Tonight’s American Idol was very special for me. Why, you ask? Because Camryn Manheim was in attendance? No, but that was a lovely perk. It was because I got to enjoy this rockin’ episode high above the mountains and valleys and rivers of America. Yes, I watched Idol on JetBlue, which meant I was not only viewing the show from high in the sky, but I was also partaking in a tasty chocolate chip cookie simultaneously. In fact, it was my second one (moments later, I learned that there was a cookie shortage on the plane. Certain passengers had to settle for biscotti. Suckers). The cookie was nice, but I nearly lost my appetite during certain portions of the show. I’m not going to name names, ACE YOUNG, but not everyone could harness the tricky harmonies of Queen, ACE YOUNG. At times, it was so bad that I kind of hoped the pilot would interrupt the broadcast with inane ramblings about weather or coasting altitudes, but sadly, that only happened during a critical juncture in Alton Brown’s Good Eats, thus leaving me confused as to the proper techniques for stuffing a lobster. Damn you, pilot! But I digress. To paraphrase Freddy Mercury, now that Mandisa’s gone, Idol needs to find me a singer to love.Tonight’s show began with an insta-cameo, courtesy of Fantasia Barino, she of the “I’m gonna win Idol and then disappear forever” school. We then found hostess with the mostess, Ryan Seacrest, whose wardrobe took “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” to new levels. Seriously — I think he was wearing a gray bodice. Anyway, since tonight’s theme was the music of Queen (and we all know that Ryan loves Queen music), Monsieur Seacrest then took us on a whirlwind tour of the band’s career. Amusingly (or perhaps disturbingly) enough, the show kinda, sorta glossed over Freddy Mercury’s death, simply saying that it shocked everyone. Yes, very shocking. Almost as shocking as if Maude from Iowa had to hear the words “gay man” and “AIDS” on TV! Anyway, we then caught a glimpse of the surviving band members now in their old and decrepit state, with Ryan referring to them as “seasoned veterans.” Yes, emphasis on SEASONED.
Ryan then mentioned that the director of American Idol was the very same man who directed that seminal music video for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” That would have been awesome if we had cared, but we didn’t; so let’s move on. Actually, we couldn’t move on because not only did Ryan give the director a shout-out, but we then had to sit through an awkward and overlong bit where Ryan pretended like he actually was the director calling out the camera shots. This resulted in lots of finger-snapping (a standard for Seacrest, I’m sure) and then quiet, uncomfortable silences. Brilliant.
I am going to start calling Bucky’s mustache the “Dirty Jethro”
First up was Bucky, who was all gosh-gee-willy about Queen. He really liked the guys and said he could imagine them coming into a bar and having a great time. Yes, provided the bar had an Early Bird special and served shots of Metamucil and Prunce Juice. Nevertheless, we then saw Bucky practicing with the band, and hey! There was Mandisa watching him. Oh, she would have been awesome this week. If only… if only…
Anyway, Bucky then performed an old Queen song for us, and I gotta admit that I actually liked it. I mean, I didn’t think it was great or anything, but to paraphrase Randy Jackson, it was aiiight. Randy and Paula agreed — they both liked it quite a bit, and Simon, well, he was only feeling so-so about it all. “Overall, I would classify that as mediocre,” he said. Well, duh. It’s Bucky. Why even put him through to the semi-finals if you want more than mediocre from him?
Next up was Ace, a.k.a. the biggest abomination of the night. Ace was Terrible with a capital T. Freddy Mercury probably turned over in his grave — as did every other musician who’s died over the last two thousand years — as Ace butchered the stadium anthem, “We Will Rock You.” Of course, we knew this would be a horrid performance because a) it was Ace, and b) even the band didn’t seem to like him very much. Unfortunately, some noise on the plane prevented me from hearing what exactly went down between Ace and the band, but from what I could gather, he wanted to do a new twist on the song — probably something lame and whiteboy R&Bish — but the dinosaurs of rock shook their heads and said no. They might be old, but at least they’re not willing to whore out their music to some wannabe popstar.
