Season 4: My Funny Valentine

On March 27, Broadway critic Ben Brantley wrote an article for the New York Times. Entitled How Broadway Lost Its Voice To American Idol, the article slams most of the contestants as well as the judges for pushing forth this belief that all you need in order to sing is to push out the highest note possible without subtlety or nuances. What happened to actually understanding what you are singing, he wonders. And so, this week, the show sets to prove Benny right in every way. (Benny likes Fantasia of all the Idol winners but I wonder how he feels after watching her performance at the end of the results show.)

I mean, seriously! The theme of this week is Musicals (or, if you like, The Conty Bint Pimpage Episode), although it is never made clear whether the musicals in question encompass the stage or big screen or both. Judging from the Nine's wretched, wretched musical selections, I suspect that the theme encompasses probably ten approved songs that are approved because the show got them at the cheapest rates. No matter how much one can sniff in disdain at the Andrew Lloyd Webber driven hammification of Broadway musicals, it can't be denied that some of the most accessible and catchy songs arise from the works of Webber and his cohorts. I'd love to see Bo perform Stars from Les Miserables. Nadia would probably have fun with Out Tonight from Rent. Who knows how good Cattle will sound with I Know Him So Well from Chess? Trachea Boi would have sounded better with a song that suits his tenor, so how about Empty Chairs And Empty Tables from Les Miserables or On Easy Terms from Blood Brothers?

Instead, I get most of the Nine choosing horrifically dull songs that are not suitable for their styles. Perhaps it is ignorance driving the suck forth because many of them do not know much about the genre and do not have time to make a decent selection. Still, Benny Brantley can now smirk because these ignorant contestants choose songs solely on the criteria of how loud these songs can allow them to scream or shout out. The result is a painful night of nuance-free glory-note overkill music.

Sigh, must I talk about the show? My ears are still in pain. Okay, okay. Ryan "I Don't Know How To Love Him" Sleazebag stands on the dias of the Thunderdome and yammers on about destiny, pressures on the Nine, how the pressure keeps growing and growing and growing and growing and growing until the Thunderdome explodes and there is no more bad music in this world, and... credits. Out he comes in a horrific ensemble of dark woolen sleeveless sweater over a white shirt. There are some white squiggles on that sweater, probably "Fashion Victim" in the Klingon language. He stands and basks in the standing ovation of the audience who must be impressed by his shiny, shiny teeth. The camera pans on a sign among the audience where someone has taken the trouble to superimpose King Tut's head over a cow's and Randy Randy's over a dog's. I think the words under those photos say "My father" and "My mother" but I could be wrong. Yes, I think I'm definitely wrong. Sleazie talks about how three ladies have been booted but all the guys are still here. Gee, I wonder why. Could it because the Stupid Little Girls controlling the telephones don't want to sleep with Jessica, Mikalah, and Lindsey? Just a hunch.

Sleazebag introduces the judges, calling them "industry insiders". Meet Randy "Take That Look Off Your Face" Randy, who is an industry insider the way Mariah Carey is a musical icon. Say hello to Charmaine Miss "Oh, What A Circus!" Paula, the industry insider whose insides have graced the pavements all over LA after her nightly drunken binge. And finally, there's King "Sunset Boulevard" Tut whose inside through the industry is via the horrific buggering of the singing Teletubbies novelty tune that is his brainchild, a monstrous effort that terrorized the UK charts in the not-too-distant past. It's a pity that Paris Hilton isn't a guest judge because I need a punchline for the whole running "industry insider" gag that Sleazie has started. Sleazebag notices that King Tut is smiling. Because King Tut is smiling at him, that's why. Trying not to preen or lick his palm before running it over his hair, Sleazie wonders how long that smile will last on King Tut's face before introducing this week's corny and staged flashback scene that was supposed to take place after the previous results show.

