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We're only a week or so away from not having to watch this show three nights a week. Get excited.

Seacrest says that "a superstar will emerge" from the group of 20 singers left in the competition. He says that as though it were a threat. And the show is doing everything it can to make that threat stick. They really can't afford any more stillborn albums by Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis or anyone else for that matter.

That's why the fix is in.

I have no proof, obviously. Only observation. And it just seems like, like just the tiniest teensiest bit, that David Archuleta is the only male contestant I have any reason to be writing about among this group of 10.

I'm not the first person writing about this show to suspect that the kid is one of several plants. He's a male pageant baby already; he's been stage-groomed for years, what with the whole Star Search background and all. In fact, I was in a Star Search studio audience about four years, maybe five, years ago when he came out onstage and sang Alicia Keys's "Falling." I remember being unsettled by his freak-show not-yet-voice-changed ability to know exactly how to sing a distinctly female torch song with absolutely no life experience beyond what was obviously the care of a good vocal coach to back it up. And then I never thought about him again.

I didn't even think that the David Archuleta on the Idol stage now might have been that little kid in the red shirt I saw that afternoon until today. So thanks again, YouTube, you're a very good helper. And speaking of YT, I have visions of Idol interns slavishly combing through season 1's hours and hours of nonshow footage (remember how they used to follow them around with cameras so you could watch them all hanging out at that big house and jumping in the pool?) to find the moment, one that Archuleta himself must have spoken about during his original round of pre-audition interviews, where he sang "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" to Kelly Clarkson and the rest of the top 10. (I've been reading Heart Full of Soul by The Boogie and His Ghostwriter, so, yes, incredibly late to the "insider" party, I realize, but I know all about this backstage stuff now. Good pal Xtreem Aaron picked it up for me at Los Angeles's gigantic Amoeba Records on the book clearance shelf for $1.99.)

Then I like to imagine the people who weren't the one lucky enough to find the clip first and get it YouTube-ready all being sacked.

But since someone out there must care about these nine other guys, here's what happens to them on Tuesday night. It's "'70s Classics" Night.

1. Michael Johns says he's a "bit of a jock." He plays tennis. He plays heaps of tennis. That's how Australians say that. They say "heaps," which I've always thought was kind of funny. He sings "Go Your Own Way" like a tennis player.

2. Jason Castro has no answers to interview questions but has hair care down. His most interesting feature, in fact, is his Battlefield Earth mop. He sings "I Just Want to Be Your Everything." He runs out of breath. He does quite a bit of this.

3. Luke Mennard sings in an a cappela group called Chapter Six. Wow, are they squares. Like Doodletown Pipers-level bland. So he comes out and tries Queen's "Killer Queen." It's very...nice. Did you know that Freddie Mercury was never called a "nice" singer? I remember sitting in a Baptist church pew once as a teenager while the traveling anti-rock-and-roll youth minister called him, basically, the devil, citing Queen in particular as a band young people should stay away from, what with their implied gayness and all. So yeah, it was a Baptist minister who taught me to associate homosexuality with the word "queen." But back to the point. Why any one single person, even with three talented backup singers lending a hand, would try to re-create the studio concoctions of that band is beyond me. It would be like trying to sing an ELO song. You ain't good enough. It doesn't matter who you are.

4. Robbie Carrico seems to be wearing a wig. When he's not displaying the fakey-looking, oddly matted-down hair, he's wearing a tightly wrapped rag covered in skulls.


They're so rock.

He sings "Hot Blooded" but forgets that in order to sing Foreigner YOU MUST BE WEARING THE FOREIGNER BELT. He is not, therefore, hot-blooded. I begin thinking about waffles again. I do like it, though, when he holds up three fingers when he gets to the part about having a fever of 103. The rock-climbing gear on the side of his Stupid Pants is funny too. My husband/partner/whatever starts singing along to the chorus with his own lyrics: "I'M NOT BALDING. I'M NOT BALDING!"

5. I like Danny Noriega. He's just an average singer, but he totally entertains me. He just doesn't give a fuck if the whole world knows what a little Christian Siriano he is. That's the kind of kid who took all the bullets for me in high school while I skulked around pretending to be neither here nor there. He talks about the shitty punk rock band he was in in ninth grade, and I keep waiting for him to say, "Omuhgodweweresofeerce." Then he sings "Superstar." It's boring, but at least he's not smiling while he sings it. He knows what it's like, the pain of being a young girl in love. I hope he sticks around and keeps flaming up the place.

6. According to Defamer, David Hernandez used to be a go-go boy and a bartender at some Phoenix gay bars. This is funny information in light of Hernandez's comment that he was always embarrassed by his old gymnastics uniform he had to wear in school, the one that showed off his junk too much. Sings "Papa Was a Rolling Stone." Thirty-seven syllables in "rolling stone," by the way, in case you weren't counting. Seacrest and Paula decide to spend a little time post-performance discussing the meaning of '70s pop music. Paula says it was a great time for music in the '70s. Seacrest asks her why that was. Paula tells him it's because the music was so great then.

