Welcome to Dallas, home of Kelly Clarkson, who has succeeded all over the place. Is she the "lone star" of Texas? Somehow I doubt it, but Ryan loves saying that. I was saying to Joe last night that I wasn't sure if I could even apply myself to watching the show, much less writing about it -- but my hope was that once I heard the song, and saw Ryan Seacrest's little face, I would probably come back. "Let Ryan bring you home," Joe said. And you know? He was right. Some gross Dallas girls welcomes us to Dallas and we get a proto-Dallas intro to the city, and then some screaming. Has anything happened here "since we've been gone?" Heh. It was hot in Texas, everybody says, and then they talk in those accents.
...And right into the crystal meth, complete with mugshot meth-face. Pretty blonde girl, who of course has a billion children, etc. Meet Jessica Brown (24, Longview TX) who sang in recovery, starting with "Jesus Take The Wheel." Which we get to hear while the girl drives around with her child in the backseat. I hope that that little girl is not a bastard like in the song. Mom praises her -- and her so-very-Dallas highlight/lowlight stripes -- for becoming human again, which I love, and then she tells us that her mission is to inspire people to quit with the meth already. Given the little story, I'm guessing she has a great voice. And she does: her "I'll Stand By You" has such clarity and smokiness that her kindness really comes through. I don't trust anybody, really, unless they've been in the shit. She has that trustworthy energy. It's great. Simon says she made it interesting, and her mascara-running little sister outside stresses out and nearly loses consciousness. She gets through, of course, and there's a giant recovery hug with screaming. Aww. "They didn't think that I would ever be here," she cries. I like that girl. I like this season. I like how somebody can go from Jessica Sierra back to Kelly C., and we get to see it.
Some big blonde Army dork with a charming smile does a gimpy dance and is cheered -- spotted: Jessica Brown, totally bored with his antics -- and then tells us about his sad mentally impaired life in landscaping technology. It's a good life, but not one I feel great hearing all about. Ryan asks him once again to dance like a moron, and the music thumbs its nose at social programs. Paul Stafford (25, Crosby TX) is a member of the American Rollercoaster Enthusiasts, among the other less-visible groups to which he clearly belongs. Randy and his cute facial hair talk about how American Idol is also a scary ride, and Simon gives Paula props for her "ups and downs" pun relating to the scary ride that is this awful show. He then sings that boring Elliot Yamin song about how you have to wait for the song to end and it never, ever does. Most especially tonight. Paul Stafford makes me sad, I would like to be his friend but don't want to talk about him anymore. Paula talks at length about how "joyful" he is; even Simon corrects the lack of joy we feel watching Paul, with whom we are both quite taken, by the end. He leaves with grace and poise, and that goddamn retard music plays him out with a stupid trombone. Luckily, Paul's attempt to give props to Simon, for showing such care and restraint, results in the glorious and unintentional bon mot: "Simon didn't come down on me like I thought he would, so that's always good, because he goes down on just about everybody." I LOVE you, Paul Stafford.