Sleazebag sits on the couch in the Red Room and tries to conduct a quiz where he will rattle off his childhood icons and the songs he dances to in his mother's clothes in the privacy of his room while his mother is still at work. Anyone knows Professor Henry Higgins? I'm shocked that none of the Nine knows anything about the story of a man who forces a woman to dress pretty and generally be his puppet because this is a common story in the entertainment industry, after all. How about the King of Siam? Conty Bint knows all about the man who kept a zillion girlfriends and still had the time and energy to seduce the babysitter but Sleazebag asks him to hush so that the others can look stupid for a change. Annie Oakley? Trachea Boi thinks Sleazie is talking about highschool. Or is that The Girl You Lost Your Virginity To In Highschool? Finally, after a little more time where the Nine prove to be complete blank slates when it comes to music that is a little outside their usual box, Sleazebag reveals that this week's theme is Musicals. He says that this is the first time the show has such a theme - then again, this is the first time they want Conty Bint to win so I won't be too surprised at this turn of event - and points out how tough the songs from that genre could be because of the arrangements and vocal acrobatics required from the performers.

Opening the show is the Man from La Beatmybitchup himself, Ape Boy. Okay, okay, I know his rap sheet has been exposed thanks to the Smoking Gun and yes, I am annoyed at how the organizers of this show forced Frenchie to quit because she had naked pictures of herself taken but they allowed a convicted girlfriend-beater to stay on the show. Some people are crying racism because all the previous disqualified contestants were Black and Ape Boy... well, he pretends to be Black but he's definitely White in the hue of an overcooked flour dough. I don't know what to think, personally. It is probably in bad taste to crack a joke about the target Gun and God audience believing that it is normal to beat their wives and girlfriends up so I won't do that here. Heh. But at the end of the day, all my bitterness is directed towards the show producers, not Ape Boy. I'd like to believe that Ape Boy is a changed man now. It's not his fault that Frenchie was disqualified over nude pictures but somehow the show and its advertizers believe that someone who was convicted of beating a woman should be allowed to stay on the show. So when I say that his performance tonight sucks worse than a black hole in space, I'm saying this solely on the basis of his OH MY GOD KILL ME NOW performance.

Ape Boy will be singing The Impossible Dream because he called up his mother for advice (telephone - woman - must not read too much into that simple confessional) and his mother remembered a show called The Man From LaMancha and believed that this song would be perfect for him. Is Ape Boy certain that Mommy Dearest didn't remember the song from Kelly Cluckson's horrific performance in the Season Two finale? Or is the show forcing its contestants to come up with elaborately made-up backstories about song choices to cover the fact that it is too cheap to pony up the dough for some Stephen Sondheim tunes? Anyway, the performance is horrific. He is gasping for breath and straining his voice hoarse to reach the high notes. When he's not overreaching, he's singing flatly as if he is about to drop dead after squealing like a grilled pig on a spit in the chorus. Of course he squeals a little louder for the last note. Every song must end on a high glory note, you know. That's the law.

Randy Randy says incoherently that the performance was pitchy but he thought Ape Boy ended the song with a "bang". Oh yes, give Randy Randy a high note, any high note, and he'll fall over himself worshipping it. Miss Paula is even more psychotic this week, and yes, it's actually possible because I see her with my own eyes. From what I can make out from her slurred yammerings of most incomplete sentences that are left hanging, she says, "Take the bang! Let me tell you... to open the show like that... you pick songs that fit the story of your life. One of the most heartfelt performances in this competition! Always listen to what your mother tells you!" King Tut, who watches her now like he will for the rest of the show as if he doesn't want to miss the very moment when she starts pulling a breakdown of Mariah Carey proportions on the show, reluctantly turns to Ape Boy to call his performance "ordinary". Miss Paula shrieks in anger and insists to King Tut that it was an "extraordinary" performance. "It was ordinarily extraordinarily," deadpans King Tut. He is undoubtedly enjoying his ability to get Miss Paula to go crazy like a deranged choo-choo train. Miss Paula screeches like an indignant hen and growls at Ape Boy that he is extraordinary. Sleazebag tries to salvage the situation by asking Ape Boy to explain his song choice. Ape Boy mumbles that he chooses the song because it is "vocally" a different song from him and then clams up. Sleazebag tries to get him to say some more things but Ape Boy just glowers at the camera. Man, I don't need to see that horrifying glower, not when I know that he could act on that violent feelings of his in the past. Aaah, Sleazebag says telephone! No, don't throw the phone at me, Ape Boy! Noooooo - huh, what, Sleazebag is asking me to use the telephone and vote for that guy instead? Phew.

