Season 4: You've Made Me So Very Happy

Zoing-zoing-zoing goes the electric guitar as Ryan Sleazebag stands alone on the stage of the Thunderdome. He talks about how America has made some twelve people the most famous faces on screen and how it's time for them to show everyone what they can do. With that, credits.

Hmm, I think they spend more money on the credits than on the actual production of the Idols' debut CDs.

It's now season four and the show decides to spice up the stage to make it look even more like a spaceship. Everything is metallic grey and blue, sort of like a Coca-Cola porn really, and right at the back of the stage are doors that open on command to reveal Ryan "Am I Happy?" Sleazebag. He is wearing some ugly orange T-shirt under his grey suit and he is more teeth than usual today as he shows off the set, the band, the audience, and everything shiny and new, just like how he happily shows off his new Botox job and asks people to touch his forehead to really feel how smooth and wrinkle-free he is now. The judges are sitting behind a table that is white, built to look like a bridge, and has the show logo emblazoned right over where Miss Paula's crotch is. I think that must be some inside joke on the prop department's part. Sleazebag introduces the judges - Randy "Am I Barking?" Randy, Charmaine Miss "Am I Sober?" Paula, and King "Am I? Oh?" Tut - and then talks about Mario not being here today.

What, you didn't hear about that? Of course you did. Mario withdrew from the show, citing "personal reasons", and you know that because he went on six thousand shows in the last three days telling everyone to stop asking why and start respecting his privacy. His enthusiasm in making the TV rounds to drive home his need for privacy, to the point that he is willing to sacrifice his privacy to spread the message, is one that we should all strive to emulate. The most legitimate reason seems to be that he is in violation with the show contract clause because he put his voice on a track prior to joining the competition, and subsequently he also hires Kewpie's lawyer to help him look over the contract the show wants all finalists to sign before this episode. Kewpie's lawyer helped Kewpie and later Kelly Cluckson find loopholes in the show contract that allow them to hop off to a real management team that knows what to do with their careers - good for them. Unfortunately for Mario, the show people is not happy when they hear whom he is hiring to back him up. Unfortunately for Mario, this time around the contract is asking the finalists to be bonded under Simon Fuller's 19Management company for seven year (first it was three for the first two seasons, last season it was five, and now it is seven years). Would you want to be bonded to someone and have your career dependent on this someone for the next seven years? Would you want to be just like Tamyra, forced to write songs for American Idol for the next seven years while having the nincompoops of the management team run your career to the ground? These idiots refused to even let Tamyra have a music video clip for her debut single Raindrops Will Fall and instead used her performance of that song in Season Three for the MTV rounds. How humiliating! Would you want to be obligated to slave for these people for seven years? Of course not. So I don't blame Mario for decamping. He has already the attention. Winning this show is no guarantee of fame or success anyway (paging for Ruben Studdard) so it's not as if he's throwing away anything more than an extra fifteen seconds of fame.

Anyway, Nikachu is taking over Mario's place. We can expect the show to force him down our throats for the next few weeks - just to prove that they are "right" and Nikachu is "better" than that upstart Mario - even if he croaks on stage.

Sleazebag explains that today's theme is the Sixties. Cue flashback to him entering the Red Room during what is purportedly right after the results show of the previous week. The Twelve sit or stand in the Red Room not even trying to pretend to be animated as they weakly go "Yay!" the way the show insist that they do. Sleazebag walks in and delivers the news that the Twelve can sing anything they want from the Sixties. Bo asks whether he can sing rock music and everyone pretends to find this question amusing when inside they are probably thinking, "Damn." Except for Conty Bint, that is, who is thinking, "Damn freaking damn."

I like this broad theme. I always feel that it is ridiculous to expect the Twelve to sing well in every genre so a broad theme that encompasses the entire decade will provide some variety in the performances. Or so I think, that is. How frustrating when I will soon realize that be it the Sixties or Soul Week, these people will be singing yet again the same old songs that have been sung to death in the last three seasons. Is it too much to ask this show to spare some of the dollars they use to refurbish the set into obtaining more rights to songs that the contestants can sing on this show?

