Season 5: Fly Me to the Moon

The camera zooms in onto the Orpheum theatre as Ryan "I Can't Help Myself" Sleazebag voices over as the recap montage plays, reminding everyone that 175 wannabes are sent here and after the butchery in the previous episode, only 99 wannabes remain to duke it out for the 24 spots available in the semifinals. This episode is all about the group performances. Hiya! Only the strong will survive, says Sleazie. Yeah, that's why I have a strong drink by my side - let me see, ah yes, right here... - in case I need some fortification.

Sleazie explains that it's 11:00 pm at the Orpheum theatre with the remaining sleepy wannabes seated and sleeping on the seats as the solo performances come to a close. There's Megan Zieger moaning to the camera that she's thirsty and wanting her dinner. But they won't be eating and drinking so soon as they are required to form groups of three or four, pick their song from a list, and choose their key and what-not.

Sleazie says that some groups are on a good start - cue an all-female group harmonizing to the chorus of The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss) - while others are lost - cue Brokeback Garet, Matthew Buckstein, and some African-American guy I don't recognize form a group that is begging for some really bad "Brother and Two Cowboys" jokes. Meanwhile, two ladies and one guy in a group are arguing over choreography, apparently because the "brother" is over six feet tall and some of the things the ladies want to do will make him come off like the Village People. One of the ladies, Marcy, walks away crying while the other young lady says sympathetically that there's nothing to be done about Marcy. "We'll probably look like idiots tomorrow," she says while Marcy wipes away her tears and tells the camera that she will just have to pull it together, pretend to smile, and go back up there to do what she needs to do. That's the trooper! Now go back up and "accidentally" set that bitchy young lady's hair on fire!

2:00 am. The wannabes get off their bus at their hotel. Some, like Paris, decide to call it a day and sleep while others decide to keep practising. Terrell Brittenum is in a group with Sway, Anthony Hanson, and Elliott Yamin. Elliott and Sway decide to call it a day. However, Terrell decides that sleep is not going to hold him back from becoming the new Mack Daddy Superstar and announces that his team mates sleeping is "not acceptable". Sleazie voices over that Terrell has been on a warpath since he took a number and ended up on a group with the other two. Okay, so group members are determined by numbers. Terrell tells the camera that they have all apparently agreed to take a hot shower and then spend two hours rehearsing. He is not amused that the other two have decided not to stick with the plan. Or, from his tone, it's The Plan with a capital P. Some female groups are doing well in their rehearsings. Since they are all doing Band Of Gold, maybe that song is lucky.

3:00 am. Terrell calls up Sway on the hotel phone and asks Sway how Sway expects to win if he doesn't get together with Terrell, don't sleep, and show up the next day with bleary red eyes, sore throats, and bad tempers. He threatens to tell King Tut that Sway and Elliott want to sleep instead of knowing their songs and practising their moves. While Terrell may be right or he may not be, man, does he have to use that condenscending tone to Sway? That will only guarantee to make Sway less agreeable to work with. It's all about diplomacy and Terrell is not doing a good job at it. Elsewhere, Marcy's group mates finally have names as Sleazie says that Nick and Marcy are now practising their moves and acting so much happier without the bitchy Brenna lurking around. They're performing I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) and I swear, that song will just not die on this show. Unfortunately, they don't seem to do a halfway decent job in remembering the words and Nick hopes that they will get it right after practising some more. Back to Terrell, he now calls Elliott, saying that those guys' behavior is "unacceptable" and if they don't meet up tonight, he can't be bothered to meet them any other time. Terrell then slams down the phone and tells the camera, "And this is why I don't do groups!" He has better change his mind when he has to pick up the soap in the prison shower, heh. The quiet fourth member of the group who has been tagging along Terrell all this while gets a reassurance from Terrell that the two of them will make it through to the next round as long as Terrell is the one who does the talking the next day.

7:00 am. Good morning, sunshine! Or maybe not, as an assortment of gloomy faces greet the camera moaning about how tired they are. Terrell, the genius, has had only two hours of sleep so he's not feeling too good either at the moment. Sway and Elliott, on the other hand, are all smiles as they enjoy their breakfast. In fact, Elliott says that Terrell, who is at the other table, looks upset but insists they will all work things out before coughing not-too-discreetly behind his fist as the others at his table chuckle. Something tells me that Terrell is not the most popular fellow around. Terrell complains to the camera that even this morning his group members (Elliott) would rather flirt with ladies than to rehearse. I'm not sure about that - the "lady" Elliott is flirting with looks like she's sporting a moustache. Terrell says that he is at the verge of a nervous breakdown because he's going to go "literally berserk". Ooh, please do! I'd love to see him lift a table and throw it across the hotel dining room, bring down the chandelier along the way.

