Season 4: Don't Take Away the Music

Sinister electric guitar plays as Ryan Sleazebag stands on the Thunderdome podium and says that 35 million Americans are seated before the TV set right now and they have total control over the fates of the remaining Seven on the show. Hmm, 35 million viewers and 34 million votes. No wonder Sleazebag keeps scolding everybody for not voting! The number of viewers may be up but the number of votes (and hence, profits from the text messages thingie) aren't rising in proportion with the audience. Assuming that half of the audience are compelled to vote at the end of the day (and that's a generous overestimation), that means each voter sends in only two votes. At this rate, Uncles Ken and Nigel will only get their new cars by 2007. That won't do. Why aren't you people voting? If you aren't, like Miss Paula would say, good for you! Picture me bending over the table and clapping my hands at you like Miss Paula would do.

Credits. By the way, did you Americans catch Miss Paula making the media rounds insisting that she is not addicted to pills and painkillers? Apparently she has back problems, the poor thing, and so she has to take all those pills that make her go woozy. She courageously shoulders on to be a judge on the show because she loves music and she wants to play her role in nurturing future Paula Abduls in the music business. So now you know. She's not addicted to pills - she just takes them. And it's for the pain in her back. Or something.

Ryan "Starfocker" Sleazebag comes out in a white shirt and grey jacket. He keeps his stubble though in order to valiantly prove his masculinity and hence shoot down all those nasty rumors on how he raised the $15,000 to pay for his Hollywood Walk of Fame star. The crowd cheer and he pretends that he can't hear them. When they see him cup his ear, they cheer louder. I wonder that if he keeps putting his hand to his ear like that, will they keep cheering and cheering, louder and louder, until their heads explode? Sleazie bids everyone welcome to the show and says that they are the music moguls of the show. That's a nice way to make all those Stupid Little Girls feel a little important, I must say. Sleazie says that if what he heard in the morning's soundcheck is anything to go by, we are all in for the "most energetic show" yet. Oh no, please tell me Ape Boy is not going to be dancing tonight! Sleazebag blames the audience for booting Nadia and putting Bo in the Bottom Two last week. He asks Bo fans to cheer. They cheer. He asks Ape Boy's fans to cheer. Two daring young ladies scream. (Hi, Ape Boy's mom and Ape Boy's girlfriend!)

Sleazie proceeds to introduce the judges. Say hello to Randy "Starstruck" Randy, Charmaine Miss "Starfish" Paula, and of course, King "Starsailor" Tut. Without ado, he then introduces the fake flashback clip on the backstage. Supposedly after the last Results show, the Seven are sitting in the Red Room looking sad and blue. Maybe Miss Paula has announced that she's not going to throw her fabulous party that night. Sleazie walks in and because he respects their melancholy, gives them the clues to the theme of this episode without pulling them around too much. He rattles off the names of the Bee Gees and Earth, Wind & Fire before saying that this week's theme is "'70s Dance Music". That way, nobody will sing anything from this decade by accident and force the show to pay up unneccesarily for performance rights. Conty Bint declares, "Let's boogie!" Ape Boy says menacingly that no one will keep up with him on '70s Dance Music week. Why? That's because he will take a butcher knife and hack off the legs of anyone who tries to, of course. Back to the present, Sleazebag promises a night of "timeless classics" (read: more songs that have been performed before in previous seasons) and announces that tonight it may very well be "Club Idol" (read: you need to have an IQ below this number to be admitted into this club). He asks people to feel the funk (read: yes, someone didn't flush the toilet) and enjoy themselves. I can't wait.

Conty Bint says that he was born in the 1970s when disco fever was all the rage. The Seven get to show off their dance skills in the introductory clip so Conty Bint dances as if he's John Travolta in-between stages of a sex-change operation. Because the Bee Gees are synonymous with disco, Conty Bint feels that it is appropriate for him to perform their Nights On Broadway. Wearing a white jumpsuit to bare a pudgy chest with unpleasant stringy whorls of chest hair and enough eyeliner to make Angelica Huston regret her Morticia Addams days, he launches into an unfortunately very thin and amateurish performance of that song. Usually when Conty Bint performs, it's either unspeakably vile or deliciously camp. Here, he is just being boring. He tries to do his increasingly tired "look at my bleary-red sexy drunk, er, seduction eyes" smouldering looks but that makes him come off as even more desperate. But does it matter, though? He'll be alright come results night.

