"To be an
American Idol finalist is to be a
superstar," says Seacrest as Tuesday night's
show opens. And he's right. For at least a few
weeks after you win American Idol you are a
superstar. And then your record comes out and
underperforms. I think what I'm trying to say is,
Why aren't you people buying Fantasia's new
CD? Because it's pretty awesome. Oh, wait, I
just remembered--even I didn't buy it. I just
borrowed a copy and put it into my iTunes. Oh, well,
I'll go buy a ticket to see her live when she
comes to Los Angeles. But you? You should go buy her
chopped thousands of auditioners down to 172 young people
who firmly believe they are now going to "make
it." Of those 172, 148 are going back where
they came from. In tears. Always in tears. Unless they
decide to just stick around. That's the reality show
I'd watch, the one about all the people who
made it here in that group of 172 who just decided to
get an apartment in Sherman Oaks. Maybe a group of them do
that and they're all the cute ones, right? And they
stick together like the Monkees in the same house and
chase their stupid dreams and live and love and laugh
and fail. Because really--spoiler alert here, like you
care--when 16-year-old Bailey Brown goes back to Krum,
Texas, after she's been to Pinkberry and Trashy
Lingerie, how much smaller will it seem? Fox should
sign her up for this new show idea of mine.
all at the Orpheum Theater, which, technically, isn't
even in Hollywood. It's downtown. People who
don't live here don't really get that.
Hollywood is just one small part of Los Angeles. And almost
none of the stuff people think about when they think
of Hollywood--movie and TV
production--goes on there. The prostitution does,
though. There's plenty of that to be enjoyed.
So, tourists? If you're in Hollywood proper, be
sure to stop by the All American Burger on Sunset and check
out the alley right behind it. Because that is the
magical spot where Divine Brown gave Hugh Grant that
very special kiss-in-the-pants-area that got them both
arrested. Take your grandma's picture there. Except
now that I think about it, that place might be over
the line in West Hollywood. I really need to have a
map in front of me to be writing this stuff.
morning of the first day of chopping people's dreams
down to the nub. All the Idol wannabes are sitting
around tables of muffins and Dasani water,
thoughtfully provided by Coca-Cola, the company that makes
it. One girl is shown slumped over the table, passed out.
This is now the image I associate with Dasani.
Then they move on
to the Orpheum (I know, back and forth, back and forth.
Thank the show's editors for that.) One stupid girl
says, "It's so surreal because you watch
it on TV all the time and now we're here. We're
But you know
what, young lady? That's not what
"surreal" means, and I'm kind of
fed up with the way that word has been diminished by its
overinclusion in everyday speech. It's become
mistakenly synonymous with
"unbelievable" and that's just wrong.
El Topo is surreal. Kafka's
Amerika is surreal. A talent competition,
unless it involves the Lady In the Radiator singing
"In Heaven, everything is fine...," is
I've gotten that off my chest, let's talk
about day 1 and who cries on camera once
they've been surrealistically eliminated. Someone
named Jory sings first. Then some more girls. Jory is very
good. And they cut her. They cut all six girls in that
line-up. This seems like the un-luck of the draw, like
they just decided that to amp up the drama and fear,
those first six, even if one of them had been Kelly Clarkson
Jr., would be sent home. It's a little weird.
Simon says, "None of you are any good,"
which isn't actually true. Again, I distrust the
show's editors. For all we know the six girls
who get cut "first" were actually cut after
Amanda, of the
BFF team of Amanda and the Girl Who Reminds Me of Meadow
Soprano, says, "I'm gonna shit my
pants." That would make the episode very
entertaining, so I'm hoping she makes good on that
one. Next comes a shot of Perla the Shakira-ette from
the audition shows getting off her plane in Los
Angeles. "Oh, my God, it's like I'm a
superstar already!" she exclaims, vamping and
sticking out her butt. This means, of course, that
she's going home by the end of the episode, but for
now she's safe. Then comes that Army Girl named
Rachel. She's also going home. Bailey Brown,
the farm girl from Krum who wants to leave, is moving on to
the next round.
Not moving on at
all are the Girl Who Made the Weird Scrunchy Faces When
She Sang, the Rocky-ish Chick Named Porcelana, and the Girl
Who Lied to Her Dad About Auditioning. Goodbye to you,
ladies. I no longer have to wonder whether I should
try to start remembering your names. An unidentified
girl sobs, "I feel like a failure!" which
sends me, for some reason, into uncontrollable
laughter. Does that make me a mean person? I think it
might. But I don't really have time to ponder
questions about my personality flaws because the even
funnier sight of a discarded contestant badge on the
sidewalk in front of the Orpheum is appearing right
now before my eyes.
