Season 4: Could've Been

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In case there are still some people out there who have just tuned in but haven't heard that they have changed the format of the show just to make sure that they will get a male winner, Ryan Sleazebag stands alone on the sparkly blue spacecraft teleportation chute of the Event Horizon and explains that the guys will be competing among themselves, ditto the ladies, each week until they have six guys and six ladies for the finals. He says that today, America will decide which male contestant they want so badly to sleep with but they have to settle for buying these contestant's stuff instead and making the show people even richer than before. And now, credits.

Subdued clapping greets Ryan "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" Sleazebag as he walks out in a blackish-blue T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of Oprah Winfrey's disembodied head being swallowed by Star Jones with the caption underneath saying "One day, I will have my talkshow!" Just kidding, lawyers, about that Oprah and Star Jones thing. He says that after I have suffered through Mary Roach, Leroy Wells, and the ilk - and whose fault is that, may I ask? - I can now relax, hold my teenybopper pink teddy bear close to my virginal and still flat bosom, and dream of marrying one of the twelve adorably asexual cutesy-wutesy anatomically correct My First Boyfriend action figures they have for me on this show. I can't wait.

Sleazebag brings out the guys. The guys all dance around, or try to, reminding me of all those scary clowns that drove me to tears when I was a kid, right before I beat their ugly honking noses with my teddy bear. Who taught these people to dance? No, let me rephrase that: who told these guys to dance? Ugh. Sleazebag then introduces the three judges who are here, in his words, to offer words of wisdom to the contestants, like Miss Paula enlightening Mario Pipsqueak with her tao, "Take off those pants and show Momma what Wacko Jacko taught you to do with your cute widdle wangy!" So here's Randy Randy, Charmaine Miss Paula, and King Tut! The crowd claps accordingly. Sleazebag then explains that the bottom two guys and the bottom two gals will be eliminated at the end of the two preliminary rounds of each week, for three weeks until there are only six guys and six ladies left to make up the Twelve. The first four to be booted will find out who they are on Wednesday. Sleazebag promises that he will find a way to stretch the show because it will be an hour long. Ooh, self-awareness in a self-absorbed guy. I like that.

Without ado, the show cuts straight to Nikko "Nikachu" Smith. He used to be called Osbourne but he now calls himself Nikachu so that little girls will find him as adorable as a Pokemon doll. By the way, the show introduces each contestant with a clip of a judge telling him during the initial audition why this person thinks the contestant is special. I'm not going to bother with that anymore so just imagine that the judges tell all of them, "You have a penis, you are through!" and spare me the trouble of typing down the canned compliments of the judges to these guys. Nikachu wears a top hat, red shirt with the first two buttons undone, and a darker red-brown tie. He needs all the color he gets because his rendition of Stevie Wonder's Part Time Lover is forgettable. It's decent, in tune, competent, and it's something I don't mind listening to on the radio but in a competition, Nikachu needs to stand out, especially when he's the first person to get on stage, and this bland and forgettable performance won't help him do so.

Randy Randy says that Nikachu's performance was among the best from a "boy" that he has heard, which is premature considering that he still has eleven more "boys" to perform for him. Miss Paula says that Nikachu "came out of the box" (I don't want to know) and Stevie Wonder will be so proud of Nikachu. Somewhere, Stevie Wonder is heard wondering aloud why he can't be deaf instead of blind. King Tut is the voice of reason when he says that the performance was "okay" but people will forget it after six more performances. He compares Nikachu's performance to a background singer's. Randy Randy disagrees, saying that background singers can't sing that high. Tell that to Mariah Carey then, she sang back-up for Brenda K Starr before she married a studio mogul to advance her career.

