Season 3: Rhythm Is Gonna Get You

Sleazebag stands before the stage. As the camera pans on the Six standing on the stage, he asks America, "Are you ready?" He hopes that this is the case, because America controls the destiny of the Six, just like the fat cat studio people will control the lives of the winner afterwards, and America also decides the fate of the Six. Eternal slavitude, humiliation and mockery from the more "respectable" musical peers of theirs, or losing all your self-esteem when you can sing but get kicked out before a totally suckworthy contestant? Tell me again - why do people join this show? Oh right, for our merciless mockery and schadenfraude. Carry on then, Sleazebag.

Credits. I love the credits. They are the best thing about the show sometimes.

Ryan "They Gave Me A Wax Statue - Kinda Rendundant When I'm A Wax Statue Myself, Doncha Think?" Sleazebag walks on the stage in his Respectable Now outfit, a shirt under a suit jacket with pants to match. Today it's a grey shirt with black jacket and pants. There's a small square pin thingie on his left collar. Is that a microphone thingie or a way to differentiate him from his wax statue?

He thanks the media and the audience for their feedback on the J Hu fiasco. The White House would have weighed on the matter if Dubby hasn't gotten his priorities screwed up by lesser matters like Middle-East strife and other inconsequential matters, I'm sure. Sleazebag reveals that one guy from Idaho wrote in to tell Sleazebag to put the microphone stand up his, er, bleeped area. Sleazebag doesn't say whether he enjoyed taking up the Sodomy from Idaho offer, instead scolding the audience mildly and reminding them that it's mainly their fault that the Bottom Three last week were the three proclaimed divas of the bunch. In a way he's right - why are people angry when they voted the way they did? And if they didn't vote, well, why then are they complaining? Maybe this will motivate people to vote wisely at the next elections, heh heh heh.

This week is Gloria Estefan Week and hence everyone will be treated to performances of her "electrifying" music, Sleazebag announces. Great, it looks as if they are now fitting the themes of the shows around which has-been and washed-up performer that manages to fit this show in their very busy life. What's next? MC Hammer Week?

King Tut is introduced as the man wearing a Cuban lift for the occasion. Sleazebag knows because he checked earlier. Miss Paula gives the best cha-cha-chas outside Miami, apparently. That sounds suspicious - are the Narcs aware of this? Sleazebag says that Randy Randy has more rhythm than a ten-mile conga line. That is, if the rhythm is "dawg, dawg, dawg, splat". Sleazebag then introduces the "undisputed Queen of Latin Music" herself, Gloria Estefan! The audience gives her a standing ovation as she walks in and thanks everyone for paying her money to come here. She tells Sleazebag however that she won't be judging people as she will leave that to "these judges". Oh, so why is she then sitting among the judges? Yes, she wants the money, but seriously, why even bother to be a judge when she isn't going to judge in the first place? Shut up, Gloria, and here, eat a bongo.

The obligatory tribute video highlights her family coming to America all the way from Cuba in 1959 where Gloria later grew up to become the frontswoman for the Miami Sound Machine. There are mentions of her hit singles as well as her accident in the 1990s that nearly crippled her. She survives the ordeal and goes on to win five Grammies for her accident, oops, I mean her post-accident CD.

The video then shows the Six rehearsing under Aunty Gloria's supervision. She tells them that she's thrilled to be working with them because she and her daughter watch the show "every night". I think she means "every week", unless she and her daughter are those fanatical weirdos that tape the show and then rewatch the tapes every night and scream over Rank Sinatra's and the Pen Salesman's every bad note and awkward showmanship antics, right before pulling each other's hair and punching each other's face over the right to be Mrs Pen Salesman or Mrs Rank Sinatra. I sincerely hope it's the former. Princess Jasmelisma says that she's a big fan of Aunty Gloria and therefore she feels privileged to be here. Huff Granddaddy is as usual happy to be working with Aunty Gloria. She tells the Six to find their real selves and be themselves or something in that vein, to which Fantasia thinks is a great advice. Aunty Gloria repeats that she is so thrilled to be working with them and kisses their cheeks. I have to hand it to Aunty: she really comes off as genuinely excited to be there and she really cares enough to offer some advice to them, which is more than what I can say about the "excited" reactions of the Six.