Back to the show, Sleazebag thinks it is a fun idea to have the so-called rockers duel in a hula hip shake death match. I don't think he likes these rockers very much. Sleazebag, I suspect, is the kind of guy who will use the show's ridiculous "kiddie-friendly" image to make these contestants dress up as big babies and do stupid things just because he can and also because he hates his job. Conty Bint is enjoying this and is making his digusting hooded-eyes signature look at the camera, no doubt thinking of what a cool kid he is to be on this show and making all those preteen girls swoon like that. Bo, on the other hand, growls to the camera that he wants the tape of this embarrassing dance-off or he will... well, he make the throat-cutting gesture with his hand.

Jessica thinks that Shop Around by Smokey Robinson is the best song choice for her as it is "funky" enough to show off her "character" and "bluesy" enough to show off her "voice". I see that the show is still hiring those rejects from beauty school to fill up the make-up department, or maybe it has actually downsized the department and hired Mary Roach to take over, I don't know, because Jessica comes out wearing this white suit thingie with ugly flowers along the lapels, looking exactly like Piggy Di Guano's frumpy fatter sister. Jessica isn't fat, of course, but the outfit makes her look hideously fat. Also, Mary Roach has decided to plaster Jessica's face with pale foundation and overuses the black eyeliner to the point that Jessica looks like some battered housewife trying to conceal her bruises. This makes her performance of Shop Around - especially considering what the song is all about - rather more macabre that Jessica originally intends it to be, I think. The performance is listenable but lifeless. It's not entirely the fault of her vocals. It's more about her stage presence. She repeats the buffalo stance thing she did in her last performance and this time, she looks really awkward standing there or moving stiffly around the stage, her voice running ten paces ahead of her "choreography". She looks fat, she moves so slowly to give off this impression that she is clumsy, and her make-up is awful. I hate to say this, but Jessica sounds good on the ears but she looks like a battered housewife who has gotten so drunk that she loses her inhibitions and starts singing out her bitterness on the karaoke machine.

Randy Randy thinks the performance is just "okay" and he isn't impressed. Miss Paula, her blood coursing on full speed ahead in her head, insists that Jessica is great and fabulous, hmmm, mmmm, oooh. King Tut doesn't think so and finds the song and the performance boring. Miss Paula shrieks to Jessica to ignore King Tut and just keep doing what Jessica is doing. Great, on top of bad make-up and crappy Randy Randy overkill of "okay", "pitchy", and "alright", it looks like I have to be subjected to Miss Paula's being more stoned than usual and it's not even halfway through the show yet.

Anwar wants to sing A House Is Not A Home because this song hasn't been sung to death already on this show. He thinks that the song go places, musically, and that place is great. Or something. He comes out in an outfit he stole from Samuel L Jackson at the Matrix Revolutions set, with that shirt nicely unbuttoned to the level of his diaphragm, but when he sings, I go to that nice place called Sleepysville. The voice? Beautiful. I love it. I still like him. But the performance? Utterly devoid of emotion, so robotic, eeriely perfect at places, it leaves me completely disconnected from Anwar.

Randy Randy launches into his familiar repertoire of lines like "It's just alright with me". King Tut agrees with him. Miss Paula of course disagrees violently because she is a crackhead falling apart on this show before a live audience and it is not as funny as I hope she'd be. King Tut compliments Anwar for his "fantastic" voice but hopes that Anwar can come up with something different or he will become boring. I agree with him. Sorry, Anwar.

Sleazebag is among the audience and prattles something so vapid that it does not bear repeating here. And ergo, here comes Mikalah.

I howl in laughter when I see her and it's a good kind of laughter, really, because I'm laughing without cynicism. She looks really indescribable in that big Elvira hair of hers, the dark eyeliners, the I Dream Of Jeannie midriff-baring outfit that she accesorizes with plenty of baby fat around her waist - how can I not laugh, really? Mikalah will be singing Dusty Springfield's Son Of A Preacher Man and adds that while she'd prefer people to pick up the phone and vote for her, sons of preacher men are more than welcome to call her. The thing is, they'd more likely try to perform an exorcism on her than to do whatever it is she has in mind, because one listen to her caterwauling is enough to drive anyone up the wall.