Oh wait, that lady with a moustache turns out to be Brenna, that bitch whom Nick and Marcy can't stand. Brenna tells the camera that her group members never call her at all so her strategy now is to do what she does and outperform/outsing the others. Marcy at someplace else where people are rehearsing says that Brenna is a selfish cow or something, Back to Brenna, she likens herself to a diamond in the rough. "Diamond is formed in a little bit of dirty coal. So bring the coal to my diamond, baby, bling-bling and shine on!" Then she sees Marcy and Nick having a good time practising and decides to barge while saying sarcastically that she must have received a late memo or something. It's hilarious how she asks the others who will be leading and they ignore her until the silence continues and Brenna decides to look into the mirror and sing all by herself.

Other groups have more functional dynamics. In fact, Kevin Covais apologizes to the camera for the fact that his group has no drama worthy of being shown on TV. Terrell, meanwhile, tries to call his group members for a "life or death" rehearsal and he is not receptive to twin brother Derrell's words of reassurance. "Don't look at me like I'm stupid! I'm fucked! I could go home today!" he tells Derrell. He seems mad that Derrell's group is less dramatic than his, the poor thing. I emphatize with Terrell in a way because it's really not pleasant to be stuck in a group where the other team members don't give a damn about something that Terrell feels is very important, but sometimes, it's probably better to just close one eye to the others and do his best because I don't think Terrell can do anything in this case. Getting angry or self-righteous sure isn't going to help.

10:00 am. It's performance time! People are rehearsing, becoming nervous, the usual. The first group comprises Paris, Stephanie Scott, and Hanna Freeman. They perform Emotions. Paris sounds pretty scratchy and I think she's out of tune at some places in her singing. Meanwhile, Terrell's group, who Sleazie calls the "Idolphonics", finally get together to rehearse backstage. Terrell spends more time ranting and foaming about how they all would have sounded better if they had practised last night rather than actual rehearsing, sigh. Back on the stage, Stephanie Scott has a high-pitched voice and she is painfully out of tune when she leads the singing. Hanna doesn't even get a chance to lead when King Tut calls the performance to a halt. King Tut calls the performance "fairly pitiful" devoid of buzz or chemistry. After the three judges have whispered and talked among themselves, Randy Randy announces that Paris is through along with Stephenie Scott while Hanna Freeman is going home. King Tut tells Stephanie that she should thank Miss Paula and Randy Randy for putting her through to the next round.

Ho, ho, the Idolphonics now get on stage. Miss Paula, seeing them, tells King Tut, "They look unhappy as hell, man!" Heh. The song they choose is The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss), which is hilarious considering how miserable they all are at that moment. Anthony sounds weak in his lead, Elliott Yamin's voice is clearer and stronger and he sounds so much better than Anthony, Sway lacks strength in his voice and he doesn't seem capable to holding on to a single note for long, and Terrell sounds really good until he forgets his words, bwahahaha. As soon as the performance ends, Terrell lets rip on Sway and Elliott, saying that he and Anthony stayed up until 5:30 am and how the other two didn't even want to rehearse until the last minute. Randy Randy however points out correctly that Elliott sounds the best of all four. King Tut says that despite the long hours Terrell put in, he's a better background singer because Terrell sounds "terrible" when he takes the lead. Oh come on, Terrell is far from "terrible". If Terrell looks like Ace Young, King Tut will be salivating all over the table. Anyway, it's funny how the judges this year are pointing out how hard work doesn't pay when in the past the show has dogged the likes of Gigolo Al and Alden Wynn for not taking things seriously and wanting to party. At the end of the day, Anthony is sent home while the other three are allowed to move on to the next round. King Tut wishes Sway, Terrell, and Elliott a "comfortable lunch". Backstage, Terrell decides to kill the last of any goodwill anyone ever has for him by now blaming Anthony for being tone-deaf and nearly derailing the entire performance. Is this guy for real?

3:00 pm now. It's now the time for the spotlight to shine on the "Rat Racks", the new objects of sexual fantasies of ridiculous hausfraus all across Middle America. Kevin stars off the performance of Fly Me To The Moon and I am distracted by how he seems to whip his jaw with every word he sings. Ugh. He has no charisma or stage presence at all. Josh Jordan is terrible in his lead but Miss Paula is insane enough to blow him a kiss. By the way, is it me or Miss Paula has spent too long in her tanning bed? David Radford is the most convincing Frank Sinatra impersonator of them all even if he still looks like a creepy doll. William Makar oversings his part but after the snoozefest of Kevin and Josh, he wakes me up and so that's okay. They are all moving through to the next round.

