Tonight, the "guys." Ryan's face is partially immobilized by a strain of botulism. All the guys jump out as he says their names and it's dead embarrassing. The "girls" watch from the sidelines, waiting for their turn. Seacrest fully admits that Wednesday is going to be a whole lot of filler and bullshit, which is hilarious.
Nikko squints whilst singing "Part Time Lover," which combined with the stupid hat and his glasses means I still am not quite sure what he looks like. It's pretty nasal and nervous, and the higher notes are pretty pushy, but he's good, and the judges really like it.
Scott lets the nerves slightly affect his perfect, perfect voice. Of course, he's also wicked creepy, of course, and he sings "If You Were My Lady" with crap dance moves. His jumps into and out of falsetto are lovely. His facial hair is a disaster. Randy notes some pitch problems, but Paula has decided that's no longer an issue in this singing competition. Simon points out that he's ugly and fat and creepy-looking, and Randy and Paula give him shit about that but can't directly contradict it.
Anthony sings "Hold Onto The Night" kind of limply while being totally gross with the over-the-top camera-fucking. Can't you take me and the camera to a movie or something first? The judges all tell him that he is boring and safe and dull. Boring and super-cute? I think he'll be okay.
Bo Bice sings "Drift Away" awesomely, but he looks and dresses like a cult leader. Like a leader of cults. He's very polished in the thing that he's doing. Randy and Paula and Ryan all mention the "rocker" thing again. God. Paula also thinks he "feels like a perfect pair of jeans." Simon thought he did absolutely everything right. It's nice.
Travis sings "Ma Cherie Amour" for a million years with a GIANT grin. It's perfectly passable. Randy tells him he was boring and Paula thinks he's magical and wants to do something mysterious to him that I didn't understand. Simon tells him he was out of tune, boring and not even good enough for a hotel lobby.
Constantine sings "Kiss From A Rose"! Hilarious! He's got this stupid scarf and mic-stand humping and gross faces and creepy looks and supremely affected voice and weird pronunciations and stupid double chin and fake-ass "intensity" and "emoting" while singing maybe the dumbest song in the history of the world. What the hell is that song even about? Randy liked the song choice as much as I did, but for different reasons, and notes that he was out of tune. Paula likes how he has his own style, horrible though it may be. Simon says Bo outsang him, while Constantine has more charisma. Half right.
David Brown sings "Never Can Say Goodbye" and is very laid back, vocally. Randy calls the song "safe," and says it was pitchy. Paula slurs outrageously while talking nonsense. Simon says he'd be 50/50 if this were the first time to hear him.
Jared Yates has his natural eyeballs in, and sings some song about "How could I turn away from the one I love? When I know what my heart's made of?" and is perfectly comfortable with all kinds of whispering and groaning and having all the tics of Enrique Iglesias. Randy finds the whole thing average or below, Paula thinks "nerves" are causing everybody to pick random sucky songs nobody has ever heard, and Simon calls it a boy-band audition that wouldn't have gotten him in. Jared is boringly perfect to look at and boringly nice to listen to. The end.
Anwar sings "Moon River" on a stool. How dreadfully earnest. He makes weird faces but sounds really nice. Randy talks about intriguing the choice was, and how well he did. Paula wants to buy the recording. Simon thinks it was very original and awesome.
Judd. Damn. He sings all freaked out awesome and he sounds like a whole new thing I've not seen or heard before. His voice and style and singing are new. Some song about playing in "a traveling band," which part he sings about a thousand times. Judd rules. Randy loves it and Paula loves it and Simon calls him a mere entertainer but does point out that the guy is slammin' hot. I don't even like this show, and now I have a favorite. Dude.
Joseph goes through a few different voices before settling on a power ballad voice for "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?" which is hilarious to me, but honestly, he does very well. His voice is incredibly strong, although he does nothing interesting or creative with it. Randy calls it "not your best," which how would we, the audience, know? Paula and I really love the tone. Simon says it's not that exciting.
Mario prances around in his stupid damned hat with some awful facial hair. His song is about yelling and talking fast, but the judges love it, because they want us to love him and vote for him. Randy calls it the bomb and the best of the night, Paula screams, "Touchdown! Touchdown!" and Simon calls it not the best vocal, but the best performance, thanks to charisma.
Then Ryan teaches us how to send text messages and reminds us to vote because the bottom two are out on Wednesday.