Randy Randy thinks that Conty Bint's song is a good choice but he finds the performance akin to a Las Vegas performance. Miss Paula shrieks at him, "What?" Randy Randy says that Conty Bint tries too hard to imitate John Travolta when he should strive to be original. Miss Paula, whose pain must be aching worse than usual because she is DOA from the first thing she utters on the show, insists that for the last few weeks, everything Conty Bint does is "omigosh". She rattles off what these "everything" are: theatrics, show presence... "And Vegas!" Randy Randy cuts in nastily. Conty Bint tells Randy Randy that he'll take that Vegas gig. Of course he will. He will do anything to be famous. Conty Bint and Ryan Sleazebag are soulmates in that regard. Miss Paula insists that Conty Bint will sell many records.

The audience is actually momentarily stunned into silence by Miss Paula's proclaimation, hah, and a few unfortunately fat girls in ghastly pink (think women in their late teens to early twenties dressed up like five-year old girls attending a ballet rehearsal - I shudder to imagine that they are the typical people that watch the show) take the opportunity to scream that they love Conty Bint. Conty Bint's face is best described as, "Uh oh, fat ugly chicks in sight. I hope I don't have to pity shag them to get them to keep voting for me!" Now, I know that pop music exists on the foundation that male pop stars will sing songs insisting that they don't care about physical beauty as long as the gal is "beautiful inside" and their fat and ugly fans will buy these CDs again and again while dreaming that these male pop stars will meet them one day and see the Miss America lurking under their thick gelatinous rolls of fat and greasy slabs of acne-scarred skin. Eventually these fat ugly girls will realize that the pop stars in question will never want to marry them and they show up on online message boards, bitching jealously about skinny and beautiful women while pretending that they have a beautiful life filled with handsome young men who love them. But... can't these Stupid Little Girls do their thing off the camera? We can all coexist as long as I don't have to see their hideous mug and be reminded of why I should be embarrassed about watching this show because teenaged girls who watch this show dress up like pink poodles on TV.

King Tut thinks that the performance is akin to a waiter in a "ghastly Spanish nightclub" standing up at the end of the night to serenade the fleeing clientele. He struggles to find a name for such a nightclub. Randy Randy offers "Guadalupe" and King Tut seizes that name gratefully to add on to his slamming of Conty Bint's performance. Sleazebag asks Conty Bint whether the other contestants treated Conty Bint any differently after Miss Paula announced in the previous episode that he was the one to beat in the competition. As if anyone takes seriously what Miss Paula says in the first place! Conty Bint gives a BS answer about how everyone is each other's best friend forever at this point of the competition. But he reminds people to keep voting for him.

After the break, Sleazebag announces that the 1970s is a decade where the pants were so synthetic that women burst into flames just by crossing their legs. I think he is speaking from experience.

Anyway, now Cattle shows up to dance like a typical cheerleader trying to persuade the principal into giving her an A for her finals. She talks about how she, apparently being imprisoned in her backwater farm until she is released to be on the show because she has never been in a club before (give me a break), doesn't dance too much other than those times when she is dancing in her bedroom in her pajamas. I have to admire how she manages to sell herself to dirty perverts and puritannical God and Gun people at the same time. Her song is Donna Summer's MacArthur Park, that hideous song about cakes in the rain and Chinese checkers. Even if she is performing an uptempo song, Cattle just walks a short distance to and back on stage. She doesn't seem to know the ins and outs of the song, faltering and being a beat behind the band all the time. What she does know is to hit the melismatic glory notes. So this performance is pretty much five or six glory notes with some tuneless noise in between them.

