Season 5: Smashed into Pieces

Ryan Sleazebag, wearing a nice maroon shirt in his latest wretched attempt to shame me to no end by making me think that he really is hot this season, opens the show by standing in front of a harborside and asks me to guess where he is. Shouldn't he be wearing a red shirt with white horizontal stripes if he wants to play such games with me? He says that he can be at the Pontecchio Bridge in Italy, or perhaps in New York or even Paris or Egypt - hey, Egypt is a country, not a city, so that's cheating! - or Rome or even freaking Camelot. Is it just me or all those places he rattles off are pretty much the most likely places where Sleazie is free to party all night with the hot, hot boys? That Egypt thing seems like an anomaly until I remember that the Nile is in Egypt, heh. As for Camelot, isn't that the place where grown-up men spend all their time staring into each other's eyes over a round table when they're not stabbing their long thick spears into each other's body? Alas, instead of taking place in Fire Island or some place where there will be plenty of hot guys in thongs gracing my TV screen, the episode shows me this scene full of tragic kids, including one chubby kid wearing a jester cap and two Elvis impersonators, to let me know that I will be spending the next hour being "entertained" by the freaks and dweebs of Las Vegas.

Sleazie voices over that Las Vegas is "the capital entertainment of the world". It is also the future homes of Kewpie, Rank Sinatra, and other male ex-contestants for them to hold court over the six thousand women that have never stopped loving them the same way their mothers haven't stopped loving Barry Manilow (DaddyKewpie to you and me), like how their grandmothers still insist that Elvis wasn't fat, he was just suffering from some health condition that caused massive edemas. Sleazie says that being the center of universe where the hottest stars are Siegfried and Roy, David Copperfield, Barbra Streisand, and DaddyKewpie certainly qualifies Las Vegas as a surefire potential spot to locate the next American Idol. That makes sense. Everything in Las Vegas is a gamble. And some people in Las Vegas will still insist that Liberace was straight and they would beat the crap out of anyone that suggests otherwise because homosexuals are disgusting and must be shipped away to Europe. Perfect for Kewpie and the rest of the girly-boy hopeful battalion of this show to carve out a niche in being superstars.

Thousands of such girly-boy hopefuls and little girls who believe that Celine Dion's success in Las Vegas means that their own lack of looks and what-not will not stop them from being as famous as Jessica Simpson - all of these people and their bloated hopeful dreams and hot throbbing loins feverish in anticipation of the hot boy or girl - maybe it will be Jesse McCartney, EEEEE! - they will fall in love with in the course of their subsequent successful career cram into the Convention Center, gambling with their perceived talents to avoid being humiliated on TV. Of course, most of them nowadays want to be humiliated on TV so that they can be the new William Hung. Who says again that this show doesn't have complex depths? The freaks perform for the camera in the introductory montage, mostly consisting of nubile young ladies hoping for a Stuff photospread if not Nick Lachey falling in love with them, a young man who does that snake-slither thing on the floor to signal future movie producers that he will do anything - anything! - to be on TV, and this unfortunate young lady who's overweight bouncing her huge melons to the camera, completely missing the point of this show. Sigh.

First off is this Dylon whom Sleazie calls a "Rastafarian". Okay, let's be honest here: that body is made for naughty films and as for that face, well, there are uglier men who take off their clothes in such films. His name is Alexis Licheta, which explains why he wants to be known as Dylon. He has a completely fake Jamaican accent and he performs this bizarre routine where he points to the words of his T-shirt ("Jamaica Good Music") and wants people to ask him about it, upon which he will tell them that he makes good music and therefore he's Jamaica. Or something. Hey, Jamaica will make a great porn star name for this fellow! Sleazie asks Dylon whether that man is serious while Sleazie's eyes roam over the man's physique surreptitiously. Ooh, that's another thing me and Sleazie have in common. I'm scared now. Dylon is obviously putting on an act for the camera as his banters with Sleazie reveal that he has an obvious wit that he can't hide under his Jamaican loserboy shtick. He sings-raps what he calls American Idol - The Reggae to the judges about Randy Randy teaching him how to pick up the ladies in the '80s, Miss Paula riding a Mercedes and the judges cut him off before Dylon gets to the part about just what it is that King Tut is "holla-holla"ing about. Damn. Miss Paula by the way has forgotten to remain sober for the camera. Goodbye, Dylon. Please do me a favor and show up in some dirty movie that I can download off the Web soon, thanks! PS: Keep the wig on.

