Season 3: Sin Wagon

To the familiar sound of the electric guitar going haywire, Sleazie and the Eleven are on the stage once more. America, he says, the contestants are experiencing growing pressure to succeed, among other same old spiel that he gives every week, and adds that the power to make or break the Eleven is in your hands, people. Since there aren't any genuine hot guys around, I'll keep my hands to myself, thanks very much.

Credits. Did they change the credits a little for the Finals? The golems are walking different, or is it just me seeing things?

Ryan "We Need A Love Profusion" Sleazebag is dressed up in a black suit jacket over a white shirt, a respectable outfit because you get all respectable when you have a bun in the oven. It's a cosmic rule set down by Madonna. The crowd cheer and hoot as the camera pans over a sea of signs like "Power To Kiddiepop" and "The Pen Salesman Will Win And We Are All Going To Hell Today". It's all quite fun. Sleazebag then takes a moment to wish, on behalf of this show, a speedy recover to Aretha Franklin and reminds everyone watching that American Idol will be thinking of her. Oh yes, I'm sure they all will indeed. The kiddies in the audience, probably wondering who Aretha Franklin is, cheer anyway because this show cares about Aretha Whatever so it has heart and soul and so Mom and Dad shouldn't complain when they buy eighty copies of the new Kewpie single because Kewpie cares about Whatever Franklin, so there!

Now that we are done with the obligatory insincerity, it's time for some raw, honest glee as Sleazebag announces that this show is the most popular TV show in America and it's all thanks to the people out there whom he calls freeloading psychos. The freeloading psychos cheer. The camera pans on the signs again, this time on gems like the expected "Gross Bowel For President" and "Fantasia's Loose Lips Sink Ships". He reminds people that the Eleven will be performing in front of 30 million people. Are they nervous, he wonders. Someone in the audience says no. Silly twit, Sleazebag is not even talking to him.

Sleazebag, now addressing the audience as his friends, announces that it's Country Week today and to anyone that thinks that the genre is all about one's dog dying on you or doing you wrong or the man getting hit by a truck, no, it's more than that, Sleazie says. He talks about country rock, country pop, or something that doesn't make sense to me, but the audience cheer anyway. Country Week is usually the most horrible week, synonymous with the finalists bombing all over the place. Thankfully, as I soon find out, this season's Country Week isn't so bad after all.

After asking the Eleven to walk out on stage and walk back off the stage again - heh - Sleazebag introduces the judges. King Tut, Sleazebag says, is wearing leather chaps and spurs under the table. Ah, but I want to know: is he wearing jeans with those chaps or is King Tut wearing instead orange bikini bottom ala Dirrty Christina Aguilera? Then there are the "darling" Miss Paula and the "even more laidback than usual Bling Bling Jackson". Randy "Yeah! Yeah!" Jackson says that he is a boy from the South, he even wears those cowboys boots today, and he's all about Country. "You know what I'm saying?" he asks Sleazebag. Sleazebag laughs and says that it's bound to happen one time sooner or later.

The first performer of the day is Di Guano. For this episode, every contestant will showcase some "kiddie golden moments" in their introductory clip and Di Guano's is especially tragic. Her mother puffs up in pride as Di Guano's non-stop performances at kiddie talent shows, beauty pageants, and more are exposed on national TV. The sight of a very young Di Guano in ballerina costume staring out of a photo with a blank look is especially depressing. To top it off, Di Guano is speaking in that irritating baby voice of hers, so the whole montage is like Children Of The Corn XVI: Stage Mothers Unleashed.

Her song is A Broken Wing, originally a 1997 charttopper for Martina McBride. She starts out sitting on the steps while singing the first verse. At first she sounds a little shaky but when she stands up and moves about, she gets back into her more comfortable belting mode. There's a distinct Kelly Cluckson vibe to her, especially in that high note that she holds steady for an impressive length of time without coming off as flat. But on the whole, it's an uneven performance that comes to life only towards the end of the song.

But because oversinging is good on this show, the judges could only remember the final high note when they praise her. Randy Randy is heard telling Miss Paula that Di Guano is impressive as everyone gives Di Guano a standing ovation. Don't be misled by the standing ovation into thinking that Di Guano's peformance is special - the audience gives everybody tonight a standing ovation.

To Di Guano, Randy Randy says that she sounds incredible and he was blown away by her performance. Miss Paula says that they should hold a contest to see who can hold a note the longest, impressed as she is by things other people do that she can't. She says that Di Guano will win that contest for sure. Yes, that's a good idea - let's release a CD of finalists doing nothing but holding high notes! Why not? That's basically what this show is turning into anyway. Miss Paula tells Di Guano that Di Guano will have a long career. Di Guano's parents will make sure that their precious daughter will, I have no doubt of that.

King Tut says that this style of music suits Di Guano but he's "worried" about Di Guano being born as an only child to perform since she was a kid. Di Guano is like the product of a pop farm, he muses, born to - "To be rude like you?" Randy Randy cuts in. Now, Randy Randy, interrupting someone in mid-sentence is just as rude. King Tut tells him that he is missing King Tut's point. To Di Guano, he says that Di Guano's performance is "effortless" but she's not connecting with the audience. Again, the very polite Randy Randy and Miss Paula jump on him in mid-sentence, with Randy Randy telling Di Guano to ignore everything King Tut said.

