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Jerry Springer is
the new David Hasselhoff

Jerry Springer is
the new David Hasselhoff


It's another celebrity-tears photo-op as Jordin wrests her "Now" from Blake's desperate hands and another season of American Idol goes out with a whimper...

I'm not in Day of the Locust-Wood right now like I normally am while recapping this show. I'm in Rowlett, Texas (and remember, Mr. Seacrest, you say it like cow-LET), visiting my mom. She's a mildly capable, poststroke patient living in a nursing home and obsessed with shows about cats and crime scene investigations. I had to explain what American Idol was to her and she had no questions in return for me, which suits me just fine because I think I've discussed this show on a daily basis since January.

Now, before I begin, let's talk about shark-jumping. The folks at Entertainment Weekly are declaring that this is the season that Idol jumped the shark. And while I agree, I think I'd refine that pronouncement a little: I believe Idol is in a constant shark-jumping loop, one that makes Fonzie the Sisyphus of popular culture. With Idol, every dorky, contrived, manipulated, tears-and-bad-singing-wrenching, humiliation-delivering episode of every week of every season is an assault on good taste and an opportunity to re-view a very large tank of sharks being denied the chance to eat a man on a flying motorcycle. And it does it over and over and over. And that's why I watch.

I don't know why Denise Richards watches. Or why she's here in the audience. Bored, maybe. Without a Sheen in your life, I'm guessing the shit gets taken down a few notches.

Oh, yeah, by the way, I'm watching the show with my brother and sister-in-law and their kids: a 3-year-old boy with an ear infection and a brutal cough that I know is going to land on me and take me out by week's end, and two girls, 5 and 11 years old, respectively. I suspect that this will provide a very different perspective than the one I get when I'm in a room full of uppity gays who have no agenda but pure, excellent mean-spiritedness.

Seacrest opens the Tuesday night show. They're at the Kodak Theater, home of the Academy Awards and 363 other nights of theatrical amazement, like when Val Kilmer was Moses in a musical Ten Commandments (yes, for real) when and lots of touring companies of Dora the Explorer: Live! come through town to sell bilingual trinkets to people with preschoolers. Seacrest goes down the roll call of Idol battles of the sexes: Justin and Kelly, Carrie and Bo, Hicks and McPhee. And oh, look. An instant message from my husband/partner/whatever. It says, "He forgot Ruben and Clay."

I love the Internet.

Judges are introduced. Randy's got on a jacket of braids, buttons, and live kittens embroidered to the lapel. It's a jacket that could very well end fashion as we know it. It looks like something Bubbles would wear. If Phil were in the top two, he'd be jealous of it and wish he had it on instead. Paula-nose is fine, by the way--she merely tripped over her dog, prompting Seacrest to announce that "The bitch is fine," and that's a joke! Get it? Because of the dog and Paula and how you don't know which bitch he's talking about? Ha! Anyway, Paula is not going to be outdone by Randy if she has anything to say about it, and so she's worn a French maid's outfit. Simon's going with a traditional blazer, white shirt, and chest hair combo.

Let's revisit Seattle, where both Blake and Jordin were found. I'd skip over this bit, normally, but ladies and gentlemen, we have The Hotness! I know it's only for a split second. But there she is, singeing my brother's suburban jumbo-screen with her Hotness! Next up, a look-how-unique-and-risky-Blake-is montage. Remember that, everyone. He's a trailblazer. He also discovered radium and penicillin and invented Pong. Jordin is shown back in Arizona in front of a Cold Stone ice cream place. Dang, do I love Cold Stone. I'm partial to the birthday cake combo thing that it does, whatever it's called. And I love that Jordin seems to be a fan too. I have nothing against skinny people, mind you. I just think they're a little overexposed in the statistically insignificant world of the famous.

Commercial Time: Hmm. Nothing I haven't seen before here. In fact, I'm going to ditch commercial commentary this week. I just decided that if I have to watch three hours of show this week, the commercials are going to get the fast-forward cold shoulder. Sorry, ads. You know I love you.