Next is the guy I caught in the crowd earlier who is wearing a joker's cap and matching costume to look like the Joker in a poker card. The judges send him packing without letting him sing. He will go home and argue with his friends on whether he has won the bet or not since the judges never let him open his mouth on TV. Next is Bobie May, the psychic from the last season, although it's her sister Erica who is auditioning this time around. Sleazie puns horribly that with Bobie as the manager and vocal coach, it's hard to predict what the future has in store for Erica, who is thinner and taller than Bobie with bottle red hair but still not exactly someone the judges will let through even if she can't sing, if you know what I mean. Unfortunately, Erica can't sing, which is unfortunate given that she has to stand there and listen as the judges mock her and her sister as well as their sisterhood on TV. Sigh, the show is becoming more cruel every season but the result isn't any funnier. King Tut tells the two women to just watch instead of auditioning the next year.

Mecca Madison has better be from the Middle-East or has Middle-Eastern roots as otherwise she is seriously airheaded when she talks about how belly-dancing is a big part of her "culture" because she is named after the "capital of Arabia". The capital of Saudi Arabia is Riyadh, not Mecca, sheesh. Sleazie hopes that Mecca will be a "breath of fresh air" for the judges. I don't think he's talking about a teenager who knows how to shake her hips wide open, let's not be mean here, people. Mecca sings Shirley Bassey's Big Spender in an overly-contrived sexy manner that make me cringe. What's with her being eighteen, sounding thirteen, and acting like a jaded forty-year old barfly? Miss Paula licks her lips and starts imitating Mecca's ridiculous finger-pointy gestures. I suspect that she will be issuing an official statement that she's on painkillers sometime later into this season. Anyway, the judges who have become very predictable - okay, more predictable than ever - send her through.

Sleazie stands in front of Lake Las Vegas and says something about acres and acres of lush green shorelines, which may or may not be an euphemism for Miss Paula's state of sobriety at the moment. He says that the lake is in the middle of the Nevada Desert, which he claims sounds crazy. Yeah, to airheads like Miss Capital of Arabia. The crazy thing is a cue to introduce Ryan who has colored his hair red and insists on acting like some flaming queen who tries too hard to ooze some street cred. He says that his singing is "different" but his woman-whose-underwear-on-fire crazy/sober rendition of Silverstein's Smashed Into Pieces is ridiculous. If he's trying to be funny on TV, he's failing miserably. Anyway, out he goes and the judges make fun of him. It looks like they've given up on the lame "let's argue about how mean King Tut is" shtick of the first episode and is now experimenting with scenes of the judges being mean and nasty in an attempt to be funny. The thing is, Randy Randy isn't a good mimic and he's a horrible comedian given how he speaks his lines too slowly for effect, Miss Paula just makes me think that she's high again and really, what else is new, and King Tut is recycling the same dry put-downs that he has used in the last four seasons. Why is the show torturing me by getting the judges trying to be "funny" on me?

Heather Warden is a prison guidance counselor that also determines parole eligibility in the correction center that she works at. That's her shtick, apart from her Vonzell impersonation act. She says that she really wants to leave her job, not that she wants fame or money, she just wants to spread the music and make everyone happy. With the amount of effort the show puts into making a pimp clip for her, of course Heather is going through even if she sings like a diva-impersonating wannabe just like that tone-deaf Vonzell from the last season. She sings some country song, Miss Paula says no because she thinks the song is "too simple" (yup, she's cuckoo), but the two men say yes and put Heather through.

Sleazie changes into a grey pullover and I groan when my hot boy meter still registers a respectable score for him. This is just not right, people. He insists that Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world - "Near, FAAAAR, where-EEEEEEVAH you AAAAARE!" - and then talks about the Eiffel Tower being next to a Venetian canal thing that one can find in Vegas. This is another awkward cue for the show to introduce this dweeb gondolier who introduces himself in fake cheesy Italian accent something that sounds like, "I'm Josepheh Franchestco Andinoh Wandelleh Wandellah Arriba Jibba Andale, your gondola driver." But his friends call him something that sounds to me like "Fat Pig" in his horrendous accent. It may be Fat Pig, judging from his weight, but I honestly doubt it. I really like his crack about what happens in Vegas going on to his website though. His natural voice is much easier on the ears and his singing is miles better than some of the guys that went through, but King Tut and Miss Paula send him packing because he's apparently not of the complete package. That's the way thing goes in the image-driven industry, of course, but King Tut's crack about Pepe LeItaliano's job here isn't funny and therefore verging on desperation. I mean, when I think about it, is being a gondolier in a fake Venetian canal in Vegas any worse than being the one-note loser dweeb judge on American Idol? Pepe here vows to make a return next year.