Next is Scott Savoy. He proceeds to sing Freddie Jackson's You Are My Lady (ladies everywhere: "EEEEEEEEEEEK!"). It is a very predictable performance, with evident problems in the upper range whenever Ape Boy tries to do that dramatic crescendo thing, and he just stands there apart from some awkward punching motion from his other hand that isn't holding the microphone. The camera has to resort to doing close-ups on his face to keep people awake and yes, it keeps me awake very well, if you know what I mean. King Tut, I think, is overheard telling Randy Randy, I think, that he has the creeps looking at the TV screen. Or something like that, because I can't really make him out over the applause and I don't have a TiVo to provide me with close captioning. Randy Randy says that Scott's performance was safe and he didn't think that the song was suitable for Scott as it didn't bring out the range in Scott's voice. Miss Paula insists that Scott is still special because people don't expect "that voice" from Scott. Which is her roundabout way of saying that she doesn't expect a white guy to sound like a Black crooner, I suppose? She dismisses Randy Randy's concern about Scott's pitch problems with a "So what!" She should know. She ate some Autonote machines every time she walked into a recording studio when she was a pop star. Then she became fat, her background singer sued her for pulling a Milli Vanilli in her The Promise Of A New Day CD, and Miss Paula now has to resort to popping happy pills before the show to deaden the pain she must be feeling regarding her fall from grace.

King Tut says that it will be interesting to him how the audience reacts to Scott because he and Scott both know that Scott doesn't look like an Idol. Randy Randy butts in to say that Kewpie and Ruben don't look like an Idol either. Yeah, so? Ruben is going to need sixteen stomach staples soon while Kewpie's most vocal fans that characterize his entire career seem to consist solely of delusional, functional but mentally handicapped ultra-right wing religious fundamentalists who wear funny costumes and act like crackpots. And besides, Kewpie isn't an Idol because he lost to Ruben. Shut up, Randy Randy. Hey, Ruben, eat that pork chop meathead up for me! Back to King Tut, he says that Scott chose the wrong song. What, maybe You Are My Victim is a better song? Miss Paula nods and concurs with King Tut, telling Scott that "song choice is the key". The key! Do you have the key, people? Miss Paula has the key, ooh. Randy Randy also agrees with King Tut.

Sleazebag consoles Scott by saying that some people think King Tut shouldn't be on TV either. What a wit. Why do people not watch his short-lived talkshow again?

After the commercials, Sleazebag sits in the Red Room and says that while we are all watching a new season, we are also watching the same "overly made-up" host. I feel his pain. Sometimes watching him like that, all clowned up in Botox and hair gel and silicon plates all over his face while he smiles in an increasingly forced manner as the night goes on, I wonder why he is doing this. And then I see his house and all the good stuff he has inside and I wish I had thought of selling my soul (and natural body parts) to the Gods of Dollar and Silicon first. But it's reassuring to know that Sleazebag sometimes sits back and wonders what he is doing with his life. It makes him human. Maybe he will actually collect his grandmother that he used as a collateral for that loan from Don Zisa that he took out for his expensive colon irrigation treatment.

Sleazebag talks to Bo Bint, the forgotten and more talented stepchild who has to live under the shadow of the talentfree useless tosser Conty Bin, and Bo Bint talks in his unfortunate redneckish manner about how blessed he feels to be here because there were so much talent in the 44 so to be here when others failed to make the cut ("Why, why, why? Oh God, I DON'T BELIEVE THIS!" wails Faith Greenwood), he feels really fortunate. And he hopes that people won't take his rocker background against him. He wishes that he has a guitar or a piano on stage though.

But first, here comes Trachea Boi. Richard Marx's Hold On To The Night is his song. I hate that song. I despise nearly everything Richard Marx put out, although Hazard is a great song, so I am prepared to loathe this performance. I must also admit that I am fearing another repeat of the overly-neurotic, prissy, and dull Kewpie but to my surprise, I like this performance. The performance is dull, predictable, but the thing is, he isn't just singing the song on autopilot like the previous two male contestants did with their songs. I love how the camera makes sure that it lingers on the scar on his neck just to remind me that Trachea Boi had a tracheotomy when he was a kid. Also, there are plenty of corny fist gestures. Oh, Trachea Boi raises both fists as he sings about how he will "hold on" hard and firm during those lonely nights. He brings those fists to his chest as he talks about "holding on" while cherishing the memories of his girlfriend who is not by his side at the moment. Then he raises those fists again until arms akimbo, he thrusts his chest forward because he is really "holding" on and on and on until - ooh, here comes the glory note! There are pitch problems galore and his voice isn't up to the task of hitting the high notes with full body and volume, but... sigh. When he hits that final, high, long melismatic note, I have to suppress an involuntary shiver of thrill running up and down my spine. He shouldn't be singing weedy ballads from milquetoast men. He should be pillaging the catalogue of his favorite male singer Marc Anthony and pulling out a spine-tingling version of When I Dream At Night. Why? Because his voice isn't made to project glory notes like Kewpie, it is made to tingle in a melismatic, faux-operatic, aurally orgasmic "Oh-OH-oh-OH!" manner. Some geeks are tragic. Some geeks have to beat off with a stick the hot babes fighting to be the first to introduce him to carnal pleasures at the backseat of a 1968 Cadillac with Marc Anthony playing on the radio. For now, I hope Trachea Boi gets himself a really big stick.