Blake has chosen to sing first. Will he do the "Stars on 45" medley? I'd like that. Oh, shit, he's going to repeat "You Give Love a Bad Name" and gallop around the stage with a mike stand like it's a toy pony.

Instant message from husband/partner/whatever = "I wish Tony Soprano would curb him." Competing e-mail suggestion from an L.A. friend who I think is watching the show with the husband/partner/whatever = "No, Biz Markie should just come out and sit on him." As you can see, the Blaker Gays have long since stopped speaking to any of my friends.

Jordin's wearing a top that looks like she saved it from a fire and singing Christina Aguilera's "Fighter." Why? So she can get mock-angry onstage, snap her neck a little, grab the sides of her hair like she might tear it out, and make you almost forget for one second that she dreams every night that she's under the sea with Ariel and that singing crab. Thing is, though, she's not as good a singer as Christina Aguilera. Other thing is, though, I think that Haylie Duff's cover--and there's got to be one, right?--is probably better too.

Back to Blake. His parents wouldn't buy him drums. So he learned to beatbox and dress like a rent boy from the former USSR. Great. His parents refuse him a gift and we all have to pay for it FOREVER. Now he's going to sing a song by Maroon 5. And as much as I'd like to sit here and rip into him, my 5-year-old niece is distracting me from it because she's just jumped in front of the TV and is yelling, "LOOK AT MY HULA-HULA DANCE, UNCLE DAVE!" It's impressive too. She looks like a cross between every background beehive-haired dancer chick in every '60s-era beach movie--the ones who seem to be able to shake every single part of their body simultaneously--and a frame from "Ernie Pook's Comeek" by my all-time favorite cartoonist, Lynda Barry, the one where main Barry creation Marlys is doing the "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog" Butt-Dance. My 5-year-old niece is 1000% more entertaining than Blake Lewis will ever be. The camera cuts to Rick Schroeder and his tiny look-alike daughter. They're a pair of silver spoons.

A sudden flurry of e-mails and IMs from friends and the husband/partner/whatever, all weighing in on what Blake's buttons say (the ones he's got on his usual argyle sweater but that the camera will not close-up on enough to be visually legible). The nominees:

1. "Long Beach Gay Pride."

2. "Is It Friday Yet?"

3. "Silence = Death."

4. "I'm not as think as you drunk I am."

5. "Can't Touch This!"

Jordin's second song is that blah-blah-blah Martina McBride song she did a while back. She's phoning it in-on the NEW AT&T! We do, however, get the only interesting judge commentary of the night. It's from Paula--thanks, Tripping Dog and subsequent pain-relieving medication--who says, "You're in great vocal voice." That's like telling someone they have wonderfully optical eyes. I wish for Paula to trip over something every week next season.

There's a commercial break and then we get a shot of Marlee Matlin sitting near J. Hud, who's wearing glasses that make her look smart and humble in that "Yeah, I got an Oscar but I'm still just Jenny from the block" way. Meanwhile, Constantine is bitter that all those cheering ringers in the first few rows got better seats than he did. Then Seacrest introduces the two dudes who won the songwriting contest. The title of that song? "This Is My Now."


"This Is My Now?"

I'll give it a fair shake. Maybe.

Blake sings it first, seated on the big Family Feud board that doubles as a a backdrop for the contestants. He's got his Lonely Boy Pensive Face on like he should be singing "Maybe" from Annie instead. And he's flipped the script on the outfit because this argyle sweater is SPARKLY. Theo Huxtable would go apeshit for it. The song, however, is not sparkly. It's an SNL parody of an Idol-winner song, built from a kit. It's about dreams or something. I don't know. Crossing over into death, maybe. But here's where Blake fails again: The competition rules clearly stated that the song has to be sung by a crying person. And you gave none, son. You are going to lose now. Good luck in life. And congrats, Two Guys in the Audience, you're the Affleck and Damon of songwriting.

