But what's your sign? Due to that need for the contestants to say something about themselves before each song -- which would work if they were actually interesting -- the show resorts to the one thing they all have in common: they were born (mostly in May-June, strangely). Ryan is kicking the beltless look, Paula's hair is classic aprÃ©s-sex "rocker," and Simon and Randy are still totally defensive about last week, all "Kelly didn't get airplay!" and "Song choice doesn't matter if you sing it right!"
Scott, a Taurus, talks crazy and then sings the compelling and rich classic "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch," with some weird-ass dancing and a minorly less startling appearance. Randy liked it, and then Paula and Simon get into a fight over whether jazz hands and limp hip-thrusts and a wheezing, lurching two-step constitute "choreography" in the classic sense, and then about whether it was good. I think tonight's episode happened at a very high elevation or something, like on K-2, because everybody seems really out of breath, Scott and Anthony particularly, although the alternate theory is that the two engage in some kind of Greco-Roman wrestling just before their performances. Or "chess," as they're calling it these days.
Bo, a Scorpio, has the grace to be ashamed of himself as he discusses his (surely producer-mandated) penchant for scorpion-like vengeance. Then he sings the greatest "Your Ideal Boyfriend Who's Kind of a Pussy" song of all time, "I'll Be." And I do like that song because it's beautiful and reminds me of my personal IBWKOAP, whom Sars told me never to mention again, but mostly because it attempts to be the most romantic song ever while incorporating the phrase "love suicide." Hilarious, misguided.
Just like A-Fed (a Taurus whose "determination" helped him learn English at some point in the ten years he's been in the U.S.), who sings Marc Anthony while wearing a cute outfit (which showcases the hole to the exclusion of being flattering) and wriggling uncomfortably. I swear at the end of the song he sings he will spend his money all night because he's glad that he's got me, and I don't like what that presumes about me. Randy and Paula tell a heap of white lies and then Simon mentions a litany of truths, including about the wiggles. Then Ryan and Anthony discuss the word "ass," and finally come clean about more "chess," this time with Travis. Don't think of an elephant.
Nikko (Taurus) starts yucky, but ends up sounding pretty great about halfway through -- it's really unbalanced and off-kilter, but the ending kills. Randy and Simon shove Paula into her chair, because she's wandered off again, and all three judges just love it all over the place. The problem? He sings "Georgia," which is so effing cynical that Simon congratulates him on his ghoulish audacity. Why not just sing a duet with Nat King Cole?
Travis (an Aries, like your humble recapper) has a voice that sucks right out the box, so it's all dancing, in this gray wool newsie outfit that's quite fetching. Turn off the sound and it might be the best of the night, as he sings "Every Little Step I Take," by one Bobby Brown. Yeah. And then beatboxes. Poorly. Simon calls it "appalling," and then Simon and Paula have an awesome fight about how sometimes shitty singers start out as dancer/choreographers and then get a record deal even though they're shitty singers and then maybe end up recording the song "Vibeology," which saved a young boy's life once. And that young boy? Was me.
Mario's confused and thinks we have really high expectations of him, which is a burden to him. I'm so sure, Mario. Your hair is a burden to me. He's been singing the "fun side" (read, "plastic cutesy bullshit"), but now he's going to sing the "serious side" or something (ibid.), but what's awesome is when he says that this choice "represents the duality of the Gemini." Jesus. He sings "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?" and is pretty much uneven the entire time and goes completely out of tune for large parts of the song. He goes all kinds of Guarini on me and his eyelids flutter like another personality is coming to the fore, which represents the duality of the crazy person. The judges line up on their knees to tell him lies of such magnitude that if I wrote them down this recaplet would have its own gravity and it would destroy your monitor.
Fucking Constantine frogging his lips out and promising to deliver the same high standard of vocal quality we've come to expect from him no matter what the Top 12 theme night. He's a Virgo, but the bitchy kind whose "perfectionism" and need to be "hard on themselves" is actually a free pass to be a dick to everybody else due to the huge stress of being them, while still doing nothing to correct their egregious behavior. So he sings "Every Little Step," And it's pitchy and unclear and warbling, but still the least objectionable thing Constantine has done to me personally, both vocally and how he looks away instead of staring, but mostly because the camera cuts away every time he threatens to get gross. The judges tell him it was his best so far, which is true, although it still doesn't explain why the hell he's here. Bitch can't sing!