Prior to the big performance, Ryan talked to the increasingly shaggy Ace about the song and said it was “Kind of out of your comfort zone.” To be fair, any sort of “musicality” is out of Ace’s comfort zone, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, at long last, the band started up, Ace opened his mouth, and we heard probably one of the very worst renditions of “We Will Rock You” of all time. I mean it was awful. AWFUL. SUPER AWFUL. Guffaws-in-the-emergency-exit-aisle-awful. The guy next to me and I looked at each other as if to say “WHAT THE HELL??” There was so much suck, I’m surprised oxygen masks didn’t fall from the overhead compartments.
Here’s the problem. Or problems. Ace doesn’t have a commanding voice. It’s thin and weak and vulnerable — perfect for his normal style of music. Hearing him trying to be powerful and strong was ridiculous at best. Plus, his silly attempts at Bo Bice-esque mic-stand antics were totally forced and lame. Everything from top to bottom was wrong. Just about the only one who seemed to enjoy this performance was Ace’s brother who clapped all too vigorously. The judges, thankfully, were not as kind. Randy started things off by saying it was “only a five or a six.” Ouch. Paula then rambled — as usual — but people experienced with Paula-To-English dictionaries could tell that overall, she wasn’t happy. “You know what time it is right now in the competition, and you took a risk,” she said. Translation: “Yeah, that kind of sucked big time. But I love the scar!”
Simon finally put it out there: “It was a complete, utter mess.” Thank you. As the crowd began to boo, Simon said that Randy was being nice to Ace, to which Randy replied, “He’s right. I was trying to be kind.” Awesome. Finally, Simon concluded, “I really, really hated that. Sorry.” Don’t apologize. We’re right there with you on that one…
So how did Ace think he did? “I think I rocked,” he said, clearly confusing the word “rocked” for “sucked.”
Surely nothing could get worse than Ace’s performance, but then came along news that Kellie Pickler was next with BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Oh god. Stock up on your canned goods and bottled water because this is gonna be a DISASTER.
“They said that I was brave,” Kellie said, regarding the Queen guys. Something tells me she still doesn’t get the fine art of the euphemism. Well, Ms. Pickler took the stage dressed in all black, her hair happily white-trashed out. She kind of looked like a tamer version of Lita Ford. Anyway, Kellie sang the song, and I have to admit, it wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be. It wasn’t great, but it was surprisingly okay (kind of). She probably benefited from following Ace’s awful performance.
Golide Hawn LOVES the hair.
Randy commented, “It’s a fly jacket… and I think you worked it out!” Well, as long as the jacket is fly, then that’s all that matters! Paula liked it too, and Simon said that on paper, it should have been a hideous performance, but instead, it was quite good. But wait — Kellie had a question: “What? On paper?” she asked in a state of total confusion. Kellie then said, “He has the weirdest terminology.” Yes, those common phrases and idioms are devilish in their complexity! By the way — who else was surprised that she knew the word “terminology”? Finally, Kellie simply confessed, “It’s his accent. I don’t understand what he says.” Wait ’till she hears him say “salmon.” He doesn’t even pronounce the “l”. Insane!
Chris Daughtry was up next, and I thought for sure this would be his homerun of the season, buuut… he picked possibly the most uninspired, unmelodious song from the entire Queen catalogue. Pretty much the only lyrics were “Keep on trying!” and “Ohhhh Yeah!!!” If you thought the Creed song was bad, it was nothing compared to this. On the upside, Chris fans got to hear him do his patented “uuuuuuhhhhhooooooohhhh” noise — you know, the one that says, “I’m gonna take a shit right now!” Of course, Chris at his worst is still better than almost anyone else in the competition, and now that Mandisa’s gone, my formerly split allegiances are now totally in the Chris camp. And I wasn’t the only one. The mistress of all things large and in charge, Camryn Manheim, was in the audience and cheering Chris on as if he were bringing her a giant cream pie. Randy really enjoyed the performance, and so did Paula, who asked, “That last note? That was a high C?” C’mon, Paula. Don’t try to act like you know music. After some more general PaulaBabble, Simon said that he hated the song and that it was overly-indulgent, yet again. Hopefully next week — if he’s around — Chris will stop trying to turn everything into a damn Fuel song and just pick something else.