Sleazebag, his maternal instincts on full bloom as he imagines his unborn child dancing in pink ballet costumes in a glamorous Broadway production of Swan Lake, decides to start the upcoming battle with King Tut about their kid's career at this very second by saying before Di Guano that the standing ovation by the audience proves to Sleazebag that Di Guano sure can connect with the audience. So what exactly King Tut is talking about, he has no idea and he asks King Tut to clarify. King Tut just answers that what Di Guano doesn't have, Sleazebag doesn't either. Sleazebag says to Di Guano that he may not have many things and connection is just one of these many things (snerk), but since King Tut hasn't really answered his question, this only proves that King Tut has no idea what he is talking about! Di Guano simpers prettily, and Sleazebag makes sure that he talks to Momma Guano later about what kind of music he should play to the lil' baby so that he or she will pop out of the womb and straight into a ballerina costume.

After the commercials, Sleazebag announces that he has spotted Steve Young, the former 49er, also known as That Guy Who Is Famous Only In America, in the audience because Sleazebag knows how to spot them hotties in the crowd. They talk a bit, where Sleazebag compares Steve's career to that of an American Idol's, and asks Steve whether he has any idea for the Finalists. Er, like what? How to tackle the Pen Salesman and break his neck? Steve says something canned about hard work and says that Randy Randy, but not King Tut, will know what he is talking about. Leave the cheap potshots to the professionals, Stevie. You're hot and cute, but you've been seen in an American Idol audience, and your stocks have plummeted at least seventy percent.

Next is Huff Granddaddy. In his introductory clip, he talks about living in the projects where life isn't always easy but he has found his own place of peace in music. He pursued music from the church to college and he even studied opera. After showing me some scary photos of him looking like some sleazy blaxploitation film star from a few decades ago (when he was really twenty-four then), he talks non-stop about the moustache that he claimed to have started growing on him from anywhere when he was fourteen to when he was sixteen. I'm not kidding. Moustachioed or not, he wants to wow the audience. He can start by dropping all mentions of his facial hair.

Sleazebag puts on a cowboy hat as he introduces Huff Granddaddy's song, I Can Love You Like That. It's either the hat or a raincoat, but the raincoat is deemed too risque in a post-Janet environment where zealous watchdogs see dirty innuendos in everything everywhere, a cowboy hat it has to be.

I don't know whether it's my TV, but since Di Guano's performance comes out clear, I don't think my TV is the problem. The thing is, Huff's microphone emits a sharp sound and there seems to be some annoying echos going around when Huff sings. Smart Huff has chosen a song that resides comfortably in his Barry White/Luther Vandross zone, and he predictably excels here. He still has problems starting on the correct note and for the first line, his key is too low. But his singing only becomes better and he ends on a high note in more ways than one. On the whole, his voice isn't rich enough to make his singing outstanding, but his performance is still rich and soulful enough to win me over.

Randy Randy says that the performance was good but he wasn't sure that he liked the serious Huff that much. That's the problem with these judges - they tell the contestants to take risks and do something different, and then smack them when they do. Ignore him, Huff, he's an idiot. Miss Paula gushes like the vapid waste of air that she is. King Tut says that Huff has the connection with audience as he is a natural performer. He is worried though about Huff's lame leather-couch colored jacket and wonders whether Huff is letting the wardrobe people dress him like some dumb mannequin. Like Sleazebag, Randy Randy asks? No, like Ruben, King Tut tells Randy Randy. Wow, those 205 shirts are such incredible fashion statements, aren't they? Miss Paula again interrupts King Tut, insisting that Huff is fabulous. That twig needs to stop interrupting King Tut as she's becoming truly annoying. And then she presses her hands to her forehead as she shakes her head. There's something about how she seems to believe the vapid Pollyanna nonsense she is saying that creeps me out. Maybe it's time for her to take another "sick leave" and recharge her sanity batteries. Randy Randy tells Huff that he likes the jacket, and Huff dances off-stage because he wants people to remember that he's Happy! and Special! like that.

Sleazebag wipes the sweat off Huff's forehead with his bare hand and Huff talks about how the sweat is his father as his father's genes are in each drop. I am not making this up! And then they talk about how Huff doesn't find this genre too difficult as he was familiar with I Can Love You Like That. And since Huff is Sleazebag's buddy, they then go on to talk some more about Huff's fashion sense, where Huff confirms King Tut's fears by admitting that he leaves everything to the stylists. Sleazebag warns Huff to be careful or Huff will end up looking like Sleazebag. Huff says that Sleazebag looks good. Sleazebag tells him that the stylists made him wear a pink handkerchief in his shirt and he is not happy about it. He wants, after all, a rainbow-colored handkerchief.

Fantasia is next. As a kid, she sings gospel music with her mouth opened real wide, her introductory clip reveals, and everyone is impressed. Her family loves her and now that Fantasia is a finalist on American Idol, everyone loves her now. Her family hasn't always been successful in the things they do, and she hopes that she can break that unlucky streak with her American Idol stint.

