American Idol
Mentally Ill Is The New Hilarious, Part I

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: C- | 3 USERS: B
YOU GRADE IT
Gotta Get Through This
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Tuesday

We open on Leandra Jackson, a large twenty-year-old woman from Ohio, who is singing "The Star Spangled Banner" in a weird shaky, screamy voice that keeps changing key when she bounces off the walls of her admittedly limited range, like a remote-controlled bumper car or Roomba. She seems nice, and they always get points from me for being game, which she very much is, if only because she's sadly wrong about how well she's singing and, in fact, how well-advised her current choices in life really are. Fittingly, she ends by shrieking the word "brave" in a register just light years away from where we all started at the beginning of the "song." It's like whoa, there's just so much of her, and so much of her singing…cut to Simon, who looks at her for a second, and then shuts his eyes hilariously, like he's thinking of calling it quits for good. Like Leandra has done what we all want to do, and broken him for good. And…scene.

It's nice because there's no sound other than her tortured screams -- kind of subtle and funny. Actually, kind of brilliant. Then the credits, which…not so much with the subtle, although I gather they are new. The digital AI person this year is not so androgynous and creepy -- when it's a girl it's a girl, and when it's a boy it's a boy and so forth -- although when it finally swooshes its way through its weird Tron-Game Grid-world, it's a dude. With not-at-all Guarini hair. The more fringe elements of the American Idol conspiracy contingent ("The truth is trivial!") take this to mean, and I believe they might be right, that the next winner of AI, by hook or by crook, is going to be a dude, only with, you know, a sack. We shall see. Although if it is Constantine, I will take my own life. He/she/actually he is backed up by weird neon green peacock feathers. Huh?

So it's August 18, 2004, in Washington, DC, where we lay our scene. We talk about Fantasia and some other girl who looks like somebody's short mom -- I think Diana Degarmo? Don't hate me, I'm totally your friend! -- waiting, waiting, waiting for the results from AI 2004 and it's Fantasia and she wins and then practically cries her nose ring out of her face and then Seacrest wigs in voice-over talking about how everyone ever in the history of American Idol has been mind-blowingly successful, including Kelly, Clay, Josh, Tamyra, Kimberly, Ruben, lots of album covers, Diana (yeah, so that was her), and altogether they've had 23 #1 hits (does that include "Baby Mama"? Because that's the awesomest song of all time!) and how this year is going to be bigger, better, louder, crazier, and generally more magical than everything ever. Hmm. Seems like it's in the interest of AI to think that. I'll reserve judgment.

Ryan explains that, this year, the age limit is 28 (note how he doesn't tell us about the 53 other fucked-up changes to the format that we'll hear about in a few weeks), meaning that the contestants will be, oh, lots "more sophisticated" (cut to an unsophisticated girl in a cow costume, clutching her udders troublingly and saying "Hold Onto To My Love" as she shakes her udders all over the place, and some sad unsophisticated girl in a giant red apple costume tripping over herself, and a totally weird unsophisticated girl in an '80s aerobics one-piece with a giant cardboard face over her real face, screaming, and the judges laughing) "and talented" (some funny, funny retards that aren't worth discussing). There's also an extended montage meant to explain to us that Paula will be yelling Shut Up a lot this year. I think me too.

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American Idol

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