7. Jason Yeager sings the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Runnin'." Grins his way through the part about how Miss Lucy lost her home and her family. Also, Jason Yeager is a gay-porn name from 1987. Also, quit making that faggoty little bleachy bit in your hair. Also, think twice about athletic-cut shirts. Also, stop singing. He's like Jamiroquai if they were even worse.

8. Chikezie says "Myself and my name are Nigerian." That doesn't make "myself" the subject of a sentence, doofus. Sings "I Believe to My Soul." See? Inconsistent. He should change it to "Myself Believe to My Soul." But it's fine. Did you know that Donny Hathaway's daughter Kenya is one of the Idol backup singers? Look, it's work. Sasses Simon again about the orange suit. I like that.

9. David Cook, we discover, enjoys crossword puzzles and seems proud of his vocabulary, one which includes the following eighth-grade standardized test words: juxtapose, vindicate, ostentatious, homage, culmination, obscurity, permeate, optimistic, pessimistic, and enamored. Sings Free's "All Right Now." Simon calls him out for the crossword puzzle thing, basically telling kids everywhere that being smart isn't cool. Good one. Mr. Cook's guitar features the mysterous letters "A.C." It can't possibly be the initials of a really offensively named noise band whose name I can't even say here. And you know, if you've been reading these recaps for three seasons, that they let me say pretty much anything my foul-mouthed keyboard can type up for you. Anyway, A.C. are kind of great. They have song titles like "I Noticed You're Gay," which is about Pearl Jam. I'm just going out on a limb and saying that he's not giving them a shout-out.

10. David Archuleta sings the least possibly offensive lyrics to "Imagine," leaving out all that theologically unsound material about no heaven or hell or God. Randy asks him why he didn't sing the first verse. The kid says that the last verse is his favorite and there just wasn't time for all the rest of them. Paula, already in tears and the season's practically just begun, tells him she wants to squeeze him, pinch his head off, and dangle him from her car's rearview mirror. I can only assume she means that in the good way. The screaming is out of control for the boy. He responds with his best practiced humble face, aw-shucksing it to satellites and back.

Friend Gary is over to watch the show on Wednesday night. He's temping right now. Answering phones for some business. Some crazy guy called the company today, totally had the wrong number, then got Gary involved in a lengthy and weird conversation about Simon Cowell. "I'd like to see that son of a bitch get up there and sing!" the guy yelled into the phone. Gary put him on hold until he hung up.

That's the kind of true-life Idol tale I like to hear. Sadly, it's the kind they leave out of books like Chicken Soup for the "American Idol" Soul. You think I'm making that title up, but check it for yourself. My copy is arriving in the mail this week.

Seacrest comes out wearing a shirt with nothing underneath. He's very nipply tonight. Tells the women that their futures hang in the balance. Because that's so true.

1. The fix on the female side is all about Carly. They've presented her as the most adorable, if not the most poignant, of the ladies, showing her pouring drinks in the Irish pub and talking about tea-drinking. People from Ireland and England are really cute when they talk about their tea and biscuits. Someone even made a cool website about it that I like now called So anyway, wee lassie Carly Smithson. I'm on her side. I feel bad that MCA didn't know how to market her CD back whenever it was that she put one out with them. I thought that somehow the whole "sold fewer than 400 copies" story was some kind of fake-out. The husband/partner/whatever bought one because she was all hooked up with that New Radicals guy at the time. I mean, I'm nobody and my dorko book sold more than 400 copies. And I didn't have a big publisher putting $2 million into my shit either. So that was epic fail right there. Anyway, she sings Heart's "Crazy on You" and it's not bad at all. She's super boobular-bouncy tonight and her blouse gives her a bump alert. Totally boinks the ending of the song too. Randy is wearing this giant watch. It's like the size of a human face. With rich people everything is bigger and better.

2. Syesha Mercado has been in regional commercials. We see one. She can cry like a fake baby. It's weird. Sings "Me and Mrs. Jones" but changes it to "Mr." Again, weird. Why not just lez it up and be all saucy? That'd be rad. I remember once hearing J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. covering the Smiths' "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" and being annoyed when he changed pronouns too, throwing all these "she's" into it.

3. Brooke White went to beauty school. That's her big secret of the night. We see her giving some guy a faux-hawk. "I call this one the Blake Lewis," she announces, proudly. Sings "You're So Vain" and it's a lot of whatever. It's fine. She looks all wholesome up there, strumming her guitar, working that Once angle for the cameras. It'd be better if her guitar said "This machine kills fascists" on it. Oh, and did you know that Carly Simon, for charity, auctioned off the identity of the guy in that song? Like the highest bidder got taken into a room and told. Now Dick Ebersol knows who wore the apricot scarf. Simon praises her for the song. Gary on the couch, in a terrible Simon accent says, "Psych! I'm kidding. It was total shit."

4. Ramiele sings "Don't Leave Me This Way" after we see some clips of her from a few years ago performing Filipino cultural dances. Thing is, she doesn't go big enough with the song. Because you really better be prepared to make the world forget Thelma Houston. Only her cuteness and sassy little haircut will save her this week. Randy, not to be outdone by Paula's "it was great then because then it was great" commentary from earlier, blathers on about how much he loved the music of the '70s, which prompts Xtreem Aaron, who's seated next to Friend Gary on my couch, to say, "That's right. Randy was into Kraftwerk, Can, Neu, Faust, the Stooges. All that shit. He played bass in YaHoWa 13. He called himself 'Sunchild.'"

