Season 5: Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing

Hello. I'm Nonnie, your guest recapper while Mrs Giggles gets her recapping shit together so I can go back to enjoying her recaps and not kill myself writing them myself. Recapping is hard work, but I offered so here I am, sitting on the couch in front of the TV, equipped with laptop, notebook, remote, snacks, and two daughters, aged 11 and 13.

And so we begin Top 12 Night. Out trots Ryan, looking adorably jaunty in his tiny tidy black suit. Like a little squirrel. He declares that one contestant will be the winner! He introduces the band! He introduces the audience! He reminds everyone that the show tonight is two hours long, which is exactly why he's dragging it out with such crap introductions. And as your faithful guest recapper, I can't fast forward through any of this. I might miss Paula saying something really stupid. Stupider. Or there could be innuendo between Ryan and Simon. Usually I just watch the performances and fast forward through the rest of blather and just read Mrs Giggles' recap in case anything interesting happened. Recapping is a responsibility. I am responsible. We will watch all of the show.

The first filler item is a moving montage of the journey that the top 12 contestants have made from audition to tonight. Except that it's too choppy so it's not moving.

Then the top 12 parade across the stage one at a time as Ryan calls out their name. They don't even run across the stage, they walk. That's how much time they have to fill with in two hours. God. Anyway, as each contestant crosses the stage, my daughters shout out stuff at them. They've already made up their minds before they hear any singing. So have I, but I'm acting like I haven't because recapping is a serious responsibility that must be done impartially.

Ryan introduces the judges. Paula's exhortation (this is the best top 12 ever!) is banal and trite as usual, but clearly rehearsed, so that's new. I think she's sober. Ish. Randy makes the audience do the dog pound woo. Simon's exhortation (theme night either makes you or breaks you) is not only trite, it's boring. His teeth are very white. It might be his tan. And yes, here's our first dab of innuendo between Ryan and Simon, a moment of hesitant eye contact followed by a stammer, but I just realized that my daughters might read this recap, so let me make it clear that there's absolutely nothing going on between Ryan and Simon.

Then Ryan officially announces that it's Stevie Wonder night! As Idol veterans, my daughters are dismayed. As a good mother, I remind them that Stevie Wonder is a brilliant and very kind blind person. My daughters say he writes songs that make people sound like wet cats. I point at my laptop. Recappers must divest themselves of such prejudicial assumptions about the chosen theme.

So then watch the Stevie Wonder montage. After a long and extremely successful career, Stevie Wonder's reward is to coach the 12 idols. See? He really is kind.

Ace is tonight's first singer. In his little introductory film clip, Ace wipes away a tear as he tells us how honored he was to meet Stevie Wonder. I totally buy it. Ace is not that good an actor. The 13 and 11 year old aren't moved. They worry about Ace singing Stevie Wonder. Ace bounces out wearing blue jeans and a black sweater and looks very cute tonight, as he always does. He's also singing pretty meh, as he always does. The song is Do I Do. Ace isn't awful, but he manages to make the song completely hookless, so it just sounds like a bunch of jazzy wailing he's making up on the spot, sometimes in tune, often flat. It's totally meh. Also, my daughters think his dance moves are not sexy. Gross is what they say, but that's cruel. I think they're just bitter - Ace is like a disappointing hero in a romance, cute enough for lust at first sight, but not enough substance for lasting true love. We still think he's hot. We just don't much care. Anyway, while it's not caterwaulingly awful, we all agree that none of us would ever download Ace singing Do I Do.

The judges agree that Ace was meh, except for Paula. Randy says it was just alright. Paula loved it. (Note to self, just cut and paste this sentence 11 more times.) Simon says it wasn't great and that Ace seemed manic, but he didn't say it in a mean way. Did they ask Simon to stop being so mean? Maybe they'll ask Paula to stop being so stupid and Randy to stop being so boring.

Next up is Kellie Pickler, the hillbilly girl. In her intro clip, she admits she has no idea what she's doing singing a Stevie Wonder song. Kellie sings Blame it On The Sun. She sounds depressed, and she's walking around the stage all mopey, singing slowly in a kind of dazed monotone. I kind of like it. It's nice as a mopey song. My daughters think it's boring. They also think her staid strapless black dress cocktail dress is stupid, the 11 year old especially concerned about flying boobies.