Sleazebag points out that the Miami Sound Machine will be accompanying the performances by the Six. Aunty Gloria takes her place between Randy Randy and Miss Paula, and they are all set for Fantasia's performance. But before that can take place, there is still time for more filler, so the screen lights up to reveal the Six sitting in the Red Room. Upon Sleazebag's promptings, they all say that they are excited to be here. Yeah, I've heard that so many times, I'm starting to believe it. Jasmelisma again says that she is grateful for the opportunity to work with Aunty Gloria, which is exactly the insincere nonsense one would say if one wants to be nice without actually saying anything. Fantasia promises that she will be moving in her performances, but cackles that Latoya has more moves than her. Sleazebag asks them who the best dancer is. Piggy Di Guano points at Rank Sinatra, Latoya points at Piggy, and everyone else points at Latoya. I think this scene is meant to be funny. Haw haw. Whatever.

Finally, Fantasia takes the stage. In her introduction clip, she says that she was in the Bottom Two last week. Ha, ha, oh well, but she has to keep on going regardless. "And make it happen," Aunty Gloria tells her, which is a cue for Fantasia to explain that her song choice, Get On Your Feet, is a personal song because she intends to keep going on her feet and, er, make it happen, come what may.

After announcing that the song is for J Hu and "we" love J Hu, Fantasia starts singing and prancing around. Vocally, she's at her weakest as she's more intent on moving around and hopping up and down. She's not wearing any bra, so when she starts doing that crazy version of her patented bobo dance, the scenery becomes very distracting, if you know what I mean. She launches into one more J Hu shout-out, which seems sincere to me instead of some shameless attempt to win over J Hu fans, but that's just me. She ends the performance with a dramatic hands-up, chin-high pose. I am unimpressed with the singing and I know she can do better than this, but as the others subsequently show, tonight most of them want to prove their showmanship skills rather than their vocal ability and their singing suffers as a result. Still, I enjoy watching her move on stage and even at her weakest, I am still finding her more entertaining than the others.

Randy Randy thinks that the performance was great but he finds the performance pitchy too. He thinks that she needs to "keep it real" because she didn't move him today, whatever "keeping it real" means. Fantasia just tells him that she's had a good time. Randy Randy can see that. Aunty Gloria thinks that contrary to what Randy Randy believes, she hasn't heard a single bad note from Fantasia all season. Memo to Aunty: we already have one doped-up cheerleader and she's sitting next to you; we don't need another, thanks. Miss Paula says that it's all about the performance skills in this situation - don't ask - and she gives props to Fantasia for taking the theme every week and making it work. King Tut agrees with Randy Randy because he thinks that she sounds like a cartoon character. The audience begins to boo. King Tut says that Fantasia sounds like Donald Duck on helium. It was a great performance with a lot of fun, he says on Fantasia's performance, but he suspects that when Fantasia watches it again on TV, she'll realize that it isn't good. Fantasia doesn't lash out or act like a diva this time, to give her credit. She says that people always compare her to Bugs Bunny. King Tut leers at her and says that she is more like Jessica Rabbit. I don't know whether to be thrilled that King Tut finds someone with looks as unconventional as Fantasia's brand of beauty worthy of his lecherous attentions or be amused to no end by how it makes him look even more like a dirty fat man caricature.

After some silly chatter with Fantasia and a commercial break, Sleazebag now stands in the audience and announces Huff Granddaddy.

Aunty Gloria insists that Huff Granddaddy call her just Gloria on the introductory clip. Huff is glad that he gets to meet so many "luminous" celebrities. From the Queen of England to DaddyKewpie to Aunty Gloria, he's in heaven. He thinks that she is the nicest person to work with and he hopes to make her proud with his "Latin moves" that he hopes will blow everyone away.

Huff Granddaddy and Live For Loving You will go down in the history of this show as one of the prime examples of how bad song choices can kill a performer. I love that song, I think it's one of the few bright sparks on Aunty Gloria's Reach CD, but the song is totally wrong for Huff's vocal range. He can't reach the high notes and he fails to inject the sense of playfulness in the song to make it work. The song feels tuneless. He makes some weird "thang-thang-thang" sounds and dances around by swinging his arms left to right (so much for "Latin moves"), but vocally he's completely flat.