A terrifying montage of wannabes coming again to audition in this season after being rejected in the previous season follows, although these wannabes may be the only genuine bad singers in this episode. They've changed their wardrobe, clothes, and what-not, although looking at them, it's clear that what would have helped the most - a radical makeover that involves a few cosmetic surgerical procedures - isn't being done. Oh well. The highlight is this JC Gray fellow whom I can't even remember. The show reminds me that he's that crazy guy who sings with a stabbing motion in the Vegas audition episode of previous season. I still can't remember him but I realized that I wrote about him in a recap of the previous season. Oh well. This time around he has a new job as a bus driver and he sports a hideous mullet. King Tut however remembers him - no doubt being informed by an intern or something - and jokes that so what if JC now drives a bus, a bus is still a weapon. He won't let JC sing at all and JC cusses King Tut on his way out. Does he expect anything else to come out of this? The show then has JC driving out of the carpark like a demented fellow with road rage. He's crazy after all, geddit? I tell you, this show is so, so scripted.

Oh look, it's Fatties Are Stoopid time! Meet the Fatties! First off, it's Anthony Andolino who claims to have a girlfriend as well as 75 animals that he may or may not eat for dinner that evening. He sings horribly, the judges laugh hysterically at him, and King Tut says after Anthony is gone that the show couldn't afford his food bill anyway. Anthony insists outside that he was singing on tune. Sheesh, another delusional fellow. What does he expect as an outcome? We are talking about pop music after all, manufactured music for the kiddies. Does he honestly see himself as the new teenybopper centerfold? Sleazie, with hysterical lack of irony that has me rolling on the floor laughing, marvels that Anthony is not "humbled" by the experience. Yeah, how dare Anthony is not humbled into having an eating disorder! Maybe Sleazie should just send Anthony the number of his cosmetic surgeon and a discount voucher from Carnie Wilson for a stomach-stapling session if he really wants to make the world a more beautiful place.

Hey, it's Twins Time. It seems like twins are the regular staples of every episode now, isn't it? The main spotlight goes to a Chinese pair of twin sisters that claim to be inspired by their father who plays every musical instrument around and they want to start a band of their own one day. However, there are already some twins moving on and there is no more room for gimmicks. Besides, their version of the Cranberries' Dreams is monotonous, robot-like really. Bye, girls. Um, what's their name again? Oh, that's right, I don't care and they don't matter. Moving on now, it's David Mandak who speaks slowly and lethargically that he can dance well and he can sing just as well. Predictably he can't and the judges, after helping him remember the tune and the words to As Long As You Love Me (is Backstreet Boys the designated artist of songs of choice for the weirdos of this show now?), send him packing.

Next is a "special segment" of CSI, which stands for Criminal Singers Investigated and not Corey She Intercoursed, Can't Simon Innovate, Canned Scripted Intermission, Can't Stand It, or any other nasty things that haters out there come up with. One guy squeals and is "jailed" for "passing a counterfeit C-note". Those who don't like Fantasia will find much to laugh at when this counterfeit C-noter stands and squeals before the Fantasia mural in the background. One tubby guy dramatically moves his hands and head around to his wretched rendition of Britney's Toxic and is jailed for "mimes against humanity". Because it's always an acceptable past time in Middle America to release foreigners on the hunting grounds and chase them down with hunting dogs and guns for fun, some Lady Marmalade-singing young lady with thick lips is sentenced for the crime of "bouncing Czechs". I can't wait for someone to get sentenced to, say, deportion for the crime of "white Korean crimes" or "mass Genoacide". Sigh, they just have to put an African-American young man away for the crime of "hummicide", don't they? Why not, since we're all going to hell, heh. For that guy who is convincted for "performing with a concealed weapon", admit it, folks, your eyes, like mine, zoom in right there at once. Admit it. It's what the show wants us all to do anyway, with this guy gyrating his hips and looks like he's going to shove his jeans down. Of course, he doesn't do that and the weapon remains concealed, bummer. What will it take for me to have some fun on this show, damn it? An orange and chubby guy is sentenced away for "writhing without license" as he tries to dance on stage. Inside joke: he is "performing" in front of the Cattle Underwood mural, guffaw guffaw guffaw, as he goes "Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! AH!" And of course, we can't go without a fat chick joke so here's this huge woman singing badly, shaking her girth, and slapping her massive behind for everyone to hoot and jeer at before she's sent away for "assault and buttery". The woman doesn't sound too bad at all and she certainly is having a laugh as the song she is rapping is Baby Got Back, but I guess she's still a freak anyway even if she has the confidence to poke fun good-naturedly at her size on TV. The show, of course, turns her audition into a mean-spirited joke and I can't help cringing at how humorless but cruel this show is nowadays.

