The stakes keep getting higher, and the column introductions keep getting more obvious as the rounds continue. Last week, we lost EJay and Jim, as the sweet tribute at the start of tonight's show reminded us. Look! There's EJay! There's Jim! Remember last week, when they both got the gas face? Touching, touching moment.
Who will handle the mounting pressure tonight? I'm sure I will. I've been doing fine so far. Keep an eye on Ryan's bra, though. That thing's been under intense pressure since day one. It looks like it could burst off at any moment.
Our valiant hosts come out to start the festivities, and once again they're all decked out in suits. Ryan's wearing a tie and looks like he's on his way to Easter Mass. Dunk has no tie. Tieless, you might say. Seacrest's hair is neatly directed. Dunk looks like he caught a nap before the show. I think maybe backstage, Seacrest is lying to Dunk about what they're wearing that night. "No, dude. No tie tonight. No, dude. Not combing the hair, either." Then they get onstage and Dunk looks like a bum while Ryan looks like glory. Not so cool for Dunk.
Also not so cool for Dunk is that he's possibly wearing the same suit as last week. It's the same shirt at least. Even when I was unemployed, I changed my shirt every day. C'mon, guy. Get with it. I mean, Seacrest is a little more dressed up every show. In two weeks, he'll be in a top hat and tuxedo like the Monopoly guy. Where he goes from there is anybody's guess.
Tonight's theme...the sixties. I wonder if somebody will try to sing "Tequila". "Bum bah bum bum bum bum bum bum bah! Tequila!" How was that, Simon? "Oh, that was disappointing. Terrible song choice for you. 'Tequila' only has one word. I think you've blown it."
Speaking of Simon, let's meet the judges tonight. "Hi, judges!" "Hi, hosts!" Wild audience tonight, they say. Except for this one guy sitting behind Randy. He looks absolutely miserable. Like he's there as a punishment. Maybe he doesn't like how he's wearing a "Vote for RJ" shirt, matching the rest of his row. "Mom! I hate RJ! I like A.J.! Don't make me wear this!" "You'll wear it and like it, young man." "I hate you! I hate this stupid family!" Or something like that.
And now...let's bring out the kids! RJ! Tamyra! The rest of you! Kelly comes out wearing her "Elwood Blues" Halloween costume. Ryan comes out in a shirt that was ripped in a catfight backstage. A.J. tops last week's 1996 rapper outfit with tonight's 1988 rapper outfit. Can 1977's rapper outfit of an adidas track suit and wristbands be far behind? The Sugarhill Gang sure hopes so. And Christina comes out with...whoa! Extensions? Christina, did you do something different? "No, my hair grew eight inches overnight. It's the craziest thing!" I'm so depressed about this right now. I need to go away for a while.
Okay, I'm back. I was gone twenty-two minutes, for the record. Simon is wearing a light blue shirt tonight. Tight, of course. Dunk zings him. Zings him good! Nice work!
We see a tape of the kids building a house with Habitat for Humanity. Somehow, I can't picture Justin or A.J. lugging around fifty pound sacks of Quik-krete. Maybe they'll sing to entertain the workers. Ryan has her belly exposed, as usual. You see a lot of that on construction sites, but they're usually chubby, fuzzy guy bellies. Although, if Ryan wants to show some plumber crack, bring it. If I was on that worksite, I'm sure I'd be laying some pipe. Ha ha! That was awesome!
RJ is up first. After his tumble last week, I thought maybe he'd come out in a wheelchair and sing through an electronic larynx like Stephen Hawking uses. But he's okay, folks! His singing is pretty good tonight, and he's got his standard bob and weave dance move working. He looks like he borrowed his shirt one of Robin Hood's Merry Men, though. RJ's a great kid, really nice, but there's something about him I just can't get past. Maybe it's the fact that he looks like he's Erik Estrada's little brother. Seven Mary Three! We're on our way!
Once again, Randy points out that he and RJ have the same initials. Yeah, I picked that up on my own, guy...eight weeks ago. Simon says RJ was good, but not AMERICAN IDOL-winning good. Booooooooooo! The crowd boos like some girl just told Rikki Lake she's pregnant by her cousin and keeping the baby. "Whateva. S'my body!"