Eh, it's Conty Bint. He rattles off about how excited it is that the show is tailoring a theme to suit his date-rapist-stare self and gives a list of his background and experiences in performing on stage. Of course, whether he does those things well is a different story. Today, he will be singing My Funny Valentine from Babes In Arms and that Frank Sinatra movie Pal Joey. Did I say "singing"? I mean "destroying", sorry. In a time when the contestants try so hard to be good and suck so hard at that, I am starting to rely on Conty Bint to suck hard while making me laugh and he delivers exactly what I expect from him here. He doesn't stop doing his utterly ridiculous date-rapist-stare from start to finish, it's like being tied up in a chair and watching a crossdressing Leslie Ann Warren-impersonating serial killer singing me a love song right before he dips me in a vat of formaldehyde in a scene straight out of Coen Brothers dark comedy. The whole performance is unwittingly macabre and morbid that it appeals to me. Of course, I'd love it more if Conty Bint knows what he is doing but I suspect that he genuinely believes that his date-rapist glower overkill is sexy. This performance is an accidental genius, nearly as great as that duet between Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue all about how he murders her because she is too pretty and he is crazy like that. (Speaking of which, Conty Bint and Cattle really should perform Where The Wild Roses Grow one of these days.) Is this performance good? Yes, in terms of entertainment value. Is the performance easy on the ears? Good heavens, no.

At the end of the performance, Miss Paula is standing shakily on her feet and asking people in the audience via batcrap-crazy hand gestures to stand up and clap with her. I suspect that they must have chained her ankles to the table to prevent her from moving around too much because she is jumping up and down like someone completely out of her mind and she certainly would have wandered off the stage to vomit all over Uncle Nigel in the sidelines if she is high enough to do that. Randy Randy happily tells Conty Bint that he never bought Conty Bint's assertion of being a rocker and thinks that Conty Bint has delivered his best performance to date when Conty Bint is "keeping it real". Heh, I'd be amused if Randy Randy wasn't the loudest back in that stupid Boot Camp episode when it comes to calling Conty Bint a rocker. Randy Randy is a big dumb hypocrite. As for Miss Paula, once more she brings on the comedy. "Okay, I lost it! I lost it like in the first verse!" she squeals. I can see that she has lost it. She adds, "The first step is admitting it." I bet she has heard that a lot from those shrinks and rehab officers she would no doubt know by name if she isn't always addled in the head. "And I admit it, I'm falling in love with you!" she shrieks. That is the most horrifying thing she can ever say to a man, surely. My husband exclaims that his testicles practically shrink when he hears her saying that on TV. Miss Paula soldiers on like a trooper, battling for coherence through the clamorings in her head, "What you did! The orchestra! The twist on the song! Everyone's sung this song but you... You're a perfect role model for guys to get into musicals!" And the sound you hear is Benny Brantley sobbing brokenly as he composes his suicide note. King Tut gives her one last bemused look and asks her whether she really likes the performance before telling Conty Bint that he gives the singing a seven and the smouldering a nine and a half, calling the smouldering the "best pouting" he has ever seen on the show. Sleazebag and Conty Bint then try to make a joke about Conty Bint's ability to spot any camera zoomed in one him and turn to that camera to flash it his "I want to rape you" expression.