Randy doesn't like her singing, but he likes her shoes. Paula thinks Kellie's singing was too safe, but she likes the dress. Simon thinks the singing was boring and he hates the shoes and the dress. (Actually, he says Kellie looks like Dolly Parton, but I saw the Academy Awards and Dolly Parton doesn't even look human anymore, so I think Simon just meant that he hated Kellie's dress and shoes because I don't think he hates Kellie that much.) Anyway, Kellie and Ryan go sit on stools while Ryan slags Simon's fashion sense, but I already told you there's nothing going on between Ryan and Simon so don't read anything into that. Kellie hikes up her dress under the armpits and my 11 year old daughter nods knowingly. Ryan then prompts Kellie to give her hillbilly observation of the week, so she declares that her new false eyelashes are like tarantulas. Not real tarantulas! she clarifies. There's a fun moment when her "I'm a sweet ignorant hillbilly" act is ruined when she unthinkingly agrees with Ryan that she's an arachnophobic, before she realizes that a hillbilly gal wouldn't know a big ol' word like that! Hee.

Next up is Elliott. In his clip with Stevie, Elliott's all weepy and honored, and he seems to be wearing a different colored prayer shawl in each shot. It's going to be like this every week for poor Elliott - he loves music so much that everyone he meets is going to be his hero and he'll have to cry and do that hands clasped prayer bow shuffle for them all. Stevie says Elliott should make a career of singing, something he didn't say for Kellie or Ace, so that's nice for Elliott. Elliott sings Knocks Me Off My Feet. He starts out sitting on a stool holding the microphone. He's wearing a white dinner jacket. He looks fifty years old. He sounds fifty too, all jazzy and croony and both daughters find it completely boring. So do I. We all agree that he sings this song really well, but we never want to hear it again. Maybe it's just a bad song choice. Or maybe it's just Elliott has a knack for making a song boring. It's a shame because he has an excellent voice and adorable monkey ears. His last note is great, so the ending is fine although it would have been finer without the long, loving closeup of his tongue.

Randy thought it was meh, except for the last note. Paula thinks he'll go far. Simon agrees with Randy that it meh. Ryan practically stamps his little foot at this and ignores poor Elliott standing next to him to tell Simon he's being miserable and demands that Simon tell the coming contestants what they need to do. Simon says there has to be a wow factor while gazing at Ryan as Ryan stares back at him and I already explained that there's nothing happening between Ryan and Simon. They're just not very good friends. The point is that poor Elliott doesn't get to tell anyone about his false eyelashes. Ryan remembers him long enough to bark out his number, but still.

Mandisa's segment opens with her and Ryan sitting on stools chatting and when Mandisa says her feet are killing her, Ryan bends down and unstraps her sandals, admiring her moisturized ankles, in a show of spontaneity so blatantly staged that even the 11 year old rolls her eyes. Hey, poor Elliott didn't even get to sit on a stool. Anyway,in Mandisa's Stevie Wonder clip, Stevie says he was really impressed with her. Everyone loves Mandisa. If I ever do another recap (ha) I'll explain why, but now, I have to plow onwards with the recapping. We've been watching the show for ages and we're only at the fourth contestant. Mandisa sings Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing, shoeless and in a black top and skirt that blends her into the background. Her singing is good and her shuffling shoeless dance moves aren't bad either. Actually, she's great. We love Mandisa! This is okay recapper prejudice because everyone loves Mandisa.

Randy's not as impressed, but says it's the best so far. Paula loves it. Simon says now they have a competition. Ryan throws Mandisa's shoes into the audience. What kind of shoes was Elliott wearing, Ryan?

Now it's time for Bucky, the hillbilly boy! Poor Bucky doesn't work the hillbilly schtick as effectively as Kellie and in Bucky's intro clip, Stevie doesn't say anything about how great Bucky is.

Bucky sings Superstition. He's wearing blue jeans and a shirt and has lovely, long, soft, wavy, blonde shampoo hair. He's making the song sound rockabilly and it's really not bad, but my enjoyment is impaired by my daughters' carping about his hair. They find his hair highly repulsive. They also don't like his dancing. It reminds them of Ace's dancing, so they begin to rant about Ace again. Bitter.