Randy Randy, whose way to his heart is through his eardrums via a few glory notes, offers Cattle entrance into the Dawg Pound, the exclusive club with untouchable members like Ape Boy and Trachea Boi. Cattle must be honored that Randy Randy is willing to overlook the fact that she doesn't have a penis to invite her into the Dawg Pound. He thinks that Cattle is one of the best singers in this competition. Who cares about stage presence or the entire performance, after all. Cattle hits a long glory note - she must be good, give her a Grammy! Miss Paula is all about the long glory note and says that King Tut turned 53 during that note. King Tut says that she sang well but thinks that the outfit (Cattle has her Alone hair and a dress straight out of a Brady Bunch TV set) is akin to Barbie meets the Stepford Wives. He says that she is too old to dress up like that. Isn't that the truth? The same hideous fat gals in pink that called out to Conty Bint - those fat ugly girls in pink, come to think of it, are dressed just like Cattle - call out that they love Cattle. Cattle doesn't even give them a look of acknowledgement.

Sleazebag and Cattle then have a horrifying exchange that they believe must be "adorable" in which Cattle explains that she has no idea what her song is all about and she chooses to sing it because, er... she struggles to come up with a reason and has to settle for "The song is great vocally". Translation: she sees that she can screams out a thousand glory notes in that song and grabs it without thinking. She dismisses the words to the song but since she already said that she doesn't understand the song, it doesn't matter. I'm stunned that she actually dares to confess that she has no idea what she is singing about. And since it shows in her performance - that she has no idea whatsoever what she is doing - I believe there is a cautionary tale in this scenario to take to heart. Sleazebag then discusses with her his "cheese factor". Eeeuw, that's nasty. I'm tuning out now.

I still have nightmares from Ape Boy's dancing and his horrifying faces in his introductory clip. I don't want to talk about it anymore. Ape Boy talks about how dancing and other sissy stuff are not his "thing". But he wants people to move and have a good time. People are already moving when they see his dancing and his OH MY GOD DON'T SMILE DON'T SMILE NOOOOOOO faces. They are moving to the exit even as their stomachs move to throw up everything they have eaten earlier that day. Ape Boy thankfully plants himself on stage instead of dancing (shudder). His song is Carl Carlton's Everlasting Love. He is very flat in his low to middle register, bordering on being monotonous actually, and unfortunately for him, nearly the entire song, apart from moments in the chorus, is sung in his low to middle register. The result is a flat and monotonous performance.

Miss Paula and Randy Randy insist that he is back, et cetera. King Tut is the only sane one of the bunch when he says that Ape Boy is nothing extraordinary. Ape Boy is an ordinary guy doing well, King Tut says, but ordinary guys can easily get up in a karaoke bar to sing. Ape Boy needs to be better than that. The audience and of course Miss Paula boo him out. Randy Randy and Miss Paula loudly accuse King Tut of not liking dance music. Those two are so tiresome, really, in how they never let King Tut finish his sentences. Sleazebag and Ape Boy then launch into a conversation that smells of fresh bull manure. Ape Boy says that his mother, the same one that asked him to sing The Impossible Dream two weeks back, asked him to sing this song. I think his mother is a big Kewpie fan. Meanwhile, his family in the audience are holding signs calling Ape Boy "White Velvet Teddy Bear". The temerity of those people, really! I mean, Ruben is adorable and for all his faults, Ruben has never been out of tune like Ape Boy here. Ape Boy isn't a White Velvet Teddy Bear, he's the Hannibal Lecter of this show.

After the break, Sleazebag and Alex Trebek (of Jeopardy! fame) have an unfunny gag where both men play their host shtick in order to kill the time before Trachea Boi comes out to play.