Anwar, a Taurus, very earnestly sings the very earnest "What A Wonderful World." He's a little sharp, and too nasal for me, but he's got great control of that reedy voice, and by the time he gets to the glory notes he's much more clear and pretty. Randy calls it the best vocal of the season, "boy or girl or cat or dog," which I like to think of as a shout-out to me, and Paula says his voice is "truly his instrument" and not only that, but "an entire orchestra." (Woodwinds, mostly.) Then lots of ass-kissing, and Simon asks us politely to pretend Anwar likes girls.
Errata: I've been calling that Police song from Monday "Every Little Step," and singing it wrong, since I was little. I also tend to call the films Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction either Fatal Instinct or Basic Attraction, and unless I watch myself, Maverick comes out High Stakes Gambling. The human mind is a curious thing. Viz.: Ryan and Simon kicking up the gay another notch or two, becoming fawning (Ryan) and abusive (Simon) and pretty dirty (both), and the judges now all have psychic mind powers.
As a Gemini, Amanda likes "lots of music" -- told you! -- but she's also "indecisive." She looks cute, all dressed for work at Hot Topic, but still can't sing for shit. The judges call the extreme hubris in singing "River Deep, Mountain High," even though they don't care about song choice, and Constantine and Anwar flirt all through the song because it's so boring they've turned gay. All of a sudden. Then Amanda likens their experience to being "soldiers in war," and then she climbs onto a giant papier-mÃ¢chÃ© Jesus on wheels and goes around careening all over the place before running over little A-Fed, who just cannot stay out of danger.
Janay, a Libra, enjoys "walks in the park, and candle-lit dinners, and going to the movies with your [sic] boyfriend." If you don't understand why that is totally the most awesome thing ever to occur on this show, I don't know what to say. She then sings basically the Jets song I requested, Selena's "Dreaming of You," and sounds crappy and looks crappy, but two times and ten times better, respectively, than last week, and then Randy tells her he counted five or six notes that were actually in tune.
Carrie is a Pisces, which is "kind of cool because I love to fish, but I never use live bait, and I always throw them back, because a Pisces is always compassionate and kind." So I stick a hook through her lip and drag her underwater with it, where she flops around for a while before she stops trying to breathe, and then I pull the hook out and throw her back on shore, where she lies for a while vomiting water and bleeding all over everything, because an Aries is also always compassionate and kind. She sings "Because You Loved Me," and it's boring and good and whatever, it's a Carrie song sung by Carrie, yuck, and the judges baby-talk for awhile and she tells Ryan she simply won't be taking part in the whole theme night thing, this year.
Vonzell, as a cowgirl, initiates some more Ryan/Simon flirting, and tells us that as a Pisces, she often spazzes out and floats away to dreamland. She sings "Respect" and doesn't duff it, which is nice, and a neat trick. The judges are nice to her, and she turns a Simon outfit insult into one of the biggest ovations of the night, explaining the hat and boots were gifts from her visiting father. Awesome. She's so great.
Nadia's hair is getting so huge, so fast, that it is red-shifting. She and Ryan discuss how she misses Celena, kind of but not really, and she has Capricorn "personality" and is an "ambitious go-getter." She sings "Try a Little Tenderness," which as we all know was written by Jon Cryer, and starts off sexy and jammy, and then there's a very exciting buildup to the Whole Nadia Thing, and then I don't know what happened because I woke up on the floor moments later. Then Ryan says she'd never really thought about the song before four days ago. God. She and Bo should just start a gang. Or a band, I guess. But I'd rather be in a gang with them. I'm going to need a lot more hair, though.
Lindsey is an Aquarius, which is "just wrong," because she's "not really unemotional." Girl, we know. Much bigger voice this week, singing "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" and I'm hoping they'll pull a Janice Javelin on her, all, "Why did you do an Aerosmith song? Stay true to yourself!" but I guess somebody filled them in ahead of time. She sounds pretty good, better than past weeks, and A-Fed screams. Then Ryan and Simon have hate sex, and it's so disturbing and involved that nobody remembers to talk about the singing.
Mikalah's a Capricorn, "shy, reserved, and hates attention." We get the comedy, dude. She sings "Somewhere" in her best Streisand, staring hypnotically into the camera -- nice to watch, but she kind of slaughters the song -- and there are lies told by Randy, bizarre ESP crap from Paula, and a monograph on "All The Things You Want In Your Divas, If You Are A Giant Flaming Streisand-Loving Homo," by Simon Cowell. Nothing of worth. Ryan points out that she's following the judges' directions, so basically they're criticizing themselves at this point.
