Before YouTube, recapping music videos is totally a thing and not a waste of time. Really..
Season 5: Takin' It to the Streets
Our ever-efferverscent host Ryan "Anderson Cooper Fanboy" Sleazebag is all fake smiles as usual as he lets everybody know that by the end of this week we will get our "Top Twelve". After week after week of enduring bad audition episodes and being in awe of the monumental talents of Kevin Covais and Kellie Pickler, we are finally here, people. Aren't we excited yet? Sleazie says that we will decide the "destinies" of the "eight girls" tonight. To the three people out there who cannot predict which six of the eight women will move on to the next round, well, you'll really have to keep watching now, don't you?
As the eight ladies stand along the stairs to the Red Room like they are flower girls waiting to throw petals on Sleazie as he walks past them to the Podium, he tells everybody the same old inane stuff he is paid to do. Reminding everyone that the Oscar has just been concluded but this monster has only just begun, he points out the welcome departures of Brenna, David, Heather, and Sway in the previous week. Naturally, two more ladies will be cut at the end of the week along with two more guys and then we can finally get the top twelve that the producers have planned for all along.
Sleazie introduces the ladies and then moves on the judges. Sleazie isn't even trying to be perky here, he's just lazily going through the motions. Maybe he, like me, feels that this week is just a pointless matter of formality since it's very clear who will make it and who won't, judging from who has been getting screentime and who hasn't. Has anyone any doubt that Kinnik and Melissa will not make it past this week? And Melissa won't make it past this week if King Tut hasn't pulled that stunt of his later in this episode. At any rate, Sleazie doesn't even banter with King Tut this time around. He goes in a dead tone, "Hello... panel. So... let's... get... going."
So let's get going with Paris. This week, each of the contestants will share something that we don't know but supposedly must know about him or her. Alas, Paris won't be revealing how her mother and grandmother trained her to be a singing monkey for Disney. Instead, she baby-squeaks she was a tomboy who loved wrestling and all. Um, how exciting.
Paris launches into Gloria Estefan's Conga. I don't know why she chooses to wear jeans that end below her ankles if she chooses to dance and let the camera catch her in action, but maybe she has chunky legs that she doesn't want people to see, who knows. Her voice seems a little too breathy and uneven at places, but come on, she's Paris the performing monkey. It's impossible for her to give a truly terrible performance. Still, this version of Conga seems slowed down and even sedate compared to the original version. If she's not Paris, I'd worry about this song choice since it's not a song that will show up her vocal chops.
Randy Randy calls the song choice "interesting", says that it's not his favorit song choice. He then asks her to challenge herself by doing a ballad next week, because Paris hasn't performed a ballad on this show before, oh no. Randy Randy's definition of "challenging yourself" clearly means "sing more of the same". He concludes his yammerings with a predictable "But it's alright!" Miss Paula says that she prefers Paris when Paris is performing uptempo songs, adding that Conga is a difficult song to sing. I'm sure that can be true especially with the rapid-fire scat-like chorus of the song since they actually slowed down the tempo to accommodate Paris during her performance. Miss Paula says enigmatically that she is "surprised" by Paris' song choice but her performance nonetheless managed to capture Miss Paula's attention. Miss Paula needs to explain herself. Is she saying that Paris' performance was so bad that it penetrated Miss Paula's hazy booze-addled mind or it's so good that Miss Paula for a moment was brought back to earth from La La Land? She and Randy Randy keep saying that Paris is a talented girl. Reading between the lines, I'd say they don't like the performance but are happier blaming the song choice than on Paris herself. King Tut says that it's good Paris followed his advice from the previous week to choose a "younger song" that panders to her enthusiasm and other shtick that has been trained into her. He says that Paris' vocals were just "okay" but blames that problem on Paris' "nerves" and adds that "people" love Paris so she's going through no matter what. I love how Randy Randy can stupidly insist that this is a talent show when King Tut often doesn't even pretend that this is anything but a popularity show. That doesn't excuse King Tut's shovelling Kellie Pickler down my throat though. Paris and Sleazie then "banter" about her wanting to dance her way into the top twelve. Sleazie still acts like he needs a shot of caffeine in his bloodstream really badly.