Trachea Boi dances like the nerd in class who, unaware that he is invited to the party in order to be the entertainment for the cool kids, dances like an utter dork while being too self-conscious about it. I have to admire how he thrusts his package to the camera though. That guy knows who his paying targetted audience is (as opposed to Stupid Little Girls who don't have money to buy his CDs because their mothers have already spent the month's grocery money on sixty copies of Kewpie's new CD). Trachea Boi confesses that he has taken "Latin dance" classes before so he's eager to "shake" his "boot-ay" tonight. And so much for "Latin moves", really, because his performance of the Tavares' Don't Take Away The Music sees him standing and moving exactly like how he did in every one of his previous performances! Wait, he does pause self-consciously to thrust his backside up and waddle it left and right once - does that count as "Latin dancing"? Musically, the performance is safe, cheesy, and forgettable. Just like too many of his performances, actually. I think Trachea Boi is stagnating on this show. He is packing his jeans well this week though. That's what his music will be great for, come to think of it: music to crotchwatch by. It passes into one ear and out the other and the listener will never be distracted from Trachea Boi's, uh, entire package.

Randy Randy says that people are wondering every week whether Trachea Boi will be gone. Actually that would be Ape Boy that people are wondering, not Trachea Boi. Anyway, Randy Randy says that Trachea Boi will not be leaving this week. Miss Paula raves incoherently and babbles at King Tut just as incoherently. Shouldn't she be in a hospital or something, if her back is hurting her this much? King Tut says that the performance was neither Trachea Boi's best nor worst. It was, to King Tut, "pleasant, safe, and a little insipid", which he says is "sort of a compliment" to Trachea Boi. Trachea Boi says that he will take that as a compliment. Trachea Boi and Sleazebag then talk about how Trachea Boi has started to "have fun" on the show. I think every contestant is obligated to deliver that speech about having fun at least once on the show.

Vonzell says that her dancing is "energetic", "goofy", and "fabulous". She demonstrates this by dancing better than what I have seen from the others so far. Her song this week is Chaka Khan's I'm Every Woman. She plays backup singer to some fabulous ladies who are too shy to appear on stage because I cannot hear Vonzell at all over the background singers whenever these ladies come on. Vonzell can be heard only in the first verse and the second. The arrangement of this song is note to note similar to Trenyce's performance in season two, which is to say, things get quite chaotic towards the end when Vonzell starts ad-libbing inaudibly while the background singers shoulder on and seize the performance from her, relegating poor Vonzell to the role of a stage monkey dancing to some fabulous singing from the invisible sistahs.

Randy Randy and Miss Paula love the background singers but they of course attribute everything good about the performance to Vonzell. I don't know, I can't hear enough of Vonzell in that performance to make a judgment about how good she was. King Tut compliments her by saying that her personality helped her pull off the performance because he feels that she was "right on the edge, vocally" during that performance.

Oh, Bo is last! Bo... oh wait, Anwar is next. I have forgotten that he is even on this show this week, which explains just how much he has bored me in the last few weeks. Anwar is a good singer but he has never recaptured those great performances of his in the preliminary rounds, and tonight he is relegated from being one of my favorites to being the person to watch before we get to Bo. So can Anwar sing quickly and move out of the way, thanks? He dances his way out of the closet in his introductory clip and gushes about how much he enjoys living through the disco era. I know, dude. The indiscriminate shags, the drugs, the orgies, the bad hair, those tight jeans, and how AIDS killed everyone off but before we all die from our excesses, we write bestselling novels proclaiming about how we are Heroes and Survivors because we had wild non-stop unsafe sex back in those days and now we are dying so you people better give us RESPECT or else. Anwar's song is September by Earth, Wind & Fire. I like this one, to be honest, and I think this is as close as he ever come to recapturing his fabulous preliminary performances. Unfortunately, the background vocals during the choruses drown him out completely, thus interrupting the "smoothness" of the performance. Still, he sounds soulful and funky here. I won't consider it a great performance, but it's not as bad as King Tut says.