Randy Randy finds the performance pitchy but gives Huff props for "finding himself" and presenting this "real Huff" on stage so well. No, I have no idea what he is talking about. I suspect that "finding your real self" is the judges' way of saying "conforming to the stereotypical image we have of you", and in Huff Granddaddy's case, it's the stereotype of a gormless Gomer Pyle-type kid in an overgrown man's body. Aunty Gloria agrees that Huff Granddaddy manages to "show" this real Huff on stage. These judges seem to have very keen insight into the psyche of the Six, especially when they don't even mingle with the contestants after the show, don't you think? It is Miss Paula's turn to speak, but she's more keen on going "Ha!" on King Tut. Apparently he's pinched her under the table, or so she claims. She tells Huff that Huff is great before quickly resuming her ghoulish flirtation with King Tut. Oh snap out of it, Miss Paula, King Tut is just trying to discover the brand of your lingerie so that he can get one for himself. Aunty Gloria says that while Huff was singing, she could see King Tut shaking his shoulders. Is that good or bad? King Tut wants to get the good news out of the way first - he tells Aunty Gloria that she has a great band to which she of course agrees. The bad news, he tells Huff, is that were this the first time King Tut saw Huff in action, he would be wondering how Huff could be in the Top Six. The performance was amateurish, he declares, and Miss Paula starts heckling him as a result.

Sleazebag asks King Tut what the man means by "amateurish". King Tut says that Huff's performance is as good as Sleazebag's presenting skills. Ah, but Sleazebag's presenting skills aren't what King Tut really loves about him, right? Sleazebag tells Huff as the audience sees Uncle Nigel's signal and starts laughing that he doesn't feel so bad about Huff being called amateurish now. And Huff's Creepy Smiley Face and Big Wide White Eyes really need to go away. Now.

After another commercial break, Sleazebag leans over beside Randy Randy and asks the giggling twosome of Miss Paula and King Tut what those two are up to. My, King Tut and Miss Paula are hitting it off now. Sleazebag really should spend less time in the bathroom if he wants to stop Miss Paula from sinking her claws into his man. Anyway, Sleazebag announces Latoya.

In the introductory clip, Latoya describes her experience working with Aunty Gloria as "exciting". Aunty Gloria and she decide that Latoya should be different by doing the "unexpected", which translates to Latoya showing her dance moves along with the music.

Rhythm Is Gonna Get You is Latoya's song choice. Vocally, she's average. Visually, she's striking in that red shimmery dress that shimmers as she moves to the music. However, there's something too controlled or calculated about her that prevents me from warming up to her performance as much as I should.

Randy Randy thinks that she looked amazing and she's one of the few performers who know their way around a band as she settles well with the Miami Sound Machine gang. However, he doesn't feel wowed by the performance. For this, he is booed by the audience. Latoya asks him whether he is having a bad day. Naturally, Fantasia haters still think Latoya is classy and Fantasia has attitude problems even if it is Latoya that mouths off very rudely this week to the judges. Aunty Gloria doesn't know that she will be here but she has always known that Latoya will be in the Finals ever since Aunty Gloria saw her in the auditions. Aunty Gloria did? She must have seen a different audition episode than the ten million episodes they showed on my TV before the Preliminary Rounds and the Finals, because Latoya is never given any screentime until her Group Four performance. Okay, confess, Aunty Gloria: did you really catch this show faithfully every week or not? Miss Paula wishes that she can hear and see more of Latoya. She finds the performance too short. King Tut makes a crack at her before telling Latoya that while he finds the performance average, he thinks that she needed that performance to prove that she can do more than just stand there and sing. She is in danger of becoming boring, he says. The audience starts to boo. Latoya says that hey, that is a compliment from King Tut, people! The audience quickly claps and cheers. There is no doubt in my mind then that the audience is definitely composed of idiots. A herd of sheep will make a better audience than the idiots filling the seats of this Event Horizon.

