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"Bye-Bye" to Miss
God Bless the USA

"Bye-Bye" to Miss
God Bless the USA


Kristy Lee Cook, schooled in the art of war, stumbles over Mimi.

God Bless the USA " >

Dang, I just learned this week that I'm not a real man. Somebody wrote a letter to The Advocate complaining that I was "picking on" Dolly Parton and that it logically followed that I was an "old queen" and not a "real man."

The gays are touchy and hate it when you goof on their divas. (All I said was that she probably, maybe, quite possibly had a nose made of glass now. Is that so bad? It doesn't take one thing away from her genius as an artist. And she is that. A genius, I mean. And really, who among us besides her surgical team has the answers to what is going on with Dolly's face? It might not even be glass. It might be a kind of injected, moldable polymer. It could even be titanium, making her 3% cyborg, which would be AWESOME if you think about it. Also, I never said it was wrong to de-oldify your face, no matter how odd you wind up looking. See how gentle and playful I was being?) Anyway, the same thing happened to me when I wrote something nonworshipful about Diana Ross once. I got rebuked.

But let's stop fighting, gays. I'm your friend. One of you, in fact. Except not a real man anymore. Which is a bummer. But I can live with this new reality. I guess I'll have to.

It's Mariah-Carey-as-mentor week on AI. And I was all set. This was going to be a gold mine of weirdness, of loony Mariah Carey-isms. But something very strange is going on in Mariah-land lately. She seems to be...this almost hurts to write...not entirely out of her mind.

Back in the good old days of Glitter, "exhaustion," TRL Popsicle-based entertainment moments, "Loverboy" videos that consisted of her caressing her own breasts to the exclusion of all other activities, and that monumental, flabbergasting Cribs appearance, you could count on Mariah for a sweet dose of reality-disconnection.

But then I saw her on Oprah. And she seemed all normal, foxy and sane and thinner, but not in that Posh Spice way where you have to just sort of smell a lemon for breakfast and pretend you ate it. My friend Dennis and I immediately e-mailed each other. His message to me: "I'm obsessed with how Oprah tried to tie Mariah's diet into something 'spiritual' and Mariah wasn't having it. She's like, 'Thanks to this French lady who works for me now, I never eat anything fun because I want to look hot.' It's that simple and it has nothing to do with the Secret or my higher self or an aha moment."

And then after she and Oprah talked about eating artichokes for dinner and we got to watch Mariah do water aerobics (guided by ze French lady who kicks fat American ass) in her personal lap pool with a chandelier hanging over it, Mariah sang her new single, "Bye Bye," which is about dead people. Not kidding. It's actually a "let me see you put your hands up" slow jam about dead people.

OK, the show:

Minnie Driver is in the audience, and she's right in front of Dennis Blunden from Head of the Class. What follows is a transcription of a conversation I had with my friend Kev, who is kind of obsessed with Dennis Blunden:

Kev: The principal would yell "Blunden!" when he was mad.

Me: I never watched that show once. So I'm turning to you for information on this guy.

Kev: It was amazing.

Me: I don't believe you.

Kev: And it sort of holds up. The interesting thing is that it focused on politics. It was an interesting slice of mid-'80s political climate.

Me: I like that there's an "interesting thing" about Head of the Class.

Kev: It's not the only interesting thing!

Me: Tell me more.

Kev: It's not that it didn't fall into sitcom tropes. A brand-new character was introduced that everyone loved who then got Alzheimer's. Same thing with this kid who was illiterate.

Me: So you're saying that it touched on sensitive issues.

Kev: Oh, yes. And they had an Alex P. Keaton character named Alan.

Me: Alan B. Meaton?

Kev: No! Alan Pinkard!

Me: How old were you when this show was on the air?

Kev: Eleven. And "Dennis Blunden" was my first crush.

Me: Exactly the right age for a pre-pube "why do my pants feel funny" moment.

Kev: Exactly. He later went on to write Good Burger and a bunch of other stuff.

So that makes two Good Burger moments in two weeks on Idol. Maybe Sinbad couldn't come back this week and gave him his unused ticket? Teri Hatcher is back too, probably hoping they'll let her sing again. She might want her stab at "I Believe."