Then it's Jordin's turn on the same song. Man, this song is a beating just hearing it once. Twice in your ears and suddenly you're trapped in a cubicle at a temp job and the people around you are singing along to the "listen at work" station and you're thinking of breaking up with your significant other or just finding a tech geek to help you embezzle a million bucks like the guys in Office Space. But instead you'll probably just go home to your asshole stoner roommate and eat a Lean Cuisine and some cookie dough and masturbate to XTube before passing out and then getting up the next day to do it ALL OVER AGAIN.

Jordin cries while singing it. So she just won. Well played, Sparks.

And now we're on to Wednesday night, the big one, the fin, the beginning of a life of completely soul-fulfilling fame and money that may not have bought happiness for some stupid cash-underappreciating celebrities but is certain to do that for the winner of this show. Also? There will be unicorns.

My sister-in-law has the TV turned up really loudly. The Cathy Dennis theme music has turned the suburban Rowlett living room into a gay disco. This annoys my brother for the following reasons. The first one is that they have three kids that do plenty of loudness with their own lungs already and are in fact sort of doing it right now, competing with the show. Furthermore, he cannot stand American Idol and refuses to watch it. He's doing it tonight for my amusement. And finally, he's a grump. His sole comment about the TV volume: "Here's an idea. Let's turn it up even louder because it's not yet beating my own heart for me."

And because the finale means about as much to me as any other week of this show, no more and no less, I'm not changing a dang thing about how I cover it. Countdown time...

1. Jordin and Blake stand side by side. He's so much shorter than she is, it's like they're going to the seventh-grade prom.

2. Jerry Springer's in the audience. Does that mean we get to hear a selection from the opera?

3. Randy's jacket tonight, while seemingly from this decade, is still very Phil Stacey. Instant message from husband/partner/whatever = "Snakes on a Blazer."

4. Badgley Mischka made Jordin's dresses tonight, and apparently Blake allowed other human hands to create the pants he's wearing. And oh, good, she's wearing her first outfit over jeans. Someone FORCE her to stop this.

5. Here comes Gwen Stefani to sing live, still acting like she's irritated to even have to say the words "American Idol" within 50 yards of her own music. But her outfit is kind of amazing. Like she sat in a birthday cake. I hope that before the number is over, candles pop out and ignite in a heart-shaped pattern on her butt.

6. OMG KELLY!!! New single! She's mad! Mostly at Clive Davis, I hear. Like he wanted to not release her new album or something because it's not cute enough. And she's wearing her Spanx tonight too. Dang, I love her. This song, whatever it's called, "Piss Off, You" or something like that, is very "Hell Is for Children."

7. The Golden Idol awards, part 1. This is that mock-awards thing they started last season so the show could have a reason to trot out the biggest goons available from the audition rounds, or at least the ones who would consent to come back and be humiliated all over again. Margaret in the Big Bird outfit from the auditions is back, ready for more abuse, to accept her award for Best Presentation. She beat out the panther guy and the gurgling/yodeling/orgasm girl. And the weirdest thing of all is that these clowns are way more interesting than Blake and Jordin. Margaret plants one on a seemingly horrified Seacrest (and why do I still believe that it could be Jessica Alba doing that to him and he'd still react the same way?), shows off her fat wads, does a chicken dance, and recites free verse. I'm just disappointed, as you may have guessed, that The Hotness wasn't even nominated.

8. The top six guys come out in all-white suits to pulverize a song with Smokey Robinson, a man whose frightened Beverly Hills housewife face is completely fascinating to me. Call me crazy, but I think I'd rather look like Harry Dean Stanton when I'm eleventy years-old instead of whatever it is Smokey's going for here.

9. They show another come-on ad for the Idol let's-find-America's-next-piece-of-shit-band show that's coming to pollute airwaves at any moment. So hey, does your band suck big moose? Do you sound like Maroon 5 or Fall Out Boy or someone else equally embarrassing? Then you could win!