Cattle announces that all those musical songs "defy categorization". Funny, and here the show has conveniently categorized them under M for Musicals. She talks about how Hello Young Lovers is a great song from The King And I so she's going to be performing it. And so she does. And so I fall asleep. That song is boring, true, but the problem with this performance is that there is no whatsoever nuances in the performance that tells me that Cattle actually sings the song instead of just mechanically cranking out the song like a robot that has no idea what she is singing. It's very cold, this performance, and it is almost lifeless in how devoid of emotion Cattle's performance is.

Randy Randy loves it though because the performance had high notes and all so ooh, that means it is a Real Performance now so yay for Cattle. Miss Paula says that she agrees with Randy Randy and then has to add her special brand of crazy: "The audience swelled with you to hit the big notes! You're a well-oiled machine! Bravo!" I won't even want to touch that "swelled with you" thing. King Tut compares Cattle's "very well" sung performance of a "mind-numbingly boring" song to a "1965 washing powder commercial". I think it must be that hair and dress that even I would be embarrassed to be seen in. Miss Paula howls in laughter because King Tut's "analogies", as she calls them, are "killing" her. Well, if the drugs don't get to her first, that is. Poor Miss Paula. Sleazebag tries to drum up sympathy for Uncle Nigel's latest baby girl by commiserating with Cattle about how she only heard that song for the first time four days ago and had to perform it in such a short time. Sleazebag is a corporate syncophant like that. And then it's time for the commercials and the camera zooms in on Miss Paula and King Tut discussing frantically something before it zooms back out. Maybe she's offering him oral favors if he will release the manacles from around her ankles so that she can run to the bathroom and, er, "revigorize" herself. Maybe.

Sleazebag now reminds people that there are only seven more weeks before a new American Idol is crowned. That's too long! Can we eliminate seven people today and crown the winner next week? Oh, and Sleazebag announces that Fantasia would be performing on the results show.

Vonzell will be performing People from Funny Girl because she thinks that the song will show off her range. Sigh. Will these people ever learn that it is the entertainment and not the range that ultimately matters? Madonna can't hit the high notes but she was so, so good back in the 1980s and early 1990s because she entertained people so well. Vonzell's performance suffers from the same problems as Cattle's: it is a too-polished, too self-conscious performance from someone who doesn't have any clue what the song is about and is intent to concentrate on warbling out the high notes at the expense of nuances, expressiveness, and subtlety.

Because it was a performance with plenty of glory notes, of course Randy Randy loves it. He loves it as well as Cattle's so much that he actually declares that a "girl" "may" win the competition. Miss Paula, who is once more on her feet and swaying her arms like a complete crackpot - wait, she is a crackpot - anyway, she sits back down and fidgets in her seat as she says, "That was such a bold choice to pick a Streisand song! But she's Barbra and Vonzell is Vonzell!" Huh? HUH? Miss Paula babbles on, "You sang it in the same key as she does but you sang that high E-flat that Barbra doesn't even go for!" Thank goodness for Miss Paula. Without her insane babblings, I will be crying instead of laughing through this episode. Because Vonzell is not Uncle Nigel's baby girl, King Tut calls her on being cold and clinical. Randy Randy cuts in to insist that King Tut is just biased against the theme. King Tut points out that Fantasia performed Summertime, a song from this genre, and she correctly interpreted the song even if she heard it for the first time only a few days before having to perform it on stage. That's what separates a professional glory note machine from a talented performer, if you ask me: the ability to breathe life into a song that comes from the performer's willingness to take time and understand what that song is all about. Sleazebag makes a crack that King Tut was describing himself when he talked about being cold and clinical.

Trachea Boi will be singing Climb Ev'ry Mountain from The Sound Of Music because he can relate to the song, just like how he has related to every song he has sung, vapid ballads and all, in this competition. I guess that is okay then that he, a tenor, chooses a song written for a soprano. The result is a spectacular kind of hideousness rarely seen on this show. What is even more disconcerting is his conscious efforts to mimic Kewpie's facial expressions and postures on stage. Someone should tell him that everyone knows of his plan to copy Kewpie to get some fans and right now the whole shtick is becoming tedious and insulting. That poor guy tries to perform a jazzy version of that song and ends up just shrieking his head off as the scale goes higher and higher until the penultimate glory note where, were this a cartoon, his head would explode. If he is performing this at a cheap hotel, the audience would beat him bloody for subjecting them to the hideous monstrosity that is his performance.