Randy likes it. Paula likes it, but rags Bucky for staying in his rockabilly comfort zone . Simon says it was Bucky's best performance so far, but joins my daughters in disparaging Bucky lovely fluffy hair, and my daughters crow triumphantly. Then Ryan and Simon start mumbling about hair and extensions and it ends up with Ryan giggling helplessly and while Simon keeps his deep meaningful gaze pinned on Ryan as the shadow of grin plays on his lips and there's absolutely nothing going on between these two, for heaven's sake, I'm getting tired of saying it.

Here's Melissa. She gets the stool treatment too. Plus, Ryan lets us know that she's got a sore throat. What about Elliott's throat, Ryan? During Stevie Wonder's montage, Melissa screws up the lyrics and Stevie gets pissy. Hee.

Melissa sings Lately. She starts out on stool holding the mic. She's wearing a glittering black dress with the kind of plunging neckline that makes the 11 year old wring her... hey, hang on sec! Melissa just completely screwed up the words! She just started mumbling gibberish in the middle of the song and - Wait! She's done it again! Whee! The girls and I rewind it and watch it again. And again. Yes! Melissa completely forgot the lyrics, twice! On the other hand, we all agree, now that we've heard her three times, that this is the first song that we'd actually buy. She's got a beautiful, rich voice, powerful without sounding the least bit shouty.

Randy points out the messed lyrics but says the ending was good. Paula points out the messed lyrics but says she loved it . Simon says it was edgy, contemporary and very good. And then he points out the messed lyrics.

Ryan asks her what she thought Simon was going to say. Not that Ryan is obsessed with Simon, because he's not. Melissa apologizes to Stevie Wonder, but she shrugs it off as nerves sometimes getting the better of you, as though she were a normal well-adjusted human being instead of a reality show contestant. No, Melissa. You must wail and say you're completely sorry and cry, especially if you're a girl. Hasn't she ever watched this show?

On to Lisa Tucker. In her montage, Lisa tells Stevie she's rather sing a Whitney than him. Not surprisingly, Stevie Wonder has no words of praise about Lisa's singing talent. Lisa sings Signed, Sealed, Delivered. She's bouncy and pointing at audience and whipping her hair around and she looks great. The 11 year old loves her outfit, jeans and black leather shrug. On the other hand, for all it's bounciness, the singing is boring and shouty and the song doesn't go anywhere. She just repeats "Signed Sealed Delivered" over and over again, with a little quirk at the ending. None of us would pay money to hear it again.

Randy was bored except for the end. Paula agrees with Randy, but said it in a way that took too long. Everything takes too long by now. We've been watching Idol for days. To be contrary, Simon thinks it was one of the best performances of the night because she took control of the stage, great and he loved it. Ryan reminds everyone that Lisa has performed on a lot of different stages, just to make time pass even more slowly.

Onwards. It's Little Kevin! I have no idea of the demographic of Kevin voters because on our couch we have a middle-aged mother, a preteen girl and a teenaged girl, and we're all weary of Kevin. Maybe he's locked up the man vote, but because my daughters might read this, we won't discuss Kevin's choirboy appeal. Kevin gets the stool treatment with Ryan too. How do they decide these things? I couldn't really hear what Kevin and Ryan chat about because the 13 year old keeps hooting Chicken Little and the 11 declares she's had enough and bails to go play Sims. Two little girls come up on stage to give Kevin a poster declaring their eternal love. During the montage when Kevin talks about being a sex symbol, my 13 year year old daughter dismisses him as immature. I say he might be being ironic. She snorts.

Kevin sings Part-Time Lover. Chosen why, I don't know. I could go on about how inappropriate the lyrics are for him but I won't because it's obvious he's completely oblivious to the meaning of the song. He's bouncing away, all jolly earnestness as he shouts about his passionate secret love affair. His voice is meh. Even his shirt is meh.

Randy says something so tedious that I miss even though I rewind it three times. Let's agree that Randy says that it wasn't Kevin's best performance but he did his thing. Paula loves Kevin, of course. Thankfully, Simon says it was appalling. It depresses me when I'm glad when Simon is mean. Kevin smartmouths back that he wasn't expecting much from Simon anyway. The 13 year old cheers for Simon. That's sad. Ryan tells everyone that if Kevin is someone's heaven, then Simon is Ryan's hell. There is nothing going on between them.

