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Only four singers are left on American Idol, and tonight, they were forced to sing the tunes of Elvis Presley, the “Original American Idol,” according to Ryan Seacrest. It was a challenging night for some of the singers, and the McPheever that had shone so brightly in the middle of the season seemed all but vanquished this time around. On the other hand, man-creature Elliot Yamin rose to the challenge, moving the audience with one number and rocking the house with another. Plus, he was only the second creepiest person on the telecast, thanks to the winsome and plasticine presence of Ms. Priscilla Presley. If you didn’t see her, thank your lucky stars. You won’t be having nightmares tonight.Tonight’s show opens with our favorite moppet, Ryan Seacrest, already hyping the big finale in two weeks. He says fifty million people will be watching and blah blah blah it’s time for the opening credits. Two seconds later, Ryan re-appears on the big stage where we can fully take in his bland, three-piece suit. It’s sort of a gray overload. I guess it’s the new black. I can’t help but notice that Ryan seems to be having a gray love affair these days, and while it’s great that he has gray pride, I think it’s odd that he never seems to talk about his gray sensibilities. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. A lot of my friends are into the gray lifestyle. I just think that Ryan shouldn’t be so ashamed of being gray. That’s all.
Anyway, it’s Elvis week, and so the producers sent the idols to Graceland to really get in touch with their inner King. Of course, cameras followed them the entire way, and as they pulled up in front of Elvis’s storied house, Taylor remarked, “birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll.” Well, not really, but then again, I shouldn’t question Taylor. After all, he was alive before rock ‘n’ roll even existed.
The kids then came to the front door, and holy shit! It’s Michael Myers!!! RUN!!! Oh, wait, no. How silly of me. It’s THE JOKER!!! RUN!!! Oh, wait, no, sorry again. It’s just Priscilla Presley. Yes, she may be the first lady of Graceland, but Priscilla has hardly aged gracefully. Her face has now become a barren wasteland of surgical excavations. A veritable Chernobyl of Botox and collagen. Over the years, I’ve seen Priscilla slowly head down the Michael Jackson route, but these days, she looks worse than ever. She makes Irene Marie look like Christie Turlington. Now whenever I watch The Naked Gun (something I do quite often), every scene will be tinged with sadness. Whither the natural beauty of Jane Spencer?
Priscilla explains her evil plan to trap Batman and kill all of Gotham City.
Also hanging out at Graceland was über-producer Tommy Mottola, who famously married Mariah Carey… and then famously divorced her. He looked svelte and gastric-bypass-surgery-ish, but since he had no creepy plastic surgery, I wasn’t that interested in hearing what he had to say. Let’s get on with the music!
First up is Taylor Hicks who sings “Jailhouse Rock.” He does all his patented moves: the squat-walking, the spinning, the spastic movements. It’s classic Hicks, which is great for some people. But for everyone else (me included), it’s kind of annoying. The audience seems to have fun though — especially Jeri Ryan who cheers from amidst the hoi polloi. Also having a blast: Taylor’s big, breasty friend who I’ll simply call Juggy McChesterson. I’m telling you, there was a lot of cleavage on display.
Anyway, Randy likes the performance a lot, and Paula offers up some empty praise. But Simon? Eh, not so much. “In the real world, that was a terrible impersonation of Elvis Presley,” he says. EXACTLY. This gets Paula all mad, and so she starts barking like a tiny dog near a stranger. Luckily, if there’s anyone who knows how to discipline a tiny dog, it’s Simon, who seethes, “Shut up!” One can never underestimate the beauty of a prickly British person saying those words. It’s like tasting a fine wine.
Simon concludes by saying Taylor’s performance “was just karaoke with a capital K.” Ryan then returns to the stage, and we just know he’s gonna get all snippy and defensive. Sure enough, he unloads his zing machine. “So let’s start with Simon,” he says. “Have you ever LIVED in the real world?” Ooooh! ZING!! Wait… why? Why is that a zing? That was just a sentence delivered in zing fashion but really had nothing to do with anything. Nevertheless, Paula is already on her feet, seal-clapping her approval.
With adrenaline pumping through his veins, Ryan continues: “He has staff at his house. Staff here. A driver. A Rolls Royce. I mean, please, that’s hardly the real world.” So? What’s your point? Is Taylor suddenly supposed to sound better if Simon drives a Toyota Camry instead?