Sleazebag says that there is no end to the talents of the Six. I am then treated to the sight of the Six working at a Subway store, making sandwiches to an adoring crowd of Jasmelisma, Rank Sinatra, and Piggy Di Guano Mini-Mes. Huff gets to serve a robotic little girl with gnasher bracers, but the whole product-placement clip is still lamer than a three-legged horse. Since the future career jokes are flying high, I won't make one here. I'll just say that I hope many of these people make a better sandwich than they sing.

Rank Sinatra is next. In the introductory clip, he finds his working with Aunty Gloria amazing and unforgettable. Aunty Gloria believes that Music Of My Heart is a great choice for Rank Sinatra because the world will wish that eyes and ears have never been created should Rank Sinatra starts singing Conga instead. Best stick to a dull ballad, Rankie boy, where you will at least lull the audience into sleep instead. Rankie vows to give the song his best shot and he dedicates the song to his grandmother.

Oh goodness, he is planting bad notes from the start. Is he deliberately trying to throw the competition? His voice cannot even hit the higher register required for the chorus. The performance only exposes his severely limited vocal range as it is filled with embarrassingly obvious truncated high notes, awkward breathing spots, and painfully off-key sections. He has mastered Kewpie's forlorn expressions for the camera, expressions that a large population of the show's female audience find sexy for reasons that I find bewildering, but he can't sing and he has no charisma. The performance is wretched.

Randy Randy chuckles and repeats that broken record about Rank Sinatra being a nice guy but damn, the singing is "horrendous". He feels that only three notes are in key. Aunty Gloria diplomatically says that she is sure that Rankie's grandmother will be proud regardless. Note that she says "regardless" - I don't think Aunty Gloria is impressed either. By the way, is Rank Sinatra's grandmother still awake? I'm just asking. Miss Paula also tries to be diplomatic - she calls the performance "valiant" and she is proud of him. King Tut compliments Rank Sinatra for being sixteen but taking "every bullet" thrown at him "like a man" and he wishes that every ex-contestant is like Rank Sinatra. Because that's what everyone should do: take insults from people like King Tut like a man, while King Tut gets a free pass at being nasty and writing a tell-all book accusing a contestant of being nasty when this contestant fights back. The bad news, King Tut says, is that Latin music and Rank Sinatra go together like chocolate ice cream and an onion. Memo to King Tut: there is nothing Latin about Music Of My Heart. Make that "pop music and Rank Sinatra is like chocolate ice cream and an onion" and we may agree on something here.

Sleazebag tells Rankie that he too is proud of Rankie, because he dares to stand up there every week and inflict bad music on everyone without suffering a nervous breakdown.

Commercials. Sleazebag is standing beside King Tut, who is deliberately ignoring him and laughing at something Miss Paula said instead. No matter, Sleazebag just quietly make notes to himself to spike Miss Paula's Evian with Salmonella before asking everyone to check out the official website for news on the freakshow called the American Idol 2004 tour. He tries to hush the chuckling and giggling King Tut and Miss Paula before telling them to sit up straight and comparing them to annoying school children.

Princess Jasmelisma tells everyone in the introductory clip that Aunty Gloria has always been her favorite artist, which is why she listed Christina Aguilera as her favorite female artist on the official website. This young lady doesn't need Botox or silicon because she's fake enough as she is. Since she can't sing anything but ballads, she decides to perform Here We Are even if everyone else is doing the cha-cha and wa-wa.

She hits a bad note into the second line of the song and she never recovers. By the final chorus she has given up trying to keep in tune and just scream out the high notes. I don't know what's with belly-baring top and silly dark pants ensemble either. The performance is a landmine of horrid pitch and bad notes going off like a trigger effect catastrophe, one of the worst I've heard from her.

But because she belts out some high notes at all the predictable places, Randy Randy plays the "pitchy but okay" broken record. Aunty Gloria calls the song beautiful, as she would since it's her song. I notice she doesn't call the performer beautiful though, heh. Miss Paula calls Jasmelisma's voice a "powerhouse" and she's always been a fan of the fake Aloha Kitty. King Tut says that one person comes off very well in this performance - Aunty Gloria. At best, he finds the performance pleasant but he thinks that the performance is better suited for elevators. Aunty Gloria says that King Tut will be responsible for the psychiatric bills of these "kids". King Tut exclaims, "What about mine?" Miss Paula and King Tut proceed to argue whether Princess Jasmelisma is merely "pleasant" or not.