In what I'd really like to believe is a glimmer of irony in his eyes, Sleazie points out the replica of the Statue of Liberty in Vegas and claims that this show opens its arms to all who are searching for the American dream regardless of who or what they are. I hope he's being ironic, I'm nearly confident that he is, because if he's not being ironic, this show and everyone involved in it will be burning in hell one of these days. This sudden outburst of patriotism, which is bewildering considering how this show is ripping apart freaks and fat people all the while before this declaration of democracy and asylum to all and sundry, is a cue to introduce... er, Haggai, I think, who claims to be a foreigner from some third-world European country. He dresses up in a shirt with American flags sewn all over it and shares the same camera frame with Dylon and the other freaks of this episode. Gosh, is this show quarantining the freaks in the same room or something?

Sue me, I think he's hot. WHY OH WHY DO ALL THE HOT GUYS COME ON TO THIS SHOW JUST TO HAVE A LAUGH? Give me a break, please send a hot guy who can genuinely sing and exude buckets of sex appeal for me to drool over in this season. There are too many girly boys already! After enduring four seasons of Trachea Bois, Kewpies, Rank Sinatras, Fatt Gross Bowels, Joshs Don't Tell, and other sorry specimens of masculinity, am I not due for a hot guy with wide shoulders, perfect abs, and an affinity for tight jeans while singing like a masculine angel? I WANT HOT BOYS, DAMN IT!

Okay, back to this hot boy who will get away once again - I sigh wistfully at the sight of him doing that snake-dance thing on the floor as I clutch at my crumpled packets of painkillers and try not to sob like Miss Paula during her more demented episodes - he says that Sleazie has beautiful eyes. Sleazie voices over that his eyes don't get that guy to Hollywood, the voice-over being necessary because the lawyers don't want another potential Corey She Intercoursed (Jail Her For A Week, Somebody!) scandal in the future. Haggai predictably launches into Proud To Be American, is as bad as I expected this joker to be (he even has a Statue of Liberty dance - don't ask - to accompany his singing), and after he's sent packing, he laments that he can't even make eye contact with the judges. But he's looked into Sleazie's eyes. That counts for something, I suppose. Oh, and Haggai, I don't think Miss Paula was staring at your belly while you were singing like you claimed. I have a hunch that she was looking at somewhere else near your belly.

Princess Brewer claims to be a perfectionist who's sassy and blunt. Oh, and she claims that she sounds just like Aretha Franklin to Sleazie's face. Unfortunately, she sings completely off-key after two seconds and King Tut begs her to stop singing. Princess is followed by a few more people who are rejected. Some predictably cry and protest that they are really good. Sleazie says that only the "strong" will survive the auditions, another awkward attempt to introduce the montage of bad singing of the episode, this one to I Will Survive. Gotta love that young woman who paints half her face to resemble that of a mustachioed man before singing in a "duet" by changing the modulation and timbre of her voice. There also quite a number of hot boys in that montage as well. Damn, why do the hot boys show up when they can't sing? It's so cruel to tease me like that!

Sleazie says that the overall image of the wannabe plays a big part of the judges' acceptance. I wait for him to start shilling the services of his favorite surgeons but this show hasn't reached that stage yet when they start offering hopeful wannabes free boob jobs for every 1,500,000 Coke bottle caps that they collect and haul to the Fox studio. Sleazie says that it's not just what you wear that's important, although what you wear is obviously pivotal enough to get featured in the "Losers Wearing Ugly Stuff" montage that follows next. Wigs, braids, cornrows, Mohawk hairstyles, tattoos, even hair curlers - anything that doesn't fit the Young Cosmo stereotype is obviously Evil and Ugly and Deserves To Be Laughed Over. This is also the cue to introduce Taylor Hicks, who claims that his hair has been grey since he was "15 or 14". Which, judging from his face, was at least twenty years ago. He sings Sam Cooke's Change Is Gonna Come and he will do, I suppose. He then launches into Suwanee River. Randy Randy and Miss Paula say yes even when King Tut says no and says correctly that those two won't let him move past the workshop episodes because he's more of a background singer than a lead singer. Those two insist that nobody knows what will happen in the future, as if they have any shred of sincerity left after falsely saying that an auditioning wannabe isn't so bad before mocking them cruelly behind their backs since the start of this season.

Sleazie says that only eleven make it through to Hollywood from Las Vegas. How exciting.