As groups practise outside the theatre while waiting for their turn to perform, the spotlight now shines on the group Epiphany. The group used to be a quartet until Tyra Juliette Schwartz left them to join the Try-Hards. Wait, is that "Die Hard"? I have a hunch that she wants to be with the Try-Hards because the members of that group are more Valley Girl types that she feels more comfortable with while Epiphany comprises three soul sistah wannabes. Unfortunately, Tyra isn't fitting in well with the Try-Hards. She tells the camera that she has "different work ethics" from the supposedly lazy or fickle Try-Hards but she is trying to pull the group together. The show then gets the other three members to speak to the camera, one of whom is Leah Barrettsmith, and I can't decipher what they are saying because these ladies sound like complete airheads. Tyra begins to doubt the wisdom of her joining this group.

On stage, Derrell Brittenum shouts-sings his part in I Can't Help Myself. The show focuses only on Derrell so I don't know who his team members are or their fate in this competition. Derrell gets through to the next round but he hilariously and stupidly announces that the judges have broken Derrell's spirit because they have cut his brother and therefore since this show isn't good enough for Terrell, it's not good enough for him too so he is pulling from the competition! Is this guy freaking serious? What happened to the "every man for himself" thing they both spoke of early on in the season? Truly hilarious, I tell you. King Tut goes, "See you!" Derrell goes backstage and tells Terrell that the show can't treat Terrell like that, blah blah blah, until Terrell tells him that they have both made it through to the next round and Derrell has better go out and apologize to the judges! Ha, ha, ha!

On stage, Mandisa is sounding as good as Frenchie and the Burger Queen with her part in Band Of Gold while Brooke Barrettsmith is weak and she has the words of the song written on the back of her hand. Hey, Sarah Enouen looks and sounds great! Where is she hiding all this while? The poor fourth lady in this group is never identified but they are all going through to the next round, deservedly so.

4:00 pm. Many wannabes mess up their performances by forgetting the words to their songs. What else is new? What follows is a montage of butchery to the words of I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch). I have to love that lady who changes the words to "Beat my bare behind". How on earth do "In and out my life" become "Beat my bare behind"? "When I tongue a blame" is pretty good too. King Tut doesn't understand why these wannabes can forget what he calls the easiest lyrics ever. Maybe because many of them are in their teens and they aren't familiar with the song and they have only hours to memorize the lyrics and the melody all under the pressure of a competition? Just wondering, really.

Meanwhile, Tyra decamps from Try-Hards and tries hard (haw haw) to get back with Epiphany, only to get a earful from one of the members of Epiphany about coming back half an hour before the show after the others have already bonded and worked on the performance. Still, the Epiphany ladies decide to let her back in, but not before telling her that she gets on everyone's nerves. But it's a good decision on Tyra's part because the Try-Hards on stage tank spectacularly. Meredith Bandas, Leah Barrettsmith, and one Lauren forget nearly all the words to their song and the piano tinkles on hilariously with no one singing on the stage. All three ladies have to pack their bags and leave. Leah's sister Brooke sobs in a toilet cubicle with Leah, wailing that it's not right how her sister got cut. Please, bitch, cutting her off is the most right thing in the world. Down with all those fake-innocent puke-inducingly cute country bimbos!

On tage, Sleazie leads Derrell back on stage and lets Derrell plead to be taken back. Okay, so Derrell is a drama queen as well as without pride. Let me ask again: is this guy for real? Derrell pathetically grovels and claims that he and his brother are true American Idols. King Tut says that he's fed up with Derrell's "hissy attitude" and the wannabes in the theatre actually clap. King Tut says that Derrell publicly resigned and everyone is sick of him so he and the other two judges will decide what to do with Derrell in thirty minutes. In the meantime, Derrell can shut up and get out of his sight. Derrell is forced to pick up the tatters of his pride on the floor and leave the stage.

Epiphany, with Tyra reincluded into their ranks, now takes the stage. The ladies perform The Shoop Shoop Song. Celeste Scalone has a husky voice that I like but I think not everyone will share the same feeling as me about her voice. Shontai Kinnik Sky has a great powerful voice that I can see myself enjoying immensely in the long run. Tyra has no sense of tune, she sings without range, and she's horrible. Nicole Turk is pretty good though. The judges scare Tyra a little by announcing first that Shontai, Nicole, and Celeste are moving on, but Miss Paula reveals quickly after that Tyra is also moving on. All four ladies are friends again - for now - as they gaily leave the stage.