But... I actually love the performance. I don't know what is wrong with me, maybe it's because I've become so jaded with this show that I can afford to find humor in performances like Mikalah's. Seriously though she does sound better on the mp3 of this performance when I am not distracted into laughter by the sight of her running around the stage. The first two lines are sung in a key that is too low for her, causing her to sound breathless, but when she starts belting in a manner reminiscent of Taylor Dayne, she actually sounds much better than I anticipated.

Randy Randy dismisses the performance outright as "rough". Miss Paula compliments Mikalah for taking her advice and becoming a screaming idiot again but she once more punishes a contestant for taking her advice by agreeing with Randy Randy. Is there anyone who has ever taken Miss Paula's advice and lived to tell the tale? King Tut says simply that Mikalah's confidence has exceeded her ability. The audience boos in a subdued manner. King Tut thinks that this means the audience agrees with him. Mikalah says that the audience still looks fabulous.

Conty Bint claims to have heard Blood, Sweat and Tears' You've Made Me So Very Happy in the car when he was a kid so he's going to be singing this song tonight. I know he is a genuine rocker when he calls this song a "Motown song". And when he does, I fall officially in love with this guy. I'm serious! Here he comes, with his red-rimmed eyes that strongly suggest that he has been drinking non-stop before this performance, and performs a near-perfect version of an utter cheeseball of a song - that is, until the hideous forced glory note at the end - and it's freaking beautiful. When Conty Bint stops trying so hard to be a rocker and instead embraces the self-caressing bloated drunkard crackhead multiple-chinned cheeseburger that he is, the result is beautiful magic.

The usual suspects of two idiots who share a single thought bubble overcompliment him, as to be expected. King Tut stops short of actually complimenting his performance though, saying that Conty Bint will win if this is Smouldering Idol (or Elimidate - same thing, really) and there are many girls out there who like him, so King Tut asks rhetorically what he knows about these things anyway. King Tut shrugs and that's it. He has basically said that the idiot girlies are the ones keeping him on the show and naturally the audience applauds as if he has just given Conty Bint an effusive compliment.

Sleazebag stands next to King Tut, who is grinning widely and turning away from Sleazebag when the camera catches him staring at Sleazebag, and introduces Lindsey. Lindsey says that she finds Otis Reddings' Knock On Wood a great song to have fun with. Yes, there is nothing I love more than yet one more overperformed song on this show! Lindsey sounds out of breath so often, not because she is but because she is either being drowned out by the band or her voice is such that it is not suitable for a version of this song that is tailored after Amii Stewart's disco version. The whole performance is either too soft or too loud - it's like she's making a sound instead of singing a song. Am I making sense here?

Randy Randy thinks she was nervous. Miss Paula asks a rhetorical question. King Tut thinks that the 30 million people watching this show had simultaneously turned down the volume during that performance. Was Lindsey that awful? Of course not. But because Lindsey isn't a guy - she's not going to win - so the judges can afford to be brutal to her.

Trachea Boi wants to sing Neil Sedaka's Breaking Up Is Hard To Do because he won't stop tracking down Kewpie until he's married to Kewpie. Anyway, he says that he relates to the song "spiritually" and "emotionally". What, he has broken up with God, is that what he is saying? As for the performance, what can I say? When he is singing in his normal register, he is dull and cheesy. When he starts belting, he goes completely out of tune to the point where he is shouting to compensate his going off-key. Give it a rest with the Kewpie pretensions, Trachea Boi. Just flash those biceps and the rest of that body that your ten-year old baby face has never completely caught up with when it comes to puberty. By the way, I notice that Trachea Boi has two chins. How does one get to have so many chins when one isn't fat in the rest of the body? Drinking? Drug habits? Hmm.