Here comes Tamyra. She can sing like nobody's business, but she's overdosing on histrionics right now. Bug eye, neck snap, head bob, shoulder shake. She's moving like a rag doll rolling down a hill right now. I think cocky-itis might be setting in at this late stage. But dang, can she sing.
Randy loves her. Says she's everything that an AMERICAN IDOL is. Her look back at him says, "I know, Chief. Thanks." Paula says she's oozing je ne sais quoi. A lesser columnist would make a cheap joke about the French right here, but I'll pass. Um...erg...fighting...struggling...I guess she doesn't shower then! Damn! Oh, so close. Simon says she's sensational. A star. Ryan and Dunk ask her if she has a touchdown dance to celebrate. She does the butter churner. Or the running man, depending on your angle.
Nikki's turn now. First, here's a clip of Nikki building the house almost singlehandedly. A.J. struggles to lift some plywood. Nikki comes over, shoves him aside and picks up that wood, along with four cinder blocks. Tough chick. She's wearing a bearskin skirt tonight, which I'm guessing she killed and tanned herself.
She's blowing out Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart". Good pick for her. Although it's no "Me and Bobby McGee". Nikki's throwing a ton of energy into her song. So much so, that she doesn't have the juice left for a "whoooo!" at the end. It was more of a "who".
Randy likes her and Paula likes her. Simon says she was much better than last week. I'm sure he'll say the same about me. I'm really turning it out right now.
Dunk and Seacrest fight over taking a break. Dunk wants to push on. "It's live TV. What can they do?" Ryan acts exasperated and says "They can fire us!" Dunk miraculously changes his mind. Hey, anybody see that tumbleweed go by? I have to admit, I didn't see that joke coming at all. But mainly because I tuned out these guys five minutes ago.
Back from the break, and A.J. is up. He's singing "How Sweet it is to be Loved by You". That's clearly not dedicated to most of the American public. A.J.'s biggest problem is that the Backstreet Boys aren't currently hiring. Maybe he can be their first alternate. Keep him on the reserve list and use him whenever Davey or Richie or whoever doesn't feel like doing the Minneapolis show.
Dang! A.J.'s really cocky, too! What are they telling these kids during the rest of the week? Do they think the mansion is theirs already? Who's going to be the first contestant to hire a personal assistant? A.J. might have a dose of crushing defeat coming his way soon. Let's see if he's still pointing at people and winking when that happens.
Nice slide step, though. "Big ups for that", as the kids say. Randy isn't blown away by his performance. Paula likes his dancing. Is she talking about The Pace? Simon says he wasn't good enough. Good-ish. A.J. doesn't really listen and struts over to the hosts. He scoffs at "good-ish" when he gets there. "Pfft. Man, I'm A to the J, y'all! I'm way better than good-ish!"
Kelly Clarkson up next. We see a clip of her tossing around tools like a sitcom character. Madame Foreman, a show about a no-nonsense, female construction boss, overcoming great odds and great doubts to make it in this workaday world. Her wacky best friend, Gayle, provides a lot of laughs. "No, Gayle, I won't date Larry." "Why not? He drives a Camaro!" "Gayle, you'd date a guy in a Camry!" (laugh track)
Anyway, here comes Kelly in her Blues Brothers outfit. "Natural Woman" is her tune. I was hoping for "Rawhide", but this'll do. Kelly gives a highly soulful rendition. Big, high note. Lots of energy. Snappy fedora. Great job. Her stalker from last week bounds up onstage at the end. Is this guy the new Tamika? I think he finds Kelly to be more "campy" than hot. I get the feeling he wants to try on her clothes.
Randy and Paula like her. Big surprise. Simon says she's a great singer. That's a better endorsement than any of the garbage I can offer up. Seacrest says Kelly made him feel like a natural woman for the first time. Frat houses across the country explode with snide comments.
Christina comes out next, fresh from the beauty shop. Her face is still as cute as ever, but I can't stop looking at all of this hair cascading down. Christina's blowing the roof off the place, but the vibrato that people have been complaining about keeps peeking out. Some people say it sounds bad. I wouldn't know, because whenever she's onstage, I'm too busy thinking of our future children's names to listen to her singing. So far I have Octavio, Jr. and Octavio III. Which is odd, because my name isn't Octavio. And also because Christina probably wants nothing to do with me.
