Tuesday. We open with a clip show recap of the series thus far, for the benefit of any recently lapsed Amish folks who have discovered the joys of Circuit City. They cheered. They cried. And cried some more. And cried some more. Rejection is just so much fun to watch. Twelve are left. They've moved from a "tiny studio" to a "massive Hollywood soundstage." Except for the part where they actually moved. Who will win? Who will lose? Who will care?
Credits. We return to the new and improved stage. It looks like the stage for the Oscars mated with a stray set from Babylon 5. It has wings, and eaves and lights and stuff. What? If you want room descriptions, read the Trading Spaces recaps. It's about twice the size of last year's stage. The seal is still there, but it's now encased in the floor. Ryan "Leathery Gay Manorexic Man" Seacrest comes out to the Seal to greet the cheering audience. What? Yeah, I've run out of nicknames, too. The crown cheers. They hold up signs, some of which I'm pretty sure aren't for Clay. At least one or two. Ryan makes a joke about tanning cream, which doesn't make it any less necessary for him to stop using it immediately.
Ryan introduces the twelve finalists, who file onstage. I'll save the sartorial comments for individual performances, other than to point out that Ruben is wearing yet another 205 jersey. Ryan tells Clay and Ruben that they aren't allowed to stage-dive. Clay does an exaggerated snap, while Ruben makes a great effort not to roll his eyes. I should mention that Ryan is wearing a faded coral t-shirt and a tan sport coat. Awful. Ryan then introduces Simon "Snotty Narcissist" Cowell, Paula "Brain-Damaged Cheerleader" Abdul, and Randy "Fat and Inarticulate" Jackson. I told you I was out of clever nicknames.
Ryan gives us the blah blah blah vote-cakes and reminds us that from here on out, the contestant with the least number of votes will be ejected on Wednesday. And every night will have a theme. Tonight's theme, just as with the first round of finals last season, is Motown. But there's a twist tonight: Ryan feeds us a clip show of the three judges telling kids that they picked the wrong song. Ryan says that the judges can't say that tonight because the composer of the songs is there with them. Well, hi there, Non Sequitur, how you doing? Non Sequitur gets so much work on the reality shows. They didn't say the kids picked a bad song. They picked the wrong song. And Burt Bacharach's involvement last season didn't stop them from criticizing Nikki McKibbin's song choice. Oh, whatever. Anyway, Lamont Dozier, prominent Motown songwriter/composer, is here tonight as a guest judge. Paula and Randy give him a standing ovation, and the crowd joins in. Simon sits, pouting oddly. He's probably jealous of the fact that he'll never, ever have as much influence on music as Dozier did in his time. And Dozier's important historical contributions to music won't stop me from pointing out that it looks like his features are slowly sliding off the front of his face. There's a joke about Lamont wearing one of Ryan's shirts because it's shiny. Shut up, Ryan.
We get a clip show off Dozier's history, as he plays "Heatwave" on the piano in his hotel room. He composed more than seventy top ten hits. He's worked with Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson. And they feel the need to tell us that he's worked more recently with Phil Collins, like that somehow eclipses all the other people he's worked with. The kids all hang out in Lamont's room. The good kids all care about Lamont, while the bad ones merely pretend to care. I'll leave you to decide which kids fall into which category. He gives each of them about five minutes of the time for the purpose of telling them they need to "feel" the song. He tells us that when the songs were written, the country was in a bit of an upheaval, what with the segregation and civil right battles and all. He says that the songs were a form of escape from all the troubles. He says that given our current march toward war, this is the perfect time to look at these songs again. And now, Lance Corporal Joshua Gracin, everybody! Oh, sorry. My mind got a little addled from the show trying to have it both ways. You'd think I'd be used to that. Anyway, the kids all jam out with him and practice for tomorrow night's group sing. When we return to the stage, Lamont is sitting between Paula and Simon. See, they honor him and everything, but they're not going to take the last word away from Simon. Let's not get all crazy here.