Randy Randy compares the performance to a very below average performance in a "bad hotel", wherever that is. Miss Paula insists that Trachea Boi isn't that bad. Her voice goes higher and higher the more she starts talking. Then again, what can I say about a woman who is caught on camera tapping her hands along to the music as if she's listening to an upbeat tune when the performer is actually singing a bloody ballad? King Tut finds the performance akin to one put up by a drunk person at a Christmas party. He should know. At Christmas parties, King Tut is always that person.

Here comes Tamyra - oops, Nadia, looking really gorgeous in a slinky one-piece light-greenish affair that I'd kill to get my hands on. Not that I can ever wear it, of course, unless I call up Sleazebag's favorite liposuctionist and thigh reconstructor first, that is. Seriously, Mary Roach has turned Nadia exactly into Tamyra. I hope that is not a premonition of things to come. And she nails beautifully Dusty Springfield's You Don't Have To Say You Love Me. She hopes that this song will allow her to shine while slowing down the tempo a little and it does. It's a great song, of course, but Nadia manages to inject a little of her own nuances here and there to make this song entirely her own. She still sounds a little flat on the final glory note but all in all, a seductive and beautiful performance from the best female contestant of the bunch.

The two judges who share a brain love the performance. King Tut says that in a competition that is "full of hamburgers", Nadia is "the steak". Sometimes I wish that he hasn't spoken at all.

Bo decides to perform a song that he and his band have been playing for a while now, Blood, Sweat and Tears' Spinning Wheel. (Hey, Conty Bint and Bo choose songs from the same band - has Bo been lending Conty Bint his CD?) I'm happy to say that just when Conty Bint is this close to snatching my heart away, Bo wins it back just as easily. Bo rushes down the stage and storms onto the platform behind the judges to sing to the audience up closer and more personally. Can I quote King Tut and say that I want to be reborn in my next life as Bo's microphone? Even more impressive is how always in control Bo is of his pitch and key. When I listen to the mp3 of the performance, not a single note sounds off. A great showman, a great singer, a sexy hunk - Bo is just what this show needs, especially when it comes to audiences like me who are becoming tired of the way the show has fallen into a stagnant rut. He is rejuvenating the show like the fresh air that a stuffy room needs. A Nadia and Bo Final Two for me will be a dream come true for this season. And then I remember the fate that awaits the winners of this show, realize that I have to want Nadia and Bo to lose for their own good, and I hate this show all over again.

The judges shower Bo with lots of adulation about being brave, fearless, blah blah blah. I like Bo but that whole "fearless" thing is a whole load of rubbish, really, because like King Tut insinuated in his compliment, Bo is just being himself. "Fearless" would be Bo performing Macarena - or is that "foolhardy"? - for example. The only reason Bo is so amazing here is, apart from him being one of the best male singers in the contest, he is a beautiful novelty on the show. But if this show allows more contestants from Bo's traveling rock band circuit to get into the Top Twelve, Bo won't be so much of a "fearless" novelty after all.

Vonzell decides to tackle yet another overperformed song Anyone Who Has A Heart. When people like Tamyra and Kelly Cluckson have tackled this song and slayed anyone else who dared to touch this song, it takes guts for Vonzell to even choose this song. Now, I like Vonzell. I think she's the Trenyce to Nadia's Tamyra or Burger Queen in the sense that while Nadia is a great singer, Vonzell knows how to bring in the sense of fun into her performances. But unlike Trenyce, Vonzell has yet to deliver a truly great performance. Her performance here is listenable but she sings in what seems like her falsetto in noticeable spots of the song, thus sounding like Minnie Mouse a little too much for my liking. Right now she is easily one of the better female contestants but as the numbers dwindle, she'd have to step it up.

Randy Randy loves her voice but points out that she needs to learn how to control it. It's a reasonable suggestion - a first for Randy Randy for this season, perhaps. Miss Paula gushes that Vonzell is pretty. Ooh, pretty. King Tut points out accurately that Vonzell needs to step it up or she will probably have, oh, five more weeks on this contest.

