You know what this season of Idol is like for me? A romance turned bad marriage that I'm not ready to divorce yet. Previous years had courted me with flowers and candy: the crazy Clay-Ruben showdown, Quentin Tarantino as a guest judge slobbering his love all over Jennifer Boomie Hudson, and Constantine skeeving across my screen. But last year cemented the deal in a whirlwind honeymoon of wallet chains, on-stage seizures, soulful singing, bitchy asides, and revelry in delightful fluff. But this year? The carefree romance is gone and I wake up and realize I'm committed to someone who slides by on good looks and immature charm (Jordin), dresses poorly (Blake), doesn't listen to a thing I say (LaKisha), and who's much too old for me (Melinda.)
But I'm here. I'm this deep into it. I can see a trial separation looming where I can try out other potential suitors and see if anyone captures my fancy, and then maybe I'll appreciate what I had and tune back in next January and see if we can rekindle some of the spark. But to up and cut ties now would be like filing for a messy divorce when there's a baby (the winner to be crowned) due any week now.
So here we are. Going through the motions, with a weekly side tryst (guest mentors) as the thing that gives us the energy to get through the whole rest of the routine.
This week's tryst was Barry Gibb, and he seemed genuinely flattered to be there and he was nice to everyone. He particularly loved this year's chosen one, Jordin. Fitting, since she's the baby of the bunch they'd most wish to birth her as the winner of this year's declining show. Barry said he expects her to become a superstar, and for her part, Jordin then proceeded to fuck up all the hype by actually coming on stage and singing. She came out and bored the shit out of us with "Woman in Love," wearing a dress somewhat reminiscent of Kat McPhee's blue dress from the final three, except Jordin's was reinforced and fitted to her ample proportions so instead of looking sexy it was like something a Bromdignagian would wear if trying to look sexy standing next to the Lilliputian beat boxer. The best part of it all was that Simon was having none of it. He let Randy chug the Kool Aid and toe the company line by telling her it was alright even though it was pitchy, but Simon totally punished the kid and told her it was all pageanty and old and he was right.
It was refreshing to hear Randy and Paula at least admit that she was pitchy. I mean, come on. Throughout this competition, Jordin's passed off more sour notes than a tenth grade cheerleader who's just been dumped by her football-playing boyfriend as she sits in study hall with the rest of her shocked clique. I guess in the long run it doesn't really matter, as a recording session can fix all kinds of vocal sins and that'll be Jordin's bread and butter. But onstage, if we're judging the performances? She's got more keys than a locksmith and she uses them at the wrong times.
The good news for Jordin is that Blake and LaKisha sucked out twice as hard as she did. Blake got his falsetto on for "You Should Be Dancing," but he just couldn't shut down the beatboxing, either. There were shades of Elliott in Blake this week. Not because he sang so well, oh, hell no! But because he seemed downright insistent on picking a song he was warned against and that most people don't know and he had to keep his "artistic integrity" by doing it his way. Artistic integrity. The ONLY things "artistic integrity" and "American Idol" have in common are the initials. But Blake was clearly riding the high of last week's beat box victory so he decided to scratch out a "contemporary" version of "Dancing" and the little heard "This is Where I Came In." At least, I think that's the name of the song. I hadn't heard it before and I didn't write it down, so I'm referencing a spoiler listing right now.
Granted, I gave him mad props for last week's Bon Jovi remix, but how fucking old are these judges? Since when is beat boxing "contemporary"? Wasn't that popular around the time Run DMC re-did Aerosmith's "Walk this Way"? But he keeps rocking his sweater vests and homemade pants, looking like Vanilla Ice and Mike Boogie's love child. (I hadn't mentioned the pants before. You all did know he makes his own pants, right?) But he might have just sc-sc-scratched his way out of the competition.
LaKisha picked a monster of a Gibb song with "Stayin' Alive." And, as has become her custom, she plasters on a fake smile and nods and sweetly accepts the mentor's suggestions on how to help her out with her song. But she's either the bratty child in this dysfunctional family or she's the once-heralded prodigy who's turned out to be a one-trick pony. My suspicion is that she's a little of both.
I don't mind a one-trick pony, but that trick had better be damn good and he'd better pull it off every time. KiKi doesn't. She couldn't go up an octave to sing the song and she also had to slow it down to suit her normal tempos, and it was all fucking stupid and pointless. She got loud at the end and who cares anymore? Even though she's slimmed down considerably, she's still the big girl with the big voice, but she's got a limited range and like Blake when his beat boxing doesn't hit the mark, she doesn't have much else to offer to entertain.
In an interview, I know she said she picked "Stayin' Alive" because that's what she's trying to do in this competition. And that's exactly the problem. She's not trying to grow or learn or expand or even really win. Much like I'm no longer committed to the marriage with this show and I'm just riding it out because the alternative is worse, she's just trying to scratch out survival.
So, as usual, that left Melinda. She's going to be the winner? Last year's heady romance ended with us having a nasty hangover in a cheap hotel room in Vegas, blinking our eyes unbelievingly as we gazed at Taylor Hicks hunched over a decimated plate of last night's ribs. He greeted us with a perky "Wooo!" and we looked at the ring on our finger and said, "What the fuck were we thinking?" It seemed like a really good idea at the time, caught up in our excited jubilation. But immediately after we had thoughts similar to those of Grey's Anatomy's George when he woke up with Callie as his wife. Which I suppose would make Daughtry Izzy. Fitting, as they're both bitches.
Anyhow. Melinda. They made the unfortunate error of calling attention to Melinda's age last night when they asked her what the first CD she ever bought was. And she said she'd bought a tape, because she's a little older than the other contestants. Yeah. Andrew "Dice" Clay worked a little blue. Roger Clemens is a little overpaid. Karen Carpenter was a little thin. They aren't shitting me with this twenty-nine bullshit. She said she'd bought Michael Jackson's "Bad." Supposedly, she's have been nine years old. I don't buy it. I never believed the single bullet theory, and I don't believe this shit. (and Melinda's probably plenty old enough to understand that reference.)
Anyhow, Melinda did "Love You Inside Out" -- only after being assured that it wasn't as overtly sexual as she was thinking it was -- and "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." She didn't hit any bad notes, she wasn't dressed in clothes as ugly as Blake's (though, granted, the pearl necklace wound around the area where her neck should be was a bit distracting -- it's like when someone tries to camouflage a zit by putting too much makeup on it and it only draws your eye to it more), and she showed her range and versatility. She's just never bad.
But last night, she just wasn't great, either. She certainly didn't get me drunk with happiness and make me want to run off to Vegas to seal the deal and renew my vows all over again. Instead, I just sit around thinking about that big schlub with the bad shirts and jiggy-jaggy moves and the beautiful bitch and that sweet little Keebler elf and yes, that bald asshole with the wallet chain. I pine for the days of wine and roses -- mostly when Paula was still drunk on the wine and Ryan was absurdly handing out roses to Teri Hatcher. And then I wonder when we decided to settle down and make this all so fucking sensible and normal.