Randy Randy and Miss Paula find the performace safe and predictable, although they think that Trachea Boi "hit the stride" towards the end. When Trachea Boi has been holding on so long and hard like that, of course the stride must be hit, duh. King Tut agrees, saying that the performance left him cold, and adds that Trachea Boi is an example of how one can sing but still not be a superstar. Aw, shut up, all of them. Let the kid hold on for as long as he wants to, for heaven's sake!

And now, Bo Bint. Wow, in a night of spectacularly dull power balladeering, it is a pleasant shock to realize that finally, Drift Away finds a correct performer who can do it justice. His vocals are perfect for that song, husky and masculine, and it is so easy to see him getting drunk and kicking the bar upside down as he orders everyone to give him the beat. I love this! I love his Mystic Hippie outfit of crucifix and beatnix-motive flowing shirt. Why aren't they showing more of Bo Bint? Why are they pushing that crapface Conty Bint down my throat? Bo is the man, baby!

The judges agree, with lucid analogies from Miss Paula comparing Bo to a perfectly fitting pair of jeans. King Tut finds the performance "terrific". Sleazebag comes out and tells Bo that Bo doesn't need a guitar because his performance was "great". Of course, that means Bo will be cut any time now by America while Conty Bint will head straight into the Top Three. I'm already resigned to that fact.

After reminding the audience of the new format of the show, Sleazebag introduces Travis Tucker. He sings My Cherie Amour - hey, they should've just made this episode Stevie Wonder night - and it's completely bland and forgettable. Like Nikachu's performance, Travis' is competent and sweet but "competent and sweet" is not the way to be in a competition if he wants to stand out. The problem with him, Scott, and Nikachu is that they are just singing their songs unimaginatively, without any interesting improvisations from first verse to second verse. I mean, compare their performances to Trenyce's Come See About Me and Let's Stay Together, Ruben's Baby I Need Your Lovin', or any of Fantasia's performance. Travis' performance lacks any of his individual stamp or even energy. He does have a very nice smile though.

Randy Randy says that he agrees with Miss Paula. I suspect that Miss Paula actually gets to speak first but they edit the show so that Randy Randy seems to go first because this is the only explanation for Randy Randy's bizarre proclamation. He finds Travis' performance too safe. Miss Paula says that she expects more from Travis but still thinks that he is "magical". Travis, lock your room tonight because she's so knocking it down. King Tut agrees and even says that Travis is out of tune abd his performance is not good enough even for hotel lobbies. Randy Randy and Miss Paula argue with him about that out-of-tune part of King Tut's assessment and King Tut insists that they will see, or rather, hear what he is talking about if they rewatch his performance on television. I try to do what he says but I keep falling asleep halfway through the performance. I'll just take his word for it.

Conty Bint is up next and he decides to sing Kiss From A Rose, that overplayed song by Seal which eventually became the anthem for pretentious cokeheads who think that they are so much more artistic and original than they actually are. And my goodness, even by the standards of cokeheads who are too high to hear how awful they sound on the ears, Conty Bint's performance is pure butchery on the melody. From the discordant wrong first note - in falsetto to boot - to the traumatizingly off-key final "ya-ya-ya" refrains, I don't think he is ever in tune. Oh, and he wears a hideous low-cut shirt that exposes his miniscule pubic-hair patch on his chest.

Randy Randy chuckles and says that Conty Bint is looking at him as if Conty Bint knows Randy Randy is going to say. He says that he likes the song, thinks that it is a good song to sing, but he thinks that Conty Bint goes sharp and out of tune every time Conty Bint hits a high note. Miss Paula agrees as Conty Bint asks Randy Randy which note he went sharp at. Randy Randy demonstrates by singing the "Baby" part in the chorus - he sings it in the correct key at first try without difficulty, wow. King Tut compliments Randy Randy on that fine vocal performance, until the sporting Sleazebag tells Randy Randy to stick to rapping. Randy Randy gives an eyeroll. Shut up, Sleazebag. Conty Bint gives an eyeroll at Randy Randy too. Since he's the one who is out of tune from the go, maybe he should stick to... I don't know, scooping dog poo from the pavements, perhaps.