Ape Boy will be performing Ain't Too Proud To Beg. How original of him. Mary Roach has told him to sport a stubble over his pale, pasty double chins (sporting double chins seem to be the latest fad among the male contestants of this season, apparently) and you know what happens when one weirdo tells another weirdo what to do. He starts out great in the first few lines, and then he decides to walk towards the judges and sing to each of them. Ape Boy, Ruben wants his hamburger grab back. He also wants the waddle back, thanks. All in all, a safe, decent performance that needs to be performed by someone who doesn't look like Ape Boy. Yes, I know, I'm so mean.

The judges claim to be surprised by how well Ape Boy did, although he has been singing standard Motown anthems for so many weeks now. Then again, why should the judges displaying selective memories surprise me by now?

Sound the cows, Cattle is up next. She wants to show her fun side (no, I don't know if it's the side where her udders are - don't ask me such things) so she'll be singing yet another Countrified tune, this time it's the Everly Brothers' When Will I Be Loved. The first few lines see her bleating like a pained cow and she keeps sounding this sharp until the first chorus, where the band thankfully drowns her out. She gets back into full-blown the-cows-are-dying-bleat-bleat mode in time for the prerequisite final glory note showcase. Just think of her last three performances and this is exactly what this performance sounds like.

Randy Randy and Miss Paula once more share the same brain by calling out Carrie for playing it safe yet again. But don't they get it? If she doesn't play it safe, they'll pan her for not being "true" to herself. They do this every season, so I'm sure these contestants can be wary when it comes to listening to these twits. King Tut declares that an unusual occurrence is about to happen - he will be nice when the other two aren't. He thinks Carrie is one of the three contestants that know who they are musically. As usual, this is another statement pulled out of King Tut's hind. I don't want to even start to speculate who the other two contestants are because I suspect that his intention behind his making such statements is to get me to believe that he is saying something more meaningful and profound than he actually is.

Finally, Nikachu gets the spot that was originally meant for Mario and he even has to sing the song Mario picked, the Jackson Fives' I Want You Back, although Nikachu tries hard to pretend that the song is his choice all along. Who is he kidding? A Jackson Five song can only has Mario's fingerprints all over it. Poor Nikachu has to follow Mario's choreography and frankly, the whole performance is a cross between a Muppets concert and a show by the wheelchair-bound kid from Malcolm In The Middle. Nikachu is not Mario so it's embarrassing to see him trying so hard to be Mario. Mario watching this performance at home must be howling in laughter.

The judges read out the script written for their critiques after Mario's performance. Same skin color, and if you squint real hard, Nikachu can even be passed off as Mario what with that ugly hat and all, so the three judges pull out their tongues and prepare to use it well and hard on Nikachu.

The credits roll as Sleazebag pose with the Twelve and explain how to use those pesky AT&T wireless thingies to vote. And then he's out. And thank goodness, the worst Top Twelve since the first season is out too.

Results show. The Twelve stand on the podium of the Thunderdome as Sleazebag talks about votes, one of the Twelve being eliminated, and other throwaway wastes of breath and words. Credits.

Sleazebag comes out wearing a red T-shirt with plenty of squiggles on it and a coat over that T-shirt. Sheesh, even his clothes are boring now. Still, he has a stubble today so that means he still cares about looking pretentious. He gives a dramatic speech about people wondering why, only to not-so-shockingly reveal that he's talking about people wondering why the judges were so mean on the Top Twelve last night and no, you know, about Mario like he obviously wants you to think. Why are the judges mean? It's either (a) the Twelve mostly suck, or (b) the judges all suck, or (c) all of the above. Text message the answer to Sleazie, please, not to me. He reveals that just "under" 30 million votes came in for the previous night and promises that the show will be bigger than ever.

He recaps last night - where as usual the Rockers rule whether they really did or not - and drops the latest musical extravanganza of the show. The Twelve will be performing three songs and audience will get to vote for one to be released. Proceeds of that single will go to the Red Cross, he claims. That's good news, I'm sure, if you trust these bastards with your money. Tonight the Twelve will sing the first of the three songs, Diana Ross' When You Tell Me That You Love Me.