Randy Randy thinks that the performance started out "pitchy" but Anwar brought on the "bomb" at the end. Miss Paula says that Randy Randy is being harsh on Anwar for singing "uptempo". Er, wait, we are supposed to make allowances for a performer when he or she sings an uptempo number? Miss Paula is an idiot. That can't be said often enough. Miss Paula babbles about how lovely and how pretty the butterflies in her mind are. King Tut says that Anwar only redeemed the performance towards the end and compares the performance to a "'70's revue musical". And here I am thinking that "'70's revue musical" is the theme of this episode! Oh, silly me!

And finally, Bo. Oh, Bo. In his clip he says that his dancing can be summed up as "horrendous, terrible, and dreadful". I think he has been listening too much to King Tut. Bo's dancing isn't bad though - I love how he holds up one hand and just bangs his head until his hair flies all over the place. Trust me, Bo, some guys dance just like that in the parties I've been to. He will be performing the Ides of March's Vehicle. That song is more rocksy-bluesy than dancey but I'm not complaining because baby, I can and do dance to that performance. It's fabulous!

See, the problem with Bo in the last few weeks is that he has toned down his rock persona to play the safe church-going mommy's boy who sings harmless rock tunes to please the grannies. When these grannies start complaining on online forums that this pleasant and sanitized Bo is boring them to death, that's when Bo ends up in the Bottom Two. It seems like he has gotten the message this week because the Bo that rocked the stage with The Whippin' Post is back. He starts out standing still on stage in the first few lines as if he wants to get his pitch right, and once he has that, he's off, tearing up the stage and making suggestive thrusts with the mic stand and - swoon. As always, his sense of intonation and rhythm is near perfect when I listen to this performance on mp3: he sounds like an artist in a recording studio. The fangirlish part of me also demands that Bo must never shave again because I like him so, so much when he's looking all disheveled and moody like that. Bo is back and so is my interest in this show. Thanks, Bo. I mean it.

The judges all but bow down to his performance. Miss Paula says that Bo chose the right song, although I believe that the jury is still out on how the Ides of March manage to become a dance act. Still, even if Bo is backed by an orchestra instead of a typical dance track, I can dance to this performance quite fine so pffft, whatever. Call me, Bo! King Tut says that this is the only "authentically good" performance of the night.

Since the show has some time to kill after the obligatory recap of the performances, they could have brought Bo back for an encore, surely. But no, Sleazebag comes out instead to ask Randy Randy on who did the worst tonight. Randy Randy says that King Tut did the worst tonight. Miss Paula says that she agrees with Randy Randy for the first time tonight. King Tut says that Sleazebag was the worst. Sleazebag says that the show needs a new scriptwriter. Bah, they should have just gotten Bo to do an encore performance. With that, the show's done.

Results show. Ryan Sleazebag stands behind the audience and asks everyone to check their watches because it's now time to send one of the Seven home. Yes, this show needs a new scriptwriter. It also needs to shoot the old scriptwriter. And with that, credits.

Ryan "Superstar USA" Sleazebag comes out wearing black T-shirt under black jacket. The T-shirt has "No, I'm not a rock star" emblazoned in big letters and under that in tiny font that you can't catch on TV, "I'm actually the Banger sister!" Without wasting time, he introduces the judges and the Seven and then asks Bo, who is seated on the Grill, what it's like to be famous. Bo says that he doesn't have a "star" and so Sleazebag happily launches into an embarrassing clip about he getting his Hollywood Walk of Fame star. Sheesh, has this man no shame? He bought the star for $15,000 after getting enough signatures for his application. And now he wants to star in a clip telling people that he somehow "earned" the star for his dubious work on radio? The clip tries to be self-depreciatory, especially in those scenes where Sleazebag narrowly escapes brutal rape from a giraffe, several flamingoes, and some lifestock (man, those creatures from Cattle's farm are brutal) or how he says "F**k!" after flubbing laissez les bons temps rouler one time too many. Sleazebag shamelessly says that he never expects Uncle Nigel and Uncle Kenny to put this clip for him and everyone in the audience pretends that Sleazie has won a Pulitzer Prize instead of having bought himself a stupid Star. Anyway, good for him. Now people can train their dogs to defecate on his Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