Lisa is next. Her super secret is that she loves Jimi Hendrix. She then demonstrates how Jimi has inspired her to take up the electric guitar by playing a few chords on a yellow thingie that she must have borrowed from one of the bandmembers. Oh Lisa, she has no idea that she is fast alienating many of her fans by coming off so desperate in her urgency to impress people with her brilliance. It must be tough wanting so hard to be successful at any costs.
Her song is Tiffany Taylor's Here's Where I Stand, a song from the movie Camp which is like a movie-in-training for future faghags that will move on to watch Rent obsessively for the rest of their lives. There are crazy girls and then there are the crazy girls who will spend all their lives falling for gay boys because they believe that somehow, deep inside, these gay boys can fall in love with them as long that these delusional girls desperately try to please these gay boys and even be their doormats because to them, gay boys are cute like that David Letterle fellow from Camp even if that guy can't act his way out of a paper bag. Ironically, there's a high chance that these dreamboats of theirs are straight in real life so they probably shouldn't try so hard to turn a gay boy straight but there you go, people. At any rate, Lisa's performance of this predictable ballad is predictably adequate. There's nothing much to say about it: Lisa oversings as expected in the expected moments, she launches into the runs like I expect her to, and she is, therefore, as boring as I predicted.
Randy Randy thinks that it's great that Lisa can play the electric guitar but finds the song too old-sounding for his liking. He is also disappointed that Lisa didn't wail at the top of her lungs because on this show, having no restraint when it comes to singing is a sign of talent. Miss Paula can't think of anything to say so she babbles that Lisa is a "seasoned performer", the performance is "valued" and "amazing", and then contradicts herself by saying that Lisa should have sung someone that "everyone" could get into and is more familiar with. Good heavens, and here I am hoping to hear something other than the overperformed five or six songs on this show. What am I thinking? Lisa should have performed Chain Of Fools like six hundred people have done in the past on this show! King Tut pretty much says the same thing: Lisa is supposedly "super talented" but she's singing songs that sound too old to suit her image. And whose fault is that? Didn't they praise her sky-high for her overcooked rendition of Jennifer Holliday's I'm Not Changing? King Tut nonetheless predicts that Lisa will "sail through" to the next round. So, what's the point of this week again? Oh yes, so that people will vote and give money to the people involved in this show. Poor Lisa. Technically, this song is actually one of the more current songs ever performed on this show. I'd suggest that she sings Billie Holliday's Gloomy Sunday, minus the third verse, next week just to spite these judges. Sleazie forces himself to make his way with heavy lumbering steps onto the Podium to pretend like he cares for Lisa. When he hisses that Lisa is "so likeable", he all but make a spitting gesture after his statement. What is going on with him today, I wonder. Lack of sleep? Having met Anderson Cooper's boyfriend and realized that he could have done so much better than King Tut?
Melissa reveals her earthshattering secret: she's a "huge car freak". She apparently raced in her fast car against the boys at school and "sometimes" she'd "win". This must be her way of warning King Tut and everyone involved in the show to be very careful the next time they cross a road because they never know when a mad and bad Melissa may be waiting in her fast car to run them down dead.
Her song is Heart's What About Love. Oh, this song brings out the lovely qualities of her husky and bluesy voice perfectly! Alas for her, bluesy smoky voice like hers never fare well on this show. This performance is good as it showcases everything I like about her voice. I don't delude myself into thinking that she can go far so I'll just have to be content with the few short performances of hers on this show. Maybe one day I'll get to hear her do something like Concrete Blonde's Joey.
