Right up front, I have to admit something shameful. I never picked up on the fact that our gleaming leader stopped saying "Seacrest Out!" at the end of every show. It just disappeared and I totally missed it. You think after constantly mocking it, I would've been more attuned, but no. In fact, I missed the change until I read about it on a blog, which unfortunately I can't name here.
So yeah, it's gone. Seacrest tried something 92 times before finally realizing it was lame. Heck, I didn't use my voter-determined catchphrase even once before scrapping it. And he did it so sneakily too! Like when the White House releases big, incriminating news late Friday afternoon. Oh well. Anyway, Seacrest apparently feels we all sufficiently believe he's out. No need to keep reminding us.
Ten girls. You vote. Something, something. This is American Idol. You basically know what I'm talking about here. First up, Ryan congratulates people for watching Idol. Hollywood people love talking about these numbers. Then Ryan gets down to business by bringing out the girls, then introducing the judges. Man, he can juggle so many balls at once!
First up tonight Katharine McPhee. Mmm. Kathy McP. Mmmm. Is that what girls are really like when nobody else is around? Wow. I thought...I thought they were classy or something. Huh. Well, that curtain's been pulled back. I...I probably should say something about this performance. But I'm too busy staring at it, slack-jawed. Randy was just okay with the performance and Paula wasn't crazy about the song choice. Simon thinks it was forgetful. It's been five seasons and I can say this with absolutely certainty. If a singer picks a slow song, every flaw they have will be completely exposed. If they pick an upbeat number that gets people moving, they can hide a lot of mistakes. If I was on Idol, I would not ever, ever, ever pick a slow ballad. Not ever. It's sure trouble.
Hey, kids, don't wear a cowboy hat on American Idol, even if your friends tell you it's a good idea. Camouflage pants, too? Hmm. This whole performance seems a little too...prepared, I guess is the word. And I can barely hear her voice over the backing vocals. Is Kinnik wearing a numbered bib on her back like a marathoner? Oh, no. That's maybe a tombstone. Randy doesn't think the song was a good fit for Kinnik. But he did enjoy the spectacle of it all. Paula goes along with that tune. Simon is happy she at least tried something new. But he's not so happy that the new thing was so unbearable.
Lisa Tucker is a showbiz kid. Like an older Dakota Fanning. Lisa's dream is to be famous, basically. Admirable. Another slow song. I really need to write a book about how to win Idol. Although this sounds like a pretty good effort. Of course, I thought that about Kathy McP, and you saw how the judges tore that one up. One thing that's odd, though, is that Lisa is singing a song with a classic feel, but she's dressed like she's running out to pick up a quart of milk. It doesn't quite fit. Randy didn't think Lisa fully showed up. But Paula thinks Lisa should already be working on her third platinum album. And Simon is somewhere in the middle, even making my point about the quart of milk. In different, British-tinged words.
Now up is Melissa McGhee, who I want to keep calling Megan McGee. Hopefully she sticks around long enough for me to finally nail that down. Melissa talks about how people from Florida like to wear flip-flops everywhere. Believe me, that's the least of their problems down there. Oh! Hi, belly. How are you? Haven't seen you much this year. Remember kids, G is for Gangsta. In case you forget that, just check the one backup singer's t-shirt. G is for Gangsta. Melissagan is very bluesy tonight. Very...bar with live music tonight. And I'm not sure that's a good thing. I guess I'll let the pros decide. Randy loved the energy, the smokiness, the overall hotness of the performance. Paula loved everything. Simon loves Melissa, but doesn't know if she's connecting with the audience, some of which can't even remember if her name is Melissa or Megan. Or even Meghan. Simon also hated how Paula interrupted him. He's on a tangent here! Let him finish!
Then, like the old married couple that they never will be, Paula and Simon move apart from each other to cool their feud. A trial separation, if you will.
After a break, Ryan plugs the website. Five seasons, still zero mentions for your boy. And it's looking like I'll have no trouble keeping that streak alive. It's time for Heather Cox, who is totally Idol's biggest fan ever. The thought of her searching the message boards every night looking for posts about herself is highly amusing. Another weird thing about Heather? She's totally into snakes around her neck. Let me tell you, if you go down to Hollywood Blvd. with your pet constrictor around your neck, you should have a t-shirt that reads, "Please give me attention."
Heather is taking on Hero, which she claims has never been performed on Idol before. Hmm. That's another streak I would've like to see stay intact. What was bigger in that performance? That one note or Heather's belt buckle? Photo finish, right there. So we have a new judging order. Now they're sitting by descending politeness. Apparently things were so bad during the break, somebody actually asked to switch seats. It's like how on an elementary school field trip, you have to separate the bad kids. Make sure they don't all sit in the back. Paula thinks Heather improved from last week, but still isn't all that good. Maybe by May she can work her way up to mediocre. Randy, who you may have heard once worked with Mariah, doesn't think Heather measured up to one of the biggest pop stars in history. Simon thought it was a little pageanty, although it's hard to tell whether he's talking about Heather's singing, or her tan, blonde hair and shiny white teeth.