Next is Brenna and Her Bitches, performing that stupid Sugar Pie song. If I ever, ever hear that song or The Shoop Shoop Shi... er, Song playing in the radio near me in these next few weeks, I'll take a hammer to that radio. Marcy Smith sounds very nervous and weak in her voice. Brenna Gethers, bless her, can actually sing even though she seems to be slurring the words of the song. She's playing that saucy "spank my behind" Latina minx role to the hilt but she actually comes off as pretty endearing in a way. Nick Whitten looks like he'll have bags under his eyes by the time he's thirty, but he has a rich and husky voice that I like. Miss Paula points out that the group messed up the words to the song and Marcy brings up the troubles the group had during rehearsals. Brenna cuts in and says that she must be the "personality issue" that Marcy is talking about, calling herself "the Simon of the group". Brenna says, "This is American Idol. With an L not an S or a Z. It's not American Idols. And in this business, as we all know, there are some people you just cannot get along with. You get nobody likes Donald Trump. Nobody likes Simon Cowell! Nobody likes Martha Stewart! But they all rolling in the dough! It's as simple as that and I want to be like them!" There are some huge flaws in her logic, first and foremost being that these people she mentioned are free to be jerks and bitches after they are successful and Brenna isn't even on her way to being successful yet. But still... bravo, Brenna, for pulling that speech with style. I adore her! King Tut tries to do that "male bonding over troublesome females in their lives" thing with Nick before sending him through. Marcy and Brenna are also going through and King Tut will really love to see them kiss and make up. Yeah, I'd bet. That dirty old man!

Now it's Brokenote Mountain time as the cowboys take the stage and I... oh sheesh, I don't know what to say. I find it quite amusing that this show take pains to make sure that King Tut and Sleazie don't come off as too "gay" on the show but they have no problems implying that Michael Evans and Matt Buckstein are gay cowboys who take Garet's virginity when poor Garet leaves his platonic turkey first love at the farm to venture into the scary big world out there. Garet is the weakest link in the group because he has no rhythm, it seems. He practices with a water bottle for a mic. On stage, King Tut has the Brittenum brothers on stage and tells them that the both of them are moving on to the next round. The Brokenote Cowboys then take the stage and they are horrible. They have no harmony at all. Garet forgets his words and the tune of the song. Matt isn't bad and neither is Michael but as a group, they are all terrible with a capital T. KIng Tut likens them to bad comedians, maybe unintentional ones, because the performance is like three drunk workmen who tried to entertain an audience at a party. All three are banished home. Michael is in tears as he rants to the camera that the judges had been pretty hard on Garet. He and Matt compliment Garet on working hard with them while Garet is in tears as he knows that he may have screwed up these two men's chances. They all share a hug with Matt and Michael letting Garet know that he's still good with them. Matt embraces Garet hard and tells Garet that he did his best and Garet should come back next year. I'm too touched to make gay jokes about that long and sexy embrace - Matt can whisper in my ears anytime, I tell you. I really am touched, I have tears in my eyes, so shut up, people. Garet tells the camera that he knows he still have some way to go in being a good singer and he's optimistic about the future. Aww, goodbye, Garet. I'm so sorry about the Brokeback Mountain thing, although honestly, there's nothing wrong with that at all and Matt is a pretty hot fellow, if that's Garet's thing. And... and... oh shucks, just go along now, Garet Layne Johnson.

Morning, day four, 6:30 am. Brenna tells the camera that she doesn't want to go back to the days of having to answer her own phones. Okay, she can be a telephone operator and answers calls on other people's phones then. Sleazie explains that the remaining wannabes will have to perform today a song that they pick out of 97 available songs and sing it acapella before the judges. A montage of faces, some familiar and some never seen before, perform and then tell the camera how well they think they did. It's pointless to recap who says what because it's not like anyone watching this episode will know what those people sing or how well they sing. The judges do the usual "let's look at their photos and choose who to move on" squabble-bicker-discussion thing. Then the wannabes are separated into four rooms, where two rooms are for the losers and two for the ones moving to the next round. Or so the wannabes think, heh. Because at the end of the day, the wannabes in three rooms are moving on. The wannabes in the first room are cut, and these include Gina Glocksen and ex-Epiphany groupmates Tyra and Nicole as well as Ms Beat My Bare Behind (aww). I'm sure everyone is happy that the Brittenum twins are both moving on to the next round. All in all, 44 make it through but of couse, the judges will trim the numbers down to 24 in the next round.

One more episode, and then... the actual singing part of the competition begins!