And now, even more shameless are how some of the Seven pretend to play instruments on stage as they perform in a group a special song written for them by John Farrar, the guy that inflicted Olivia Newton-John's Xanadu, You're The One That I Want, Suddenly, Magic, and Hopelessly Devoted To You to the world. In short, this guy is the messiah for sexually-confused teenaged boys back in the 1970s. The song is called You Can Shine and from the hideous caterwaulings emerging from the stage, I suspect that any shining in question is done through the light from a colonoscope. If this is what the contestants sound as a group, I humbly beg this show to keep them separated until the end of the season. And who is Cattle trying to fool with her "playing" the guitar? Her hands just move up and down over the strings, as if she doesn't even know how to pretend to play the guitar properly. Anwar plays the keyboard and Bo plays the guitar. Conty Bint doesn't play the guitar but he gets to sound hideous as he, as usual, oversings. Unfortunately, he gets the bulk of the vocals. Meanwhile, Vonzell and Ape Boy don't have any harmony at all and they sound vile singing together. I have to love how Trachea Boi slurs his words in order to cover up the fact that he has forgotten his lines.

While I am still shuddering from the unspeakably hideous performance which should be retitled You Are The Sequel To The Shining, the show now moves into a clip where the Stray Cats' Rock This Town is butchered over an inane clip of Grease-style bobbleheaded Idols meeting at a drive-in. Conty Bint is Danny Zuko, Cattle is Sandy Olsson, and Vonzell gets the role relegated to token Black girls: the waitress that ends up splattering milk shake and burgers over Danny. I think I need therapy after suffering through the grotesque You Can Shine and the cringe-inducing Rock This Town.

Finally, it's time for the moment of truth. He will separate the Seven into two groups. One will be the Bottom Three and the other will be the, er, Not Bottom Three. Vonzell goes over to the far end of the stage. Let's call this group the Vees. Trachea Boi goes to stand at the near end of the stage. Let's call the group the Tees. Anwar joins the Tees. Conty Bint joins the Vees. Okay, suspense over. We all know now who the Bottom Three group is. Cattle joins Vonzell and Conty Bint in the Vees. Suspense? Dead now. Ape Boy joins the Tees. Trachea Boi and he thump fists in a "Hey, we're all so dead, buddy!" gesture. Sleazebag announces that Bo, who is the only one left seated on the Grill, is safe. Everyone screams and cheers. Sleazebag then asks Bo to go stand with the group he thinks is the Not Bottom Three. Gee, that's a tough one. Bo however stands right between the two groups, causing the audience to cheer as if he has just been appointed the new Pope and that SNL was right all along. Sleazebag then asks Bo to join the Vees and reveals anticlimatically that the Tees are the Bottom Three. I love Trachea Boi's shaking his head left and right as he mouths after Sleazebag's "the bottom three!" when Sleazebag makes his announcement.

Because the show has wasted so much time pretending that Sleazebag has won some major award in recognition of his non-existant genius, there is no time left for Sleazebag to play games with the contestants. He asks Trachea Boi and Ape Boy to step back because Anwar is eliminated tonight. Ape Boy as usual acts as if he has scored a major victory over the world that keeps oppressing him. One of these days he will be in for a shock when he learns that the world can't care less about his ugly face or his tendency to turn everything in his life into a drama about how the world is against him. As for Anwar, he is serene, he sings, and he is gone.

He's not the worst singer among the Seven but has the worst singer ever been eliminated in the contestant since the start of the Finals? (Okay, with the exception of Mikalah.) No, Anwar's loss is because he is not appealing enough to star in Stupid Little Girls' fantasies of marriage and coy wedding nights. Still, it's hard to declare passionately that he deserves to stay longer because he hasn't been delivering the goods for a long time now. This contest isn't about him, Vonzell, Ape Boy, or Trachea Boi anyway. No, it's about Bo, Conty Bint, and Cattle. All that's left now is to figure out who of those three will come out on top. I have a feeling that it won't be Bo. Fortunately.