First thing we see this week is Mariah meeting the kids. She brought her extremely rich dog along with her. Brooke is more interested in the dog than Mariah, it seems. That's because Brooke is so down-to-earth. We hear Mariah talking about how AI is the "boot camp of boot camps." At the sound of this comment, thousands of American troops suddenly feel like slackers compared to Kristy Lee Cook. Mariah tries to put them at ease by telling them to just think of her as "my friend that I met last week who sings for a living and writes songs occasionally." And has her own 3,000-square-foot lingerie closet. And a lap pool with a chandelier hanging over it. And Marilyn Monroe's piano. And a helicopter. And was in Glitter with Da Brat. Then she says that someday any one of them might be at the top of the charts. (Subtexty warning: Just don't do it at the same time I release my new single or I'll wipe the floor with you like I plan to do with Madonna.)

Now for the least interesting part of the show. That would be the singing. And because I have to get out of here really soon and run off to an early-morning screening of Pathology, the one about Milo Ventimiglia and Alyssa Milano discovering a dangerous game of murder among Harvard medical school students, these comments will be somewhat truncated compared to last week's Bleak House-length recap. You think watching this game show is all I have to do with my life? Wrong. It's rich and full of to-do-list items. There's lunch, there's dinner, there's snacks in between them. I'm very busy.

David Archuleta sings "When You Believe." Big surprise. It's the one from that Moses cartoon movie. I forget what it's called. Mariah tells him that if he tried a falsetto, then "I wouldn't be mad atcha." She also recommends he wear leather pants. He takes that advice. Secret connection: All of Archie's friends call him "Mimi" too. Best part comes when Simon flaunts the fact that his British show, TheX Factor, chose that as the single the winner recorded in late 2007. It became the U.K. Christmas number 1.

It's the best part because you can tell he's all proud of it, even though no one in America gives a shit about the U.K. Christmas number 1, a phenomenon specific to that tiny island nation and a whole subplot of Love Actually, one that American audiences had to have explained to them. Also? Seacrest spills the sad little fact that the boy can barely eat on performance day because his nerves are shot. Adorable!

Carly's wearing black. Or navy. Or navy-saturated black. Second big surprise of the night. She's singing "Without You." I heard a rumor that Simon put her up to this song to challenge her and see if she could be like his pet Leona Lewis. And then when she's done singing he attacks her for it. In fact -- and I swear this is not me being defensive about her because she happens to be THE BEST SINGER OF THE SEASON -- doesn't it seem that all the judges kick her ass harder than they do the rest of the kids? I think this is a fact. I'm glad that the Entertainment Weekly "Idolatry" guy agrees with me on this, so I'm just going to reference him here when I say LEAVE CARLY ALONE!

Syesha. So technically proficient and yet so boring. But still has the best hair of anyone on the show, not counting that week when it was all crazy. She's singing "Vanishing," a song I don't know. Mariah does a little micromanaging on her and it takes. She sings the song really well. But I still don't care.

Brooke is going to sing "Hero" all simple and Brooke-ish, keep it loose and flowy and Carole King-real. AND THEN SHE'S GOING TO FREAK THE FUCK OUT AFTER A MINOR VOCAL FLUB AND THEN ANOTHER MINOR PIANO-PLAYING MISHAP AND HER FACE WILL VIBRATE LIKE SOMEONE'S GIVING HER FROZEN ELECTRIC SHOCKS AND THE CAMERA WILL GO ALL SUPER-TIGHT CLOSE-UP ON HER SO YOU CAN MORE FULLY ENJOY THE WET-EYED TERROR. Cut to some meaty bruiser-looking guy sitting next to Brooke's husband with a look on his face that says, "Well, she screwed that pooch." Simon, of course, takes his words and stabs her repeatedly, comparing her to a meatless hamburger. Nice one. Hamburglary banter from the judges ensues.

Kristy Lee Cook knows that in the midst of a heated fame-battle, you have to woo your audience. So she explains that to us in her little pre-song reel, talking about how she's going to "try" to make an emotional connection. Big mistake. Never tell the people you're trying to psych that you're trying to psych them. Now even the dumbest viewers know you're up to no good. Another mistake? Bragging about how you "gave [Mariah] chills." Of course, as of this writing, I already know that she gets eliminated. I wish it were Syesha, simply because I'm enjoying watching KLC ascend to even greater heights of calculated evil. But whatever.