Miss Paula thinks that Conty Bint did okay because he has "style", is "very unique", and "has a lot of fans". I don't know what any of these "reasons" have anything to do with how she thinks the Conty Bint did well in his performance but there you go. Anyway, I don't think Miss Paula is thinking about Conty Bint's singing when it comes to "performance". (Then again, trying to imagine the Conty Bint yapping "Baby! BAH-BAY!" in every possible wrong note during Miss Paula's idea of a "performance" is enough to put me off "performing". No wonder she needs the happy pills.) King Tut goes insane and says that Bo Bint and Conty Bint is in the "same bracket" because Bo sang better but Conty has the "charisma". Charisma? Creepy shirtless "pubic hair on my chest"/"my nipples are overbaked pepperoni"/"dude, do you smell what I smell on my armpits?" photo. I rest my freaking case.

Conty Bint makes hideous "poor me, I'm hurting, vote for me, stupid girls" faces as Sleazebag tells people what to do to him. (No, that "what to do" has nothing to do with taking a bath and using shampoo, alas.) Ladies and gentlemen, we have our painfully untalented white elephant who will displace talented contestants right here in the Conty Bint.

Sleazebag announces that in order to avoid "overexposure", the show will come on only three times a week. Hey, he's funny! I like him now!

David Brown now takes the stage to perform Michael Jackson's Never Can Say Goodbye. Ugh, the song is another ballad, and after so many ballads on this show, I am ready to fall asleep. David is unfortunate in that his performance is even worse than the bland ones by Travis, Scott, or Nikachu because it noticeably goes off-key at the start and he only regains his rhythm too late towards the end of the song. Also, David Brown is no Fantasia in that his awkward enunciation ("never can shay goodbye", for example) doesn't give his performance character as much as it adds to the awkward vocal mistakes piling on in that performance. What is Debra Byrd feeding these guys? Marijuana?

The judges must really love him because they all insist that they are still his fans, they expect more from him which is why they are hard on him when they tell him that he was "pitchy" (harsh!), and King Tut leads the idiot mass in saying that David was just overcome by nerves.

Little is heard of Jared Yates until now so he needs a good performance more than others in order to secure votes to move on. At 18, he is the youngest male contestant. Unfortunately, this Ricky Martin wannabe chooses to sing a Marc Anthony song, How Could I?, a song that he lacks the power and volume in his voice to do it justice. He tries and mind you, his delivery of that song is excellent, technique-wise. It's a pity that the song is something that is out of his league.

Randy Randy thinks that Miss Paula is right. Let's just pretend that he didn't say that. He says that the guys are performing better at this stage of the competition than guys in previous seasons ever did but adds that he didn't warm up to Jared's performance and he isn't sure of the reason. Maybe it's boring, he wonders aloud. Miss Paula suggests that Jared must be overcome by nerves too because she has seen him choose better songs that suit his voice in previous auditions. King Tut, ever the hypocrite, tells her to stop making excuses for these contestants. Oops, I guess it must have been his twin brother telling everyone just a while earlier that David was overcome by nerves and he was still a fan of his. He thinks that Jared is good enough to have come this far (tell me again how that applies to the Conty Bint, somebody) but that performance was a ghastly audition for a boyband that wouldn't pick him at the end of the day.

Next is Anwar Robinson. He performs Moon River, a song that I doubt many of the children watching this show have heard of. It's a very pitchy performance but it reminds me of the time when Trenyce decided to take a risk and performed Baby Grand on Billy Joel Week. Anwar comes up with a soulful version that is very different from the original so it's interesting and worth at least a second listen because it is more than the typical overglorified karaoke performances of the other contestants. I like it, although I can't help feeling that maybe he should have sung something more accessible on his first day on the prelim rounds. I want him to stick around!

Randy Randy loves it. Miss Paula wants to buy the CD of that recording and Anwar tells her, "God bless you!" Indeed. King Tut compliments him for not falling into the trap of coming up with a bad impersonation Stevie Wonder (heh).