5. Kristy Lee Cook sure is pretty. Oh, look, here she is in a baseball cap calling herself a tomboy. It's always good when monster-pretty girls call themselves "tomboys." It gets straight guys all wound up to see a girl gut a fish. We see her on a horse, pretending she's Atreyu from TheNeverendingStory. Then we see her pretend she's capable of being anything but a country singer while delivering a passable "You're No Good." It's aggressive, though, like a women's self-defense class. She's taking back the night.

6. Amanda Overmyer is here to ruin Kansas's "Carry on Wayward Son." But whatthefuckever. Everything about her is awesome. I love her. I love her dyke-on-bikeness. I love her Indiana trashy-ladyhood. I love how she clearly has nothing in common with the other women singing. I like how her big reveal is that she reads books so she doesn't have to talk to anyone else on the show. Well, she didn't say that last part, but you know that's how it is. I love her crazy Sweeney Todd-meets-Cruella De Vil hair. She stomps and pisses the Kansas out of that song. How ya like her now? You don't? Fuck off!

7. Alaina Whitaker doesn't like it when the food on her plate touches its neighbor food. That's the most we're going to learn about her tonight. Then she sings "Hopelessly Devoted to You," which would have been cooler if she'd brought out a little kiddie blow-up pool with a picture of John Travolta floating in it.

8. Alexandrea Lushington makes the lunkheaded move of choosing a limp little Chicago song, "If You Leave Me Now," as her song. You can't cool-up Peter Cetera. It's against the laws of physics. Before she sings that, though, we see a clip of her singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at some local sporting event, and it sounds like she's saying, "for the red parts we watched." So the Chicago song is pretty weak, and she can't save it. The judges come down on her for it. Simon is especially critical, of course. I love the look on her face as he talks to her. It's this scrunched-up scowl. So good. Meanwhile, I just want Randy to talk more about his big-ass watch. Like, is it vintage? Did Galileo use it to discover stuff? Does a periscope pop out of it?

9. Kady Malloy just killed Heart's "Magic Man." And by killed I don't mean that opposite kind of "kill" that you hear comedians talk about. I mean ouch, my ears. Less rocking than the "Guitar Hero" version. And for his part, Simon Cowell announces, boldly, that he doesn't know the song. What weird gaps you have there, Mr. Cowell.

10. Asia'h Epperson has decided that she will impersonate Celine Dion singing Eric Carmen's "All by Myself." Hair straightened, and it takes me a second to even recognize her. Her voice cracks. Something's wrong here.

Chopped and Screwed Night:

1. Nineteen people not named David Archuleta are worried.

2. Seacrest, once again, congratulates the people who used telephones. "Well done," he says to me. Well, not me. I never vote. But the husband/partner/whatever voted for Danny and Amanda 50 times each.

3. Group sing time. '70s medley. Piss on "It's a Heartache," Amanda. Do it! More skulls from Robbie. Thanks. Last night it was just the headband. Tonight it's a shirt. Next week it'll be skull pants and codpiece.

4. And goodbye to Jason Yeager of the skunky bangs that stand up straight. He manages to sing through the Humiliation Number, again grinning all the way.

5. And goodbye to Alexandrea Lushington. She stands next to Amanda and is thinking, OK, yes, I fucked it up, but I was better than this crazy bitch. Complains that her great-grandmother never got flown out to Cali on the show's dime. That's what I would have said too. She is pissed off. The face says it all. The camera cuts to a weepy David Archuleta. I bet he has his own camera already, one that's trained to his every move. What will he do next?

6. And goodbye to Alaina Whitaker. Best part = Kady Malloy is bottom 2 as well and seems almost resigned to the fact that she's the one going home, so her "What?!" face when she's told she's safe is pretty good. Alaina cries. Says, "I can sing!" while crying. Seacrest has to calm her down, all gentle-voiced, and actually gives her the choice of whether or not she'll do the Humiliation Number. All the girls rush out onto the stage to lend support. They should just let Amanda do it. She doesn't give a fuck. She be like, "Here, gimme that song. I'll bust it over my knee, tie it to the back of my hog, and drag it through some mud!" Alaina cries through the Humiliation Number. All the girls sing with her. Danny wants to jump onstage and help.

7. Oh, man. Idol Gives Back night is coming again this season. Will they top the self-congratulatory grossness of last year? I don't see how they can. We see clips to remind us of how hideous a night that was. Paula making little girls weep for the camera, Madonna scouting for orphans, Ben Stiller keeping his distance, Il Divo souring the air around them, our despicable president and his horror-wife smiling smugly, Dr. Phil and Teri Hatcher and Gwyneth and everyone dancing. It made Hands Across America seem well-thought-out.

8. And goodbye to Robbie. What this means to me is that I will have to look to another contestant to fill me with thoughts of waffles. This is what happens when you don't think you need the Foreigner Belt.

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