There is a saying that charity singles generally are putrid beyond belief and this one is no different. There is no cohesion from one contestant to another, everyone seems to be singing lines from different songs! Mikalah makes me laugh though when she starts wailing out her line. Everything about her makes me laugh nowadays. I hope that isn't something that I should be seeing a shrink about. Bo, sporting a hairstyle that is just Mary Roach in essence, and Cattle get to duet for the bridge and Cattle get to close the song. Is this a premonition of the Final Two, perhaps? Or just this show's penchance to pimp the blondes like the way they put Carmurp in the spotlight for everything even when she can't sing for peanuts? As for the audience who are all waving their hands during the performance - seek therapy. Quickly.

Oh, that's Ruben in the audience, sporting a stubble, looking pale, and generally looking not healthy. Doesn't he have shows or something to attend to? Oh, that's right, he won the title in the second season and now he has to sit through this show and watch twelve people wail the life out of a droopy sentimental song. Such is the glamorous life of an American Idol.

And now, Sleazebag decides to grab the three contestants with the lowest votes and send the one with the lowest votes home. Conty Bint made enough little girls in America very, very happy. (How's puberty coming, girls?). Nadia knows America loves her. Trachea Boi sucks but the little girls out there like him that way. King Tut shudders in mock disgust at this. Lindsey is in the Bottom Three. Bo will spin on to the next show. Cattle will live to sing the same song again next week. King Tut smirks. Ape Boy can still count on the legion of fugly people powerdialling for him and keeping him on the show. Mikalah, on the other hand, is in the Bottom Three. She actually stands up and curtsies to the audience before making her way to join Lindsey on the dais. Dang, I hope she doesn't go, not when I'm really warming up to this young lady. Anwar's home is still on the show. And finally, out of Nikachu, Vonzell, and Jessica, Jessica is in the Bottom Three. By the way, Jessica's grandmother in the audience is one overexcited lady. I hope she doesn't work herself into a stroke on live television one of these days.

All three ladies in the Bottom Three hold hands and wait. Are they the worst performers of the Twelve? Okay, Mikalah may deserve to be in the Bottom Three, but there are male contestants who performed worse than Jessica. Trachea Boi, for example. But it should be clear to long-time viewers of the show by now that talent has very little to do with the positioning of contestants on this show.

Before the show goes into a break, it's time for a Ford clip. Conty Bint sits by Lindsey as she magically drives that Ford vehicle (without using her hands at all) to a basement car park where a party is going on. The Twelve sing Midnight Star's No Parking (On The Dance Floor) as blue light effects that seem to cost more than five dollars start flashing around. I quite like this video. For a short time, the Twelve are allowed to be cool, hip people. Then again, only Jessica, Nadia, Vonzell, Mikalah (without Elvira hair), and (duh) Conty Bint look like they belong to such a party (especially Jessica and her come-hither expression, by the way). Cattle, Bo, and Anwar come off like people who would be the first to dance enthusiastically but embarrassingly badly in such a party. Trachea Boi actually looks good in this video and so does Ape Boy. Nikachu, on the other hand, still comes off like a dork.

Sleazebag banters pointlessly with King Tut about how America is listening to King Tut because they are not stupid (or so King Tut says). The more he insists that the audience is intelligent, the longer the audience keeps the tone-deaf mingers on the show. There is probably a correlation in there somewhere.

Oh, and bye bye, Lindsey. Not that I'm surprised by that, seeing how she is one of the underpimped ladies of those in the Twelve. I won't be surprised if all the ladies are eliminated one by one until only Cattle remains because the little girls are obviously voting for anything but talent in this season. If I haven't become so jaded from watching this show after three seasons of complete BS, I may care enough to get worked up over this injustice. But I have become jaded, so... go, Conty Bint! You are the American Idol! As for Mikalah, for saying "Fuck!" under her breath when Sleazebag almost leads her to believe that she is going home... go, Mikalah! And Bo, Nadia, get out while you can. Take it from me - GET OUT OF THE SHOW. NOW.