Next up is Nicole
Turner, who I don't really remember. She's
there with her mom and they're fighting over
what song she should sing. Mom says to sing
"Ain't No Way." Nicole says she
"ain't feelin' it." But she
sings it anyway, to please Mom. Then she's cut.
If I were Nicole, I would parlay this moment in time
into some really good Christmas gift leverage, but
instead all she does is cry. "I sacrificed so
much!" she weeps. And we just have to take her
word for that because she doesn't elaborate. Then
Mom demands to talk to the judges. Nicole grabs the
microphone away from Mom and talks to the judges
herself, claiming that she sang the wrong song. She
goes back and forth with them until Simon yells, "It
wasn't the song!"
don't you shout at me," snaps Nicole.
Then the judges
get swept up in the Crazy. Simon stomps off. Paula yells
at Simon. Randy, bewildered and angry with himself over his
lack of impulse-quick, camera-ready responses, rallies
a show of applause for Nicole and Mom. For no good
reason. Just to have something to do.
Doolittle, the no-necked, perpetually shrugging,
hunched-over background singer, comes back for the
next round, as does Gina Something, the one who sang
"Black Velvet" with the bubba-boyfriend.
Please show him again, because I need cues like that
as mnemonic devices. And if you could show him again
shirtless, that would really help my memory.
And now on to day
2. Time for the men to cry.
Brian Miller is a
fresh-faced lad who seems to have just stepped off the
set of High SchoolMusical. I have nothing more to say about him
besides he advances to the next round. Jarrod Fowler, the
Navy uniform guy from the audition shows, sings Josh
Groban's "You Raise Me Up," a
song I wouldn't mind seeing banned from the Universe
of Music. Fortunately for me and my ears, he is
punished for his choice and gets sent home. Let that
be a lesson to all of you dorks.
Matt Satos, 16
years old, eyebrow-challenged, and seemingly as
emotionally fragile as a downtrodden Tennesee Williams
character with a collection of small glass animals,
cries a lot and doesn't know what it's
like to receive parental approval. "Before this, my
parents weren't really supportive of the things
I did," he euphemisms. But then he moves on to
the second round, so that's good. I truly want
something decent to happen to this kid, because dang,
the signifiers are piling up deep in here. He cries
again after getting through to the next round. "My
heart!" he gasps. Then he calls Mom on his
little pink cell phone. She says she loves him.
Shocked, he says, "She never says she loves me
either." More crying.
Also through to
next round are the Beatbox Kid, the Guy Who Quit Last
Year, the Guy Who Missed His Daughter's Birth and Who
Somewhat Resembles a Preemie Himself, and the
Super-Long-Beard Guy Who Reminds Me of the Guy From
Iron & Wine.
And finally, the
best part of any American Idol season, the
Group Round. The Group Round is like what happens when
you're stuck with an awful lab partner in chemistry
class or when you have to do a four-person research
paper for poli sci. You're fucked, basically,
because the other losers are never as committed as you are,
and worse, they don't care if they drag you down with
them. So, of course, that means suffering is imminent.
And I love to watch televised suffering.
The kids have the
night to find a group, pick a song, and get it
together. Matt Satos can't find any men who'll let
him be in their group. They're all like,
"Yeah, sorry, Shakespeare's Sister, go skip
rope with the girls." Even my partner's
and my next boyfriend, the tall cowboy dude we plan to
share, the guy whose name I can't remember but it
doesn't matter anyway because he's
getting cut by the end of tomorrow night's
episode, even he shuns poor little Matt. This makes me not
lust after him so much. Be nice to Matt! He hurts!
Cut to the
1. A happy
cluster of boys that includes Chubby Little Hands Chris, the
one who wants to make David Hasselhoff cry. He is joined by
Beatbox Boy and some other guys. They are doing dopey
choreography and the cameramen are laughing at them.
2. A troubled
group that includes Bailey Brown from Krum, Amanda the Mean
Girl, and her best friend, Meadow Soprano. They can't
decide on a song and they're all pouting. I
want the cameras to just stick with this group. I
can't get enough of that My Super Sweet
16 bullshit entitlement and awfulness.
3. Perla and
Gina's group. Perla is a bad harmonizer, not a team
player, which means that even if she's
cut--and she will be--she'll go far in
Amanda Mean is
exhausted after several grueling minutes of rehearsal and
needs to go flirt with boys. She leaves her group to go
attempt some seduction moves on several young and
possibly gay men.