She may get a standing ovation but the judges are careful not to sound too enthusiastic because Melissa is never part of the grand masterplan and we don't want her to be accidentally voted into the top twelve. Randy Randy praises the song choice even if he's not keen on the adlibbing Melissa put on towards the end of her performance. Miss Paula thinks that Melissa has been improving week after week. She then calls Melissa a "powerhouse". Clearly she has forgotten the script so King Tut quickly steps in to repair the damage by saying that Melissa should pack her bags due to some apparent botched last note on Melissa's part. Kellie can butcher the entire song and move on but Melissa must be perfect in order to do the same. King Tut says that he felt that Melissa "shouted" the whole song. King Tut obviously hadn't heard Heart's original version of the song. Oh, what am I saying? We're talking about a fat Brit whose track record included vile disposables like the Teletubbies' single and the wretched boybands Worlds Apart and Westlife. Of course he hasn't. At any rate, by issuing that statement, King Tut has personally booked Melissa's passage to next week so I'm pretty sure someone else - Ayla or Lisa, most likely - will be writing hate mails to King Tut next week. Sleazie is still trying not very hard to act like he cares when he approaches Melissa on stage. It's quite cool for Melissa to say that she chose a rock song because she was tired of singing country songs all the time though. I'm starting to fear that in a few years time this show will be all about country music.
In the Red Room, Sleazie sits on the couch with Kellie, Katharine, and Paris - the three precious princesses of this show - and I find it odd that Sleazie keeps a clear distance from any one of them when usually he'll be trying to bump thighs with them or place his hands on their shoulders. Maybe he's having a cold and doesn't want anyone to catch it from him? He is also seated in a rather defensive postion, with his hands shoved down in the space created by his crossed left leg and his crotch. As he babbles to Katharine some insipid nonsense about preparations for her performance, he sounds so lifeless and defeated. What happened to him prior to this show? I want my lovable plastic Sleazie back! At any rate, Katharine warns everyone that she has chosen something "fun" for her upcoming performance. Katharine also denies the rumors that she is pregnant and she is quitting the show. The last bit seems to please Kevin in the Dawg Pound tremendously because this show is still trying to turn Kevin into posterboy material with the good folks at NAMBLAA. And then, after having spent so much time yakking with Katharine, Sleazie remembers it's actually poor forgotten Kinnik's turn to perform next.
Kinnik's secret is that she is actually Gedeon wearing a wig and hoping to double his chances of winning the show. No, not really, dear Kinnik reveals that she loves chit'lins, the food that Fantasia introduced to the world in the third season. Poor Kinnik, she's not long for this show but at least we'll be thinking of her chit'lins.
She chooses to perform Alicia Keys' If I Can't Have You this time around. Alicia Keys has quite a number of songs so I don't know why this particular song gets performed on this show so often because I don't think I have come across anyone who chooses to do so gives a halfway decent rendition of the song. Kinnik performance isn't going to be the one to change my mind. Her voice occasionally dips too low to the point of atonality and there are many moments when she shows really out of tune. Good thing there's the shiny lip fuzz thing she has going on there to distract people from her singing.
Randy Randy points out that the performance turned sharp at around the midway point. Kinnik started out great and ended great, he believes, but overall he doesn't think the performance was great. Miss Paula on the other hand believes that Kinnik "nailed it" and she was at her best, vocally. Miss Paula then effortlessly changes her tune and says that Kinnik didn't stay in pitch for most of the song. Miss Paula claims that this is the first time Kinnik sounded off pitch and then makes an apologetic grimace. Clearly she's trying to say that Kinnik nailed her songs and was vocally at her best in Kinnik's previous performances but Miss Paula being what she is, garbled up her words as usual. King Tut also makes a face to rival Miss Paula's as he tells Kinnik that she "messed it up" despite having a great start. He also thinks that Kinnik has booked her plane ticket home. Hey, at least she'll have her chit'lins, he adds. That's nice. Unluckily for Kinnik, she does sound horrible unlike Melissa. The legion of disenfranchised people out there can only vote for one person all night to prove King Tut wrong so poor Kinnik isn't going to be that person. Sleazie comes on stage to stand beside Kinnik and this time he seems to have finally snapped out of his funk when he scolds King Tut for making people feel "bad" on television and then mows over what King Tut tries to say in response. Kinnik promises that if people vote for her, the next time she'll be sharp is when it comes to her dressing. Nice try, Kinnik, but without the hype machinery of this show to back you up, people really don't believe that they know you the way they naturally know Kellie is a sweet innocent country gal so they will not care about you one way or the other. Such is the way of this show, sigh.