David Cook sings "Always Be My Baby." And guess how he does it? That's right! Like an alternative rock song from 1995! My favorite part is when, after he's taken it from soft and unsupported and off-key to big and hollery, he throws this quick, stern, I MEAN IT, MAN kinda face to the audience. Because you might have thought he was maybe a joke. But no! No joke! He's 4 REAL! Then at the end he grabs the microphone stand and looks down all prayerfully and earnest and soulful. Little-known fact: Every time some lead singer in a band does that move (it's called "The Douche Chill" among people in the biz) they have to pay a small royalty to Bono. Afterward, the judges act like he just invented music, food, breathing, and standing upright.

Mariah does not want to hug Jason Castro and his icky dreads. Maybe they have a smell. Sometimes dreads can be aroma-filled if you don't know what you're doing with them. Then he sings "I Don't Want to Cry." And I had plenty of annoyed observances about him, but I'm going to hold off on them in the interest of giving equal time to a friend of mine (one who's requested anonymity because he has a professional job where it would look weird if he were to be seen on the Internet gushing over JC), one who sent me an e-mail begging me to lay off his favorite pretty boy. I promise that you'll get the entire conversation next week because it involves detailed dissection of Mr. Dread's "dreamy eyelashes," but I figured that since we've already traveled down the gay-crush aisle once this week with that Head of the Class guy, I'd spread them out a little.

OK! Quickly! Chopped! Screwed! Let's go! Milo and Alyssa won't wait!

1. The guy from Borat is in the audience. Not Borat, though. The other one. The fat one who wrestles him naked.

2. Around Paula's neck is a scarf, some tinsel, a flower, a manta ray, some parsnips, Verne Troyer, and decorative salad bar kale -- a plate of garnishes around a cooked head. The husband/partner/whatever, walking through the room and stopping to look at the screen (and seriously, IGNORING this show for the past two weeks and not helping me much with awesome quips at ALL) votes that she's covering a hickey. I say tracheotomy.

3. Group sing: "Some Sweet Day," Mariah's first big hit about dead people.

4. Ford commercial: The kids sing "I Want to Break Free" to a new Ford vehicle. Woo-hoo! Car payments and $4-a-gallon gas! Freedom!

5. Elliott's here. His new teeth are huge. Singing some song I don't know. It's also about freedom. Or miracles. Or dreams. All three, I guess. I had almost forgotten what a good singer Elliott is. I even forgive him for writing a note to his recently deceased mom on his hand and showing it to the camera. His mom was so sweet and nice.

6. More stupid fucking questions from people at home. The big one this week is why won't that guy who bought Kristy Lee Cook's horse sell it back to her now that she's all famous? How can he do this to her? It's like he STOLE it now.

7. You can buy postage stamps with Ruben on them now. Which also means...FANTASIA STAMPS ARE COMING NEXT!

8. Mariah comes out and sings "Bye Bye" and does that excellent pointing-at-notes-in-the-air move she does. One of the background singers is losing her shit trying to reach those Minnie Riperton notes. Meanwhile, Kristy Lee Cook furiously scribbles "including Grandma references in song about death = TOTALLY IMPORTANT!" in her Career Advancement Notebook.

9. Up until this final part of the results show, Seacrest has been pulling the kids out onstage one by one and separating them into groups. It's tough to tell which is the safe group and which is the bottom-three group. So naturally the last person to be called is never-not-safe Archuleta. And then Seacrest does my favorite evil trick: forcing the last person to pick which group s/he thinks is safe. It's not like this child has enough to worry about, so I'm very happy when he takes a note from Melinda Doolittle and simply sits down in the middle of the stage, forcing Seacrest to make the safe group walk over to him instead. Mr. Archuleta, you have moved one step closer to manhood. David Cook and Jason Castro and Carly are led by Seacrest over to Archuleta. Cook and Castro join Archuleta by sitting on the floor. Carly's still standing, waiting to hear the actual words come from Seacrest's mouth and hollering in disbelief when she hears them. She knows better than to presume anything. But then she can't sit down anyway because she's wearing a skirt and heels.

10. Syesha gets to go sit with the safe ones and then Kristy Lee gets the boot. She sheds exactly one stage tear, her You're Dead reel plays, and then she goes right down to the judges' table, sits on it right in front of Simon, and sings her Humiliation Number directly to him, smirking, forcing him to shrink beneath her. Well played, KLC. The world is going to rue the day they toyed with her. RUE, Y'ALL!

God Bless the USA " data-page-title="

"Bye-Bye" to Miss
God Bless the USA

" >
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