Randy Randy finds the performance "sharp and flat all over the place - even the last note". Miss Paula grabs him and boos while lifting her other hand to give a thumbs down gesture. Miss Paula now commences her epic speech in babboon babblings: "I liked the band! I loved the orchestra! I enjoyed it!" And my favorite, "You made me listen to the lyrics! And it's hard for people to do that!" I have never laughed so hard before in an episode of American Idol until now. God bless Miss Paula and keep her from having a fatal overdose a little longer. And my absolutely favorite part is when she thinks that the camera has zoomed from her (it hasn't), her overanimated excitement quickly disappears and her blank, drugged-up expression is back as she stares in this completely dead manner at the stage. But when King Tut simply shrugs and tells Trachea Boi, "Hideous!" that woman quickly snaps back into the world of the living, grabs King Tut, and starts booing. Sleazebag quickly steps in to talk trivalities with Trachea Boi as Miss Paula and King Tut resume arguing.

Nikachu is up next. He was watched West Side Story when he was a ten and remembers being touched by the song One Hand, One Heart. He must be a very sensitive kid back then. He comes out looking like he's cast in some MTV update of that show (you know, with Tony being a rapper and Maria being some aspiring ballerina or something like that) and proceeds into a ridiculously reedy and so whiny version of the song. Like so many performances that came before this one, there is no tenderness in this performance. He is far more preoccupied with giving hideous ad-libs that emphasize his high notes at the expense of tune. The line "Only death would part us now", for example, should be delivered with a convincing amount of melancholy but Nikachu just blasts out that line as if he's a jackhammer and my skull is the stone he is determined to break into tiny pieces. Ugh, all my favorite songs are being butchered by these contestants tonight.

Randy Randy babbles about how he likes Nikachu keeping things "real", "contemporary", "R&B", and "COGIC". That's a lot of things Nikachu is keeping. Miss Paula of course doesn't fail to deliver. "You're the comeback kid!" she cries, "You're the real true epitome of R&B to American Idol!" I wonder what she will say if we increase her dosage a little bit more... King Tut manages to have a brief moment of lucidity when he lumps Nikachu in his critique with "the guys" that "are doing these performances with these big notes at the end, thinking we're not going to hear the beginning." He tells Nikachu that he felt that the beginning of performance was out of tune. On Pavlovian instinct, Miss Paula boos and starts heckling King Tut. Sleazebag exchanges some inanity with Nikachu and the camera zooms in on that gruesome groupie Uncle Les (Neil Sedaka) in the audience before we cut to a commercial break. Now that's a sight to take with me to my toilet break.

Anwar reveals that he knows a lot about musicals. My excuse is that I'm a woman. His excuse? He wants to date a man who earns more than thirty grand a year, or at least according to his Friendster personal ad. Personally, I won't settle for anything less than fifty grand a year but I guess we can't be too picky sometimes. Anwar will be singing If Ever I Would Leave You from Camelot. He gives a decent performance reminiscent of his better performances in the past but towards the end of the song, he seems to lose all sense of restrain and overdoes his melismatic singing style until the performance is ruined by oversinging. Miss Paula is giving him a standing ovation though. Since they have chained her to the table, it's not as if she can do anything else.

Randy Randy loves the performance and thinks that Anwar is "back", adding that Anwar is "one of the best singers and one of the best voices here". Miss Paula's critique is as insightful and precise as usual: "The second you smile, it melts America's hearts!" King Tut just says, "You seemed very comfortable." Miss Paula snaps at him, "Why?" Sleazie, correctly sensing that the show will get into trouble with the GLAAD folks if King Tut isn't gagged now, quickly steps in to talk to the uproariously laughing Anwar. Anwar is at least a good sport about King Tut's clumsy attempt to out him to the Stupid Little Girls who are still convinced that Anwar just wants a platonic male friend to play chess with.