She gives a cute little smile after her performance. Randy says Christina was a little off vocally. But she was dead on lookally. News flash: Paula liked it. Simon is very, very reluctant to say anything bad about Christina, so he avoids commenting on her performance altogether. Before the break, a group of kids in the audience screams, "You go, girl!" I thought that phrase went out with Martin. Did somebody hit the Way-Back Machine?
Back from the break, and Ryan is in the Red Room with Guarini. At the construction site, Justin changed his name to Ralph for the day. Says Justin isn't a good construction name. Real construction workers would've trimmed their long, curly locks rather than stick them under a bandanna, but one thing at a time, I guess.
Justin forgot to lace up his shirt, but that doesn't stop him from ripping off an energetic version of "Sunny". Singing backup for Justin tonight is his rapidly-growing opinion of himself. He makes a lot of hammy faces, plays to the camera and is clearly on cruise control right now. It's like he realizes his ticket has been stamped for the finals and doesn't want to waste any of his "A" material until then.
Randy says that wasn't Justin's best, but Justin mostly speaks over him. "Well, dude, I think..." "Okay. Okay. Okay. Please stop talking now, Randy." Simon says Justin was outperformed by three of the girls tonight. Justin goes right over Simon's head to ask the audience what they thought. "I respect your opinion, Simon, but what did you guys think?" Whoooooo! I'm sure Simon enjoyed being shown up like that. Justin says something else to Simon, but the audience cheering drowned him out. I can't read lips, but I think, "See, Simon? I don't need to give a damn what you think because everybody loves me, and rightfully so," is a pretty good guess.
Over with Dunk and Ryan, Justin cockily highlights his number onscreen. Man, somebody take this guy down a peg. Tie his shoes together. Shortsheet his bed. Something. If he gets any more puffed up, he won't even bother singing. He'll just come out when he's introduced, say, "You know you want to vote for me ‘cause I'm so dynamite," then walk off.
Now we see a clip of the kids at the mansion. It's run in British speed. It's like I'm watching the BBC right now. Forward! Backward! Cheeky!
Ryan Starr's turn. We see her at the home building site, and she's not much help. "Hey, guys! What should I do?" "Uh, sweep over there. And make sure nobody steals our truck."
"You Really Got Me". This is the most Ryan's belly has been covered yet. She's probably wondering why she feels so hot right now. "This studio is baking!" Ryan is really performing, but not singing all that well. She looks great, she's moving around, she's looking at the crowd, but she's so busy doing all this stuff, she's forgetting to sing. She's got the attitude ratcheted up to eleven right now, as well. What is it with these kids? Is it possible that constant praise and attention can warp people? Say it ain't so!
We see a shot of Ryan's friends in the audience. If she's a part of that group, it's the all-time, nuclear example of a hot girl and her, uh, average friends. These girls must hear "Hey, who's your hot friend?" more than any people on Earth.
Randy didn't like her performance at all, "dude". Paula says she lost her way on the track. Simon says she was absolutely dreadful. Like Justin and A.J., she doesn't give two nuts about what the judges think at this point. To prove my point, she says she doesn't care what Simon thinks because he's a "popper", and goads the crowd into more applause. I think Simon's critique was the first time she's ever been told anything negative by a guy. Her synapses just didn't know how to handle it.
These kids are definitely getting too big for their britches. Why is Ryan so up on herself? I mean, I'm beautiful and people love me. But I keep a level head about the whole thing. Ah, she's young, I guess. But if I'm asked to, I'll set these young pups straight. Of course, they probably don't ever read this column, which hampers my effectiveness slightly.
So there we have it. Before we go, Simon says overall, some were fantastic, some were okay and one or two were dreadful. Ryan and Justin somehow refrain from saying, "Go to hell". I'm making a prediction right now. A shocking prediction! Ryan is going to be the one cut tomorrow. It'll be a real stunner. I think she shot herself in the foot with this attitude, missy.
Although, keep in mind, the last time I got a prediction right was February. On the 12th, I predicted I'd have grilled cheese for dinner. And, sure enough, I did. Swish!
Over the closing credits, three hot blondes come onstage from the audience and hug Justin "Hef" Guarini. Party at the mansion tonight, then? I'm going over just in case. I'll be in the bushes, but still, I'll be able to hear just about everything.
Until tomorrow, everybody, stay strong!