Vonzell's up first. She sings "Heat Wave," with video flames on the stupid screen, and it's way more boring than she should be doing. She's way cooler than this. She looks like a million bucks! So pretty. Randy starts the pimping early, all about how she was a little pitchy but "corrected that with your personality." Hmm. That makes no sense, actually. Paula liked that she started with an upbeat song -- just like last night, and Simon thought it was an amazing start to the show. I really like Vonzell and her voice, but it wasn't. They're lying.
Amanda Avila sings "How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?" and stares her total lack of vocal training right in the face the entire time. Time for more "song choice" approval, whichâ¦it is pretty cool to hear a pretty lady sing this song, instead of an ungulate. Randy likes how she "hung in there," Paula thinks Amanda's pretty, and Simon calls her unoriginal, and then hits on her in a totally unoriginal fashion.
Janay sounds and looks terrified, and her singing faces are also terrified, and her hands wiggle around all over the place spastically and she sounds like crap. "I'm Going To Love You Forever," I guess, and the crowd and "Guys" all cheer during it. There's no reason for that. Randy notes her utter terror and calls the song too "rangy," basically saying what I've said all along: not an interesting singer. Paula calls her a "showman" and a "little dynamo," but not tonight. Simon calls it maybe perfectly: she's like a very young girl trying to be a grownup.
Carrie Underwood sings a Tiffany song! AAAH! She sings like she's trying out for American Idol: Pretty, at the top of her lungs, and with all the tics we've come to love in our pop stars, kind of groany in parts, kind of breathy in parts, kind of screaming in parts, lovely and perfect and boring and soulless and the crowd. Goes. Wild.
And the bullshit continues: Randy is blown away by what a "breath of fresh air" she is, and he can't believe "nobody discovered you before" and these are all lies, and Paula says "the vocals are open and beautiful tonight and they'll sustain you in this competition I think you're wonderful" and I don't know if that is lies because I can't parse it. Simon up and tells her she's a favorite to win, and praises how she knows who she is and what she's all about. All the boys clap for her even though she clapped for none of them last night.
We get a "C'mon, y'all!" from Sarah Mather right out the box and she sings "Get Ready" and her singing voice is weird and totally different from her speaking voice. Randy likes her song choice but thinks her voice is better than we saw tonight. Paula and Randy agree that this is a song with no range whatsoever, staying in the same octave the whole time. Simon calls her a "mistake," "clumsy," and "forgettable," and tells her that this was a shitty first impression. Jeez.
Melinda sings like an Idol, too, all ridiculous vibrato and silly low voice singing "The Power Of Love" by Celine Dion, which is a dumb choice and a boring one. Go ahead and outsing Celine Dion. If it were a pie-eating contest or a worthwhile-person competition, anyone could beat her, but singing is kind of her bag. Randy calls her "a little sharp" but also a "young Kelly Clarkson in the making." Which, side note? Is what Kelly Clarkson herself is, dude. Paula points out the dumb song choice, and Simon tells her she has no personality and will never be a role model.
NADIA! Is totally freaking hot and awesome singing some kind of hard rock about how "that's the power of love" and afterwards the crowd goes frigging nuts. Randy gives her props for being herself and rocking jeans. Paula is surprised that she had the rock-out in her. Simon calls her "the antidote to karaoke hell," which the majority of tonight has been, and I agree with all that, and then he calls her "original" and "here to win." I'm so naÃ¯ve because I had a tiny feeling that they might just say that she won right then. I love her.
Celena Rae looks fantastic but she's fucked due to coming on right after Nadia. She sings some song about "I will love again even, if it takes a lifetime to get over you," whichâ¦is this a disco hit? I've never heard it. She sounds really nice, actually. She completely gives up at the end, but you know, it's more interesting to listen to than most of them. Freaking Janay, for example. Randy and Simon criticize her forâ¦being behind Nadia, basically. Paula tells her she looked great. The end.
I hate Aloha. I'll say that right now. Also Mikalah: all the bad, none of the good. I'm back to hating her again, singing "Young Hearts Run Free" entirely through her nose, constantly addressing the crowd and the judges through the words, and a shitty power line at the end. Randy calls her "personality," and she thanks the audience. God. Paula thinks she's lovable and goofy and can sing. She gives this a classy smile. Constantine stares sickeningly and frighteningly into space. Simon says that half the audience will find you amusing and the other half will find you annoying and Randy points out that this is true of Simon, and frankly he's being charitable.
Lindsey is very Star Search to start with, all awkward dancing and shy voice. Boring ass song: "I used to have a wish one day to feel like this / now I know love exists because it's standing right next to me." Gross. Where do they come up with this stuff? Do I just not know any songs? Her voice is weird and cool and her range is not normal. This is the most boring song ever. Randy and Simon tells her she's a better singer than that song; Paula points out that her advantages, the "deep, rich, sexy tone," are not at all the point of this song, and that was dumb. She almost starts crying.