Bo warns the audience that he will suck by laughing as he talks about how he just closes his eyes and picks a song from the list just to get this day over with. Oh Bo, you shouldn't have given up even before the show has started. You're better than that, man, you really am! Anyway, he will be singing what is supposed to be Corner Of The Sky from Pippin but he ends up making up nearly half the words to the song because he forgets the original lyrics! He moves around, putting on a half-hearted performance that is a pale shadow of his best moments. The band drowns him out most of the time. My heart is breaking because Bo has given up the moment he heard the theme of the show. I don't care if I'm being biased because this show sucks so bad, I think I have the right to be biased in this recap, so all I can say is: Bo, don't give up, hang in there, man, your fans believe in you. Just get on stage next week and kick ass even if it's ABBA night!

Randy Randy thinks that Bo is consistently good. He should lend me some of his crack because I want to believe that Bo sounded good tonight. Miss Paula surpasses herself when she tells Bo, "In the package earlier you said you were keeping your fingers crossed. You could cross your toes, you could cross your legs - you are in this competition!" She tops that off with a shrieky, "YOU'RE A WINNER!" I thank Miss Paula from every one of my aching ribs: she is single-handedly keeping me sane with laughter throughout this dire episode. King Tut tells Bo that he likes Bo as a vocalist but he feels that Bo is on a downhill slide these last two weeks and he hopes that Bo will get his act together next week. Bo nods. Sleazebag tries to offer him what little comfort he can give, which isn't much because he is, after all, Sleazebag.

Nadia can relate to her song choice, As Long As He Needs Me from Oliver, because she claims to have encountered a similar situation in her life. What, she has been a prostitute that has been beaten nearly to death (unlike poor Nancy who died in the story) by her boyfriend because she formed a too-close attachment to a kid? This makes the rumors of her real-life romance with Ape Boy a little too creepy for my liking. Her performance is easily the best of the night, with carefully controlled voice modulation and pitch. Like Vonzell in the previous week who was given the Autumn Enchantment treatment in terms of lighting, Nadia gets a Blue Blue Blue treatment complete with sapphire blue-hued lighting and artifical fog and all. She has a lovely dress, she has a nice voice, and I wish she doesn't scowl so ferociously when she sings what is supposed to be a tender song. This is a watered-down version of her performance of You Don't Have To Say You Love Me but I'll take what I can get from this show.

The two judges (guess who) trip over themselves praising her. King Tut doesn't want to praise Nadia because his script tells him that Cattle must win this competition, so he grudgingly says that Nadia was at the strongest that she had ever been in three weeks before making sure to say something irrelevant that will make the audience forget that he has ever praised Nadia. In this case, he hopes that Sleazie won't choose musical themes anymore for future shows. Sleazie goes "Oh-ho!" like he can't believe that people would ever suspect that he is gay. Sleazebag recaps the show and then goes out. Miss Paula is seen asking King Tut to study something on her face. Maybe she's trying to hypnotize him into releasing her from her manacles. And then the audience claps and Miss Paula takes this as her cue to stand up and once more jump and sway her hands like the complete crackpot that she is. It is worth noting that as the Nine stand on the stage with Sleazebag, Ape Boy stands at one side, with Nadia noticeably standing a distance away from him as she turns her back to him. I don't think everyone is as comfortable with Ape Boy being on the show as the producers.

Results show. Sleazebag stands at the back of the Thunderdome behind the audience and says that tonight is the last show for one of the Nine and this is a live show and the credits are coming to kill everybody. Sleazebag, in a dull gray and blue suit and shirt ensemble, steps out to the stage. He spots someone in the audience - rumors have it that it's actually King Tut in a Japanese schoolgirl uniform winking at him - and with a wide grin pretends to toss the mic in his hand to this person. There are many signs in the audience, among them "Conty Bint violated my sheep and I want compensation", "Uncle Nigel, I'm pregnant! We need to talk. Love, Carmurp!", and "DRINK COKE, BIATCHES!". Then again, these signs may be of the more boring variety and I may have misread the words on them. Oh, well.