10. HOLY CRAP, IT'S DOUG E. FRESH!!! He is, unfortunately, having to share the stage with Blake, who's never looked or sounded less like someone who should share a stage with Doug E. Fresh. Where's that guy from the Police Academy movies? He should be up here too. ALL THE V.P.'S OF MARKETING IN THE HOUSE SAY "HO-OHHHHHH!"

11. Another Golden Idol award. The nominees for Best Vocal are the serial killer-acting guy, the girl who couldn't pronounce any of the words to "Black Velvet," and that guy named Sholandric. That guy named Sholandric wins. I agree with this because I think anyone who has to go through life with that name should be compensated somehow.

12. Gladys Knight just dropped by on her way to her gig at the Pechanga Casino. The top six girls are singing with her. Haley is wearing more clothes than she's had on since she was 9. The producers rejected her bid to wear a clear polyvinyl unitard for this number. "I wish I had her legs," says my sister-in-law. My brother, not missing a beat, says, "I wish you did too." They've been married for 17 years. Gladys Knight is, I assume, almost as old as Smokey Robinson but looks beautiful without glaring surgery and is vocally as powerful as she ever was. Flanked by Melinda and LaKisha for "Midnight Train to Georgia" (and both seem to be competing for Gladys's mother-love), this is the best musical thing I've heard all evening. The camera cuts to back-on-the-wagon Hasselhoff. He's not crying. Yet.

13. Seacrest introduces Tony Bennett and he's standing right in front of Constantine, who simply can't NOT look at the camera. Tony's going to sing "This Is My Now." OK, lie. He's actually going to join Michael Buble and Amy Winehouse and the Ghost of Dean Martin for all 99 verses of "99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall." OK, yes, also a lie. He's going to sing "For Once in My Life."

14. Golden Idol award # 3 goes to Jonathan and Kenneth. I can't remember which name belongs to which guy, but one was the kid with the buggy eyes who they said looked like a lemur or something and the other was the Special Olympics guy and their mockery of him got the whole show into hot water early on until--and I can't back this up at all but you just know it happened--Fox gave somebody somewhere a large donation. And as a comedy team they're really no match for Amanda and Antonella.

15. What's up with all those identical girls in the front row wearing the same black minidress?

16. Melinda sings with Bebe and Cece Winans. In my brother's house this is a high point in the show, but the gays are all e-mailing me and talking shit about Cece's wig. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the true red state/blue state divide, right there. And...wait...hold up...did Melinda just sing a line about "the kind of friend crack can be?" I just rewound the TiVo a few times and it really sounds like that, even though I think the song's about God.

17. Carrie Underwood is going to sing "I'll Stand by You." And even she's doing the dress-over-jeans thing. Except the front part of the dress is missing. It's like a shrug for pants. This, ladies, truly is the mullet of gowns. Business on top, party underneath.

18. Clive Davis is here to remind everyone that it's all really about money. He can't talk about Daughtry enough. McPhee and the Boogie are also-rans as far as he's concerned. He can't use you if you can't show, he can't use you if you can't sell. The show's called "Goddess," not "Classes." Got it?

19. The African Children's Choir is here to cute up the place. They succeed. Oh, you think I'm going to mock a group of genuinely adorable children? Yeah, fuck you too. I save that shit for the Disco Lion. But you know that somewhere Paul Simon's getting all indignant, like, "No one called me."

20. Sanjaya gets to sing "You Really Got Me" with Joe Perry from Aerosmith. This kid truly has cast-iron balls. You gotta give him that. And...yes...wait for it...CRYING GIRL IS HERE! I hope they let her go on the tour with the Top 10. Joe Perry is playing a guitar that has, I believe, Uma Thurman's face on it. What's that about? And seriously, who are the black minidress girls? This show is always tossing out mysteries and never solving them for you.

