American Idol
Hate Accompli

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Hate Accompli
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Ryan Seacrest is once again clad in funeral garb as he welcomes us to this, the penultimate episode of a season that has only been running since January, even if some days it feels like we've been hearing the words "Taylor Hicks" and "Katharine McPhee" for much, much longer than that. I guess the laws of time and space tend to bend in Taylor's presence, where what feels like a year and a half is actually five months, and what looks like someone who voted for LBJ passes for twenty-nine. Ryan is facing the camera, his back to a pitch-black abyss. I don't know how I manage to keep getting fooled by this switcheroo, but I do. He talks about how Kat and Taylor are vying for the "most sought-after title in television." Take that, bitches! Then he says they'll have to do it "in front of these guys here." And the house lights go up in the Kodak theatre, and it's really quite impressive. The theater, I mean. I always think so on Oscar night, as well. If the point is to simultaneously stroke egos and scare the crap out of people, this is the venue for it. Ryan gets extra-super into it as he says, once again, "THIS is American Idol!" It's like he waits all season for it to matter like this. This is both his Super Bowl and his Gay Super Bowl. You can see how he'd be very excited.

Since this is my last shot at the credits for the season, I should mention that it's kind of annoying that Carrie gets shunted into that barely-visible afterthought there at the end, especially since she outsold Fantasia and Ruben (...right?). Also, since I won't be recapping Wednesday's carnival of the absurd, I have to say now that out of all this year's finalists, I wouldn't pick one of them over Carrie. I wouldn't be caught dead at a Carrie Underwood concert, but as a short-term TV karaoke singer, none of these fools could touch her. Ryan takes the stage via the "FANT ASIA" doors, even though we just saw him on the stage not ten seconds ago. Mandy Moore is in the audience, as a goodwill ambassador from the flaming wreckage that was the American Dreamz box-office receipts. Ben Stiller is hunched over in the audience looking like he's trying not to be recognized. I don't think anyone's told him how nobody likes him anymore. Seacrest looks especially orange tonight as he welcomes all three thousand audience members to the Kodak. He introduces the "three very smug-looking judges," and if any and all permutations of the "pot calling the kettle black" cliché hadn't already been ground into paste, I'd probably haul it out for this occasion, because Ryan Seacrest calling someone else smug? That would be like him calling Simon vain and gay. How weird would that sound? Randy, blessedly, fails to boo Simon. And I think Paula fails to punch him, so maybe Simon remembered to hand out those end-of-season gifts this year. Ryan refers to the competition as neck-and-neck (it's not), and he asks Randy what the final two have to do to get ahead. Wait, wait, wait! Don't tell me, I know. They need to choose good songs and sing them well. They need to bring it. Am I close, Randy? "It's now or never, baby. They need to lay it all on the line tonight." Partial credit, then? Paula picks up the rest of the slack by bringing up "song choice." Simon's suggestion? Prayer. And not your normal Christian prayers for good luck and inner strength. No, he means praying the other guy fucks up. Ah, yes. The Serenity Prayer's long-time nemesis: the Turmoil Prayer. I know it well. Ryan lays down the format: three songs, three phone numbers. Two songs apiece will be culled from the last three months of performances, while the third will be the show-appointed Crappy-Ass Single and Thinly-Veiled Coronation Metaphor. Then Ryan continues his obsession from last week about the gender makeup of the finale. He reminds us that there have been "girl-boy" finales twice before, and both times the girl has emerged victorious. Of course, Clay Aiken was a girl-boy finale unto himself, and I believe they're still counting the votes on that one. And, not to be a spoiler or anything, but Wednesday's show will only confuse that issue further. Anyway, Ryan's got a huge boner about the boys-versus-girls thing, painting Taylor as an AI gender pioneer. Do it for Bo Bice, Taylor! Do it for Guarini! Next...okay, I rag on the clip packages that litter the AI landscape like so many discarded Diana DeGarmo CDs, but this next one is pretty cool. Mostly because it's set to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," and I went into the Journey thing last week, so I don't feel the need to do so again. Suffice it to say, this song effing rules. The videos are of Taylor and Katharine's Idol journeys. Get it? Journey/journeys? I'm hoping tomorrow will feature a retrospective on the finalists' air supplies. Of note: baby pictures of Katharine. Photos of Taylor with dark hair. Taken the day before the Las Vegas auditions when he dyed it, no doubt. I'm just saying. Believe it or not, they were both very excited to be on the show. They auditioned. Taylor the Alabamian gets lumped in with Bo and Ruben, which actually speaks far better for the diversity of Alabamians than anything I can think of. The only thing I can think of to tie them together is how I don't really care for any of them. Sorry (2006), Rube. Hey, remember when Simon guaranteed that Taylor wouldn't make the Top 24? And then he went back on his word in Hollywood and doomed us to the finale we've got tonight? Seriously, the second Taylor's fate was placed in the hands of the American public, his spot in the finals was all but assured. I'll let Ryan explain it for me. Taylor "defied the odds." No longer would the prematurely gray and incredibly old be treated as second-class citizens on this show. As for the whole "drunk, spazzy asshole" thing, Ryan would rather you think of it as "soulful spirit and contagious dance moves." And just so Katharine doesn't start running away with the title of "Most Self-Centered Idol Experience," Taylor tells us that we're experiencing "The American Dream, by Taylor Hicks." Dude, I know. I keep trying to scream, but I can't wake up.

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American Idol

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