Sleazie reminds everyone that Fantasia is performing soon into the show and introduces the three judges. He also announces that there is yet another record broken this week as 32.8 million votes poured in the previous night. I'm starting to find it fishy that the show has so many record-breaking nights week after week. Perhaps the Stupid Little Girls have discovered the power of autodialers. Sleazebag then recaps the show. I love how the recap shows Miss Paula babbling so much that she comes off like a PSA on drug addiction in that recap montage. Sleazebag then announces that When You Tell Me That You Love Me is the most popular song of choice when it comes to the "Butcher A Song For Charity" thing they are having before announcing that they will release all three songs anyway. Ha, ha, all of you who voted for this nonsense can now buy the "I'm a sucker!" T-shirt at the official merchandise store for $49.99.

Ooh, the sliding doors now have "Fantasia" emblazoned on it and they part so that Fantasia can now step out to perform a very shouty version of her single Truth Is. Eh, why isn't she singing the best song on her CD, Baby Mama? Oh yes, I remember now: some of the Guns and God people protest about the song because it is such a disgusting sin for radio to play a song encouraging African American single mothers to stay strong and work hard in life for the sake of their kids. It may give those colored people funny ideas like breeding and raising healthy and successful children which would lead to them outnumbering the Guns and God people, you know. They have no problems with Ape Boy whacking his girlfriend ("Pop does that to my Mom all the time, and he whacks her with the Bible so it's all good!") but a song about single-motherhood is an abomination in the eyes of the White Christian God. So no Baby Mama or the rousing chorus ("B! A! B-Y! M-A! M-A!") today. Instead, I get a shrieky Truth Is - truth is, I nearly fell asleep - that morphs into a horrifyingly hoarse I Believe that has Fantasia screaming and jumping on stage like Miss Paula accidentally ingesting a green pill and turning into the Hulk or something. Still, while I am disappointed with her performance, I can't help feeling that even Fantasia at her most half-assed is a much better performer than the contestants of this season. I laugh when Fantasia gives the Nine seated at the grill this ferocious look as she points her finger at them and yells at them to believe that they can fly across the sky and float on rainbows or some other things straight out of Miss Paula's drug-addled fantasies.

Everyone gives her a standing ovation because she is the winner of the previous season and besides, she outperforms the Nine even when she's screaming and howling like a gorilla on stage. Bo even does that "I'm not worthy!" hand gesture that makes him more endearing than ever to me. After the judges overpraise Fantasia's performance, Sleazebag asks Fantasia to give the Nine some advice. Fantasia, oh that charming woman, tells them to just be themselves and "act ugly" because every one of them will be okay. She illustrates this by naively pointing out that every one of her Top Ten buddies has record deals. She's young; she'll learn one day how little the Idol title means to an artist in the long run. It is a good thing therefore that she has the talent to back up her hype, although the talent isn't so evident tonight. Anyway, I love how she tells the Nine to basically screw the judges and the show and just perform for the People That Matters who are watching or have heard of the show. Sleazebag points out that Ruben and Kimborlee are in the audience cheering for Fantasia. Poor Kimborlee must be mad that the camera only zooms in on Ruben who is taking a break from his court troubles to attend the show. He gives the crowd a half-hearted stand and a wave when the camera focuses on him. Meanwhile, people are wondering, "Eh? And I thought Kewpie won that season...?"

And now, the obligatory Ford clip where the Nine sing that Nikki Costa song Everybody Got Their Something as they walk out of shops and down the streets, which becomes more creepy than it should be when Ape Boy starts giving his creepy death stare at the camera as he lumbers towards it. Noooo, he's coming to get me! Ahem. What is telling is how the show adds in all this fake applause when Nikachu, Bo, Cattle, and Conty Bint show up in the clip. Ape Boy gets applause too but that's because the show wants to pretend that it cares to keep him around.