Next up is Chris who’ll be singing “Suspicious Minds.” Before he takes the stage, however, he talks to Ryan about the various fan clubs that have sprung up in support of him. There’s “The Daughtry Gang,” “Chris’s Crew” and “Chris-aholics.” A.K.A. the most unimaginative fan clubs EVER. Chris then reveals the answer to everyone’s question: “It’s boxer briefs,” he says. This causes Ryan to stand up and step away, probably to hide the raging hard-on he just sprouted. “I’m a little uncomfortable with this conversation right now, Chris,” Ryan says. Again, the boner.
We then see a video of Chris at Graceland, and the only thing interesting is that we see Tommy Mottola laugh, and FYI, he laughs like a Billy Goat. No wonder why Mariah left him. The sex probably sounded like some grave exercise in bestiality.
Chris then performs for us, and taking a page from the Bo Bice school of accessories, he sports a flashy pair of sunglasses. Don’t worry, they quickly come off.
Overall, it’s a good performance, and oh look! Cruella Deville is in the audience!!! Oops, never mind. Just some woman in Chris’s family with crazy gray hair. Seriously, it’s all about gray.
Anyway, Randy calls the performance “tender,” Paula gushes, and Simon says, “Sunglasses aside, that worked.” No surprises there.
Next is Elliot who’s looking hairier than usual. I guess it must be a full moon. Anyway, we see footage of Tommy working with Elliot, telling him “You don’t want it to sound like a Bar Mitzvah song.” Quite the contrary! I would love to hear Elliot’s take on a bar mitzvah song!
Elliot apparently had trouble with the lyrics in practice, and when he takes the stage, we’re a little nervous for him. Nothing more exciting than wondering whether or not someone will forget their lines. That doesn’t happen in these late rounds though, does it?
At first Elliot sounds a little boring, but by the end of the song, he has so much momentum that I think our little troll will be okay. “I think it’s his best!” we hear Paula say while the audience is still clapping. Sure enough, the judges love it. “You laid it out. That was hot baby!” Randy gushes. Paula reiterates that it was Elliot’s best performance (and yet, she didn’t cry this time), and Simon says it was the best of the night so far.
Ryan then takes to the stage, and in his excited state, Elliot actually puts a hand on his back. Doesn’t he know better? No one can touch The Seacrest! Especially not a manimal with a passing resemblance to ALF!
Last up for the first round is Katharine McPhee, and wouldn’t you know it? She’s dressed in GRAY! She announces that she’ll be singing “Hound Dog,” but with a twist. Turns out she’s actually attempting a “Hound Dog” / “All Shook Up” mash-up. Quite ambitious! After the obligatory Graceland video piece, we then find McPhee perched above the judges, and holy McBooty! Low angle + tight jeans = McJunk-in-the-Trunk! I don’t think we’re ready for this McJelly!
Anyway, Katharine starts off decently enough as she happily bounces and dances from the catwalk to the stage (with a seductive little layover at the judges’ table). I’m not sure if the McPheever is on, but something sure is because next thing we know, she looks like she’s feeling up her coochie. Look away, children! But then something dreadful happens. McPhee enters the “All Shook Up” portion of her medley, and all of a sudden, she’s like a train that’s switched tracks too quickly. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, SHE FORGETS A LYRIC! It’sa McERROR! Katharine tries to cover up by turning around and making it seem like she pulled her mic away by accident, but it’s obvious what’s happened. From there’s it’s pure disaster. The song become shrill and erratic, and it’s clear that she’s simply out of breath. It’s not as big of a clunker as Kellie Pickler’s swan song, but for McPhee standards, it’s not so McGreat.
On the plus side, we do get to see our old friend Nikko Smith in the audience. He’s dressed all faux-Usher — as usual — and while it’s amusing to see him all done up in trendy sunglasses and a hat and whatnot, I can’t help thinking, “Dude. You’re not famous anymore. Just stop.” These days, he’s probably just banking on the chance that when he introduces himself as Nikko, people might think he’s actually Ne-Yo. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry. Consider yourself lucky (although, I do quite enjoy that “So Sick” song).
Anyhoo — Randy looks disappointed, but before he can finish what he wants to say, Paula cuts him off and applauds Katharine’s expert way of covering up her flub. Simon isn’t so nice. “It looked like a desperate, manic audition… it was manic. It was shrieky,” he says. Kind of like what I’d imagine Celine Dion to be like on speed.