Up last is Jessica Sierra, who tells Ryan that being told she has the best ("female") vocal is not all that relaxing, because "My teeth are jacked up and I am a little bit creepy-looking." Oh, that was me said that. She's a Scorpio, so last year she didn't make the cut but this year she's in the Top 16. Then she sings "The Boys Are Back In Town," but not the Patty Loveless one, or even the one by the Cardigans (or was it Bon Jovi? This is me jerking your chain), but in fact the totally awesome one from 48 Hrs., by the Busboys. She's very involved, very "performance" tonight, totally comfortable and natural, and it's clearly one of the top songs of the night. She's attending this prom, by the way, dressed as a prostitute from the Emerald City. So the judges freak out on her and then she only kind of gets Simon's comment about her outfit and how it was a good song choice -- in title, if not substance -- because both of the other songs by that name are about total whores. Oh, too complicated. It was a boob joke. Next: Results!
Mikalah is dressed like a common streetwalker to such an amazing degree I don't even hear half the stuff Ryan says. Seriously: mesh-lace sheer shirt thing with a pink tube top underneath. Giant pink Power Ranger boots. The rest of them are dressed relatively normally -- i.e., Nadia's wearing vanguard Haight-Ashbury circa 1967, Amanda and Lindsey are in their unmentionables, Scott's dressed like Fat Joe -- so I'm somewhat distracted, and start thinking about ellisbell's point in the spoilers thread about how this is one of the hardest weeks, odds-wise, because each person has a one in four chance of getting through, which of course won't happen again until the Final Four. Plus, Ryan's jacket matches my couch, like, exactly.
To review: Amanda missed every goddamn note except the yowling ones, Janay sucked marginally less, Vonzell ruled, Mikalah "toned it down," I guess, Nadia gave me a vascular event, Lindsey : Ryan Seacrest :: Constantine : Dunkleman, and Jessica's giant breasts totally rocked it Eddie Murphy style.
Bo took on a bit of the old Constantine enunciation affectation, Travis rocked the newsboy with some crappy beat-boxing, Scott gave an "amateurish performance," and A-Fed had "as much Latin flair as a polar bear." Paula simply couldn't imagine a Top 12 without Nikko in it, although America apparently could, Mario -- who also has the Latin flair of a polar bear, frankly -- gave Paula goosebumps, Constantine was fucking nasty, and Anwar looked great and sang beautifully and boringly, and gamely pretended he would ever fuck Paula Abdul. "What have your votes done?" asked Ryan, and dude, I said "effing Constantine" out loud right then. I had a premonition.
Mario and Lindsey, and Anthony and Vonzell, come downstage to their pre-assigned positions around Ryan, and they're all in, and everybody hugs everybody else and Mario pushes Lindsey out the way to hug A-Fed, who then in a very cool and cute and weird old-man fashion helps the ladies to their predetermined seats. Carrie gets through and acts all irritating farm-girl-shocked that Ryan dicked her around for a second, and Nadia gets into the Top 12 and is so "excited" she forgets to thank God and is struck by lightning, but it's okay because she's grounded by her electricity-conductive hair and utterly fucked-up outfit.
Ryan calls Constantine and Bo "the rockers" and summons them down to the Seal after promising one of them is going home, but then something happens. Something I'm not proud of. Something that I feel bad about. Something involving Constantine. He's wearing a Justin Guarini t-shirt under his leather jacket, and before I can contain myself, I yelp out aloud -- alone in my house, okay -- "That is so fucking cool." And then I clamp my jaws down around my tongue and pray nobody heard me, but I'm telling you because we're friends.
So of course they're both through and the judges are very happy with the first eight, although Simon looks bored as hell, and there are four spaces left, and then there's an O.C. commercial I've only seen like a hundred times, and the Darth Vader movie, so I have to watch those commercials, but then MAN! Mikalah looks like ASS.
Of Travis, Scott, Nikko in an Alicia Keys hat, and Anwar smiling beatifically, who will get through next? It's going to be Anwar, out of those guys, because Travis is clearly out, and Anwar is more of a bye than Nikko is. Yeah, he gets through and prays a whole bunch, and Mikalah and Jessica discuss it all. (I'm telling you, keep those two apart or you will regret it.) Carrie fake smiles, and somehow in my head this means that Jessica will be the next one through because -- out of Jessica, Mikalah, Amanda, and Janay -- of those four, she's the Anwar. This is fun. I'm also really good at telling the order the girls will get their photos on America's Next Top Model, too. I don't know why. But if Jessica = Anwar, then Mikalah = Scott, which means I know the whole Top 12, but also means: GROSS! Except I don't know who it's gross for.