Her song is Always On My Mind. There's no bobo today, no swinging uptempo performance, just Fantasia in a lovely black dress making that much-covered song her gospel tune. Elvis Presley's version will always be the best in my opinion, but I adore Fantasia's version. It's not just because she gives a technically superior performance, she actually seems to understand what she is singing. She manages to convey a distinct melancholic undertone in her performance, which is appropriate with what the song is all about. The way she sings the last line of her song, as if her heart is breaking while she is performing but she is trying to be strong and compose herself, is just perfect. Compared to Di Guano and even Huff Granddaddy that smile like beauty pageant contestants as they sing about bitter heartbreak, Fantasia is the real deal.

Randy Randy says that she gave a controlled performance and she has proven that she could sing anything. Miss Paula calls Fantasia beautiful and elegant, but she will call even a rat those things provided she's not cut off from her meds, so her effusive praises are worthless. She adds that Fantasia gave a subdued but classy performance. King Tut says that the goods news is that Fantasia has proven that she is not a one-trick pony. On the other hand, he doesn't think that this performance is what Fantasia really is all about. Oh? If Fantasia does that bobo uptempo song again, which King Tut can claim is really her, won't he then has the right to call her a one-trick pony? These judges, I tell you, really should be more consistent.

Fantasia's performance is more akin to that of a middle-aged singer's, which is why Miss Paula likes her, King Tut says snidely. At this point, Randy Randy and Miss Paula are predictably blustering and trying to jump all over King Tut's words. These two really should cut that out. King Tut doesn't jump on them, so they should at least repay the courtesy. King Tut asks to be allowed to speak. Predictably, those two idiots don't listen to him. To Fantasia, he says that that dress she is wearing look like her mother's dress. Fantasia tells him that he has no class. Uh oh. Miss Paula says that Fantasia made a Willie Nelson classic her own. Fantasia ignores her and tells King Tut that she just wanted to prove that she can do different things, to prove that she can "get down with the get down", and as far as she is concerned, she has done so - so there!

She tells Sleazebag as she takes a seat while adjusting the top of her dress that she has to put King Tut in his place. Heh, I love her! They both play at her being driven to tears by King Tut, which ends with both she and King Tut reiterating their love for each other even as King Tut sneakily gives her the finger and she laughs.

The online forums are abuzz with indignant and even offended people condemning Fantasia for being rude, but if you ask me, what's wrong with what Fantasia did? At least she has the talent to back up her enormous ego, so that's fine with me. I'm here for the music, not for a show about people behaving according to how the fans want them to behave. That's one reason why I find most American Idol fans bizarre, and not just because they actually find Kewpie and the Pen Salesman sexy, but also because they treat the Finalists like an extension of themselves. They take the show so personally, getting so offended on behalf of King Tut (whose rudeness they conveniently overlook), that I wonder whether they are aware that they are just going to buy these people's CDs and not marrying them or anything. If Fantasia is rude, so what? The last I checked, the music business is not some Miss Sunshine playground. Likewise, American Idol is not a platform for body size revolution (making Gross Bowel the new American Idol won't make you more popular with the opposite sex no matter how hard you wish it to be so), not a way to bring back wholesomeness into the music business, and certainly not an agenda for other fans that fail to remember that this show is all about manufactured music and money, nothing more. It's rarely even about good music!

After another commercial break, Sleazebag wonders whether people notice the "expensive high-tech screen" at the back of the stage. To demonstrate what it can do, he calls for the tech people to switch it on. First it shows some stupid ping-pong type of computer game that went out of fashion with Atari, and then suddenly comes the Miss Paula and King Tut kiss scene from last season's finale. Eeeuw! Sleazebag says that he has never seen King Tut turn so red before. I have to sit on my hands to type a response to that sentence. I mean, come on, he's carrying King Tut's child! King Tut and Miss Paula act sick and embarrassed at the same time while the audience cheer again. These idiots will cheer and clap for anything and everything.

Sleazebag asks whether there is anything as cute as Rank Sinatra. His introductory montage is all about his red hair and how old women come over and ruffle his hair. Now that he's on this show, girls at school are paying attention to him so he's "coming out of his shell". "He's uncircumcized?" a friend shrieks over the phone five seconds later. Come down, ladies, gentlemen, and teenaged kiddies, and think: listening to him moan will knock you unconscious two seconds into the act and three seconds before he really "came out of his shell".

Stifler's Mommies everywhere, however, will curl their toes in delight as he finally discovers a little of his long-lost personality with his performance of King Of The Road. He is still flat and monotonous, and he's probably the only person alive that can Sinatrized this song, but there's something just so adorable about his dorky moves and clumsy attempts at being cool. I won't buy a CD from him but taken in small doses, he's quite alright. That "la la la di-da-da la-la!" part towards the end where he tries to cover up his forgotten lines is hysterical though. Anyone volunteers to kickstart a Harley and kidnap this kid for the road, where we can then all corrupt him by teaching him to smoke, cuss, and do naughty things with his tongue, fingers, and more?

"Okay, what do you guys have to say this time, Jackson?" Rank Sinatra says to Randy Randy. Ooh, what a naughty little tiger. Grrr! Ahem. Randy Randy, Miss Paula, and King Tut all emphasize that Rankie has forgotten his words. On the bright side, King Tut says, Rankie only forgot the words in front of 30 million people. Randy Randy says that this is the first time he really enjoyed watching Rankie. Miss Paula thinks that he's becoming more seasoned each week. "Seasoned"? Try "80-year old kid". Or "red-headed prune". King Tut calls him the worst dancer ever and says that he has to get a personality over as this show is about personality as much as vocal talent. I can argue that Rank Sinatra doesn't have much vocal talent in the first place as he is just a one-trick pony with limited stage skills, but who am I to argue? This show sucks and it deserves a sucky winner. Rankie can win for all I care.

