Well, leave it to old Paula Abfool to get people talking about American Idol when they were all but nodding off to sleep or opting for Wheel of Fortune reruns when it came on.
In the space of one hour, she, her lopsided hair and brothel worthy dress, and her inability to even get Syesha’s name right made everyone in TV land sit up, take notice, and say, "I’d like to buy a howl, please."
Face it, with rare exception (read: David Cook and Paula) it’s been a boring season.
Too full of seasoned performers. (I want to see contestants who are salivating for this kind of chance. Not kids so prepackaged they all but come with a cellophane wrapper and liner notes.)
Overrun with predictable performances. (Come on – Puppy, Jason, and Brooke have more than proven that even though they have decent voices, they are one trick ponies when it comes to song choices and presentation.)
Judges’ critiques which are only missing purple velvet hats with feathers, gold front teeth, and platform shoes with live goldfish in the heels. (You figure that out.)
It’s been one long infomercial. (And if you call now, we’ll treble this offer! You’ll not only get Mariah Carey’s, Neil Diamond’s, and Dolly Parton’s latest releases, but we’ll throw in TWO Hercules Hooks, a jug of KaBOOM!, and a jumbo sized ShamWOW! Operators are standing by!)
What happened with Paula last night has been up for debate all day. Yes, the AI spinmeisters were out in full force this morning – releasing statements, having Seacrest make it Topic One on his radio show, having Paula call in to shows around the country.
They would have everyone believe her erratic, nonsensical, can’t-keep-my-head-above-water-even-with-these-chest-pontoons behavior was a result of last minute format changes.
I’m not buying. (I have to save my pennies for one of those AMAZING ShamWOWS.)
Simon has been on the record too many times before about listening/watching the dress rehearsals and not even paying attention during the actual performances. He routinely says he can hardly hear them, and can often be seen chatting it up with the other judges.
I fall into the camp of She-Read-Her-Notes-From-Dress-Rehearsals and the larger camp of Paula-Abdul-Is-A-Seriously-Hot-Mess.
So the mid-performance mini-critique was a surprise? BFD. Randy and Simon rolled just fine. She acted like she was thrust into a Top Chef quickfire and asked to make a gourmet souffle’ out of grass, dirt, feces, and egg whites in 30 seconds.
Whatever version of events you choose to believe, one thing is certain, she certainly perked up a show that was quickly heading towards a toetag and trip to the morgue.
So, I for one would like to say, "Thank you, Paula. Long may your freak flag wave."
Now, onto the recap...
As the camera panned across the five remaining kids, Ryan reminded us that "These faces have been on your screens for over three months and you know more about these contestants than any other season."
Yes, but mostly because AI has loosened its kung foo grip on the contestants during this season. In seasons past, the kids were kept under wraps, guarded, not given access to computers, reporters, etc. Now, suddenly, not a day goes by without a new interview or photo shoot being available across the web.
Frankly, it’s better this way. They are in a pop culture contest, they need exposure. They don’t need Cheney-ed to an undisclosed location in between shows.
A quick howdy-do to the judges, Randy wearing his Garanimal sweater and matching beads; Paula working the innocent little girl look in her headband and Little House On The Scary demure dress. Yes, you’re just like Half Pint, Paula. Half Pint of vodka, maybe. Simon was kicked back in a comfy gray sweater.
Well, with only five contestants left, and an entire hour to fill, you just knew it was going to be a craptastic night. More filler than a Ballpark Frank factory.
Kicking off the Green Mile we all had to walk was THE GROUP SONG – a tribute to Neil Diamond. Dreads started with Cracklin’ Rosie, and you know what? Had he sung that song, that way last night? Oh well, no crying over spilt opportunities.
Puppy picked up the song, as awkwardly as a nursing home resident picking up a barbell, then he was flanked by Syesha and Brooke auditioning for roles in the next Austin Powers movie. Icky, baybay.
