An attack of hyperactive praise from the judges, crappy sound and a really off-key backup singer make hash of the first three performances; Ryan calls the insanely dressed Randy Jackson "unpopular," says the word "bitch" to Paula, and bitterly tells Blake that sometimes, Simon lies; Hot Mess Paula starts the night tripping over her dog and getting an emergency nose job, and ends it screaming at Blake and telling him how much she loves him...until DAUGHTRY takes the stage, for a concert appearance we'll hopefully never, ever see. Randy is, by the way, dressed like a civil war happening in the Rhythm Nation; also notable: Marlee Matlin is in the audience.
Round One: "You Give Love A Bad Name" versus Jordin's choice, "Fighter" by Xtina. Blake's somewhat fatigued performance is still aggressively weird, but especially off-putting with the sound issues that plague the show's first half-hour; Jordin pulls off a surprisingly deft and powerful "Fighter," given she's too young to even spell the word "adversity." Clothing-wise, Blake looks fantastic in a Chris R-ish jacket and hoodie, while Jordin is shockingly enough wearing a dress over pants. First round goes to Jordin completely, not least because of the nice arc you get from her redeeming her previous Bon Jovi misfortunes with a rock-adjacent tune. Turns out one of the many emotions she can manufacture is rage. Simon gives the round to Blake, but I heard he lies.
Round Two: Blake's choice, "She Will Be Loved" v. "A Broken Wing." Blake is simultaneously pensive, smarmy, sexy, and argyled out to here, but his voice is not quite as limber as he seems to think it is. Also, the song itself is missable. "Broken Wing" is exactly the same as it always is, although Simon calls Jordin's performance "shrieky." It's not, it's exactly as solid as one might predict, but altogether Round Two is pretty anticlimactic. Which is sad, because Round Three is the coronation song, which sucks less than usual but still sucks. Jordin's emoting goes to a nervous school-play place, but her vocals are an easy match for Blake's wandering-troubadour pinstriped vibe. Round Two goes to Jordin, who is wearing...a different dress over different pants.
Round Three: "This Is My Now," a song about forgetting the hardships you've not actually undergone in order to revel in your personal Now. Blake's Now seems mainly to consist of bouncing and flailing around, rabidly sincere faces, and neon arrows pointing at his biceps and crotch. It's a passable performance but not the song for him, and he's not confident enough to fool you otherwise. Jordin's Now consists of powering through the song as though it were written for her, then breaking down adorably in the last few seconds like a good little winner always does.
Should Win: Jordin Sparks, damn her.
Will Win: Jordin Sparks, bless her heart.
Want more? The full recap starts right below!
One hundred thousand hopes dashed, and now it's all happening: girl versus guy versus machine. One last chance to vote, one last episode full of pointless filler and one hell of a crappy coronation song. This is the night, this is the audience, this is...the death of culture." I'm paraphrasing. But in the audience there is much cheering and Pounding of Dawgs, and into the Kodak we are welcomed one penultimate time. Other boy/girl fights are mentioned: From Justin to Kelly and on into Bo and Carrie, Taylor and "Kat," and now all of a sudden we got Blake and Jordin. My favorite things. Randy Jackson is dressed like Sergeant Pepper on a bender, bejeweled and bechained and bespoke and befoolish. Paula's hair and outfit once again jostle at the Wearstler elbow, and inside her head it's just a parade of trumpeting crazy. Simon looks exactly the same as he always has and always will: like the swinger cokehead manager at a particularly tony restaurant with $15 martinis and everyone on the waitstaff is five foot even, so they appear to scurry. Ryan calls him "Simon Cleavage," hilariously not, and Paula traces one creepy finger along his low-rise t-shirt and then won't let go of his hand. If the shirt's getting attention, she's on it. Ryan asks what happened, and the short version is, she tripped last night on a Chihuahua named Tulip and busted her nose -- this is not of my invention -- then got crazy fast plastic surgery and now looks exactly the same as she did before. She goes, "Simon says the new nose is sexier," all twisting the knife, and you know Seacrest ain't having it: "So the bitch is okay, we got it." Now, normally I'd say this is Ryan being awkward at an inconvenient time, but no: you mess with the bull, you get the gelled-up, well-manicured, bitchy little horns. Don't insert yourself into that mess, Paula, no matter how many cameras are pointed at it. Simon and Randy are like whoa, but you can't hide the tiny little smile on Simon's face. This has got to be American Idol: the bitterness, the free-flowing alcohol and pretense that everything is normal, that added soupçon of barely contained gay rage mean it's either AI, or Thanksgiving dinner Chez Clifton. And we're months from the holidays! "It's ironic," says Ryan, understating as all get out, "that the town to get press for all the wrong reasons is now famous for the right reasons!" This doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense because the world still doesn't