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Re-Meet the

Re-Meet the


In week 2 of Lennon-McCartney-Harrison karaoke, American Idol steals the title of "Worst Beatles Impersonation Ever" away from longtime champions the Bee Gees.

I'm learning a lot of important spiritual lessons from my continued reading of Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul. Like how even being related to a semifamous person is its own reward. For example, Chris Richardson's grandmother likes to tell people who her grandson is everywhere she goes:

"She was in the hospital last week and said to the nurse who was taking care of her, 'Do you know whose leg your washing?'

And the nurse said, 'No, I do not.'

Then Big Momma started in with 'Do you watch American Idol?'" [p.76]

The story gets super-heartwarming after that. Trust me. And it's not even just the healing, spirit-enriching stories of familial love that have got me fixated on this book. It's the behind-the-scenes magic too. Like how the show's stage manager -- I forget her name -- finally realized after Season One how big the show had become when the tour went to Las Vegas and there were fans there "dressed up like Kelly Clarkson." [p.159]

Now, how does one dress like Kelly Clarkson? I have some ideas:

1. No makeup.

2. Floor-skimming fuck-you-I'm-having-a-full-order-of-Chili's-baby-back-ribs dresses.

3. Resort wear made of neckties.

Now, the show. It seemed like everyone was really trying last week. Someone sat them all down and said, "There was this band called the Beatles and they were really, really famous once. People will despise you for even trying to sing their songs in public, so you have to try really hard not to suck the donkey dick too much out there."

Not like there's been very strict supervision over the years over who gets to sing this stuff. All you have to do is go to YouTube to check out Stars on 45 -- or the clip of Dusty Springfield, Juliet Prowse, and Mireille Mathieu doing a medley with Burt Bacharach -- to hear how ruined these songs can get. And that's not even the worst of it. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Across the Universe are readily available on DVD. And at you can brutalize your ears with renditions of "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "With a Little Help From My Friends" by Tony Randall, joined by Bernadette Peters, Anthony Newley, Diahann Carroll, Mel Tillis, and Paul Williams.

But anyway, this week there was no supervision. At all. The dead rose from their graves and blood rained down from the sky. Anguished howls of curdled agony from Heather Mills's throat roared over the Atlantic Ocean, hitting their intended target, the power grid that heats the pool, cools the mansion, and spins the ferris wheel at Neverland Ranch. The explosion threw sparks half a mile into the air. Catalog royalties patched the damage. But a new revenue stream would have to be undammed to meet the need. Enter Amanda Overmyer.

Before Amanda, though, there are introductions to make, Paula Abdul-Randy Jackson collaborations to plug, creepy winks for Simon to deliver in Seacrest's direction, a montage of Beatles-related clips to explain who the Beatles were -- Ed Sullivan, Shea Stadium, etc. Then a return to the studio where the band "delved deeper into their own souls," says Seacrest. Then he uses the word "odyssey."

This, of course, all equals drugs. Lots and lots and lots of drugs. Me, I'm kind of fixated on the various LSD beards flashing across my TV. John's was the biggest, Ringo's the dorkiest, Paul's the cutest, George's the most Manson-y.

OK, now Amanda.

She's going to sing "Back in the U.S.S.R." And I have a feeling that it's because she has no choice. I read somewhere that the whole "Lennon-McCartney songbook" thing really amounted to about two dozen songs they all got to choose from. So when the judges tell the singers that they screwed up their song choice, you have to wonder just how much control these kids have in the first place. Not that that makes up for them blowing it when they finally get out on stage. But still.

Amanda's a mess tonight. Overpowered by the band. Shouting, shouting, shouting. But that's why I'm into her. So she can do that all night. My husband/partner/whatever, sitting next to me on the couch, yells out, for no apparent reason, "I FUCK IN A BARN!"

"Who does?" I ask.

"Uh... I dunno... she just made me want to say that."

And the weird thing is that I get where he's coming from.

After she sings the judges tell her that she was fine but is in danger of becoming a little boring. Maybe she should sing a ballad, offers Paula. Amanda's response: "Ballads are boring!"

Then she says she's got 90 seconds to make you put down that can of PBR and say, "Fuck singing! I wanna hear what this bitch does instead!"

Actually, she says something about hoping people think she sounds like fun and being inspired to buy a ticket to her show. Simon retorts with the fact that she does not yet have tickets on sale to any such show. Ouch, man. She responds that it's OK if all she does is sell out a bar in Indiana (implied opening act: Nikki McKibben, maybe Constantine. NOT Robbie Carrico).

