The Weaker Sex
Eight Things I Wish I Didn't Know About the Guy Contestants night on "American Idol."
Show host Ryan Seacrest gives us the bad news right away: Each contestant has to share something about himself. But, so it's not a total loss, he promises us a "very big announcement -- one of the most important events in 'Idol' history" -- during Thursday's results show.
Blake Lewis, it turns out, loves improv comedy and Halloween, and does terrible "The Naked Trucker & T- Bones"-like characters in his spare time, including one we get to meet: Jimmy Walker Blue.
Lewis does, however score points for singing 311's "All Mixed Up" which results in what we think is the very first "American Idol" Judges' Senior Moment -- neither Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul nor Simon Cowell recognizes the song.
"I didn't understand a word you sang, not a single word," Simon says, speaking for the others, only then he goes on to say, "You kind of stand out...you're making it current...you will 100 percent be here next week."
Sanjaya Malakar confides he can actually hula dance or, as he describes it, "shake my booty Hawaiian style." Sadly, he demonstrates.
We also learn, though he doesn't say so, that Sanjaya wants to look like Paula and has straightened his hair to that end.
"It wasn't as ghastly as last week," Simon says of Sanjaya's utterly limp rendition of John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change." Randy and Paula confine themselves to saying they've been disappointed in Sanjaya lately. But Simon says "I'm finding the whole hoola-hooping, the Paula hairstyle all a bit weird," speculating "but maybe it's your hair that's keeping you in" the competition.
"I think one of the two has extensions -- I'm not sure which one," Ryan says, pointing to Sanjaya and Paula.
The one thing we don't know about pudgy Sundance Head is he's really thin but puts on the fat suit for the show so that afterwards he can walk around all thin and sexy and not be hounded by fans. Earlier Sundance confides he cries like a little girl when he goes to see "Charlotte's Web."
Then he makes a run at the show's Chris Daughtry Token Rocker slot with Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," but he doesn't have the control to pull it off. He's a stranger to any key.
At this point "Idol" kicks off the Human Product Placement portion of the series. Travis Tritt is in the audience and his next album, "The Storm" just happens to be produced by --Randy Jackson.
Chris Richardson, who wants to show us his masculine side, says he used to play football and was "chunky" and now here he is on "Idol" -- 40 pounds lighter.
Chris tries a Keith Urban song, "Tonight I Wanna Cry" but he hasn't the cheekbones to pull it off, and his performance ends with the least sexy close-up ever on "American Idol."
But Randy loves it and says Chris every week "puts the boys on blast." Paula says it's great because of the intonation in his voice. Simon says it was a bit timid and safe, and "cutesy...but you sold it." It has now become painfully clear the judges' comments this week have nothing to do with the actual performances and everything to do with which six guys the judges -- which is to say the producers -- want voted through by viewers to the final 12. It's pathetic.
Weirdly, when Ryan comes on stage to do his blah blah blah before reading Chris's phone number and asks Chris how he lost the 40 pounds, Simon admonishes him, saying "careful!" and "Leave the poor boy alone -- stick to the singing."
When did Simon become the show's Standards & Practices guy?
Jared Cotter, who also wants to show his masculine side, tells us the one thing we don't know about him is that he played college basketball. Only when he realized he wasn't going to make the NBA he became a singer. Zzzzzzzzz.
Jared takes a stab at a Stevie Wonder song -- something other "Idol" contestants have done, and better, at their peril. But the judges are very kind. Paula, surprisingly, is hardest on him, saying she wants to see more coloring up the way he sings and sometimes he shouts through an entire performance.
"I sort of know, amazingly what Paula is trying to say," Simon says. Only that old gag is falling very flat because Paula this season is actually making sense.
Brandon, the only contestant who tells us something about him I don't mind knowing, reveals he is a classical pianist. He sings Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate" but in a non-celebratory way. Randy doesn't love it, Paula does; Simon says he's nervous for Brandon after that performance.
Phil Stacey wants us to know he hasn't always been bald and in fact used to have very long hair but then he got into a group of guys in college who kept their hair short so he had to keep his hair short, only he didn't like his hair short, so he shaved it off. Phew!
Phil also let us know, only he didn't realize it, that he is the biggest suck-up ever to appear on "American Idol." We learned this during one of the show's Coke Couch Moments when he tells Ryan he wants the judges to remember how passionately he loves them. Ryan gives him a chance to redeem himself with a comeback question, only Phil this time says the judges are all incredible.
Phil comes out on stage looking like a Justin Timberlake Puzzle -- pieces of different boy-band ensembles -- and slaughters LeAnn Rimes's "I Need You." Randy and Paula go pretty easy on him, but Simon says "I don't get it at all -- the hat, the big eyes, it was all just insane at the beginning."
Chris Sligh wants us to know he used to have a shaved head but decided to grow it out and "ended up having these lush curls." Call me old-fashioned but there is something really unattractive about a guy discussing his "lush curls." Oh, and, we also need to know "This is my real hair; I have not ever had a perm, nor will I." Ick, ick, ick.
Chris sings dc Talk's "We All Want to Be Loved." It was by far the night's strongest performance but the judges aren't kind, though Randy says it was the night's best vocal, which is damning with faint praise.
Then Chris, in marked departure from his "sorry Simon I'm not singing as well as your precious Teletubbies" strategy, apologizes "that I did not bring it like I should have." Then he insists Ryan give him a hug, which causes Standards & Practices Simon to start making slashing motions across his neck with his hand.
When this train wreck finally ends, Ryan asks the judges how many of the eight guys actually deserve to make it into the final 12. Of course, we know six will make it through because the final 12 must be six guys and six girls. Unless that's Ryan's big important Idol surprise.
"Keeping it real, only maybe four," Randy says.
"Four" Paula agrees.
"Three and a half," says Simon.
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