Finally David C took over, and like every GROUP SONG, pumped some life into the proceedings. But of course, B&S (interpret that as you will) took over for Song Sung Blue and spent all of their time frantically searching for their lower register. It wasn’t just misplaced, it had fallen down a well and wasn’t coming out. Then the entire thing slid into the septic tank as Puppy took on Brother Love’s Travelin’ Salvation Show.
The kid is just one big ball of discomfort. And don’t tell me it’s because he is only 17. There have been plenty of teens on this show who know how to sell a song – Paris Bennett, Jordin Sparks, hell, even Mikalah Gordon was funner to watch. For as many years as Puppy has been doing this, he should not look like his feet are stuck in pools of molasses, and he should be able to work a crowd better than this.
It’s getting old. Give him his Disney show and let us all move on.
David C roared back in with feeling and fun and brought some much need salvation to Little Brother Love’s efforts. And then AMEN! It was over.
After the first of many breaks, Ryan was in the audience to waste time and mess up my TV screen with Constantine Smarmoulis. He was joined by Gina Glockson, his cohost on AI Extra – the behind-the-scenes show for all AI gossip, interviews, etc.
Ryan asked Connie to give "the look" and he did, smearing my plasma and oozing so much that he left a stain on my carpet.
Finally! The recap of last night’s performances! I say FINALLY! because I was finally able to FF. Heck, forget FF, I hit that button so hard that I TW – Time Warped - through it.
Back on stage, Ryan then confronted the gossip swirling around all day about dear, sweet, misunderstood, much maligned Paula. He stressed, "She’s part of our family and we love her."
(You know, Ryan, we all have a relative in our family trees whom we love, too, but whose branch we are not too inclined to share.)
Kisses and love flowed at the judges’ table – it was all very sweet, Paula’s eyes glistened (more than usual), and then Ryan had to add, "and I think Simon still wants to hook up with her."
Way to drop trou and take a big steamy dump on a moment, Ryan. You’re a clASSy guy.
Time for some results...
Jason was called out first, and strolled with his same easy going, casual demeanor - just another day to him. Well, not really, because despite what should have happened, he was SAFE. So for him it turned out to be a banner day.
Out next was Puppy, sheepish, scuffling. Well, color me DUH – he was SAFE. But the out of breath, shocked, relieved expression on his face and in his mannerisms as he walked to the couch were over the top. He’s either scared to death that he will get beaten to death with a microphone stand by his father if he gets voted off, or he’s quite the little actor.
Going to the break, they showed the remaining three backstage – Syesha, Brooke, and David C. Um gee, whatever could be in the offing?
It was at this point that the show got entirely too long for me. I want it on the record that I took one for the team and did not give in to my impulse to fast forward through anything from this point. But, oh, how I wanted to...
Back from break, we were treated to more visual Stovetop as they ran a tape pimping the upcoming season of So You Think You Can Dance. Look, I love that show and am completely humbled by the superhuman, sometimes inhuman abilities those dancers demonstrate (I have trouble bending over to tie my shoes in the morning), but can we get back to American Idol. PLEEEEEEASE.
No, I guess not. We have to allow Ranna White the chance to show off the winning Coke Cup design! Ranna, I’d like to guess the puzzle, please. THIS SHOW SUCKS THE SWEAT OFF A DEAD MAN’S UNDERCARRIAGE.
David Cook was then called out – worthless chat – he’s SAFE. Insert sound of nation yawning.
And so Syesha and Brooke walked out together. Syesha wearing what looked like a dirty sheet; Brooke in a modest black dress with a tangram puzzle holding it together in the middle.
But, this being a three hour cruise, Gilligan, we couldn’t have the results just yet. Off to the couches for a half hour for them.
After the break, Natasha Bedingfield was introduced to sing the only song to give Bleeding Love a run for its radio money in terms of being played to death: Pocketful Of Sunshine.
Like Leona Lewis, Natasha is nice to look at, can’t dance, can sing, and rode my last nerve because I simply couldn’t care less. These results shows are like being held hostage in a prison movie. And they're long enough that one could actuially pull a Shawshank and tunnel out before the end.