Sleazebag and Rank Sinatra talk briefly about the mansion, omitting the part where the Finalists refuse to sing today if the show people didn't send someone to come over and fumigate the creepy crawlies living in that place, and about Rankie forgetting the words to his song, in case I somehow missed the last five times the judges mentioned that matter. Rankie panicked when he realized that he'd forgotten the words but Sleazebag reassures him that many people don't even notice the flub so Rakie did good. That's so sweet of Sleazie to be so nice to Rankie like that. Motherhood is mellowing that guy so much, it is so heartwarming to see him getting all mother hen-like to darling little dorks like Rank Sinatra.

He reminds people to dial 1866 when voting, not 1800, and anyone who dialled 1800 will get a "whooping". He doesn't mention who will do the "whooping", but you all take precautions nonetheless, or you'll answer the door and see Gross Bowel and Team Hurt waiting to whoop your bum. If that's your thing, though, don't hesitate - dial 1800-WHOOPMYASSTEAMHURT now!

Randy Randy and Sleazebag promote the official website and if you haven't seen how hideous a red background is when used in photoshoots, go there now and gape at the awful contestant photos. And now it's time for yet another commercial break. Miss Paula leans over and whisper something to Randy Randy as the show fades into a shampoo commercial. What is she saying? Does anybody care? Thought so.

Camile is next. She is born in the Philippines but lives in Hawaii since she was one. Her "real Dad lives in Japan - he's with the military - while her stepdad is the best dad ever. Her family loves her, her little sister adores her, is her biggest fan, and wants to sing along with Camile. After this season, she may be Camile's only fan left.

Camile performs Desperado while sitting on a stool and man oh man, it's vibrato heaven today. While she starts out good, she is still too soft and her stage fright kills what little left of my mood. All in all, a lifeless and robotic performance.

Randy Randy feels that the performance was "alright" and "not over the top" but it also felt "jerky". He thinks that Camile tried to put on some hip=hop or R&B "vibe" (don't ask) on the song but it doesn't work for him. Miss Paula calls Camile beautiful, unique, et cetera. Seriously, when are they going to fire her from this show? She's such a useless waste of space. King Tut sniggers at Miss Paula's incoherent ramblings and says to Camile that he has this horrible feeling that the song would sound out of tune when he relistens to the performance later, away from the studio audience. Actually, I'm listening to the audio of Camile's performance as I write this and she sounds better without her sour prune expression of stage fright spoiling the song. King Tut says that Camile will have to overcome her nerves if she wants to go far on this show. Randy Randy agrees with him. Miss Paula of course insists otherwise, saying that Camile is slowly coming out of her shell. Seriously, someone, please - get this woman off the show. She's crossing the line from Unbearably Vapid to Totally Obnoxious.

Sleazebag and Camile discuss her nerves. She says that she's scared minutes before she has to come out and sing, but when the music starts, "that changes everything". Of course, of course.

Now it's time for a truly horrendous clip show. The Eleven are lounging by the poolside of their Mansion, whining about the heat and the boredom, when out comes a walking mop top named Steven Cujonomojo to give them all a makeover. He's the same freak that I caught on some weekly entertainment show - EW? - telling me to buy a five-thousand-dollar leather handbag because Naomi Campbell has two so these bags are "in". What an idiot. Does he think that people who watch his show actually have money growing in their backyards? He's the reason that people always wonder why the people in the fashion industry are invariably the most hideous creatures in existence. Anyway, the clip is hideous, the Eleven don't even try to hide their disdain of him, and I am never more relieved to see tampon commercials on my TV.

Back from the commercials, Slezebag sits in the audience between two women from Australia. He pretends to explain to them how to vote using the AT&T cellphone. One pretends that he's doing a good job, the other tells him that she hasn't been listening to him. "The story of my life!" Sleazebag says to the latter, and adds that next week will see Randy Randy explain how to tie his shoe laces. Get it? Randy Randy and shoe laces? Haw haw.

J Hu steps up for her introductory clip. She used to be such a skinny child that her mother sent her to the doctor out of concern. But J Hu ballooned up during her late teens until she was a size twenty-two when she was eighteen. However, she's now working at losing weight.

No One Else On Earth is her song. By the way, Ju has straightened her hair and wear a crucifix in her right earlobe in what seems like an attempt to prove that she really is beautiful now and everyone should love her. Oh, J Hu, we love you for who you are. You make funny faces when you sing, you are emotionally temperamental, and you have bizarro fashion sense. Don't change too much for our benefit, dear! Her performance is decent, with her kicking in the tempo and asking people to clap along after the first chorus. However, the really strong second chorus that follows first is noticeably more energetic than the rest of the song and I wish she'd not started the party so late in the story. Overall, it's a good performance, but if she wants to stop playing third fiddle to Latoya and Fantasia, whom she is fighting for votes as they all sing essentially the same style of music and hence compete for the same audience, she needs to do better than this.