Group Day. 8 a.m. Everyone performs. Everyone sucks it.
Amanda and Bailey and Meadow forget their words.
Little Matt forgets his words. Gina does not.
"I don't care about anybody else in this
competition but myself. Sorry. I'm going to be
the next American Idol," she says. That's
the spirit. Perla, on the other hand, ruins it all and makes
what I'm sure she believes to be a charming
"Love Me Anyway" face. The Happy Group
of Boys sing "How Deep Is Your Love" and, even
with the dopey-ass beatboxing and perhaps because of
it, knock it out of the park.
Then comes the
group with Sundance Head in it. You may remember him as
the guy whose name is actually Sundance Head, the one with
the wildly untamed goatee, the one who can't
button his shirt and is constantly displaying an
entire football field of chest hair, upon which rests a
huge class ring on a chain. Presentation-wise, he's
both a huge mess and a bear magnet. But what's
important right now is that he's fucking it up
with the singing. And not in a good way. Mumbling lyrics
that actually sound like he just sang the words
"my hard-on" and straining to reach high
notes and failing. It's awful, and I may need to take
back what I said about him being able to sing the ribs
off a pig. Because seriously, dude, you are making the
mush-mouthed girl in your group sound good. And then
the judges cut everyone in his group except him. Huh? Is
that chest hair magic? Does the class ring hypnotize
everyone who gazes into it?
Cut back to the
Bailey-Amanda-Meadow Soprano group, who all claim that no
matter what happens they will always be friends. So
naturally they fuck it up. Bailey forgets the words.
She's going home to Krum. Meadow Soprano and
Amanda stay. "I worked the hardest out of both of
them," whines Bailey.
Cut to Amanda
gloating over her and Meadow Soprano's advance to the
next round, "You know what? It's because
God likes good people." I love it when clearly
awful human beings cite God as their copilot, like that guy,
that basketball guy, whatever his name is, the one who this
week said he hated all gay people. That shit's
hilarious. So anyway, now we know more things about
Amanda, like that she's not simply a
work-ethic-deficient bitch, she's also a noted
Amanda about getting her ho on when she should have been
practicing. Amanda says, snorting with laughter,
"That's a little bit insulting. You
probably shouldn't say that." Translation:
"Meadow's family is going to have you
whacked." Amanda turns to the cameras and says,
"We don't flirt with boys here. This is a job
interview. This isn't fun." Flashback
cut to last night where Amanda is seen lying on the floor
laughing like a drunk Tri Delt while young men stare
greedily at her tight little bod. Because, you know,
when a young woman wriggles around on the carpet in a
room of young men, that means nothing.
A total of 36
more people are cut, including Super-Long-Beard Guy, Some
Girl With Big Earrings, and a Guy Wearing a Hat. This is the
problem with providing backstories for people
you're not exactly sure about. People
we've never seen before make it through to Hollywood
and we never see them or know who they are. And then,
poof, they're gone. Then you get people like My
Daddy Shot My Stepmama and Then Hisself showing up in the
audition shows and then you never hear from them again.
Where is that girl? Dang you, story editors, I need
More cutting. The judges are shown looking at photos.
Wannabe faces flash while the judges fake you out with
comments like "boring" and
"amazing." They divide everyone into three
rooms. Two are "Yes" rooms and one is a
Yes Room 1 = Gina
the Ballbuster Who Doesn't Care About Anyone Else,
Beatbox Boy, Chris Chubby Little Hands, Melinda No-Neck,
Cornrow Guy Who Sang "Cupid," That
"Congratulations," says Paula.
Yes Room 2 =
Sundancehead. I know his name is Sundance Head but I say it
all like it's one word when I'm talking about
him in my living room, so I thought you should know
that. That Sanjaya Kid With the Sister Who Can Also
Sing. Meadow Soprano.
"I should just put you out of your misery now, right?
I am really sorry to say that you guys are gonna see a
lot more of us--you're through."
The No Room =
They can hear the first two rooms celebrating, so they know
they're all about to be executed. People are already
crying. The Sister of Sanjaya. Some Blond Girl. This
Other Guy. That High School Musical Kid. Amanda Mean
Girl. All gone.
OK, now on to
Wednesday's episode. This is my other favorite
episode of the season, the one where it's all
about people riding in an elevator. In my house we
call it several names. Elevator of Doom. The Failure Chute.
The Losers' Lift. We like all the names and can't
pick just one. But seriously, it's an hour of
people riding in an elevator, the ending of Willy Wonka
and the Chocolate Factory stretched out to 45
minutes plus commercials.