Next is Judd "Jug" Harris. Have I mentioned how much he looks like David Krumholtz? I love how the flashback clip has Miss Paula telling him how much she loves his humility and there he is, smirking at the daft cow with completely no humility at all. Anyway, Jug is obviously the new Pen Salesman in that he decides that he'd better off acting it up instead of actually singing. The Creedence Clearwater Revival's Travelin' Band is his song. I like his song choice. I like the music he listens to. I hate his performance, I hate his awkward attempts at dancing, and I think he is way too old at 27 to be acting like the class clown who still desperately wants to be cool and popular.

Randy Randy and Miss Paula stumble to say that they don't know how to deal with someone who doesn't sing a typical ballad on the show and end up saying that they think Jug is a good entertainer. Yeah, a monkey is fun to have at parties too but a monkey doesn't get a recording contract, I'm just saying. King Tut is the only one with the testicles to admit that he doesn't care for the performance but he thinks that there are many girls out there who will adore him. I risk my sanity by taking a quick peek at typical fan forums where the average denizen is a teenaged girl no older than twelve and OH MY GOD, King Tut is right. He is so right. Heaven help us all. (If you care to know, Conty Bint is by far the most popular.)

I love how Jug decides to squat on his knees to pose for the camera while Sleazebag is rattling off the number to vote for Jug. He looks like he has gone down on Sleazebag, hee-hee. Sleazebag then says that Jug is "packing it" (while the top of Jug's head is bobbing at the bottom of the screen next to Sleazebag's crotch) and I start giggling because I can be a thirteen-year-old like that.

Joseph Murena is next. Hmm, he looks like Sean Patrick Flannery from a certain angle, come to think of it. Like Jared, Joseph is barely heard of before this show and he needs a good performance more than the likes of Conty Bint and Trachea Boi to survive. I don't know what possessed him to choose that vile How Am I Supposed To Live Without You song to sing for tonight. His voice is all over the place and when he starts scaling the high notes in the predictable glory note moment, he is obviously straining out of his comfort zone and his facial expressions are painful to watch. He sounds decent when he is singing at midrange notes so if he survives this week, he'd do better to choose something that doesn't require him to overreach for high notes that are out of his range.

The judges are lukewarm about his performance, with the general consensus being that it was too predictable and safe.

Finally, here comes Mario "Pipsqueak" Vazquez. I am surprised to realize from the official website that he is actually 27 because he dresses and acts like a kid barely out of high school. (Then there is the whole "I love my mother" thing.) Dressed in the usual ugly cap and "I Still Watch Saved By The Bell Religiously" souvenir outfits of ugly jacket and shirt, he launches into a version of Stevie Wonder's Do I Do best described as Do I Ever. And no, I don't. He decides to forgo singing to concentrate on wiggling his bum, swivelling his hips, and basically prancing around on stage like he's in a movie called When Guarini Meets Wacko Jacko. His voice is all over the place, cracking here and there when his moves get in the way of his singing, and frankly, this performance is less interesting than it is supposed to be. Sure, it's an uptempo song, which is always welcome after one funeral dirge of a power ballad and another, but it is a poorly sung uptempo song. Mario tries to command the stage by telling people to "Come on!" but he isn't as commanding on stage as he tries to be. All in all, an underwhelming performance from a guy whom I've heard sing so much better previously.

Randy Randy and Miss Paula love him so much though, it's crazy. They're crazy. Okay, in the case of Miss Paula, crazier than usual, with her dead-eyed, lust-transfixed demonic leer as she drunkenly staggers to her feet and claps psychotically for Mario while she shrieks, "Touchdown! Touchdown! Awesome!" I suspect that the judges are working themselves up into a frenzy because they are just happy to get out of this place after listening to so many boring ballads being sung boringly. Only King Tut is the voice of reason once more when he says that the singing is not good but Mario has charisma to pull off the performance.

Sleazebag comes out and announces that the phone lines will be open at the end of the show for two hours. He demonstrates how to use a cell phone. It's very easy, little girls. Just take it out of the shiny wrapper, dip it in strawberry-flavored Vaseline, and shove it down Sleazebag's throat. He thanks the judges and the audience for keeping him employed and introduces the ladies who will perform tomorrow. And then he stands with the Twelve Guys and announces that he is out. Man, that is a perfect "Be Proud To Be Out" moment, I'm quite disappointed that they don't sell postcards of that scene on the store in the official website.

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