hate Seattle as much as I do, so we must infer he's talking about the tiny little square foot world of this show, in which at some point Seattle did something foul to Ryan Seacrest. Or more specifically, his hair. Now, unless you live in that little box, you might not remember what that was; I sure didn't. Apparently, it rained. That's it! In Seattle, it rained this one time. Amazing. Specifically, in case your disinterest also includes Moments In Seattle Meteorology, it rained in Seattle in September of 2006. An almost unbearably long time ago, notable only because: Eva Avila won Canadian Idol, Mark Foley resigned. Spinach got serious and edged out broccoli for Most Hateful 6-n-Propylthiouracil Vegetable, as did Katie Couric. Meredith Vieira and The CW were born anew, Britney bore her second Spederline; Beyonce released an album named for a toilet and Fergie crapped hers out into one. Justin Timberlake and John Meyer both released albums, bringing white boys back to their rightful place as the bosses of you. The Wicker Man, Hollywoodland, The Black Dahlia, and All the King's Men proved that old America's corpse-raping tendencies still don't seem to produce much of worth; Zach Braff puked up The Last Kiss and cried all the way to irrelevance with another Forkcast soundtrack, and Jackass: Number Two was the best thing all month. This was not an indictment of our generation, but of all of them. Cormac McCarthy's The Road helped Sidney Poitier soothe Oprah's Million Little Bitchslaps and Faulkner Fuckup, and it rained on the AI tryouts for the billionth time running, because it rains in Seattle every second of every day, but it only really rains when it rains on Seacrest. Ryan tells the story of how on Planet West Hollywood, it only rains once every century, and how he was all about to see the rainfall when some cruel children locked him in a storage locker and he didn't get to see it, and it was real sad. Blake demonstrates a sexy perception of spatial relationships describing how the line was like, from here to there. Jordin was...there too. It was so very rainy, and the freaky people were very freaky. Also the songwriting competition people were there too, but nobody cares. You never see the one that gets you. "Two gems," Ryan waxes, emerged "from this Emerald City." In that long-ago past, Blake explains how he's too legit to know what this show actually is, and that he went on a whim, and Ryan lets him in on how the auditions were sucking so bad, but Blake was like: "Welcome to me." Simon agreed. I agreed about a half-hour previous when I picked his revenue-generating ass out of a crowd of six thousand. Paula loved him, his dad was adorable, some song is playing, Blake "takes risks," "beats the odds," and "steps up"; he doesn't "play it safe" and continues to "take risks." Are you getting this? Blake explains that he didn't know how bad he wanted it until he actually got onstage for the first time, which is kind of awesome but mostly sad. Jordin actually wanted it: when she turned sixteen she didn't worry about cars or driver's licenses, just the fact that she could finally audition for the show. It's Season Six, people, and this is key: there are humans who grew up watching this show. Roll that around in your mouth like a fine, fine wine. Now: spit. Jordin's "infectious smile" and "consistent performances" spanked it and Sparked it, Randy and Paula went nuts, but you know our Jordin: she's so happy to be here. So then "the rain clouds" parted, and "our saga from Seattle" finally had a happy ending. Is it sadder if they actually believe this epic shit? I can't tell. Blake and Jordin agree that they'd never thought they'd be the Top Two in their wildest dreams. I know what they mean! You know how I kinda hate this show? And my boy Joe R had to back me up when I said this was the best season ever, the best Top Six, the best Top Three, the best thing ever? I got reasons. Let's chat, shall we? You're adorable and I love you. We have fun. But I swear on the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ that I will stab the next motherfucker who thinks I get this ga-ga about the show and the contestants this year because Blake's hot. It's demeaning in several ways, not the least of which is the implication that my priorities are so screwed up, that my passions are so addictive, that I'm such a fucking dizzy queen that I would go nuts writing about this show just because a boy is cute. I get pretentious on my own steam, thank you very much, and when I write about Blake Lewis it's the Paula space around Blake Lewis that I'm generally writing about. What he represents as a tactical move by this show, which if you haven't noticed is the biggest thing on television for six years running. We learn and talk about cultures by the stories that they tell. The fact that a dying technology like Nielsen television still manages these ratings after six years is phenomenally important, by the fact that the approximate stardom and amateur karaoke super-stardom this show represents is still in some ways the highest accomplishment most Americans can imagine. I don't think that's a bad thing, but it is a thing, and it bears looking at. Each season of this show is a constantly narrowing angle on who, and what, is most important t
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