Of the three remaining guys, Randy says, "I think it would have to be Scâ¦uh, between Scott and Nikko." Dude, the judges totally already know. This is gay. Paula, even though not 48 hours ago (not to mention clipped again tonight) she said she couldn't "imagine" a Top 12 without Nikko, starts going all "I love all my children the exact same amount" because she can't say Nikko, because she already effing knows. All Simon knows is that Travis is going home. Heh. So it's Scott, like I said, who goes all God some more, and Mikalah licks her lips, sizing him up. Travis, you're hot. Nikko, that BITES. Constantine totally took your spot. God.
Mikalah still looks freaking gorgeous in the face, but yikes. Randy says that of the three, Mikalah is still his favorite. "America voted, Randy mentions Mikalah," says Ryan. Duh, it's totally her. All three judges clap as she freaks for a split second but then immediately turns to Amanda and Janay to hug them. Amanda looks destroyed and old, Janay gives one more terrified, horrified look at the camera, and then all Top 12 dance around like assholes, reminding us what's in store on "The Road Ahead," which is: more.
We're live again. Why? Ryan really hopes you're "ready for the first of your three fixes this week," because even though last week he understood that even two hours of this crap is glut-market supererogatory whoredom, this week he's a pusher. Like we just need this show so goddamn bad that we're rolling around in front of the screen begging Ryan for the "first of our three fixes this week" like a narcoleptic River Phoenix all, "Ryan, just let me owe you a date, I promise I'm good for it." Whatever will we do, Ryan, when we return to the usual format next week? Will you give us more pointless "specials" full of filler and stuff we've already seen and more bad auditions that Jacob will not be recapping or even watching? Say you'll fill our endless AI-less days somehow.
There are more truly unflattering stills of Joe, David, Celena, and Aloha, and Ryan gives us the okay to say, "Awwww." I guess people are holding back because, of those four, only David had any advance publicity on the show whatsoever, and his voice was so good but he was so boring we all fell asleep like little babies whenever he was onscreen, so the audience is just trying to figure out who they're looking at before they commence to mourning. But Ryan tells them it's okay to "Awwww" so they "Awwww" but it means less because it's Ryan telling them to do it. So, Ryan asks, "Will the winner be a guy? Or! Will we have another 'girl' Idol?" Then he calls the judges "guys," too.
Paula looks very aprés-sex with some messed up "rocker" hair; Simon thought last week's results were fair, and then he bitches for awhile all about how Kelly didn't have a whole lot of airtime, so he's gotta take all kinds of umbrage at all these sore losers pointing out the ridiculous amount of time we've spent on people who are still in the competition, versus people who have not, and are being picked off one by one. I guess we're short for time, though, because he doesn't get to tell the other part, which is that Kelly wasn't competing in a season that had over a month of audition shows twice a week highlighting various performers before the semifinals even started, with the express purpose, reported all over the entertainment media, of engendering sympathy and fan bases from the get-go. He didn't have time to say that part.
He does, however, have time to insult your intelligence and mine by superciliously suggesting that perhaps Joe and Melinda were confused and thought the voting was on whether or not the people had appeared on television at any time. That's the joke. The other part of the joke is that he flogs the this is a singing competition horse some more, as if that were true. As if the power-voting teens have ever taken that into consideration. As if Mario would be here if that were the case. As if he weren't about to say himself, for at least the sixteenth time, that it's in fact not a singing competition, it's a packaging and marketability competition, and in fact it started two months ago, before anybody knew whether they were involved or not, and that's what dictated the whole airtime thing to begin with.
Ryan asks Paula how she'll be judging differently this week, and so of course she answers a completely different, unasked question, all, "You know I just think tonight they're going to bring it…there's tough competition in that Red Room there. They -- look at them, they're sweating." That's how Paula's going to be judging this week. "Do you have any favorites?" asks Ryan. "You ask me if I have my favorites? On the spot. I have watched through the weeks I know who's edging by in my vote yeah." Simon and Randy clear their throats, and I think Simon's doing the whole coughAnwarcough bit. Simon sucks tonight, man. He's working like this Stephen King old man kind of humor that is not.