Sleazie in the Red Room reminds everyone to visit the official website stonecoldpaula.com where everyone can scribble in blogs, put up pictures, and more just like he says the people in his "house" do. I guess that explains the horrible spellings and the overuse of pink smiley faces all over the visitor contribution sections of the website.
Katharine reveals her dark secret next: she attended the Boston Conservatory where our darling Conty Bint went to as well. No, she didn't have an affair with him in case you're wondering, she claims instead that she must have learned her "smouldering look" from him. Or from the Conservatory, perhaps. She doesn't really make it clear where she learns the "smouldering look" from.
The audience dutifully get on their feet when Uncle Nigel switches on the neon sign and actives the shocking buzzer thingie in the seats of the first row before the Podium because Katharine is performing the Blues Brothers' anti-apartheid anthem Think today with all the superficial shallowness of a pageant contestant treating this song like it's the new Mickey Mouse Club anthem. I'm sure there are many people in the audience who enjoy the way she keeps thrusting her bosoms up as if to see whether they can bounce off her chin. I realize I'm somehow started to like Katharine without realizing when that happens - maybe I'm just a sucker for a beautiful face like the rest of the world - but really now, as much as I think she succeeds in putting an entertaining spin on the song, she reduces Think into something shallow and superficial, sweet like cotton candy but not substantially satisfying at the end of the day. I wonder whether she uses her own make-up artist because the other female contestants look pretty terrible in this episode, especially Paris with her green clown outfit and make-up, while Katharine here looks luminous and gorgeous. By the way, I think someone should take a look at poor Kevin in the audience. That kid looks like he's about to hyperventilate while drooling at Katharine.
After Randy Randy says that he likes the whole "McPheever" thing - no doubt because it reminds him of his favorite restaurant - he says that the performance was a "hot one". I won't say that but I must say, her performance at least wakes me up when I'm in the danger of falling asleep after Kinnik's performance. Miss Paula conjures pornographic scenarios of Katharine being some well-oiled machine that she loves to see. The camera pans on the three judges as Miss Paula babbles away and I can see both Randy Randy and King Tut look like they are trying very hard not to place their hands over Miss Paula's mouth. Those poor men shouldn't hold themselves back on anyone's behalf, really! King Tut agrees with Randy Randy because Katharine is already handpicked to be move on and all they need are the votes to make that final. It says something, although I'm not sure what that something is, when Sleazie actually reaches out to shake Katharine's hand as he joins her on stage. This is the first time he touches someone in this episode and half the show has passed when this occurs. Has Sleazie caught the McPheever too? He must have since he actually made the effort to raise his voice as he mocks King Tut by saying that he dreams of seeing King Tut holler like Randy Randy, "We've got a hot one!" If that isn't a rather blatant way of telling King Tut that he sucks in doing whatever he does with Sleazie, I don't know what is. Maybe that's Sleazie's problem! King Tut kept him up all night prior to this show but all Sleazie experienced was mindnumbing boredom and a case of extreme lethargy at work.
Sleazie babbles about the top twelve and other matters that have been said many times already in this very episode like he's insipid made pretty before revealing that Ayla was confused as a kid. No, not sexually, although clearly Sleazie is trying to imply that with his not-so-sly statement, instead Ayla believed that his father was Elvis and was disappointed when she realized that he wasn't. I'm sure someone more well-versed in American political jokes can fit in a Republican joke somewhere here but alas, I'm not that someone.
Anyway, Ayla's song is Natasha Bedingfield's Unwritten. I don't know what possesses her to choose this song because while this song is a fabulous song, it's a song that works best when it's listened to in its entirety. The song builds up very nicely from the first verse to the chorus to reach the pinnacle around the bridge. The entire song is the hook, if I am making sense here. When truncated into a 90-second format for this competition, Ayla's performance feels like mere bits and pieces of a jigsaw puzzle with some vital pieces missing. The performance feels strangely flat without any build-up because the emphasis is placed on the chorus when the bridge is where the hook is at its strongest - the chorus builds up to the bridge. Ayla's inconsistent volume when she's singing doesn't improve matters as well. I think the lesson here is that just because a song sounds good on the radio, it doesn't mean it will sound just as good when cut down into a 90-second format in this competition.