Taylor then returns to the stage for part deux. He tells Ryan about a “magical” golf cart ride he and the group shared with Lisa Marie Presley. Apparently, they went speeding right by some reporters and blah blah blah — it was so damn exciting, I almost cared. But not really. I guess the whole idea of golf carts is pretty amazing to Taylor. After all, when he grew up, all they had were horse-drawn carriages and wheelbarrows.
Taylor then sings the Eric Cartman classic, “In the Ghetto.” I think it’s nice, nothing great, but apparently I’m wrong. Randy LOVES it, saying, “That was HOT, America!” Paula says it brought out a whole other side of Taylor, and Simon says, “Absolutely the perfect song for you… you have just sung your way into the semi-finals, young man.” Wow. This leads to excessive yelps of “Soul Patrol!” from Taylor, and ooh! Almost forgot! In the audience is Amaury Nolasco, a.k.a. Sucré from Prison Break. Yay! But next time, let’s see Fox has the balls to trot out Teabag.
Next up is Chris, who sings “A Little Less Conversation.” I really like the performance, especially since Chris stays in a controlled, lower register for the first chunk of the song. It’s great suspense and leadup to later in the song when he explodes into his rocker style. The only thing that sounds off are the last two notes, which are akin to someone vomiting into a toilet. As expected, Randy thinks it’s hot, Paula glows, and Simon — well, he actually doesn’t like the performance very much. Says it’s just OK. Huh? I don’t get it, but who really cares, right?
We then cut to commercial, but not before catching a glimpse of Elliot boogeying on down in the wings. Note to Elliot: NEVER boogey again. It’s like watching a wolverine getting electrocuted.
Nevertheless, when we return, Elliot takes the stage to sing “Trouble,” and that’s immediately the first word that pops into my head when I see that he has one too many shirt buttons undone. It’s okay though. The chest hair isn’t glaring, and even if it was, Elliot so rocks the house that it doesn’t even matter. The guy is on point tonight, and his performance is excellent. Paula even gets down more than usual, waving her arm around like she’s lassoing some frightened calf and/or Ace Young. By the end of the song, Elliot is full-on sweaty, but hey, he deserves it. The kid brought his A-game tonight.
The raves are unanimous. Ahem, unan1mous (in the spirit of reality TV, right?). Randy says “That was your best performance ever!” Paula revises her previous statement on the first song and says, “THIS was your best performance EVER!” And Simon declares, “You deserve to go through to the next round.”
Once again, Ryan returns to the stage, but this time, he’s careful to stay a distance from Elliot. Seriously, would you want that sweaty thing all close to your gray suit? Didn’t think so. Anyway, Ryan congratulates Elliot on his rockin’ performance and asks, “Did you see the moves Paula was pulling off? I feel like I’m obligated to give her a dollar after that.”
Wh-wh-whaaa? Start the scandal machines! That alleged feud between Ryan and Paula? SO back on.
“A bit disrespectful,” Simon reprimands in all seriousness. Ouch. When Simon says that, you know you’ve crossed the line.
“Mr. Cowell, she still likes me,” Ryan says while smiling bashfully. Uh huh. Once those meds wear off, I’m sure Paula will have quite the earful to say. (For now, she just crosses her arms and gives a perplexed look — kind of like “Should I be offended? Or should I joke along? And look at the pretty lights! So pretty!”)
Last up for the night is Katharine McPhee, who has the daunting job of erasing that past performance from our minds. She sings “Can Help Falling In Love,” which is nice, but as the song revs up, she sounds like her voice is stretching. It’s not terrible, but this is more Mandisa territory than McPhee. Ultimately, Randy says it was better than the last song, but she still had pitchy problems. Plus, she sounded like she ran out of air. Er, McAir.
Paula bashfully comments that she loves when Katharine dances around and has fun. Translation: I liked your first song better, and that’s not a good thing. Then it’s time for Simon to rain on the McParade. “What I wanted was apple pie on its own, and instead, I’ve got apple pie and a gallon of cream on top,” he says, clearly borrowing a page from the Guide to Force Analogies. He continues to pan Katharine, and in a terrible sign for her, the audience boos not once. Silence. That means they agree.
Sorry, Katharine. Hope you enjoy hanging out with Ellen next Monday!
What do you think? Who will go home? McPhee? Or is she too popular?