American Idol
When Will I Scold You Again?

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Shack: C | Grade It Now!
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Music and passion were always the fashion

Screw all this controversy. Vile Bobby Flay "beat" Iron Chef Sakai! It's a worldwide travesty! Where's the outrage here? Where?

Tuesday. Bah. The teaser openings are back. Kids! Seal! Voting! Judging! Recriminations! Drama! Crying! Oh, and some singing, too.

Credits. Ryan Seacrest heads out on stage in a black suit and a black T-shirt that looks like it's got the logo for some flashy musical on the front. Maybe Cabaret. Let's hope he doesn't break into "Willkommen." He tells us that tonight is their "Barry Manilow special." And last week, when the show was delayed by the presidential press "conference," they also declared that it was a special edition. It's just your show, guys. This isn't a special. You're doing the same thing you do every week. Knock it off. He blathers on about Jon getting ejected last week, and reminds there are seven singers left. He tells us that it's getting harder for their kids to top their previous performances, and it's getting harder for us to decide who to vote for. Oh, please. The kids don't even need to sing anymore. The exact opposite is true. The voting system has caused many devoted viewers to vote for Contestant X regardless of how well Contestant X performed.

Ryan introduces Simon Cowell by calling him Lola from "Copacabana." Simon gives a bizarre fake-laugh that also gives us a glimpse at what his orgasm face might look like. ["A mental image that will now haunt my dreams forevermore. 'Thanks,' SHACK." -- Sars] Ryan says we can't smile without Paula Abdul. Or whatever drugs she's on. Whichever. Her right arm is in a sling tonight due to some sort of manicuring accident I don't even begin to understand and I'm not even kidding. Ryan introduces Randy Jackson by saying that he probably played bass on all the songs that make the whole world sing. Wow, no stupid dog references. Amazing.

Ryan introduces our guest judge tonight by saying, "If you haven't made out, made up, broken up or gotten down to one of his tunes, then you've missed out on the very essence of life itself." Hang on just a moment. Okay. I've angled the television properly so that I can continue recapping the show with my head in the oven. I'm not sure how far I'm going to get before the fumes overtake me. Sars, you may have to finish it for me. ["After that Simon comment? You're on your own, chief." -- Sars] Ryan jokes that they made Clay Aiken from Barry Manilow's DNA. Funny, I thought I read about folks behind the scenes in the record industry saying something similar following last season, but with a much less jovial tone. Barry comes onstage in a black suit and ugly red leather jacket. I've changed my mind about his hair -- it's really more Rod Stewart than Richard Marx. Either way -- ew. The audience cheers and gives a forced standing ovation. I can hear somebody booing as Ryan tells Barry they're all happy to have them there. It sounds like it could be Simon. Barry says that he hates everybody here and only came because he needed the money. No, of course not. He loves the show and the kids and fluffy clouds and ponies.

In Barry's clip show, Ryan narrates that Barry is the top adult contemporary artist of all time. Wow, what an honor. Congratulations, Barry, on being the least objectionable human being in the music industry. Hooray! He has a Grammy and a Tony. He sings, writes, and produces. He dances very badly. They show a clip of him singing "I Write the Songs," which he didn't write. Hysterical. And the song is awful anyway, which makes it even funnier. Barry insisted on working with the kids far more than Elton John did to make sure they don't fuck up his songs. As much. Imagine if they had Barbra Streisand as a guest judge to work with the kids -- they'd have to shut down production for three months while she micromanaged everything. Barry hangs out with the kids in some rehearsal area and tells them all he's what Clay Aiken will look like in thirty years. And some of Clay's fans will be just as deranged. Barry's crazy fans have the wisdom of experience, though. I already got hate mail from a "Fanilow" before I even started writing this recap. In the future, if you're trying to convince me that Manilow isn't a tired, dull scoop of bland-flavored sherbet, don't mention the commercial jingles he's responsible for as evidence. Barry tells us he wants to update his songs -- give them "plastic surgery," if you will. His wording, not mine. And then maybe he can release them as singles yet again. Dammit, why aren't I dead yet? Stupid electric stove. As we watch the kids wailing around some studio -- and horror of horrors, it looks like they might actually be recording these things for more than just practice -- Barry tells us what hard workers the kids all are. Barry says that whoever wins this show deserves to win the show, unless his name rhymes with "flan." I'm just guessing that last part there.

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American Idol

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