Kristy Lee Cook is up next. I just figured out that the Personality Reels this week are all "What's been your most significant memory of being on the show so far?" Kristy's is about how she's been in the bottom three consistently since, well, forever. So stressful. Good thing she's insanely foxy and those other people were total fags. Because she's still here. Not that she's honest enough to say those things. And in her possible defense, for all I know, she's oblivious to that reality. And I don't really care anyway. I'm just enjoying all the instant nostalgia. Remember rehearsal this afternoon? Wasn't lunch amazing? Boy, those were the days.

She's singing "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." She chose it from the title. Sounded like a good title. Kinda queerbait, but still all right. Everyone loves songs about love, I guess, so I'll do it. Some guy named John Lennon wrote it. Oh, he's dead? How did that happen? When was that? Oh, 1980. Yeah, I wasn't born yet. I don't have to know about things that happened before I was born. Everything was in black-and-white then, I heard.

When they eventually get around to Sex Pistols week she'll pick "Holidays in the Sun" because she likes taking vacations. Simon tells her she needs hypnosis and that she's a bad performer. She responds with a sassy country-girl double entendre; "I can blow your socks off!" This is unlikely on any level, obviously, but it's nice to believe in yourself, isn't it? God bless the public schools and children's television programming for instilling so much self-esteem in the next generation.

Time for David Archuleta to sing "The Long and Winding Road." He forgot the words last week. Remember that? Here's a replay of that humiliating moment just in case you forgot. So many lifetimes ago, so much pain then. And even with the memory of that wound still fresh, the fact is that this boy has never been on a long or winding road. He's not cried many tears that weren't a result of his father sitting right next to him during rehearsal, totally breathing down his neck. The kid was born in a trunk. Nothing's ever happened to him that didn't involve callbacks. And that's why tonight he's hitting all the notes, twisting just the right ones in just the right ways for maximum emotional wallop. The judges love him. The boy looks he's about to collapse and have one of those stressy crying jags, in that "phew, no beating from Dad tonight" way.

Michael Johns gets stuck with "A Day in the Life," a six-minute, multipart song he'll have to compress into 90 seconds. And it's...I think in Australia they call this a "cock-up." Or maybe it's England where they say that. In any case, it's insane. And then he dedicates it to his dead friend as a last-ditch save. Much like Kristy Lee Cook, he'll get through thanks to all that handsome. Paula consoles him. She knows how hard it is to get up onstage and have to sing. Well, not sing "live" or anything. But she's very aware of the difficulties involved in lip-synching. Especially to someone else's vocals.

Dear Brooke White,

Thanks for blowing it this week. I was worried that I was going to have to fully get behind your wholesome-winsome thing. But the weird dancing plus the buttercuppy yellow dress plus the free-spirited "whoo"-ing plus the slithering around the microphone stand plus the clanky note-hitting plus the doot-n-doo-doo reminded me afresh why I don't have to dig you. Unless we're going to sit down and watch A Clockwork Orange together, we got nothing to say to each other. Dig?

Thanks, Dave

David Cook is here to perform "Day Tripper," the Whitesnake version. With a little Peter Frampton mouth-tube thing soloing thrown in for good measure. Finally the truth can be told about this song -- that the Beatles version was OK, but Whitesnake is the band that really nailed it. I'm also a fan of D.C.'s bold, symbolic reassertion that the Beatles and Peter Frampton really could go well together in the right context -- the David Cook way. But mostly I love the way he claps for himself when the song is over.

Carly sings "Blackbird," which is a really nice song. But she can't resist going "big" at the end, and that ruins it for me. It's like Kathie Lee Gifford Sings 'The White Album' all of a sudden. But otherwise she's fine. My soft spot for her remains. Then Simon attacks her. Says the song is "indulgent" yet never explains exactly what he means by that. I think it's his code word for a song he doesn't know. Freaked out by his criticism, she does the totally wrong thing and launches into a "the music industry is so difficult and we've all been trying so hard and we're all sort of blackbirds with broken wings" plea for understanding. And while it feels spontaneous on her part, it's still a knucklehead move. Nice weird top she's got on, though. All bright red roses circling her neck like she just won the Irish Sweepstakes.

If I didn't know that Jason Castro was the guitar player for my family's church back in Rockwall, Texas, I'd swear he was stoned out of his gourd. It's his delivery when he speaks. He's got that doofus dialect. He's going to sing "Michelle." And here comes another doofusism. He thought "ma belle" was the English "my bell," and now, even though he knows better, he's still going to sing it "my bell." And when he gets to the French part of the song he waves his hand in the air and bobs his head around like, "Isn't this the gayest language ever? Can you even believe there's a whole country where people talk like this? Quick, someone put a red waiter jacket on me so I can serve up these frog legs and escargot. I don't even know what escargot means! But it's French!"