Finally, the last commercial break of the day. Sleazebag is in the sound room, unable to watch Miss Paula and King Tut hitting it off like best girlfriends forever, and introduces Piggy Di Guano.

In the introductory clip, Piggy Di Guano says that Aunty Gloria has an awesome "presence" while Aunty Gloria thinks that the song will match Piggy Di Guano well. The "song" turns out to be Turn The Beat Around, which Piggy hopes will showcase her talent.

Well, I like this one. She sounds really flat at her "Come on!" but she really becomes stronger vocally as the song progresses. Sure, she's shouting as much as she is singing, but in a night where performance and vocal ability seem to be mutually exclusive, she is the only one that does a decent job at balancing both and therefore she's the best of the bunch. I'm not sure about the red dress which looks as if a few inches of the skirt has been caught in a paper shredder, but I've had fun watching her. What's with her flirting with that middle-aged guitar player though? It's too soon to go that route on the road to Careersville, surely?

Piggy Di Guano gets the first enthusiastic standing ovation of the night. Randy Randy thinks that age is now really only a number as he feels that Piggy Di Guano has "mad talent". Aunty Gloria says that Piggy really "turned the beat around" and she thanks Piggy for giving props to her band. Miss Paula is proud of Piggy. King Tut gives the performance a seven and the dress a zero. "Sorry, you can't have it all," he tells her. Piggy tells him that he can take her shopping for a dress next week! R Kelly contacts Uncle Nigel and asks to be the guest judge next week. Randy Randy snorts and says that King Tut merely doesn't like the color of the dress.

Sleazebag and Piggy Di Guano make some pointless banter about how her coming on to the guitar player comes to her naturally. I wonder whether they know how disturbing the whole "Piggy Hits On Her Svengalis" thing come off as.

Sleazebag now recaps the performances and tells Piggy Di Guano that King Tut has agreed to take her shopping. Everything will be shown on this show. He adds that this won't be the first time that King Tut has taken a sixteen-year old girl shopping for classier skank outfits, only he doesn't exactly use those words, but the insinuation is there. What a classy family show this is. He thanks everyone for making this show an undeserving success that it is, and then he's... Fantasia and Latoya say it for him: "Out!" And he and the Six all party and boogie on stage while the audience waves plenty of signs before the show fades to the end credits. That sign about how some girls find Sleazebag hot must be a figment of my imagination. I mean, Sleazebag actually has fans? Wow.

Results show. The Sexy Manly Voiceover is back, talking about how everyone in America is holding his or her collective breath as they wait to see who stays and who gets cut. And now, the credits.

Ryan "Don't Let That Hussy Take My Man Away" Sleazebag switches grey for white and walks onto the stage. He thanks everyone for watching and announces that there is a record number of votes that came in last night - more than twenty-eight million votes, woo-hoo! This number is even higher than the number of votes that poured in during the finale of the last season, with the lowest vote-getter getting four million votes alone. He also reminds people that the freakshow tour is starting later in May and people should get tickets as early as possible as Uncle Nigel's latest nymphette girlfriend needs a boob job. He introduces the judges without much ado. There's no love for King Tut and Miss Paula from him today.

Sleazebag quickly recaps the performance of the night before and then pitches that craptacular Greatest Soul Hits CD. Fans of Rank Sinatra, the Pen Salesman, and Fatt Gross Bowel have better snap that CD up because I bet that is the last time any of them will ever come within the distance of a recording studio ever again. (Then again, Carmurp and Josh Don't Tell have record deals now so what do I know?)

It is now time for the group performance. The camera pans on the ladies' bums, which is appropriate as they may as well be singing out of their bums. First, it's Party Time (Say You're Mine) where everyone waves his or her hand and pretend to have a whale of a time. Piggy Di Guano kicks off 1, 2, 3, Latoya takes over, Jasmelisma follows up (very flatly), and Fantasia ad libs until the medley moves on to Conga. Jasmelisma gets a line, which she sings really flatly, Fantasia and Rank Sinatra harmonize really badly, Huff and Latoya are just slightly better, and Piggy Di Guano gets to sing the last line before everyone rushes through the chorus. Rank Sinatra tries to strike a manly pose only to fail miserably. And then they're done, thank goodness.

