Season 2: Someone Else's Star

On principle, I should dump all over this week's episode. A superficial show about glitz and shallowness using the patriotism angle to sell itself is appalling TV. This show shortcharging Trenyce and glorifying that idiot Josh Don't Tell who looks like the wrinkled hind of a bulldog? Unforgivable. How lovely is it that at the same time that Trenyce is given a "bad diva" rap in that crappy EW (the same magazine that will reinterpret her shoplifting conviction as a "felony"), records of her shoplifting - an expunged record, mind you - are plugged all over the country.

And for what?

While it is heartening to see many Trenyce fans sticking by her, it is disgusting when I realize that there are just as many who are now turning against her because she shoplifted. If only we can hold political and religious leaders to the same high standards we hold reality TV show people! Throughout the entire season, they have stuck Trenyce at the back during the group sings and other than Charmaine Miss Paula, they generally ignore her altogether even if she can sing better than their "stars" Carmurp, Corey, and Josh Don't Tell.

To add to the hypocrisy, there are fans who now say that Trenyce should be gone after her shaky performance of LeAnn Rimes' I Need You. While the low register is off and the enunciation is off, it's actually better than some of the other contestants'. Why are these idiots calling for her to go after just one bad week when they can forgive Corey and Carmurp and Kimborlee and even the frigging overrated Kewpie for bad and missed notes week after week?

I'm angry because there will always be idiot American Idol fans out there who will turn on Trenyce because of this week turning out to be less than stellar for her. Have they ever considered that her bad performance may be because she is affected by the revelations of her one shoplifting charges that she commited three years ago being blowed out of proportion? While I like Frenchie, I cringe when Trenyce is now lumped in the same sentence as Frenchie. Frenchie is supposedly rumored to have posed topless in a site catering to underaged teenaged fantasies (although how anyone could mistake Frenchie as being underaged is beyond me). Trenyce shoplifted - how many youngsters out there have shoplifted as a silly ritual of growing up? It's a minor thing as far as I'm concerned, as there are worse things to tar Trenyce with than this.

And why should she be tarred? Why are there people who insist that American Idol be a show that provide role models for young people? We're talking about a show where King Tut ritually humiliates the contestants. Role model? This week sees that unwarranted Josh Don't Tell getting a freaking VIP treatment from the show people just because he is a Marine. Role model? A show that seems unaware of the bizarre contradiction of using a Marine who is not serving his country (and instead pursuing fame and a recording contract) to provide its own brand of blind, unthinking jingoism-mistaken-as-patriotism? Role model? Frenchie my Trenyce, you stupid people out there!

Let me make it clear here that I don't want Josh Don't Tell to go to Iraq and die. What I'm disgusted at is how this show is making this desk clerk Marine guy like some sort of hero or a representative of the American Marines in Iraq when he clearly is not. I resent how the show is implying that it is some moral duty to make Josh Don't Tell the American Idol on grounds of national support. He is just a pudgy ugly guy who is taking vocal lessons and hamming around with other contestants - not someone remotely worthy of being showered with the exaggerated lauds and laurels the way they are doing to him now. This isn't patriotism, it's just stupid.

It feels as if the show is deliberately rigging and bringing down talented female performers - Trenyce and Frenchie - to pave the way for their intended superstars Carmurp, Josh Don't Tell, Ruben, and Kewpie. I don't want to believe it, but I know these sentiments are there and I am encountering these sentiments online. American Idol will have a lot to do to clean up its "rigged for their preferred ones" act and reestablish its credibility soon and fast. Or what little of its credibility that it has in the first place, because right now it is zero.

Yes, I am a big Trenyce fan. But I'm also fed up with people insisting that reality show contestants - and pop stars - be demigods devoid of human foibles. I'm nauseated by people going on and on about Trenyce and Frenchie as if they are the greatest Jezebels on earth when they aren't, not even close. I'm fed up with petty teenaged girls and women who should know better setting insanely high double standards on female American Idol contestants while giving pieces of schmoo like Corey the free pass just because he's hot.

Anyway, that's my rant for this week. On with the show.