Cutting to the
Making it to the
Final 24 are...
The Guy Who
Missed the Birth of His Daughter, No-Neck Melinda, and
Sanjaya. Sanjaya is kind of a lady-boy. And I can see his
underwear. Pull up your stupid pants, kid. And I want
Melinda to de-hunchify her shoulders now that
she's made it to the top of the heap.
Anna Kearns gets cut. So does some guy named Bernard
Williams. The Butchy Girl With the Lip Ring gets cut. Gina
Ballbuster moves into the top 24 and runs into the
elevator doors on her way out. Oh, Other Door, where
are you when we need you?
"Cupid" singing guy is out. So is a guy
I've never seen before. Haley Something is
Little Hands says to the judges, after elevating up to their
room, "You guys are probably wondering why I called
this meeting today." The judges laugh. Then
Simon speaks and the editing does this thing I hate.
Here is the transcript:
um, I think you were probably amongst the contestants one of
the most popular. You know you've got a great
personality, everyone seems to like you, but, um, you
weren't one of the better singers. [Pause]
Unfortunately [another pause] you're going to
be seeing a lot of us. You've made it
THAT SHIT MAKES
NO SENSE, EDITORS! If you're going to chop up
Simon's words and make them sound forbidding,
then at least try to make them also sound coherent.
whose name is Blake Whatever, gets to stay. Thomas Lowe, the
Brit from the one-hit wonder boy band North and South, and
who seems to be openly gay (I read all this on
Towleroad.com, just so you know), is gone. Rudy
Cardenas--yes, I know it's a lot of names,
it'll all be straightened out next week, I
promise--gets to stay. Paul Kim, a.k.a. That
Korean Guy, also makes it through. He announces that his new
thing is to always be barefoot (gross) and to always
wear the same underwear when they cut people (also
gross, unless he is a diligent launderer, and so many
young men are just not, you know?).
Jordin Sparks, 17
years old, says to the judges, "I did as good as I
could do." She stays. If she sticks around long
enough, I want to send her a copy of Eats, Shoots
Cut from the
proceedings are the formerly and now future-ly anonymous
Olivia Someone, Tatiana Nobody, and Monique You'll
Never See Her Again.
A.J. Tabado is
going through. So are Stephanie Edwards and Leslie
Something and the Quitter From Last Season Guy. Good for
them, whoever they are.
is next. She pulls on her armpits and says, "I
don't want to go home." She's
shown singing horribly in a crappy white skirt and
tit-spilling leopard-print tube top and gold biceps
bracelet. For the judges she's wearing a red
miniskirt that is also a bathrobe. She makes it
through and asks for some advice from them. They have none.
But I do: Dress better.
who sings sort of Timberlake-y, is in; so is someone
named Sabrina. Simon says dumb stuff like "We have
decided not to exclude you" and "You
have not [pause] failed." So annoying.
Jerome Wacky Shoes, Joelle Crazy Hair, Matt the Cowboy Who
Is My Next Boyfriend, and Princess Makeup-Face.
makes it through. She's a big girl with a big voice
and a big wig. And yes, I know it's a gay
cliche to be all about the big African-American
girl who sings like a thunderstorm and gives off that
whole "and you, and you, and you, you're gonna
love me" thing, but I'm already really
into her and I refuse to apologize for that.
Amy Krebs, whose
family obviously invented all those Krebstar products on
The Adventures of Pete &Pete, is going through.
And then come the
final four. Two men and two women. Of each pair, only
one will exit Thunderdome alive.
Who Cries a Lot versus Meadow Soprano: Obviously the
horse's head in Paula's bed worked because
Meadow's through to the next round. The crazy
swirl of emotions explodes as the Elevator of Doom
descends back to the bottom floor. Meadow Soprano pats
Marisa on the back. Marisa jerks away with a very
nicely played "don't TOUCH me" move,
sobbing, "How did this happen?" as she
crouches to possibly vomit in the corner of the
says, "Some of the best people here get
eliminated!" (Subtext: "Well, not me,
thank God, but some of the other best people, like
you, for example, who were better than me, but life's
just weird, huh?")
it's Tommy Who Used to Have a Big Afro and Now Has a
Jheri Curl and Sundancehead. Tommy is big and still
very cute. Sundancehead is short. Like really short.
Like Dio short. Like wearing a big red pointy hat and
living in your garden short. I didn't notice this
until just now. But there it is. And in spite of all
evidence to the contrary, Sundancehead makes it on
through. Tommy flips off the camera with both hands.
Sundancehead, sensitive soul that he is, says, "If I
do make it big, I'll make you my