Sleazebag says that the Six did a great job - haw haw - and the results are next. The Six, still on stage, boogie and shake their heads as the show fades into the promised commercial break, where the jingles actually sound better than the medley I've just been subjected to.

Sleazebag now splits the Six into two groups. Fantasia yawns in amusing timing as Sleazebag says that she is in Group A. She walks to take the Seat of Shame. Piggy Di Guano joins her, as does Latoya. Jasmelisma is in Group B and Sleazebag tells her to remain seated. She is joined by Huff Granddaddy and Rank Sinatra. One group is the Bottom Three, the other is safe. Which group is which? Sleazebag announces that the group seated on the sofa, Group B, is the Bottom Three. Oops, looks like the show is playing with the audience again! Fantasia and Piggy Di Guano cheer and blow air kisses to the cheering audience when they learn that they are safe while Latoya merely claps and remains apart from the other two until Piggy comes up and hugs her.

Next, a Ford clip. Fantasia, Rank Sinatra, and Piggy Di Guano screech into walky-talkies while Latoya, Huff, and Jasmelisma drive Ford race cars around the track and get solo lines. Since the ones driving are rumored to be the Final Three favored by the producers and the judges, read into the clip as much as you want.

After the commercial break, the Bottom Three are now standing on the stage. Randy Randy says that this week's Bottom Three is more "appropriate" while Miss Paula tells the three that they should have approached each week as if it is their last and they have to "bring it". King Tut merely says that Miss Paula put it into words "so beautifully". Sleazebag marvels that King Tut has just agreed with Miss Paula for the first time ever. He then turns to the three, calls out Huff's name... and asks him to step back to allow Jasmelisma to return to the seat because she is safe. Haw, haw, I love how this show uses Huff's overdramatic tendencies to play games with him!

Sleazebag points out that the person leaving tonight pulled in four million votes, but alas, that number is still not enough to keep him in. After an "incredible journey" (as Sleazebag puts it), Rank Sinatra is finally leaving the show. He and Huff Granddaddy embrace long and tight as a few people in the audience start to boo. But at Uncle Nigel's prompting, everyone finally stands up and applauds, although the judges remain seated.

Sleazebag asks Rankie whether he is relieved that the whole ordeal of becoming the most reviled sixteen-year old boy in America last week is over. Rankie says that he is, "somewhat", but he will miss the other contestants. Piggy Di Guano is weeping openly as she blows him air kisses.

Then comes the eulogy video, where his stage grandparents make an appearence as the video chronicles his journey from tuneless nobody to tuneless underdog to tuneless media punching bag. He thinks that the show has taught him that he really belongs on stage. Calling every result show "very emotional", he says that the last week has been especially "intense". The clip reminds people of this by showing Fantasia and J Hu hugging and weeping. Because the show wants people to know that everything is Rankie's fault, so there! But he finds the adventure one he will never trade for another.

Sleazebag now calls Rank Sinatra "a true talent" without any hint of irony as well as a "true class act". He says that he's out and Rank Sinatra takes the stage to remind people why he sucks and he should go. Just as he forgot some lines in his performance last night, he forgets some lines again today. Of course, today he can be excused as he is leaving and I can afford to be magnanimous for once. The camera shows Jasmelisma's close-up weepy face, then Piggy Di Guano's, and then Jasmelisma's, as if I'm supposed to care.

After spending the last week milking the Rank Sinatra Is Evil angle for publicity until they get cheese, after Miss Paula and Randy Randy go around slamming Rank Sinatra and saying that he must go, after Uncle Nigel comes on TV and says that Rank Sinatra is getting death threats (translation: get him out for his own good!), the show can now be magnanimous and pretend that it actually cares for Rank Sinatra and thinks that he is, er, "a true talent", so they show his entire horrendous singing when they cut off J Hu after two lines. The other contestants come down to the stage to give Rankie a hug and then he's gone. Wow.

It's been a hopelessly dull show with subpar performances, but if I care to be optimistic, I must say that this is the first time on the history of this show where the Top Five will be free from any obvious talent-free losers. That has to count for something, right? Right?