It's official. The country music genre is now synonymous with unthinking, stupid Republican-tinged hysterical jingoism. I use the word "jingoism" as opposed to "patriotism" because patriotism has nothing to do with the hypocrasy of a show using an out-of-shape Marine who prefers to sing and pursue fame while his comrades are dying in Iraq to sensationalize itself and to make itself relevant by actually pulling strings and changing its structure - and even undermining its own contestants - to favor that fat ugly Marine boy. Who isn't a Marine as much as a desk job boy type anyway. Nobody expects this show to be a fair indicator of talent, I'm sure, but the extent of this show pulling itself backwards to favor its selected pets is really putting me off. I don't think I'll watch the third season unless this show really redeems itself. It can start by having the judges, especially King Tut, openly saying that Trenyce's past doesn't matter on this show or how people should vote for her next week.

This week, Sleazebag wears grey shirt over a grey T-shirt marked with the hippie peace sign. Yup, this is a grey and sombre night. He is holding a cowboy hat that looks shiny and new only yuppie expensive boutiques can do to an unauthentic cowboy hat, and he announces that tonight is "country rock" night.

Stunned silence from the audience. They are probably trying hard to wonder what "country rock" is, or probably fearing the reappearence of Patrick Lake to blast them all with a bad rendition of a Willie Nelson song. As we shall soon see, the Ten has no idea what "country rock" is either, and they end up singing crossover hits from mainstream country acts. Sleazebag holds up the hat and announces that contrary to rumors, he has not joined the Village People. Still stunned silence from the audience. Sleazebag tries to plug the silence by muttering that well, he has thought of it. Ha, ha. Not. He then introduces the judges, this time trying to put a "country" twist to it. Ha, ha. Not. Oh just shut up, Sleazebag. You're lame.

We then have the celebrity judge: Olivia Newton-John.

"She's country?" my husband wondered aloud.

"Grease is an old show. Maybe to them, the antiquated is country," I suggest.

I hear that Miss Physical here has her roots in country music. I won't know from her history clip though. It's mostly filled with bad hair and tacky gym spandex from her (Let's Get) Physical video. They may as well get Kylie Minogue to judge this episode. Or, as my husband suggested, switch the theme from Country Rock to Gay Music Night and Miss Physical will be more at home. But we don't want to see Corey shriek his way through that Physical song so we're quite relieved that it's Country Rock night. Somewhat.

The audience cheer weakly at her video clip. They are still trying to figure out how they wandered in to the more superior Nashville Star by mistake.

Incidentally, Miss Physical looks like death warmed over, bought a trailer park, and set up a souvenir store from the back. The red jacket over white shirt ensemble makes her look even paler than she already is.

Josh Don't Tell runs out like an idiot in black shirt and black pants and black cowboy hat before shouting his way through Garth Brooks' Ain't Goin' Down Till The Sun Comes Up. Stunned silence from us Giggles for two seconds before we collapse into each other's arms, laughing at the sight of a pudgy Marine dude running around the stage shouting as many words as he can fit in his allocated time on stage. No offense to Garth Brooks, whose original rendition of the song can get even the slovenly to get up and move to him, but it just shows that in the hands of a wrong guy, the song sucks lemons. But it's a fun sight, watching Josh Don't Tell making a big clod of himself on stage, and I wish I have taped this episode so that I can replay it at parties as entertainment. Josh Don't Tell has wrung out any semblence of tune from that song.

By now, the judges are so predictable, I'll just save myself on typing by using shorthands. "Dawg" will mean that Randy Randy thinks the song is off but the performer is alright, "Yo" for Randy Randy liking it to the dawgs. "Beautiful" is everything Miss Paula says. "Wow" is Miss Physical echoing Miss Paula's sentiments.

Randy Randy: yo. Miss Paula: beautiful. Took the stage like a pro, she adds. Miss Physical: wow. King Tut is surprised that he likes the performanace when he doesn't even like the genre. (That is, if "country rock" can be considered a genre.) Nice hat. Great!

Slezaebag, who no longer sits on the Left Seat and asks people to come to him, walks up to Josh Don't Tell and puts his arms around the guy. He asks Josh Don't Tell if he feels great. So would I if I'm on a show that is treating me like a VIP and using me as a platform to jump on the patriotism bandwagon.

"Why isn't he enlisted?" a friend asked me later. "Maybe the Marines don't want pudgy, ugly, and talent-free people?"

I don't know, really.