And now, it's time for Sleazebag to do his duty. He turns to Nikachu and tells him he's in the Bottom Three. He then turns to Vonzell, seated next to Nikachu, and tells her that she too is in the Bottom Three. Ape Boy is seated next to Vonzell, looking like he is sure that he is leaving, and Sleazie tells him that he too is in the Bottom Three. Heh, he cuts straight to the chase tonight. For the rest, Sleazebag asks Bo whether he feels surprised that he's not in the Bottom Three. Bo, bless his simple and generous heart, admits that he is because he believes that he performed more poorly than the three people standing at the Bottom Three right now, given that musicals aren't his "gendere". I don't think it is anyone's "gendere", if it will make Bo feel any better. When asked, Trachea Boi also professes to feel shock at not being in the Bottom Three because he feels that he didn't "come through" or something like that in the previous night. He then proceeds to thank his fans for standing by him. He sounds like he's won a Grammy instead of just surviving another week in a dire season.

Sleazebag now turns to the judges. Randy Randy thinks that America must be confused because two of the best voices on the show are standing in the Bottom Three. Confused? Not really. I'd say that America is just going along with the show's crystal clear propaganda to make one of the rockers and Cattle the Final Two. They may be sheep, Randy Randy, and they may be susceptible to the show's manipulation, but they are never confused. Miss Paula blubbers that everyone on the show will get record deals blah blah blah so she doesn't care anymore what happens on the show. Oh, Miss Paula, tsk tsk. With mainstream media fast picking up on her drugged-up antics on the show, she'd better pray that she'd be called back to "judge" in the next season. King Tut insists that the competition is fair and other HAHAHA CATTLE IS SAFE nonsense before adding that he disagrees with Miss Paula because the contestants must want to win the competition instead of expecting record deals to fall on their laps just because they made the finals. Miss Paula pipes up to say that she agrees with him. Er, she did listen to what he said before agreeing with him, right? Sleazebag takes the opportunity to add his own worthless contribution in an already unfunny and rambling conversation.

Finally, Sleazebag turns to the three at the dais and says that Nikachu and Ape Boy can stand where they are because Vonzell is... "Safe!" he says when Vonzell looks like she's about to cry because she thinks she is out. When learning that she is safe, she hugs Ape Boy and audibly whispers to him, "Good luck!" She probably makes the logical deduction that Ape Boy's shady past will make him very unpopular with the electorate and Ape Boy will be going home. Sleazebag now asks the two men what they think happened to see them ending up on the dias. The answer "Because America is bloody stupid!" is probably too rude for TV, I guess, because Nikachu graciously says that the theme was tough and he feels blessed already to be here. Ape Boy on the other hand gives a thinly-veiled rambling about how he has faith in God and how nobody is perfect and people should learn from their mistakes. Hmm, I wonder who is this "nobody is perfect" that he is referring to and what does he mean when he says that "people" should understand that "nobody is perfect" learns from his mistakes. Must be some reference to an episode of that old TV show Life Goes On, I guess.

It turns out that there are enough telephones in prisons and homes of very ugly people because Ape Boy is safe. Ape Boy looks up into the sky because he is so happy that his drama is still not cancelled. Yet. Yup, Nikachu is leaving. Then again, I'm not surprised: he is considered a "star" and a "comeback kid" only by the judges and definitely not by America who don't even want him in the finals in the first place. Nikachu says that people will hear from him again before adding an uncertain, "Right?". Right, in his dreams, perhaps. He then sings and the credits roll and thankfully, one wretched week is done for and there are only seven more to endure before Bo, Conty Bint, or Cattle is crowned the American Idol. Please, let it be Conty Bint. He wants the title so badly and he is exactly what this show deserves so having him crowned the Idol will be win-win situation for everybody!