Randy Randy feels that J Hu started out safe but she "brought it out" at the end despite having some pitch problems. He likes her straight hair. Miss Paula of course thinks that J Hu is beautiful but she feels that J Hu is holding back her personality. She misses the "real" J Hu. How does Miss Paula know what the real J Hu is, may I ask? Here, honey, swallow some more pills, think of pretty things, and shut up, please. J Hu tells her that she can bring on attitude if that's what the judges want. King Tut feels that J Hu is out of her league on this show. There are better singers than J Hu, he feels, which explains why Randy Randy doesn't have much to say to J Hu. Randy Randy cuts in with a snort of disbelief. "She can't sing?" he asks King Tut. Kig Tut tells him not to be facetious - of course J Hu can sing, he says, but he doesn't think that she can do anything better to win the competition. Ooh, that sounds like a challenge for people to vote for J Hu tonight! I bet that J Hu is safe this week. Randy Randy says that there are five good people on this show that can sing and J Hu is one of them. J Hu tells the judges not to dismiss her out of hand before walking away, promising to show them.

Sleazebag, in his newfound maternal understanding and sensitivity, comforts J Hu by reminding her that the judges can say what they want, but at the end of the day, it is America that will decide whether she's good enough or not.

The Pen Salesman is next after the commercial break. He has straight hair now. In his introductory clip, he talks about being an obnoxious hyperactive middle child who grows up to be a serious, competitive person. This show is teaching him that he has a wilder and lighter side of him, which he will milk dry, of course. He makes some monkey faces to prove his zany side. And then he's all serious and even sombre as he launches into She Believes In Me. Oh gosh, now that is what I call an excruciating performance to listen to. Every line seems to be sung in a different pitch and key. The whole performance is on the same level as an amateur karaoke performance - in fact, I once entertained a bunch of drunk Japanese buddies that sound even better than the Pen Salesman on karaoke. It's clear by now that the white elephant of this season is not Fatt Gross Bowel, who at least can keep to a tune, but this useless tosser that can't dance, can't sing, can't do jack.

Randy Randy finds it funny that when the Pen Salesman strips away the freak-dancing, he just can't deliver, vocally. I think he's the only one amused. He adds that maybe the Pen Salesman should revert to his old self. Ugh, please, not that. Miss Paula loves the performance. Yeah, I'm shocked too. King Tut thinks that the Pen Salesman has an "odd" voice. He knows that America has fallen in love with the Pen Salesman. The crowd cheers because these idiots think that King Tut is complimenting that buffoon. He's not, as he soon says that after he has listened to the Pen Salesman, he has no idea why. But then he happens to look at a close-up of the Pen Salesman, and he thinks he now knows the reason why: the Pen Salesman looks like that "guy from the Waltons", John Boy. The ever-slow Miss Paula asks whether King Tut is saying that the girls like the Pen Salesman. King Tut says yes. Randy Randy says that that is a good thing. Yes, it is, and you can all kill me now.

Princess Jasmelisma steps up with her introductory clip. Cute! Cute! Hawaii! Cute! Cute! Giggles! And me? Dead. I wish.

The Hawaiian Princess sings Breathe and ugh, that is not good. She sounds very sharp throughout the whole song and there are times when the background vocals nearly drown her out. I think her problem is that she starts on a note that is too low and she doesn't recover until the last few lines of the song, where she is doing her obligatory belting of the high notes.

Randy Randy thinks that she is beautiful but tonight was not her best performance to date. Oh, not even close, heh heh heh. The performance was very pitchy, he says, and the key was probably wrong for Jasmelisma. Miss Paula agrees with Randy Randy but thinks that this performance won't hurt her as Jasmelisma has had stronger performances in the past. That and the entire fandom of Hawaii is heavily voting from this creature, so unfortunately I will be seeing her on my TV for a long time, methinks. King Tut thinks that Jasmelisma, like many contestants this week, is playing it too safe. She's "very mumsy, dadsy, and sweet", he says, which prompts a furor from the other two judges. Miss Paula insists that Jasmelisma can be the next pop star. Well, Miss Paula was a pop star once too, and look where she is today.

Ooh, Fatt Gross Bowel is next. In his clip, he shows all his ugly naked baby pictures with the glee found only in shame-numbed famehos, not aware that everyone else watching the show is staring at the screen in petrified horror. He reveals that he found his first girlfriend when he was five and "she was hot" but he preferred to sleep in a bed with his darling brother until he was ten. He smiles because he thinks he is showing his sensitive jock side while being so funny, not aware that people like me are getting creeped out of our senses. This guy is funny that way: he is so eager to ham it up for the camera but he is so clumsy and blatant at going about it that the result often backfires on him.

He chooses to perform Amazed. Okay, it's not the worst performance of the night as he manages to keep in tune unlike Princess Jasmelisma or the Pen Salesman. He is seated when he first starts singing, and he doesn't really succeed in keeping his breathing under control so he's flat. He soon stands up, and that's when he sounds better. Unfortunately, this means that the performance is still hammy rather than good. Gross Bowel is singing in what seems like an affected high-pitched voice that makes him sound like the token sensitive guy every boyband seems to have. His performance feels amateurish, not to mention so insincere, like something one would get when the average Joe steps up on the karoke without much practice and launch into song.