Yay jelly donuts in the green room!
Next up was Katharine McPhee, who was going to sing one rowdy song, but then switched to a slow ballad off the Highlander soundtrack. Personally, I would have opted for something from Timecop or Best of the Best 2, but I suppose Highlander works. Anyway, she belted out the song and sounded pretty good; although, the judges accused her of being “pitchy” at times. Paula told Katharine, “I love when I see an artist make a choice to change their mind.” Oh wonderful. Now, why is that again? That makes no sense, PAULA.
Simon then told Katharine to thank the wardrobe and lighting guys because they had made her look amazing, to which she said, “I know. I do.” Wow. Sounds like McPhee’s caught her own McPheever. That’s some strong McModesty right there. (Then again, she could have been saying “I know. I do” in reference to her need to thank the lighting guys). Anyway, I don’t anticipate problems with McPhee and the bottom three this week; so let’s just move on.
Elliot took the stage next, and we learned that back in the day, he used to be a DJ. This, of course, excited Ryan, presently a DJ himself, and he asked Mr. Yamin to introduce his own video package. “It’s E Dub on ya box!” Elliot then said, sounding quite stupid in the process. Anyway, after his little video piece, he then sang “Somebody To Love,” which is probably my favorite Queen song. He did a pretty good job, and even though the soulful vocal style took some getting used to, Elliot proved to be one of the better performances of the night. Even Marlee Matlin enjoyed it. (She was in the audience). Not to be insensitive or anything, but why, Marlee? Why? Does she like the dancing?
Up next was Taylor who was going to sing “We Are The Champions,” but instead opted for “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” so he could dance more. Great. Time for more spastic jerking and awkward thrusting. Well, even though watching Taylor dance is kind of like watching a trout flop around in an empty bucket, I was still highly amused when he tried to oh-so-macho move of kicking down the mic stand. You see, in order to make that move work, you’ve got to actually kick the stand. Poor Taylor missed it though, and nearly went toppling down as a result. Watching him stagger backwards on one foot was absolutely magical. Oh, how great would it have been had he fallen over? But don’t worry, America. Taylor regained his balance and then kicked again, successfully connecting with that infernal mic-stand. And yes, more laughter from the passengers of JetBlue.
Well, botched moves be damned — Taylor put on a solid show. Randy loved it, and Paula remarked, “I don’t know whether to give you a record deal or a straight jacket.” I’m pretty sure she’s used that line before on Taylor this season, but since she was probably flyin’ high on a painkiller cocktail, I’ll let it slip. Simon, meanwhile, didn’t like the performance. “I thought it was ridiculous,” he said as the music promptly cut him off. I thought Ryan might engage him in another catty dispute, but shockingly, our host was quite timid this week. Perhaps he was still stinging from that whole Desperate Housewives attack still. And for those of you wondering, the answer is yes, this week Ryan did lose the beard. At least one of them.
Last up for the evening was Paris Bennett, and for this week’s intolerable look, she went for a form-fitting, black outfit that may have been found in an old chest of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome costumes. This was not a complimentary outfit, and for a moment, I thought maybe Mandisa had taken the stage again. Anyway, Paris made her way through a forgettable version of “The Show Must Go On.” I desperately hoped that the show must go off, and I took solace in knowing this mini-diva was the last of the evening. Randy gave her decent marks for working it out, and of course, Paula liked it too. Simon, on the other hand, simply said, “I found it all a little weird.” I’d have said “annoying.”
And that was this week in Queen. What did you think of the show? Who did best? Who did worst? Who will be bottom three?