Next is Trenyce. She looks better than she has ever been on this show, in a subdued gown and simple necklace to accentuate the elegance. I Need You is one of the few LeAnn Rimes songs I can tolerate for more than three seconds, but it is not a song for Trenyce. The verse is sung in a low register that is too low for Trenyce, and she kicks into her upper register for the chorus too loud and too abruptly. The poor girl has overestimated how low she should sing the verse (she goes too low from the start and struggles when the song needs her to go even lower, sounding too breathy as a result) and overestimated how high she should go during the chorus (she goes too high from the start and really has to scream when the song calls for her to even go higher). Her enunciation is off too, resulting in garbled lines like "I need you like murder like word like why, I need you like mercy from heaven's kite, I bleed you!" And she knows it, poor girl, and her eyes are suspiciously moist as she tries valiantly to hit the high notes only to go off-key as a result. In fact, she is biting her jaw as she awaits the brutal roasting that surely must await her. She screwed up big time tonight.

But come on, lady. Everyone is entitled to her off day. Now all I am hoping is that your fanbase is big enough to pull you through, and that people remember your previous excellent performances to overlook tonight. Too bad I can't vote, I'll be jamming the phone lines myself if I can, because this time Trenyce really needs all the votes she can get.

Randy Randy: yo. Miss Paula: beautiful. Miss Physical: wow. These three are so irrelevant it's tragic. King Tut says that this is the weakest he has seen Trenyce, and she nods and agrees with her.

Sleazebag walks out and asks her if she's feeling okay. She smiles weakly and tells him that he's such a sweetie. Aw, cheer up, Trenyce. I have a feeling that it's not your time to go yet. Just put your chin high and put on a good one next week and knock their senses off. Who cares what they say about your rap sheet?

Burger Queen is next. She sings Bonnie Raitt's I Can't Make You Love Me. It's nice. It's lovely. It's heartfelt as well, because tonight, Burger Queen finally comes alive and puts some expression on her face to show that she is at least good at pretending to feel the song. Alas, this song is Somewhere Over The Rainbow, only with different words. She's a solid upper tier performer, in my opinion, up there with Ruben, Kewpie, and Trenyce (the middle tier will be Josh Don't Tell, Kimborlee, Creepy Rickey and the lamented departed Livvy Oliverie, the low tier will be the rest), and while performing smooth and polished ballads can never be a bad thing unless you're Celine Dion, I'm still finding it hard to be enthusiastic about her. She needs to bring the house down with something fast and lively before I can love her unconditionally, but that's just me. Burger Queen deserves to be in the upper tier.

Oh, and she should stop wearing sleeveless outfits.

Randy Randy: yo. Miss Paula: beautiful. Miss Physical: wow. You know what, let's just use "whatever" for the Sweet Irrelevant Three's opinions from now. King Tut says that Burger Queen has chosen a perfect song, but he's hard pressed to find anything country about it. He looks around, daring people to correct him.

Sleazebag tells Burger Queen, after giving The Look to King Tut naturally, that the song makes him feel like making out. Burger Queen actually giggles.

I scream in horror when Corey Vanilli comes out wearing a see-through mesh shirt. Argh! Scary tiny puny nipples! Eeeurgh! Why can't he follow his song and just freaking Drift Away to a place where only Miss Paula can see him? It's a nice song, and that's the only reason why Corey comes off decent this week. That and the fact that he isn't abusing his horrid falsetto. It's not a vocally challenging song, in fact, it is a song any Tom, Dick, and Harry with a decent voice can pull off.

The Sweet Irrelevant Three: Whatever. Miss Physical also wishes that he has moved around. In that shirt? I'm glad he hasn't! King Tut thinks Corey Vanilli sang very well but asks him not to dip into Sleazebag's wardrobe. It's a veiled warning, so listen well Corey: King Tut wants you to keep your stinking hands off his man.

Sleazebag rubs Corey's chest. He rubs Corey's back. Then he clasps Corey's shoulder and corrects King Tut: he has the see-through pants, not the shirt. No laughter from the audience today. They are still shocked from the sight of Corey's eenie-meenie nipples. Miss Paula, however, will hate Sleazebag and I'm sure there will be a huge catfight in the dressing room tonight.