21. Green Day. Singing "Working Class Hero." And I just realized something that made me feel old. I bought my first Green Day record in 1990. I think it was on the Lookout label. Back when they used to play at Gilman Street in Berkeley. Of course, it makes them old too.

22. The TiVo screwed up or something and froze a frame of a commercial on the screen and then just jumped to Taylor Hicks singing. So we can hear him but not see him. And that's a metaphor for everything that's not going well in his career. As I said last week, I firmly believe in the promise of a Hicks variety show called The Boogie. Because I need to SEE him do his thing in order to enjoy him. And to that end, my pal at sent me a YouTube clip of Hicks performing his lame-o "Do I Make You Proud" song mashed up with "Dancing Queen" and he did it in a sweat-soaked black shirt and he seemed to be having an awesome time. And so did I. Again, Fox, hear me. Give me The Boogie. I need it. And they can't stop dissing him with the camera, cutting away to, of all people, Ace Young, as if to say, "Yeah, you won, but THIS guy is still hotter."

23. Ruben and Jordin are singing "You're All I Need to Get By." They're not exactly connecting. But hey, they're only singing "You're All I Need to Get By," right? Nice pink tie, though, Ruben. And J. Hud is digging it so much she's standing and grooving and flipping her hands back and forth.

24. Jeez. Bette Midler. And I know some gay is going to send a letter about this, but I don't care. I used to be, theoretically at least, on Bette Midler's side since she was one of the first public people to sort of court the gays and do stuff on their behalf, especially in the AIDSiest part of the 1980s. But lately she's been irritating the shit out of me because she waffles on taking a public stance on gay marriage and I'm like, "WTF, Bette Midler? Do you think all we want to do is run around bathhouses and do poppers and listen to you sing 'Friends' over and over? That might have been nice for all the baby-boomer fags you were buddies with but it's now many, many, many years later. So GET WITH IT. And 'The Wind Beneath My Wings?' Fuck that song. Sideways."

25. Kelly's back! And Joe Perry's back too. She's singing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." I don't know why. But whatever. It's Kelly.

"Who's Sgt. Pepper?" asks my sister-in-law. I just look at my brother. "It's a record," says my brother.

They continue. It's a tribute to the album. Hicks comes out to sing "A Day in the Life." Points to his head when the line "he blew his mind out in a car" comes along. Thanks for that, Big River for the deaf. Carrie Underwood is going to sing "She's Leaving Home." Instant message from the husband/partner/whatever, and it's a message I was actually waiting for because I knew it was coming: "I liked it better in the movie when the robot sang it." Ruben is doing "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and I'm really, really, really hoping William Shatner is waiting in the wings to jump out onto the stage and join him.

My sister-in-law says, "So I don't get it. Are all these songs by this same Sgt. Pepper guy?"

My brother: "The Beatles. It's the Beatles."

My sister-in-law: "Ohhhhh!"

Me: "You're both about to make your first appearances on, by the way. The legs comment too."

Then they all sing "With a Little Help From My Friends." Did they have to flip for who was going to sing the line, "What would you think if I sang out tune?" It's Sligh's duty here tonight. And the answer to the question is that I would think you were Sundancehead. Or Sanjaya. Or Haley. Or Antonella. Or Carrie Underwood. Go back to "I'll Stand by You" and tell me she wasn't hitting sharps to the back of the Kodak.

26. And Jordin wins in a dress one of the gays e-mails me about, saying, "I call this one 'Butterscotch Fiasco.'" She cries the song and thanks Mommy, Daddy, Nana, Mee-maw, Poppy, Foot-Foot, and David Hasselhoff.

27. Jerry Springer wells up with man-tears he tries to conceal with a Namaste pose. Sparks rain down on everyone because of how she's Jordin Sparks. If Blake had won, they'd have lowered Robert Blake from the ceiling balancing a beach ball on the end of nose.

28. Confetti.

29. Simon Fuller counts money all night long.

30. Stay pitchy, folks.

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