When she was done, Ryan bid her adieu, but she had to run across the stage to kiss David – anyone notice how David C stood up? Yeah, David, don’t worry, I thought she meant you, too. She didn’t. She planted herself right next to Puppy and kissed his bright red face, and prompted by Ryan, said she would go to his prom with him if he wanted.
Oh, the hijinks and hilarity! At this point, I actually started watching my cats sniff each other’s butts because it was infinitely more interesting than this show.
Hour 617 of our captivity...
THE PHONE CALLS.
Allow me to condense...
Michael, 10, asked Paula why she always gives the contestants a break, she blathered on about what they are doing being difficult so she wants to "keep their dreams alive", code for lies to them; Miranda queried Paula about any additional videos with Randy Jackson in the works? Lame comment, yes, when he becomes an animated cat ... or dawg.; Tara, 46 takes Simon on a walk down memory lane. She’s his first kiss, back when he was nine, and wants to know if Paula is a better kisser, or is she?
OK, sweet that he remembered the woman’s name – Tara Miller. But Ryan had to soil it with "Is Simon a good kisser?" Tara hesitated and Paula jumped in to ask her, "Are you over the rabies?"
Gee Paula, I’m surprised he’s sitting up straight. Even five seasons ago, one swipe of your compromised saliva was enough to send a person to Betty Ford for extended drug rehab.
Are we even on the insults now?
Ryan, sage, wise, role model that he is, ended the segment with, "To all the kids watching, 9 years old is too young to kiss."
I see. But it’s not too young to sit through American Idol every week and be exposed to your constant stream of sexual innuendo and homophobic banter?
Thankfully a commercial break came along only to deliver us to a vommercial break in which the kids sang Catch The Wind, drove around in Hybrids, and magically transformed the world to green. Ahhhhhhhhhhh...
Finally it was time for the one thing that was redeeming about tonight’s show – well, at least to horny old farts like me: Neil Diamond.
Singing Pretty Amazing Grace from his upcoming album, he looked great, all man in black, leaving the sequins at home tonight. I agree, Neil – they work better in an arena setting.
I was enjoying the slow song until they pulled back enough to reveal the Children of the Corny waving their arms like windshield wipers on high. You just know Neil wanted to take that guitar and mow them down like weeds under a John Deere.
The song moved on, and yes, I know it was too slow and unrelatable for a large slice of the demographic pie. And when he got down, got funky with his geetar, my daughters about spurted milk through their noses, but I still enjoyed it. Neil's voice is as rich and alive as ever.
After he was finished, Ryan asked him why he keeps working, after all, he does have more money than God, right?: "I love it ... it’s fun."
As to whether he thought the judges were fair last night? "A little harsh once in a while, but generally pretty right on." He left the kids with the simple advice, "Stay with it if you love it. Don’t listen to what Simon says."
One more break and we finally saw light at the end of the tunnel – the actual results.
Syesha and Brooke came back to center stage, and Ryan wasted little time in announcing that Brooke’s turn on the merry-go-round was over.
Tears were immediate. She broke down on Ryan’s shoulder, then Syesha’s as they rolled her "journey tape".
It was all sweetness and light, and that word celebrities use all the time which I HATE: positivity. Yes, Brooke is grounded, sweet, a tad naive, and I still maintain she is not cut out for the deep end of the music industry pool. There are too many sharks, too many hidden reefs to navigate. She will go on to do something, of that I have no doubt. Someone will sign her to do what she loves – small, folksy, from the heart songs. And that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s who she is.
(Personally, I think Pantene needs to grab her immediately. That head of hair is to die for.)
Ryan then handed her the microphone and she thanked everyone before attempting to sing through her tears. She stumbled through, the kids joined her on stage for support, and yes, her lyrics to I Am, I Said were like daggers through her heart, especially, "leaving me lonely still."
Brooke, I don’t think lonely is a word that has ever, or will ever apply to you. You’ll see when you go on tour – you have a nation of people who may not have embraced you as their personal cup of musical tea, but who couldn’t help but be touched tonight by the honesty you left on the Idol stage.