Carmurp walks out with enough make-up cake on her face to start her own bakery. Anyway, her song is Martina McBride's Wild Angels. Maybe it's her turning 18 recently and hence experiencing the exhilaration of knowing that she can now do anything, she actually puts on a very good performance. By "very good", I mean that I actually pause to watch her perform. She seems to be really into her performance today. It's that look in her face that screams at me to stop and watch her. The singing is still subpar though, with some off-key bleatings here and there to give karaoke-loving goats everywhere a bad name.

Randy Randy: dawg. She's pitchy, he tells her. Miss Paula: beautiful. But pitchy. Commends Carmurp on her stage presence - "but you're a dancer, of course, that's why." King Tut hates the song, calling it appalling and dreadful. But he thinks she sang it well (for a goat, that is, if I may add). He commends Miss Paula for dressing for the occassion ("like a rodeo"). Miss Paula takes offense at this and demands if he thinks she dressed up like a clown. She dares him to say she looks like a clown. "You wanna start something?" she challenges him. Evil clowns run onto the set and hit Miss Paula in the head with their rubber duckies and all is right in the world again.

Sleazebag says that Carmurp and Miss Physical look like sisters. It's not a compliment unless you're a very red make-up caked goat who likes being complimented to look like a deathly pale blonde zombie or vice-versa.

Creepy Rickey is next, and he proceeds to butcher I've Done Enough Dying Today, sounding really breathy and tuneless as he stumbles through what seems like an apt paean to euthanasia or something. This is truly bad and he is really awful to listen.

The Sweet Irrelevant Three: whatever. King Tut is not excited. Creepy Rickey is sweet and nice, so what? For this, King Tut is heckled badly by the crowd, led by Sleazebag, and at this point, I actually feel sorry for this man. Sleazebag asks if "Terry" has been kissing King Tut lately because King Tut sounds cranky. So now we know what Sleazebag names his winkie. King Tut says that he is just not excited. Miss Paula interjects that "but we all are!" Speak for yourself, you unobjective vapid bonebag. Why does she insist on being so falsely overcomplimentary to the contestants? Can she not return to the show next season? I suggest we put Iguanita Barber in her place. We should also replace Randy Randy with the Virgin Keith. Now that will be a show worth watching.

Sleazebag promises that he will "get down on what's bothering" King Tut during the commercial break. The operative words are "get down on" and "King Tut" (come on, we all know what's bothering King Tut!) being in the same sentence. I have a feeling that the live audience get to see fun things during the break that we people at home can't see.

After the break, Kimborlee struts out in a midriff-baring tank-top and a tacky cheap looking skirt. Gee, so that bad poodle perm she sports last week and this week isn't a wig after all? Oh my. But her smoky version of Travis Tritt's Anymore (one of my favorites from that guy) is surprisingly very good. She's a little bit flat at times - quit smoking, Kimborlee, please - but her voice really shines in this gentle ballad. Again, I'm struck by how charismatic a performer she is. I am in the midst of opening a bag of chips, but when she sings and raises her hand like that, I find myself stopping and watching her until the end of her performance. I think she really did justice to this song. She's actually the best tonight, wow.

The Sweet Irrelevant Three: whatever. King Tut says that he is unimpressed with Kimborlee until now. Kimborlee squeals in delight. Sleazebag walks out to hold her and says "Thank God! You're impressed now!" to King Tut. Incidentally, the camera shows the two men looking at each other at this point, and even hubby who can't see slash if it's in front of him comments that something has to be going on between those two guys. Sleazebag's really playful come-hither look at King Tut is surely one for the classic hall of TV Hoyay.

Commercial break.

Sleazebag has a Ruben fan's teddy bear (wearing a 205 shirt) beside him on the Left Seat when we return from the break. He then announces that it's Ruben's turn to sing. Ruben comes out with yet another 205 sports shirt and waves at the audience, asking them to "put your hands together" before proceeding to sing about the glory and joy of the Southland and how Nixon was Right - he was misunderstood! - in Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama. Now Ruben, I know you choose that song because it has the two-oh-five in it, but have you really read through the lyrics sheet? Maybe the NAACP will come by one of these days and sit you down for a really long talk. He sounds good, if a little breathless too soon into the song. Still, like so many others, his performance only proves that country isn't really for him.