Randy Randy asks Gross Bowel what is going on. He asks again when he gets no response. "Huh?" Gross Bowel answers. Heh! "How are you chilling?" Randy Randy asks him. "I'm chilling," Gross Bowel answers. Randy Randy says that this is one of Gross Bowel's performance and adds that Gross Bowel has many female fans. "I do?" Gross Bowel asks in what seems like genuine surprise. The camera pans on to some signs, including one where the sign-bearer wants to "make a pass" at Gross Bowel. That one's better than the one calling for Gross Bowel for president, at least.

Randy Randy doesn't think that Gross Bowel looks like a star though, but he thinks that Gross Bowel has lots of personality. Gross Bowel hopes that he can convince America that he has the looks. Miss Paula calls Randy Randy a "man's man", unlike King Tut. Isn't a man's man technically the same thing as a gay man? Never mind, let's move on. Miss Paula elaborates on her illuminating sentence, saying that Gross Bowel is in touch wih his "female energy" (I am really not making this up!) and be sensitive and intimate, unlike King Tut. Maybe Gross Bowel should come out in drag and Miss Paula will expire from bliss. Gross Bowel calls King Tut dad and King Tut says that he likes Gross Bowel. But despite being a nice and fun guy, Gross Bowel's incessant smiling reminds King Tut of a performance at some "terrible children's party", which King Tut describes as "nauseating" and "just horrible". Miss Paula calls King Tut jealous. She probably posts at the official website forum as "beautiful4eva".

King Tut calls Gross Bowel a sell out but adds that the entire show has been a sell-out as people are trying to be sweet to get votes. Well, King Tut, if they stop pandering to the audience, who will make them the new star? You? Miss Paula?

Stop smiling, King Tut tells Gross Bowel. "I love you," Gross Bowel tells King Tut. "I love you too," King Tut says dismissively.

Sleazebag and Gross Bowel talk about Gross Bowel's smiling. I count the seconds to the commercial break. Those two high five as the show fades into some commercial where some stupid young lady tries to convince me that she actually got those thighs and abs just by spending ten minutes a day on some stupid exercise thingie.

It's an uncomfortable blast from the past when Sleazebag introduces Josh Don't Tell in the audience. Yucks. The guy actually has an album coming out and his single I Wanna Live is apparently doing well in the charts. What is the world coming to? He adds that he will be discharged from the Marines in four months time so the world can expect to see more of him. I now shudder in fear of his upcoming performance on this show. Come on, you know it will come soon. Latoya is next and she will be performing the same song Josh did on Country Week last season.

Latoya's clip sees her telling people that she was a tomboy that gave the boys a hard game as she was "hardcore". She is an athletic person and her competitive nature and her softer side allows her to prepare for this show. Or something.

She comes out from among the audience with a rapidfire blast of words that is Ain't Goin' Down 'Til The Sun Comes Up. King Tut, here's your unsafe performance! Latoya is in fine form tonight as she just lets it rip. Even better, Josh Don't Tell is in the audience as she blows his version out of the water. She is easily one of the best of the night, the other to me being Fantasia.

Randy Randy says that Latoya has delivered another incredible performance. Miss Paula says that Latoya delivered the most fun performance of the evening and Latoya reminds Miss Paula of a young Gladys Knight. Latoya's on fire, she adds. King Tut says that Latoya's performance was what he had been waiting for all night. The crowd cheers. King Tut says that Latoya took a risk, showed some "Tina" tonight, and managed to avoid looking old. She was fantastic, he says.

Sleazebag tells Latoya that he "once in a while" watches King Tut while the others are performance - once in a while, suuure - and he noticed that King Tut was clapping to Latoya's performance, which is something King Tut rarely do for the finalists. Unless he has decided that the finalist will win the contest and will do what he can to manipulate events to ensure that happening, that is, so Latoya, say hi to Ruben. If King Tut is going to blatantly pimp Latoya as the winner, maybe it's time I throw my support to J Hu.

Oh, now it's time for another clip - line-dancing. They walk into a bar, where I'm sure all the Confederate flags have been quickly bundled up and kicked under the bar to ensure the sensibilities of some of the members of the Eleven. Gross Bowel tells Rank Sinatra, "Johnny my boy, now this is a bar." The Eleven try some line-dancing, which is wretched. Some expert lady comes up to teach them, and then they all dance to that vile Billy Ray Cyrus song Achy Breaky Heart until Rank Sinatra electrocutes himself, the aliens land, and everybody is captured and shipped off to a distant planet as slaves for the mines. Pen Sellwaker learns that he is the One, and along with Princess Jasmeleah, Huff Solo, and Grossbacca, masters the skills of the JedAI to defeat the evil Tut Vader. After Tut Vader goes mad after the demise of his darling Empress Sleazadala and murders Rankie Wan Pony in cold-blood, Pen Sellwaker manages to kill Tut Vader, but at a high cost: Tut Vader is his father! Oh no! Wise LaYoda, C3DiGuano, AmyD2, J the Hud, Fantasy Burrito, and a few hundred Camewoks play important roles in this epic saga.

With Blah Bores: Attack Of The Pop Music Drones soon over, the Eleven are in the Red Room with Sleazebag. As they talk about line-dancing and defeating Tut Star, I wonder whether they have forgotten that Amy has yet to perform. Not that I am complaining, of course. While I enjoy most of the performances tonight, I am more than ready to call it a night, Amy or no Amy. Alas, Amy is performing, so I have to keep watching a little longer.