Jessica sings "Against All Odds," a song I really love, and sings it amazingly. I hate her craziness and her weird mush-mouthiness, but she sings it nicely, I guess. There's this weird vocoder thing she does on herself, like she's Cher and believes in life after love. It's really fucked-up sounding she does it on her own instead of through technology. Randy approves, Paula tells her she commands the stage. Simon tells her she sounded nervous and has sounded way better than that. Simon hopes she doesn't get eliminated.
Aloha. Is annoying. Her voice is nice, but she's too young to know what to do with it. It's utterly BeyoncÃ© instead of it being itself -- and I wrote that before they explained that "Work It Out" is a BeyoncÃ© song. And, you know, it's not as good as BeyoncÃ©'s voice, so she automatically sounds like she sucks. Randy loved it and doesn't want her to sing like BeyoncÃ©. Paula slurs her words so badly I don't know what she says. Simon says out of the 12 girls, he'll remember three or four, and she's one of them. It's true, I guess. I remember how irritating she is.
Tomorrow night: Results! Filler! More! The bottom two are gone from each gender and we're down to a bottom 20 for next week when we do this whole thing again, but with even more Seacrest talking about nothing. Grand.
I decided like a week ago that Wendy Pepper is to blame for everything bad this month, and if you can disprove me, go ahead. Bad things happened tonight. Like flashbacks, which luckily include ADAM PRATT and that awesome 18-year-old entrepreneuse with the posture issues, that I loved so much. Also, Regina losing it, Marlea losing it, everybody losing it, Simon and Paula losing it as a team, losers, losers, losers, ten-minute JP montage, and Mikalah flipping back and forth between human being and terrible freak, then extended remix about how this damn show is on all the damn time now.
Seacrestiana: Vonzell was adorable, Mikalah "finally came out of her shell," Melinda sang what I described as a Celine Dion song but feel more comfortable calling a Laura Branigan song, Jessica had dumb arm movements but sounded good, Carrie sang what is actually a Debbie Gibson song but I apparently felt more comfortable calling a Tiffany song last night, Janay was a little girl playing dress-up, Amanda learned about sexual harassment, Nadia was simply superior but cool about it, Aloha was fun and has a good voice but still bugs massively.
Ryan lets half the "girls" off the hook for the first elimination, and then: Carrie is safe, duh, and he jerks Mikalah around, and then she jumps around stupidly, and then he skips Janay altogether to fuck with her, and Nadia gets the good "news" that she's safe, and he finally asks Janay and Melinda down to the Seal and immediately tells Janay she's safe. So Melinda has a petit mal seizure and nearly makes Ryan cry, and Randy and Paula both remark that watching her on TV showed how she sucked, and Janay cries her ass off because she's the new Jaclyn because she's five.
Then Melinda sings and it's pretty, but who cares because this show is stupid and they didn't manage in six weeks (some of which had three frigging hours of programming) to show her ass more than once. Is the show this obvious every year?
Seacrestiana: Nikko was beloved, Travis was cute but whatever, Jared was "ghastly," per Simon, and everybody loved Bo because he's awesome and Constantine because nothing makes sense in this world. Anwar was awesome, Judd was slammin' hot, Paula was wearing weird Renaissance Faire clothing, Mario paced around like a jungle cat on meth, and then we got schooled by Randy and Simon that his was the best performance, and then we all voted for him because they said to. (Also because he was good.)
Anwar, Joe, David (having removed his godawful Vanessa Huxtable headband), Bo, Mario, and Scott are, of course, safe. The bottom row comes down onto the Seal, and obvious ones are sent back to sit: Anthony, Constantine grinning stupidly (after getting slightly jerked around so we'll vote for him next week), Judd, and Nikko, leaving Jared and Travis, and Jared is out, and Ryan grabs Jared in a pretty-boy embrace. They're both so technically hot and yet so unattractive in practice that they look good together, hugging. Randy and Paula explain that Jared showed no reason to be here. "Simon," asks Randy, "anything constructive for Jared?" Simon spits out a "No" and looks away. Jesus, Simon. Jared sings his little song and at first he sounds good, but then: there it is. Hi, Enrique. Wanna cracker?
Ladies: the top row is no longer safe. Aloha is safe, totally inappropriate and goofy and irritating when she learns she's okay. Jessica is safe and cries, and Vonzell is of course fine. "Amanda, Sarah, Celena," says Ryan, and then Sarah's suddenly out. I'm surprised by that. Randy says the usual, that last night wasn't her strongest, and Paula, interestingly, has "already spoken" with Sarah. She and Simon feel basically that she's awesome and it was pretty much the song that wasn't good enough for American Idol, and not her at all.