The Sweet Irrelevant Three: whatever. Miss Paula says that Ruben should run for governor. King Tut rightfully enquires if she is drunk. He thinks Ruben is infectious.

This time, Sleazebag waits at the Left Seat. He has spread his legs wide as he rubs Ruben's back. The view is for both Ruben and King Tut's benefit, of course.

Next is Tomato. She still looks terrified and out of her league, and her version of Faith Hill's Breathe is one she should do well to follow. Breathe, dear. It won't be long now, if your shaky, watery version is anything to go by. What happened to the pipes you display in the first prelims show?

And what is she singing at the end? "Just bleat"?

Randy Randy points out that there are pitch problems in her song, but it's her best performance so far. Miss Paula agrees. Miss Physical, who matches Miss Paula and Randy Randy vapid by vapid, says that Tomato sang very well and she's gorgeous. King Tut notes that Tomato looks as if she's trying too hard.

We see a clip of Carmurp on her eighteenth birthday. Kewpie pushes a cake into her face. Fabricated unfun reigns in the House of Suck today. Then it's commercial break again. Yee-haw.

The grand finale is Kewpie. He sits down and breaks into a polished yet dull version of Someone Else's Star. I like this restrained, back-to-basics style of singing that has me hooked on him in the first place, but it's also distracting to look at the TV and see how his right eye opens wider than his left eye. This song is good, the singing is good, and it's Kewpie at his best. But at the rate he's going, he's in danger of turning into a nondescript kind of best.

The usual suspects give a standing ovation. Whatever. King Tut rightly points out that Kewpie sounds identical to last week. Food for thought, Kewpie. I love Bryan White's version - it could have been my theme song during my younger days - but your Country on Broadway take isn't as good as the country version.

Sleazebag walks out to hold Kewpie's hand, and Kewpie bends down to whisper to his ears. I love it when these people deliberately provide ammunition for hoyay jokes, but that is really too easy. I won't even try.

Sleazebag announces that the lesson tonight is that King Tut doesn't understand country music.

No laughter from the audience. I think they finally got it: this show sucks in all its glory.

Show's over, now for the results.

In case you haven't heard by now and is wondering where darling Kristin Dolt is and when her promised dirt on the Ten's living in the house will be aired, the Dolt has been fired. Rumors say that she cannot get along well with the Ten at all. I hope you're not too disappointed.

Sleazebag is back in a white shirt with some square pattern on his chest. A square shirt for a square guy. He says that everyone looks like they are ready for a good time. He says that they are all harsh pigs because they kick out people who are only starting to enjoy the limelight.

Slezaebag takes up a dictionary where Randy Randy's ugly mug is pasted on the cover and announces that it is a dictionary for Randy Randy talk. Not funny. He concludes his tired and unfunny schtick by telling Randy Randy to "try some English". King Tut must be pleased with this compliment.

Since Sleazebag brings up Tomato and Kimborlee, I know the Bottom Three must include those two, or else why bring up the tired non-catfight catfight? Tomato thinks that Kimborlee did well and Kimborlee is proud of Tomato. "It's a love fest," Sleazebag marvels. Dolt. Carmurp thinks that Josh Don't Tell is the best. Bandwagon. Ruben and Corey Vanilli says that Trenyce is the best. Corey is still a sleaze though. Trenyce says that she is disappointed in herself previously and she knows she can do better and that her I Need You is her worst performance ever. I wish some of the lazyass performers will learn from her attitude. Kewpie thinks Burger Queen and Ruben are the best - Ruben works the stage and Kewpie calls Burger Queen "haunting". He is cuddling with Burger Queen, so I guess our unlikely studcake has moved on from JD, Sleazebag, and Kimborlee. Way to go, Kewpie!

Group singing: Where The Blacktops Ends. Horrible. No harmony, no spirit, and the guys are like pansies, as usual. Kimborlee is the only one who looks as if she's having fun.

Then we have the schmaltz time as Burt Bacharach enlists the Ten to sing on his new charity single remake, What The World Needs Now to benefit the Red Cross. Everyone talks about how Important they feel and how Honored they are to be allowed to sing on this song. Burger Queen is weeping as she hugs Big Burt. I think I will need ice picks to uncringe my cringe at this horifically corny clip.