Amy's clip is Zany! Perky! Funny! Really! Oh please, Amy, you're fifty, so stop trying so hard to act so forced.

Thankfully, she's really good with Sin Wagon, sounding eeriely like the Dixie Chicks at places. She may look like a dotty Aunt Lil, but where she fails to do so in her offstage antics, she succeeds in really coming off as mischievous, fun, and even sexy in her performance. What a fabulous way to end the show! I tell you people: she's definitely spent some time singing in country western music bars before despite her coy protests that she hasn't done this kind of music before. Seriously, Amy, who do you think you're fooling?

Randy Randy says that as an A&R person, he can safely say that country is Amy's genre. She's a natural to him. Miss Paula thinks that if Amy releases this single, it will go straight to the top spot in the country charts. King Tut rightfully snorts at this. He says that he hates the song but admits that he doesn't appreciate the genre so he has no clue what to say. Amy acts cute - gag.

Her boyfriend is really cute though. Or wait, is that her mother's boyfriend? That "Amy's Mom And Boyfriend" thing confuses me there. I want a younger man toyboy too. Where can I find one?

"Yeah!" Amy says to Sleazebag as she sits down beside him. She makes King Tut speechless, she says, so isn't that amazing? Altogether now: collective eyeroll time! Sleazebag wants her to introduce her family (translation: who's that hottie?) and alas, that hottie is introduced as Amy's boyfriend. Maybe he's actually her son pretending to be a boyfriend, a friend snidely suggests through the phone.

Now they are all on the stage and Sleazebag recaps the performance before announcing that the phone lines are now open. Vote, people, he urges, don't assume that anyone is safe! This show needs your money - don't be complacent, keep voting! He thanks everyone and the dogs that cobble this show together, reminds people that the Burger Queen is singing on the results show, and, altogether now, people: "Sleazebag - out!"

Princess Jasmelisma embraces Latoya and then everybody else. Miss Paula stands up and dances, leading to King Tut putting his hands around her neck. She runs to Randy Randy, who hugs her and they then do a tango. Meanwhile back on stage, Gross Bowel has his paws on a terrified looking Rank Sinatra. And with that, the credits finally stop rolling on these crazy lunatics and we're all out and not a minute too soon.

Results show. As the Eleven stand on stage, the Sexy Manly Voiceover Guy says his thing and I do my thing and the credits do their thing.

The now honorable and matronly Ryan Sleazebag has only managed to pull on a brown suit jacket over the shirt and pants he was wearing when he was talking to his financial advisors on how much Botox treatments he should cut down on so that his kid could have enough in his college fund to go to a fancy music school in England when the kid was seven. He hasn't shaved because he is still suffering from tanning bed withdrawal. They have to make room in the apartment for that baby cot that plays Pavarotti and Bach on cue after all - it came complete with a giant piano that Little Junior will be forced to play every day if he expects to be fed.

He announces that last night's show is a fantastic success - it's the highest rated show on a Tuesday night, beating even the episode on the previous week. Also, they have nineteen and a half million votes last night, another new record. After thanking each other and of course the audience, he then reminds people that their votes, alas, would destroy someone's life at the end of the day. So why are you people voting then? Don't vote, people! Sleazebag and Miss Paula will be happy because everybody will be an American Idol at the end of the season. Oh, and in case you missed the last sixty announcements on the matter, Burger Queen is performing later today.

He introduces the judges quickly, without the lame banters this time around. King Tut looks quite weary. Like Sleazebag, he too dashed in today at the eleventh minute: he was deep in negotiations with the Royal Conservatory people on the size of the donation he is to plunk down so that the As Yet Unborn Future Musical Prodigy will get the best possible musical schooling ever. Since both he and Sleazebag intend to ship that brat to England at the earliest opportunity, they really have no time to waste. Sleazebag and King Tut share a smile before Sleazebag moves on to introduce the Eleven, probably because they are both smiling over the same vision: their own musical prodigy, born of their true love, out to rule the world and make their parents lots and lots of money and then some more. With King Tut's savvy management skills and Sleazebag's PR and media-ho savvy, they would make Junior's career take off faster than a dirty cartoon cheapsale in a Japanese supermarket.

After the recap of the previous night's performance, where Fantasia's arguments with King Tut is described as the "showdown at the AI corral" with King Tut wearing the black hat and where they helpfully shows the exact spot where Rank Sinatra forgot his words, Sleazebag now announces that the Burger Queen is coming out to perform next. Her single, 8th World Wonder, makes her the only American Idol finalist to hit the number one spot in the Billboard Singles Chart. Of course, very few people release singles nowadays, so this feat isn't as impressive as Sleazebag makes it out to be. The Burger Queen's sales figures - roughly around fifteen thousand copies, or so I hear - is respectable but not that grand an achievement.

But oh, that song is grand, even if the sales and chart positions aren't. It's a very un-Burger Queen type of song in that it showcases her singing in a voice that seems more at home in a Kelly Cluckson, Jennifer Paige, or even Shania Twain CD. The verse sounds a little like that of a Nelly Furtado song, the chorus however is purely glorious catchy singalong pop. It's the kind of music that's perfect for falling in love, singing along at the top of one's voice, and bringing a smile to one's face. Songs like 8th World Wonder are the reason why I listen to pop music in the first place. If you are tired of the onslaught of monotonous and misogynistic rap tunes dominating the airwaves today (although I confess to be very fond of that Usher and Ludacris collaboration Yeah), please, do buy this single or request for the song to be played at your radio station.