Ryan points out that Sarah is now going to sing the song that everyone agrees damned her, and she begins singing with a smile, because that's funny, no matter what. Her voice if you were not looking would sound like she was invested in this performance, but her face and eyes and body are dead. The girls surround her before she's done and she almost collapses. It's pretty much a bloodbath and everybody's really upset.
Then: bullshit, and not just because I like him. The bottom row guys (Anthony, Constantine, Judd, Nikko and Travis) are told to sit tight, and the top row comes down to the Seal. Ryan sends Mario and Scott back to sit, then Bo and David, and finally Anwar and Joe. Everybody simultaneously realizes that the bottom row just got majorly jerked, and are horrified. Suddenly Ryan spits out the implausible news that Judd is out. All the girls are aghast. The judges are mystified, and Paula goes on a filibuster of how much she hates Wednesdays for exactly this reason, from which Ryan snaps her because we're live, and Simon feels bad but unsurprised.
The women swarm and Nadia and Amanda put their hands all over him and he's basically pulled off his feet by a dogpile of love. Then, because it's poorly-planned and live, Ryan abruptly says goodbye to us and grabs Judd, and then Judd kisses him. Then everybody hugs everybody else, and until you see Scott Savol embrace Anthony Federov in his enormous bearlike meatpaws, you have not truly lived. This show. I tell you.
Tonight, the "guys."
On that good old stage, Ryan's head looks weird somehow, and he's talking about how there have been one hundred million viewers, and then says some dumb things we've heard one hundred million times, and all this time only certain parts of his face are moving. He's got L.A. face bad, y'all. Worse than Paula. "After suffering through the likes of Mary Roach and Leroy Wells, apparently you can dig it!'' And also, "good thing you're hooked! Because now you are in control." Not so good come next Wednesday, I wager. Lots of people wanting to avoid a massacre.
Now, some embarrassing crap: they do this "dancing" as they're introduced. Remember Fame? With Debbie Reynolds, and they would come out and go, "I'm Ryan Seacrest! And I'm here to work!" Remember that? It is the essence of cool compared to this. That's like Karen O doing body shots off the Arcade Fire, is what that is like. Nikko Smith is relatively cool with it, even though he's surgically attached to his horrible hat. Scott does a terrible white-boy dance with the revolving white-boy fists. Anthony does a gay stripper dance. Bo does no dancing at all, but does give us some rock horns and pretty much carries it off. Travis does a not-at-all-cute eye-fuck and frankly, in that moment it's over between us, for good. Speaking of: Constantine is too cool for this, by which I mean not cool at all. Cool comes from within. Ask Anwar or Judd. David Brown does a silly funny loveable dance. Jared is embarrassing and Anwar is embarrassing but lovely. Judd is wicked crazy adorable. Joseph is okay, and doesn't muff it like most of the others. Mario is just fine. They're here to work. I'd quit right then, when they sat me down and explained what was going to happen. "Jacob out," I'd say.
On the sidelines are the "girls." Urgh. Seacrest talks about how there's gonna be three weeks of this crap, and he fully admits that Wednesday is going to be a whole lot of filler and bullshit, which is hilarious. Or at least it was, when he said it. He didn't say what kind of filler or bullshit. He left that part out.
Seacrest greets the judges and asks Randy about how during the auditions he kept saying liked the boys. Randy's sticking with it and says it's "time to prove it," and how they are "the best group of guys we've ever had." He smirks as he says this, because the seams are showing. On to the performances because there are just thousands of contestants.
Nikko and the entire black-and-white history of him and his stupid hat, and then he sings "Part Time Lover." Open your eyes! He looks all squinty. It's kind of nasal and the higher notes are pretty forced. There are good parts, but the bad parts are…not great. I like him, he's immensely likeable and seems really nice? But I don't care what happens to him. He's fun to watch but I think the deal is that I don't feel all that connected to him because of the glasses, the hat, the squint, all of it. I'm not terribly sure what he looks like. Some bad notes, some yelling, and we're done. It's a good ending, though. The crowd goes nuts. I can't trust this show at all. The clapping could be partially canned and we'd never know. That bottom third where they say the number you should call seems to have been sponsored by a cell-phone company. If you didn't notice, don't worry -- there are twelve commercials for it this week. I can't wait until they just say "fuck it" and shave the Sonic Wave of a certain cola into the back of Ryan's hair. And you know he'd let them do it, too.