Simon goes on the attack. Then the "Ahhhh-ahhhh" theme music cuts him off. He gets pissed. But so what? Let him.

Here comes little Paris. Big Stacy Lattisaw hair again tonight. I love her best in that hair. Bocelli calls her "incredible" and "spectacular" and he can't even see her hair. She does "The Way We Were," and, again, it's just beyond her years. Paula tells her she oversang it, and that's kind of true. But she was still powerful and delivered it solidly. I can see Paris being the 140-year-old Miss Jane Pittman lady someday and still singing all boldly. The judges seem kind of over her, though. I get a "please go away" vibe from them.

[Tony the Spy: Paris's grandma, Ann Nesby, has clearly negotiated her Jesus-ness with her love for the Gays. Or at least this Gay. But I just suspect she's always sweet. I said, "Girl, I bet you can't even get your nails done anymore," and she was all, "Honey, I can't go anywhere, but I'm so proud blah blah blah." Then I asked her if it was sweeter watching Paris have fame, having had her own, and she said she is prouder of Paris than she ever was of herself. And I believe her. Then Miss Jay came and sat down with them. They didn't even know who he was, he just joined them. In fact I think he stole the seat of one of Paris's cousins. He just plopped his ponytails down and got out his sequined Sidekick. I hate those sequined Sidekicks. Also, Paris's mom is younger than me, I think. I find that troubling.]

[Aaron the Spy: Paris is so tiny. You can't really tell on TV how tiny she is. She's like Dio. That tiny. But loud. I don't know how she doesn't overmodulate their microphones. Seacrest is tiny too, but dude-tiny. Maybe 5 foot 5. Like a wee little ninja.]

It's Taylor Hicks time. Bocelli says, all noncommittal, "Taylor is a good singer. He's very interesting." Uh-oh. That means Bocelli hates him. Then Foster chimes in and says that Taylor has "the most charisma." OK, so now they double-hate him. Hicks must have been too intimidated to do his signature flailing. He probably even forgot to whip out that trick where he turns his head 360 degrees. Darn it, Hicks, make a good first impression! He's going to do James Ingram's "Just Once." Now, there's a person I haven't thought about in forever. Where did James Ingram go off to?

After last week's trip to the dinosaur museum, Hicks is ready to chaperone The O.C. senior prom in a velvety tuxedo-ish blazer. Jaunty little red pocket square. It's kind of cute when the teachers get all dressed up, isn't it? Then they dance together and do their dorky old-person moves. It's embarrassing but then kind of hilarious when their photo ends up in yearbook with the caption "WTF, Mr. Hicks?" under it. The yearbook adviser didn't know what WTF meant, and so we told her it stood for "Workin' That Funk!" and she believed it. Now it's forever.

The thing about Hicks singing is that he seems less happy with ballads than with big stompers. He seems to get nervous and often winds up pitchy when he's got to slow down and hold a note. It's almost like he doesn't think he's really singing unless he can wave his arms around and do kung fu kicks. But it's fine. Not awesome. His hair looks good tonight. I know, I'm grasping for something decent to say, but I just got on the good side of the people and I'm trying to keep the good feelings going. You don't want these folks mad at you.

Randy hates it. Paula yells, "He looks handsome!" Simon calls him a lounge singer. Then Paula goes ape-shit. She jumps up and starts pointing with this crazed, almost angry look on her face, stomping her feet and yelling over Simon. I replay it on TiVo because it's incredible to behold and because I can't make out what she's saying other than "WE! LOVE! YOU!" Whoa, Lady Freak-Out!

Daughtry ends the night. His Bocelli clip is strange. Foster tells Daughtry to stop throat-singing and pull it up from deeper inside. I'm not a singer and even I knew that. Daughtry's all "Thanks for teaching me this." Unfailingly polite, this fella. Then Bocelli lies down on the hardwood floor to show Daughtry how to sing while lying down on a hardwood floor. Sure, why not. Daughtry takes his turn at the lying-down-singing but lies on the carpet instead. Whatsamatter, Mr. Rock, too soft for the hard floor? Does big baby need a luxurious deep pile rug to recline on? C'mon, tough guy, get on the wood! This show isn't called Comfy Idol! Be a man!

Then Daughtry sings. He's wearing a creepy three-quarter-length coat. Like the kind Robin Williams would wear to the Oscars so he could think he looked avant-garde. He sings Bryan Adams's "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman." When did this become one of the Greatest Love Songs of All Time? Seriously. Like, the "Macarena" song thinks this song is lame.

And that's when I decide that Daughtry is possibly playing us all. Maybe he has the best taste in music ever but he's just keeping his cards close to his chest. Maybe he intentionally sings the assiest songs he can find week in and week out (not counting "I Walk the Line" of course) just so he can say, "You know what? I can make even this piece of shit sound decent." What if he's the Evil Strategy Genius? I have to start telling myself this to keep any enthusiasm I have for the man. Naturally the judges can't shower him with enough love. Randy: "Amazing! Love the jacket!" Have you ever seen those old pictures of Randy from the late 1980s and he's got that giant Kid-N-Play hair? Of course he loves the jacket. Paula: "LoveyouloveyouLOVE! YOU!" Simon says something effusive. I forget what.

[Aaron the Spy: By this point in the show I was bored and thinking about sex. We were right next to The Price Is Right studio, though. That was something.]

On to Chopped & Screwed night...

Simon apologizes for harshing on McPhee last night. Maybe the McFather got to him too? Then he asks if Paula and Ryan are speaking, referring to the tabloid rumor of a feud between them. They ignore him mostly. Paula says something about there being "nothing but love." So who knows what's true. All I know is that I'm on Team Abdul.

Ford Commercial time: They sing "Call Me" and look for a lost doggy. Hicks gets his serial killer face back on to fake-drive the Ford that will help them track the lost doggy. They find the lost doggy, who runs away from them all. Then Andrea Bocelli leaps out from the shadows and snaps up the dog. He's going to use its skin to make a fur coat for David Foster. OK, lie. The doggy leads them all back to his doggy-wife and their puppies. PUPPIES! The end.

Andrea Bocelli sings. I think it's called "Because We Believe." I have no idea what the lyrics are. The only one I catch is "we were born to shine," which kind of tells you everything you need to know about the song. He's a singing machine, this dude. He doesn't break a sweat and he hits that one opera-y note at the end like a pro. Because he is one. So, yeah, awesome, whatever. I am so absolutely not his target demo.

Cut to eliminatee Lisa Tucker. You know, the Lion King teen. Ryan says she's going to be on The O.C. this week. At the prom. Sneaking drinks when Mr. Hicks has his back turned.

Then Seacrest plays the divide-'em-up game. McPhee and Daughtry in one group, obviously safe. Elliott and Hicks in another group, possibly not safe. And Pickler and Paris in the last group, definitely not safe. Paris is standing as far away from Pickler as she possibly can and still remain in the shot. Seacrest tells Elliott and Hicks that they're safe and Hicks does a combo thumbs-up-spinny-hands move combined with a full-body supermodel-hunch. That means he's happy. Daughtry and McPhee are safe too. And then it's Pick Pickler's time to pack up. Her "You're Dead" reel plays. It's her greatest doofy moments, naturally. A shot of her with her hot prison dad. Cut to Elliott crying. Isn't Elliott the sweetest guy ever?

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