The judges, Ryan, and the contestants are all in on this fake banter vibe that is really irritating, just cartoonish, but that ends early as the judges start agreeing on every single contestant and giving the same notes every time. Not as fascinating: Kat McPhee, who does a boring rendition of "All in Love Is Fair," by Stevie Wonder, a song with which I'm not familiar but I'm fairly certain it's not usually that boring. I fear for her. Kinnik turns in a fairly lackluster Gretchen Wilson song, "Here For The Party," wearing a lovely cowgirl outfit but shocking the judges with her loss of all range and personality. Lisa Tucker turns in another professional number, this time "Who's Lovin' You" by the Jackson Five, but Simon wisely warns her against coming off as "a very young girl singing grownup songs." Melissa sings "Why Haven't I Heard From You," by Reba McIntyre, which is a good song for her, but not that interesting to watch. Simon actually hurts Paula's feelings for real. Heather sings "Hero," by Mariah Carey, and it doesn't matter if she's good (she's fine) because it's Mariah and she didn't bring anything in particular to the table or change it in any way.
Brenna comes in with yet another hairstyle, and sings a totally boring-yet-passable version of "Last Dance." Disco is not her thing, and neither is this feel-good bullshit. Where were the claws? I was promised claws. I don't want her to go, not really, but I wouldn't be surprised this week. Paris is wearing a crazy outfit! Again! She looks like Rudith Huxtable dressed as my grandmother. She sings "Wind Beneath My Wings" and it's kind of creepy and low, and it's technically sound but played out. The judges beg her to stop being a little old woman. Beautiful Ayla sings "I Want You To Need Me" by Celine Dion after attempting once more to come out of the closet, and Simon warns her against becoming too perfect, and like who wouldn't kill for criticism like that?
Kellie actually turns in a fairly adorable "Something To Talk About," her razored bangs and makeup doing their job of distracting from her face. Pleasant and impressive. Mandisa then teaches Ryan a fun game to play with his mom (yeah) besides Scrabble and performing tableaus in the parlor, and then quickly blows everybody's ass off singing Faith Hill's "Cry" in an incredibly powerful performance that's still only scraping the possibility of what she can do. Randy and Simon aren't thrilled with the song choice, due to the fraction of her skill it represents, but everybody admits it was amazing. Tonight: Joe R. and the Dawgs.
Ryan's wearing dirty black jeans and an elaborate velvet tuxedo coat; Will is already bouncing around. Ryan tells us that last Thursday was "the biggest night in television for an entire decade," given that Survivor was up to something, Dancing With Idiots was having its finale, and it wasn't simply the Olympics, but Ladies Figure Skating, Ryan's total favorite, and yet AI still was "on top by two to one." I don't know what that means exactly, but it's exciting nonetheless. A spooky girl in the audience looks on as Ryan bows to the judges in his little outfit; Simon grins at Ryan because of the fake-ass banter in which they're all about to engage. Ryan mentions how all last week, they were all on different pages, judging-wise, like apparently that's a new idea, and Simon asks him to redefine it as Simon being on the "correct page." He says that after "watching it back," he gives himself ten "marks out of ten," using both of my favorite weird Simon phrases in one sentence, while Randy and Paula were averaging about six and a quarter. Paula laughs, and Ryan mentions that Simon might want to try some of that humble pie they were talking about with Brenna last week. "It's just about being right, Ryan." He says the other judges are wrong about 60\% of the time, blah blah, he's playing to type, this show is a dumb cartoon and they all know it. Which producer's brilliant idea was it that this aspect of the show simply must be over the top and constantly hit: "Simon! He's mean! He thinks he's right all the time! Doesn't that make you feel emotions?" Ryan and Paula laugh and joke fakely about how they're just a small part of the show, that it's all about Simon, whatever, Ryan gets down on his knees and screams over and over, "Thank you Simon!" and it's weird and a little creepy. Even Simon is bored by this stupid charade parody of actual worthwhile show content. I wonder if even Simon could explain why this shit is 90 minutes long.
There's a background video for Katharine, who's up first. The theme this week is the highlight of their AI experience. For Katharine, this amounts to wrestling with Kellie Pickler in bed as often as possible. "We're just like silly and dumb together," she says. I wonder if, as a child star with a stage mom from hell, Katharine's ever met another girl before. If you don't know what actual fun is like, I bet hanging out with Pickler is totally fun. They hug and snort and grunt on the bed like Emily Rose, and then have so very much fun that they fall on the floor. It's clearly not rehearsed in any way -- because if it was, that would be like the creepiest niche porn ever; ergo, the cameras must have just accidentally caught them in a moment of exuberance. Can you imagine what this shoot was like? "Arm higher, McPhee...Kellie, grab a pillow and hit her across the face with it? Good, that's good...now you're wrestling, scrabbling...we'll add the maniacal giggles in post...now fall off the bed! Fall off the bed! Yes!" And then Pickler's wearing roller skates and they're both doing massive amounts of blow and McPhee's all, "I've always thought of you as a daughter."