Burger Queen looks good too, although I have my doubts about the outfit she is wearing. Performance-wise though, she sounds a little off at places. Nonetheless, she demonstrates that sometimes, losing in this show can be the best thing that can happen to a Finalist. This song is fabulous. Kelly Cluckson would have killed for this song - it blew away everything from Thankful.

Sleazebag says that it feels good to have her back, and she tells him that he doesn't look too bad himself. Sleazebag asks the judges what they think. Randy Randy and Miss Paula are of course pleased. King Tut just says that she will make it through to next week. Burger Queen just giggles. Oh, King Tut, your Ruben has won, even if Kewpie is outselling Ruben two to one, so maybe it's time to be a little more generous with the praises for the Burger Queen, don't you think?

Burger Queen tells Sleazebag that her CD One Love - titled thus because of the fans' love for her and her music - will be out on May 4. I can honestly say that this is one American Idol finalist CD that I will be eagerly looking out for. Now, when is Trenyce coming out with something?

Now it's time for what Sleazebag calls the "moment of truth". He will pull down three losers and two will be safe while one will be "out for good".

Rank Sinatra has made enough inroads to the audience's heart and other less saintly body parts to be safe. Fantasia is still on the audience's mind. Gross Bowel looks at his watch as Sleazebag reads out the judges' comments on his performance, makes a face, shakes his head, and then, when Sleazebag announces that he's in the Seat of Shame, takes his walk down to the seats. Latoya won't be going down anytime soon. Huff Granddaddy loves America and America loves him back - like that. Jasmelisma can breathe - the Hawaiian backbone supports her still. Bitch, stop with that mock surprise expressions, puh-leeze. The Pen Salesman is of course safe - he's going to win this, no matter what King Tut says, and he will destroy this show, because remember, people, he has the powers of the JedAI! Camile is in the Bottom Three - Hawaii has abandoned her for their Princess Jasmelisma. As she walks down, Sleazebag wishes her good luck, because he's now mellow and nice that way. J Hu is genuinely shocked that she is safe this week. Put on a good show, J Hu, and knock 'em and me next week, because I really like you and I wish you can stay on as long as possible. The suspense now is whether Amy or Di Guano will go despite having received effusive compliments from at least two of the judges.

But first, a clip: some Love Shack nonsense where the Eleven walk into a shack to find some Ford vehicles. The Ford vehicles come to life and threaten to eat everybody until Rankeo, the Chosen One, grabs the fuses of the Tutrix and saves the world, although alas, he's too late to save his girlfriend Jasminity. Meanwhile, his faithful aide Grosseus and Grosseus' old girlfriend Fantioba play an important role in saving the other humans that are trying to overthrow the Tutrix. The cliffhanger here is whether Rankeo is really dead or not, or whether people still care about the fourth instalment. The Orifice's prophecy is predictably vague about this.

Sleazebag asks people to go vote for the best Ford clip and some lucky voters will receive tickets to the finale. I can't wait for the Pensilla: Queen Of The Desert parody.

Finally, Di Guano is revealed to be in the Bottom Three while Amy is safe. Some people - Di Guano's clanfolk, I'd bet - begin to boo as Di Guano walks down to the Seats of Shame. Miss Paula is a little surprised at Di Guano being at the Bottom Three as according to her, Di Guano hit a powerful high note towards the end. Yes, a high note, Miss Paula, but what about the rest of the song? She adds that all three should be proud of themselves as they came a long way to be where they are today. She advises Camile to express her fun side while she can only tell Gross Bowel that he has a nice smile and he should never stop smiling as he sings. King Tut of course says that he is not surprised at the Bottom Three - he is never surprised, he only backpedals - and says that Gross Bowel especially blew it in a theme tailor-made for him with a poor song choice.

Sleazebag reveals that Di Guano is safe and - surprise, Gross Bowel is leaving. Wow, I never expected him to be leaving this early as these kinds of lousy performers tend to overstay their welcome on the show. Does this mean that the Pen Salesman will leave next week? Pretty please?

Gross Bowel hugs Sleazebag and Sleazebag tells him that he is a lot of fun. Gross Bowel thanks America, the judges, especially King Tut, and then it's time for his eulogy video, which is basically just some scenes from his auditions and performances, ending with him saying that he experiences great pressure that gets all balled up whenever he comes on stage and gets bigger every week. Or something. He doesn't want this feeling to end, he says, which probably means that he will appear on The Price Is Right soon. And that's it.

Sleazebag says that he's out before Gross Bowel sings, but he's not the only one out. Gross Bowel thanks everyone again as he takes the stage, and then he starts walking to the judges as he sings, "Simon when you touch me, how you really move me..." as he touches King Tut's face, much to the delight of the audience. Well, Sleazebag did say earlier that someone would be "out for good" at the end of the day. Damn, if he has dedicated every song to King Tut each week, he may actually get to stay longer. Hey, the clown schtick is working for the Pen Salesman, isn't it?

Alas, the credits cut him off in mid-way performance, because let's face it, the FCC will not be amused when Gross Bowel reaches the part where it goes, "Tutty, you touch every place in my heart, oh it feels like the first time every time, I wanna spend the whole night in your eyes..."