Randy Randy is right for once when he tells Ayla that songs like Unwritten may be great to listen to but that song is not suitable for competitions. Miss Paula commends Ayla for a job well done and also for being tall (Ayla is 6ft 3) because your physical attributes is clearly something you worked hard for and not because you get lucky in the genetic lottery. King Tut has Ayla picked as one of the final twelve so he praises her for a job well done. He also reminds everyone that Ayla is an appealing person in her clips so people should think about that and not her performance when they obey King Tut and vote for her. Ayla tells Sleazie that she thought she had to take a risk this week hence a song like Unwritten. Randy Randy chimes in to reiterate that he naturally loves Ayla but that song doesn't show off any of Ayla's range.
Mandisa reveals that she sucks her thumb until she was twenty-four. How her teeth doesn't protrude out of everyone's television screen, she will never know. Eh, now that's a ghastly image I don't need to have in my head.
Mandisa's song is Chaka Khan's I'm Every Woman. After some really cute ad-libs about how everyone should sing along with her, she gets down to some really mean business as she sings the roof down in what is clearly the best rendition of that song so far in the history of this show. I really enjoy this performance. It has energy, sass, and power. The only problem is that this song, like previous arrangements of this song, is pretty much an ad-libbing shriekfest towards the end when I'd rather hear more singing than screeching.
Amidst standing ovation, Randy Randy gives Mandisa the "props" for showing "the best vocal by a girl in this season". Miss Paula continues the theme, calling Mandisa all kinds of awesome, while King Tut says that Mandisa made everyone else appear ordinary on this show. He calls the performance to be in a "completely, utterly different league". Mandisa reveals to Sleazie that she has sung that song many times in the shower. They then discuss shower accoustics. There's a first for everything on this show, I tell you.
I'm hoping that Kellie has somehow fallen off the face of the earth and won't be performing - forever - but alas, she's closing the show even if her performance isn't of the showclosing calibre because she, for some reason, is the destined Favorite Blonde Barbie of Uncle Nigel and King Tut. Kellie reveals that her secret is that she loves dolls. But since we aren't talking about Sheep's Wife Barbie or Convicted Murderer Ken, I don't know what is so rivetting about that "secret", pffft. And why on earth does Kellie get to show clips of her and her dog in her introductory clip when everyone else just blabs away to the camera?
The only thing I like about her wretched performance of Melissa Ethridge's I'm The Only One is how the Burger King flames in the background and her creepy lifeless stare to the camera all make her look like the new Bride of Chuckie coming to kill everybody. Oh, wait, I also like the start of the performance when her voice is so low that I can hardly hear her. Then she's bleating like a mad satanic sheep towards the chorus and with the flames and all in the background, I really feel like I'm in hell.
The judges? Oh, same old crock. The "You're so consistent, we love ya!" crock from Randy Randy, the "Blah blah blah everyone loves you, adorable!" crock from Miss Paula, and the "You can't sing Kellie, but you're so cute so we love ya!" crock from King Tut. This leads to the infamous "You're a naughty little minx!" and "What's a mink?" exchange between he and Kellie which is pretty much a PG-rated version of an exchange that goes something like "You're such a naughty slut and I love it, babe! You do anal?" and "What's an ah-nold? You have to show me, you big daddy you!" King Tut also says that he likes Kellie better than Cattle Underwood, maybe because Kellie is more desperate and therefore willing to do more things to earn her stay on the show. Sleazie says that he'd love to find out more about the whole minx-or-mink crock about Kellie but alas, they have no more time left on this show so it's on to the recap and then a cheerful Sleazie, who is clearly so happy now that the show is over. I'm so happy as well, come to think of it.
Well, let's see what the guys have to offer this week. Next.