Is that a tire in the middle of the coffee table in the red room? Sorry, the cola table. Is that found art? A double sponsor bomb? Will it be replaced by a giant cable spool next week to make it even more bachelor chic? In short, what is that? You know, Brenna is like Paris Hilton. She loves to pose and vamp, except she only has one pose and look. Brenna is going to sing Last Dance tonight and start off halfway through the song. Lyric, lyric, pose. Lyric, lyric, pose, lyric. Pose, pose, lyric. Big finish and...pose. Brenna has a little routine going here. And, of course, Paula found it to be a little routine. Brenna herself found it to be a little remarkably outstanding, and isn't shy about saying so. She's positive that America loved it, even though it only ended two seconds ago. Randy tries to correct Brenna's sunnily optimistic view, with little success. Now he knows how Paul O'Neill felt. Simon thinks it was like a karaoke bar performance, only the worst karaoke bar performance he's ever seen. Brenna says she's happy it's in America's hands and not the judges', but if she thinks America will side with her over the judges, she's even more optimistic than at first thought.
This is the second straight week that Paris has worn something that looked very, very old. Almost Victorian. In her pre-song piece, Paris says her fashion shows who she is. Which is true. For instance, that necklace lets us know that she loves tangerines. So much so that she made of necklace of them. Then she sings to the other girls in the competition, saying it must be cold for them in her shadow. Stinging! Seriously, though, is she wearing a corset and a Velcro belt? What is happening here sartorially? In the audience, Paris' grandma is thrilled, as if this is the most precious moment of her life. One row behind her, some guy is completely non-plussed, as if this is the most average moment of his life. Of course, he probably has Drew Barrymore's number on his cell phone. Paula tells Paris to be a vocalist. Randy tells Paris that she can do everything, so maybe next week she should try doing something good and interesting. Not so Victorian corset. Something a little more leopard print, perhaps. Simon thinks it was way, way, way, way too old. Simon! Wants! Pep! Something snappy, like a velour blazer with tuxedo trim.
Time for Ayla Brown's performance. Before the song, we learn that Ayla is pretty much perfect and if you don't think she's an amazing person, you're pretty much a communist. Oh, and she's modest too. Oh, and hard working. Oh, and she once cured cancer accidentally, but Big Pharma is suppressing it. I have to admit, I just don't get Ayla's pre-scripted, focus-grouped, soundbite mentality. That said, this is actually a pretty impassioned and strong performance. Even though she's basically wearing the same outfit two weeks in a row. Basic black, sure to not offend or rile the proles. Paula said that Ayla pleasantly surprised and seems like she really wants to win. Randy said Ayla is doing a great job of managing her strengths and weaknesses and using that to create great performances. Simon opens up by saying that he assumes Ayla has basically succeeded at everything in her life and if she puts her mind to it, she could do fairly well. But...maybe it's all a little slick. A little too polished. A little too rehearsed. And not real. So basically everything I said earlier, without the ranting and exaggeration. She is tall, though. Have to give her that.
Kellie Pickler never had spinach salad or calamari before coming to Los Angeles. She's like Pretty Woman! Except for the...um...well...obvious reasons. It is cute how Kellie explained that squid is called calamari to the rest of us that already knew that. She is right about those dogs, though. Although those are mostly Paula's little dogs with all the sweaters. Kellie wants to give us all something to talk about. Paula wants to talk about whether or not Kellie could get any cuter. Randy informs the dog pound that we do indeed have a hot one tonight. He even threw organic into his praise of it. Wow. Now, does he mean organic as in containing carbon, or organic as in free from pesticides? Simon wasn't all that crazy about the singing, but he sure did like the Pickler package, by gum. He even thinks people will vote for her despite the average singing. A ha! American Idol has finally been exposed! After, Kellie admits to Ryan that she was nervous because her heels were so high. She should've been more nervous that somebody was going to thumbtack a grocery list onto the corkboard her shoes are made of.
Rounding things out tonight is Mandisa, dressed for the opera. Mandisa describes herself as a great practical joker. So does Mel Gibson. Look for Mandisa to release two movies in long-lost dialects after Idol. Whoa! Dang, Mandisa! She is turning it way, way up tonight. This is some power right here, boy. As Mandisa says she just wants what is hers, Brenna shakes her head up in the balcony. Hmm. Backstage intrigue! Wow. Mandisa. Seriously. Paula was so in awe of it that she can barely put her praise into words. Randy was pretty okay with it, although there were some things he wanted to smooth over. If he was sitting behind the big boards right now, he'd be turning dials and pushing sliders like a madman. Simon more or less thinks Mandisa is great, although she needs to get better. It made sense when he said it, trust me.
Another ten songs, forever etched into our memories. Actually, maybe not. It was kinda boring. Too many down tempo numbers. Too many voice flexers. I need fire! Passion! Aw, girls! Why did you have to bring back "Seacrest Out!"? We just started shoveling dirt on it!