Now it's time for yet another Q&A. I don't understand why they choose the freakiest looking people to be plants among the audience. Punky Brewster from Nashville asks Burger Queen what is the difference between LA and Nashville? ("Besides plastic surgery," Sleazebag quips - lame.) Chew Monster Girl asks King Tut whom he will kick off if he's stranded in a boat with Miss Paula and Randy Randy (if you must know, King Tut will kick off Miss Paula and eat Randy - more to go around). Red Braces Girl asks the judges whom their idols are. And on and on. Dull, dull, dull.

Kimborlee does a soft porn thing as her bike breaks down in a desert. Josh Don't Tell drives up in a Mustang, helps her fix the bike, she jumps into the car and drives off. Lame. The only way Josh Don't Tell should be in the same situation as a Mustang is that if the Mustang falls onto him - he's just not convincing as a macho male, but they're trying so hard to make him the All-American Rugged Mucho Macho that it's really sad to watch.

Stupid clip of Sleazebag baiting silly idiots lining up outside the studio for tickets with free tickets. Lame. Next!

More group sing: the truly awful God Bless The USA. This song is touching only if you assume that America consists solely of 100% God-fearing Christians and America is the only country where freedom, truth, and justice prevails. Naturally, Josh Don't Tell leads the song by singing that America is the only place he will start again with his children and his wife - after he's won the American Idol, of course. I wonder what Scalia the Scary will say about the song. But I'm skirting on icy terrains so I'll stop right here. Country music is responsible for some of the most horrific musical displays of unthinking jingoism, and it is unfortunate that people today seem to equate the genre to redneck right wing evangelism, sigh. Wasn't the original singer Lee Greenwood the guy who doesn't even know the words to the American national anthem?

"The most powerful words you will ever hear on TV tonight," Sleazebag tells me solemnly as the song concludes. "Well done guys." No doubt he will be thinking about doing his part for God-blessed America when he lies on his tanning bed tonight.

Finally, the results. As predicted, Tomato and Kimborlee get the Seats of Shame. I'm quite dismayed at Kimborlee getting there: she has performed most excellent tonight and with her gone, this show won't be the same anymore. Heck, this show is her. Creepy Rickey also gets the Seat of Shame.

Randy Randy and Miss Paula say that America gets it wrong again. King Tut says that America got it right - syncopant - and adds that the three let themselves down as well as the audience. Is this the same guy who swears that nobody from the first prelims will be back as a Wild Card and that the Wild Cards show will be the most exciting? King Tut, stop chewing on your own foot, please. Miss Paula says that the contestants are all at their best. I think we can chalk that one up to gak. And they argue, on and on, the pretentious curmudgeon and the blabbering optimistic idiot.

Creepy Rickey is safe. He jumps in joy and almost runs off before remembering to turn back and hug the girls. When it boils down to Kimborlee and Tomato, Tomato goes. The girls hug and the judges give them a standing ovation. Hubby wonders skeptically if Kimborlee really gets that low enough votes to be on the Seat of Shame that night. He wouldn't put it above the show people to ditch Kimborlee in there just for drama.

King Tut looks rather pleased at Tomato's ouster though, while Kimborlee runs mascara all over Ruben's chest as she weeps. Why is she weeping? For Tomato or for herself for being in the Bottom Three? I'd like to imagine the former. I like to be optimistic at least once a day.

Tomato says that she has never performed live before and what a way it is to start a career (her words, not mine)! Well, Tomato hon, it's nice, but the next time you want an outlet to work out your self-esteem issues, I'd suggest the shrink's couch, not on TV. Bye hon. You're out of your league on this show, and your boot is two episodes two late. As she sings, we see close-ups of Kimborlee's mascara running and Trenyce's equally scary weeping. She performs Breathe again, because as Sleazebag who is unexpectedly nice to her tells her, her fans will want to hear her one more time before she leaves. Then they drown out her vocal inadequacies by upping the volume of the background vocals. "Just bleeeeat!"

Corey hugs her very tight, because this is the last time Miss Funbags will be around. Creep.

Then, as we still have time to kill, Sleazebag announces an "unplanned" encore of God Bless The USA. Yay! As the Marines stand at attention and everybody clap, I'm switching off the TV.

Ah, blessed silence.