American Idol is back in all its glory this year. From headlines of Paula making promotional appearances while being ripped out of her mind to Paula rumoredly getting replaced by the even more fucked up Courtney Love to Paula claiming she's never been drunk in her life to Paula seal-clapping and slurring during the shitty audition rounds, (honestly people, that's mainly the work of expensive and possibly illegal prescription barbiturates, not something as pedestrian as vodka!) the news, set-up, and format doesn't really change. Just the faces and voices of the contestants. While even they get molded into the gloriously well-worn yet still workable archetypes we want and expect.
Of course, all of these finalist hopefuls get their first couple minutes of valuable exposure sandwiched between all the awful, supposedly funny, terrible auditions. And there's no shortage of the weirdos, freaks, and marvelously horrible voices this year. But I'm jaded, and most of the freakishly bad pretenders come across to me about as sincere as Mel Gibson taking a day off to observe Rosh Hashanah. They know they can't sing, but they're putting on a show -- trying to be so weird or awful so they can get their shits and giggles and make it onto TV for a minute. And that's fine. But for most of them, it takes the shock value away. I mean, Zitsman? C'mon. That had to be put on. And Orgasm Girl? Her audition wasn't nearly as convincing as her Meg Ryan in Harry Met Sally routine probably is to fragile-egoed lovers.
But I do have to give credit to one guy. Cat-Man-Don't. You know, the Panther dude. I think he was for real. Or, at least, I want to think he was for real. All that bizarre and arrogant strutting and slashing through the air with his paw. Eccentric! It's guys like that who give true flavor and meaning to Ambrose Bierce's definition of self-esteem as "an erroneous appraisement". He was worth watching.
Next week they'll show the Texas rounds, giving one last chance for some lucky souls to make such complete assholes of themselves that 37 million people can snicker about them the next day. But then it's off to Hollywood, where the hopefuls will group-sing and argue in snippy voices and then wait in rooms to see if they're in or not.
Who can we expect to slide effortlessly into the Top 24, or even top 12? Well. For starters, they've already filled the impossibly cute boy role this year with Jenry. You know Jenry. He's sixteen, looking like he's going on 23. This will officially be the last time I even mention Jenry, lest I end up with Chris Hansen and a camera shoved in my face.
We've got a couple of contenders for the Kellie Pickler "scholarship fund for sob stories" to slide you through when your voice is kind of weak. I was doubting the hardship levels suffered by young women these days when they tossed out budding drama-princess Sarah onto us. You know her. She's the one who sobbed and sobbed and sobbed about her dad not supporting her and how mad he'll be when he finds out she came to the audition. Then they put her through, so she called him, her heart beating out of her chest as she sobbed some more. Even Seacrest patting her shoulder couldn't calm her as she just kept repeating, "Dad, don't be mad at me." And her father, that rotten fucking bastard, he said, "Who is this?" Yeah. That was fucking funny. Of course, he wasn't pissed. The whole thing was such a kerfuffle over nothing that I was half-hoping she'd go home and he'd give her a sound beating behind closed doors so she could show up in Hollywood with a black eye and milk her pain for a further ride on the Idol cruise.
But Sarah has some stiff competition from that blonde girl. What's her name? I already forgot her name. But you know the one. She sings all nasal and she's real pretty and her story is how her dad is paralyzed due to a crime-of-passion murder-suicide gone awry! (Oh yeah -- he's not the victim, he's the murderer-suicider.) All's I know is Sarah's pop better step it up a notch and be a really ornery bastard if she hopes to compete with this girl's shit.
Who else we got? Oh yeah-- that smart-ass Chris Sligh. He's the mop-topped one who said he wants to be an Idol because he wants to make David Hasselhoff cry. Just like this:
Yes. I love Chris Sligh. Plus, he can sing. Who else can sing? Sundance Head. And you know he's going to go far because his name is unforgettable. Plus, he's different. I already forgot this other guy's name, but there was that one fellow from LA, the backup singer for Christina Aguillera. He was good. He'll go far.
The girls seemed mostly forgettable. With the exception of the two Jersey chicks. You just KNOW there's going to be a blowout -- east coast style -- out in Hollywood when the taller, prettier one does better than her friend with the "trained" voice. What other girls do I remember? CrackBaby. I know about her. And that one "edgy" chick who showed up with her pants exposing her coochie. If she's willing to hammer herself into some semblance of blandness while retaining her uniqueness, she'll go far. (Yes, I'm aware that sentence is a hot mess of a contradiction. But admit it, it makes perfect sense.)
It remains to be seen who'll really get under my skin and piss me off this year. But I'm quite certain he's out there. Probably looking in the mirror right now, not-ironically giving himself some sort of amped-up, rocked-out, Stuart Smalley pep talk about how awesome he is. I look forward to seeing him emerge.
And who will I love this year? Ah. I thought I'd backed a winner last year. But boy was I wrong. McPhee is on Ugly Betty and has her slutty CD cover all over the internet. Taylor's gone platinum. Friggin' Wallet Chain has sold a gazillion units. Even Kellie Pickler is still making a splash on the country charts. But it seems like my darkhorse just wants to fuck models, alienate fans, and dilly about with a self-produced album. From cupcake to fuckcake in less than eight months.
I'll be watching and waiting for someone to root for this year. Sandwiched between Simon's fatuous smirk and Paula's fabulous incoherence and Randy's "pitchy-dawg-worked it out" bullshit, beneath the toe-curling layers of processed cheeze, and over the airwaves to unite all us office-workers with water cooler talk, someone will put the olive in my martini. (Yes, just pedestrian vodka for me. Mostly.)