Ramiele's catchphrase, which sounds like "Oh-low," (somebody please tell me what it means?) has been appropriated by Syesha. It still sounds cute. Then Syesha sings "Yesterday." Nice dress, Syesha.

Chikezie's singing "I've Just Seen a Face." All ballady. But wait! Now it's harmonica and hoedown time! Yee haw! The best part -- his mom doing backflips and swinging Randy around in a do-si-do while balancing Paula on top of her head -- is unfortunately happening off camera. Seacrest resists the overwhelming urge to rub Chikezie's head.

And then, after two hours of pain, it's done.

Chopped and Screwed Night. What happens:

1. "We gave them the songs of the Beatles. [And they peed all over them.] And we gave you the chance to save your favorite from elimination. Did you do enough?" asks Seacrest. My husband/partner/whatever, says, "I didn't. I was going to vote for Amanda last night and I forgot." Because his votes have everything to do with her fate. Not the producer's pre-arranged decisions.

2. Mentors for the season revealed: Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Neil Diamond. Wow, three people I actually think are kind of cool. Yeah, I like Mariah. Fuck you. And Neil Diamond wrote "Sweet Caroline," so he gets a pass, even for that Barbra Streisand duet and gross remake of The Jazz Singer. Andrew Lloyd Webber, though, that's going to be... a night. Can't wait to hear the kids sing songs from Starlight Express.

3. No-name songwriters, this is also a competition for you. Do you have what it takes to write a song very similar to "This Is My Blah" or "A Moment Like Blah?" Maybe something along the lines of "Do I Make You Blah?" Then enter now and America will vote on your blah.

4. Medley time: It's strange to witness David Archuleta singing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." But now it's happening. Cut to Chikezie and Michael Johns sitting on the new stairs, the ones where the steps are too far apart. Oh, here goes Chikezie, trying to walk down them and sing at the same time. Somebody is going to take a tumble soon, I can feel that. They're this season's "other door" just waiting to happen. Now Brooke teams up with Ramiele (look on her face: "I'm tall inside!") for a moment in the spotlight, the camera swirling around to Carly and Kristy before landing on all six women swaying on the bleachers together, gently crooning in unison. Even Amanda, who looks like she'd rather have pancreatic cancer than be a part of this.

5. Chicken Little is in the audience. I forgot his real name. Kevin something, right?

6. Carly is in the bottom three. No one likes it when you talk about how rough you have it. They just don't. Punished!

7. Time for the Ford commercial and a making-of-the-Ford-commercial segment. Everyone's wearing big parkas. Did they fly them to Montana for the shoot? Best part: Amanda robotically saying, "Whatilikebestaboutdoingthisvideoisthatit'sprettyeasytodo," her eyes fixed on a far spot on the horizon.

8. Viewer question moment. Best one is for Simon. A woman asks, "Why do you spend so much money on cars and nothing on clothes?" Good one, Anonymous Phone Lady. Seacrest says, "I believe you purchased a million-dollar car?"

"No, I didn't," says Simon. And then Paula interjects, singsongy and with perfect timing, which I guess for her is kind of an accident, but it's still a great moment, "Yes. He did."

9. Kellie Pickler -- ka-BOOM! with those new fakeys, lady -- is here singing her hit "Red High Heels." This is the one about her shoes, obviously, not the one about what a shitty parent her mama was. That one is kind if uncomfortable to listen to. Anyway, she's been through the Nashville Entertainment Car Wash. And she took to it, pretty well, I gotta say. Now she's Lorrie Morgan Jr. So that's the trick, Idols. Get into the top 10 and sing country. You can have a career. Just look at Josh Gracin. I think he's sold more records than Ruben now.

10. Idol Gives Back is approaching. And you can't hide. Time to give in and let April 9 wash over you. Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, and Dane Cook will be there, Seacrest tells us. So will some funny people. Now here's a clip of Elliot Yamin and Fantasia handing out mosquito netting to people in Angola. Wow, Fantasia's look is out of control right now. And I mean that in a good way. One side of her head is completely shaved bald. She's got super-long hot pink nails. Then she sings "Amazing Grace" to some people. Everything about Fantasia is good. I'm right on this one. No arguing with me.

11. Elliot learns that a lady just named her baby after him. He cries. Elliot's so sweet.

12. OK, finally, Kristy and Amanda join Carly in the bottom three. Carly is safe. Amanda's out. What's great about this moment -- even though I'm an Amanda fan -- is that you can see Amanda having to tell Kristy that it's all right. That's good, Kristy, make it all about you now. Need personal attention when someone else just got booted from the show. Then Amanda's "You're Dead" reel plays, she sings her song one more time, all "Suck my left one, America!" and then all the other girls come out to hug her. She clearly can't stand being touched. Don't blame her there.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Dave White