I've spent the last hour trying to figure out what's wrong with Meat Loaf because I didn't want to make fun of him if he has a good reason, like Geri Jewell, but so far all I've come up with is that Alexander the Great had epilepsy. Which I didn't know, but is not helpful in terms of proving I'm nice. In other news: PRINCE! ADAM PRATT! RHONETTA GODDAMN JOHNSON! MATTHEW BUCKSTEIN-BUNTING! Kellie Pickler spitting escargot at Wolfgang Puck! Not even Chris Daughtry can tell the difference between himself and Ed Kowalczyk anymore! Which I spelled correctly on the first try! Everybody looks better in all-white, but they can't sing in harmony for shit because that is not what this show is about! Twenty percent of the episode is about making fun of the poor people we already made fun of back in auditions! January through April! Paris sings with the awesome Al Jarreau! Kat sings horribly with Meat Loaf, who maybe doesn't make it. But then the guys and the girls sing really long medleys! Bucky Covington is awesome! Ace got uglier but still can't sing! Kevin Covais might get a little crotchy on you if you're not careful! Elliott is...more confident! Plus happy to be there! His mom can grant wishes! Taylor wheezes and almost has a myocardial infarction from all that running around, plus pot smoking, plus ribs and pancakes for breakfast! I'm not telling you this like this for effect, it's just what it was like! Screaming and then more screaming and then more screaming and there you are on the very edge of your coma with more screaming yet to come and no end in sight! Plus screams! You can play along at home! Just pretend every exclamation point is another commercial break!
Taylor plays the stupid harmonica! The ladies sing too! Mandisa is still not competent to dress herself but also still sounds better than everybody else! Even Clay Gayken from the auditions gets to sing onstage with k.d. lang! Elliott Yamin and a very Red Bulled-up Mary J. sing her painfully pointless cover of "One," and she almost pushes him into the orchestra pit! She is out of control! ADAM PRATT! Carrie Underwood sings like six songs but doesn't talk once because she needs a talking chip upgrade! Toni Braxton and Taylor Hicks push and push, but nothing comes out! She is wearing underwear in public, with heels! You can almost see her Man-Troll! She tries to make him touch it and this makes him very jumpy! It's startling! Burt Bacharach medley! Which is of course the best part! Dionne Warwick goes crazy with her face! PRINCE! Kat and Taylor fake-smile and bad-harmonize through "Time Of My Life," and then TAYLOR WINS! He screams "WOO!" and then he screams "SOUL PATROL!" And then David Hasselhoff cries!
We open on much cheering, and Carrie Underwood looking super-cute in a lovely white dress. Carrie dear? You can stop losing weight any old time. You have a moon face, and if you keep trying to lose the baby fat you're going to end up with a bigger and bigger face as the rest of you disappears like Nicole Richie. The song she's singing is all about "we dreamers" and what "we" are up to, as dreamers. Taylor comes out also in white, with fuzzy hair and a wide-open Muppet mouth and the trembling we've learned to associate with him controlling the twitching. Katharine appears, also wearing a white suit. There are some interesting things like how her fronts are hanging out inside the jacket, and how there's a "healthy roundness" pooching out with extreme prejudice over her waistline. Which is messed up, because she's got a lovely figure and yet each week dresses in order to look like a freak. I hope -- and this is going to turn out to be true -- that this is the worst outfit of the night. The rest of the Top 12 comes out in white. Everybody looks good in white, especially now that fake tans are so readily available. Nobody looks at anybody else, as is always true with group singing, because if they were capable of singing in a group they wouldn't be here. This somehow does not interfere with the intense Jesus Camp vibe going on. For which I blame Underwood. The song is about how they "made it through the rain," which is...weird in the same way that I never liked using the "Had a Bad Day" song for the goodbyes, because that puts the shit in a really weird place. "The rain" involved being on TV for months and being treated like a star. Poor them. This is a trend that will continue throughout: Isn't it hard to be on this show? Because eventually someone will win? Pity the Idols! Randoms crowd the stage and everybody's makeup looks transcendent. It's nice to look at. Also nice: no talking before the song, no talking after the song. Just the song and then credits. It's very dramatic.
Ryan comes out making that face he sometimes makes, where he's almost surprised at all the cheering and screaming. He shoots finger guns at the judges and waves cutely off-stage, and there are Ben Stiller and Heather Locklear. I like Ben Stiller all right, although there's gotten to be a Taylor Hicks kind of thing about how neato he finds himself. There is not a word in English for how I feel about Heather Locklear although I've tried to make it clear to you before. In any case, it's simultaneously bizarre and makes total sense that Ben and Heather are sitting together. Where's Christine? This season has been such a constant writingfest that I haven't been keeping up with anything but W and Entertainment Weekly. The internet is a thing I look at for work and then I go away again. I hope they're okay! I know Heather's on the prowl. But in my ideal dream, that's always true, so it's not scary. Ryan strokes his lack of beard despite the ensuing double entendre, and ruminates about who's going to win. Rocky Covington, I can only assume, sits out in the audience having some ideas. Ryan talks about how close it was last week, and it's interesting, because somebody pointed out that if the lines for all three of them last week were busy the whole time, then it would break out to basically 33 percent each way, and the real votes would be the people who got the most busy signals, like plastic flutes in a classy champagne fountain. I wonder about that, I do.
There's a pointless and long-lived set of judgery montages. Here's what we can learn about the judges: Randy uses the word "dude" a whole bunch of times. He says "dude." Also, things are "the bomb" and then they "have a hot one" sometimes. He also says "wow." Paula, "the compassionate one," gets a montage backed up by "So Emotional," by her sister-in-oxy Whitney Houston. She cries, and crawls all over Randy and Simon, and gives lap dances, and sometimes seems to be electrocuted, and dances like a drunk sorority girl in an ethnic situation, and screams about love like a drunk sorority girl outside the dorm, and pretends to punch Simon and sometimes connects. The montage ends and Ryan's smiling directly into the camera like, "Did you know she gets paid more than I do? Yeah. That's fucked up, right?" The Simon montage involves him touching himself all over and rubbing the lips and stroking the cheeks and eyes and making awesome faces. Simon makes a great "oh God" face when it's done, and then Ryan giggles and fondles himself before shouting out the band, who get louder every single year.