Now we're at Katharine. Apparently people have signs saying they've got McPheever. Or maybe not. I'm not sure anymore. We've been watching American Idol for days. I may be delusional. Anyway, Katharine's montage is good but forgettable although she sensibly says that her heart sunk when she found out she'd have to sing another Stevie Wonder song. Stevie says she's got a lot of potential. Katharine sings Till You Come Back to Me. I miss the first few bars because I'm preoccupied with her dress. If the 11 year old were still watching, this dress would completely freak her out. It's a long floaty bluish pretty sun dress style with string straps barely holding up the thin fabric triangles covering her boobies. Frankly, I'm not so much concerned that her boobies will pop out as much as I worry they'll slide out the side of the triangles. Because this booby dress does not make Katharine's boobies look like perky young girl boobies, it makes them look like middle aged mother trapped recapping on a couch for all eternity boobies. This is a bad booby dress. Anyway, once we get past the droopy booby issue, the singing is quite nice, apart from a few nasty high notes. But, frankly, not the kind of song that anyone would buy. It's pretty forgettable.

Randy loves it. Paula loves it. Simon says her singing reminds him of Kelly Clarkson. He doesn't mention the dress. See? He has been told to be nicer. Katharine tells Ryan that she broke her shoes and Ryan makes a cute joke. It's too long to tell you about it. You had to be there. All that matters is that Ryan tells you there are three more singers to come! Stop crying.

It's Taylor time. Stevie Wonder says that Taylor's feeling comes from his soul. Taylor keeps doing the folded hands in prayerful thanks gesture the same as Elliott. In fact, you don't really need to see Taylor's clip if you have seen Elliott's, do you? And vice versa. Remember that if you're trying to cut your American Idol viewing time down. Taylor sings Living For The City and when I look at the words I'm typing on my laptop screen, I like it a lot. But not when I look up at the television screen and see Taylor. Why does he crouch and hump when he sings? If Taylor had boobies and he was wearing Katharine's dress, his boobies would flop out. I think I need more snacks.

Randy loves Taylor. Paula loves Taylor. Simon loves Taylor. Okay, he doesn't say that. He says Taylor is like drunken dads at weddings who get up and sing except that Taylor can sing, which is actually quite clever, but which takes much longer to say than he loves Taylor, so I hate Simon. Ryan and Taylor sit on the stools and Taylor is coy about whether or not he'll get to have his hair dyed. Shut up, both of you. There are still two more singers. My 13 year old daughter abandons me on the couch to go read her book, but at least she's stays in the same room.

Now for Paris. Paris reminds Stevie Wonder of the excitement of Fantasia. Notice how no one ever says that someone reminds them of Ruben? Is Ruben still alive? Can they tell? Paris sings All I Love. She's good, but she looks and sounds about forty. You can't even tell if she has boobies, with her pink jacket and shirt fastened under her chin and old lady hair hairstyle.

Randy loves her. Paula loves her. Simon actually looks over at Randy as if he's seeking his opinion, and then says he loves her. Paris keeps singing when Ryan does their filler chat. This show will never end, right? I'm in recapping hell.

Finally. The last batch of ads and it's time for Chris, the last of the 12 tonight, thank you, God. Montage. I don't care. Why are you still reading? You can escape. Stevie says Chris sounds sincere. Stevie just wants to get the hell out of here, too. Chris sings Higher Ground. Loud and rocking, of course, and oh... The 13 year old puts down her book. The 11 year old wanders back into the room. It doesn't sound like a Stevie Wonder song at all. It sounds... good. Chris is running all over the stage and he's even fun to watch. When it ends, we rewind it and watch it again, not because we have to, but because we like it. We rewind it and watch it again, even though if we didn't, I would be free of recapping by now.

Randy loves how Chris made it a rock song. Paula loves how Chris made it a rock song. Simon says it's a real world performance that he can imagine Chris having a hit with it, and that Chris made the song his own rock song. Hey, wait a minute! Why don't they crap all over Chris for afraid to step outside of his comfort zone and for turning everything into a rock song? Damned if I know. All I know is we replayed Chris voluntarily and that finally, the show is over.

The Wednesday Night Idol Results Show. Okay, when I told Mrs Giggles I'd recap this week, I forgot that I hadn't recorded the results show. Wednesday nights are pretty crowded, what with Veronica Mars, Lost and Bones all on at the same time as American Idol. But I watched the Idol Results Show! Ish. Stevie Wonder sang a song. I missed this. Then Ace, Lisa, and Melissa were in the bottom three, and Melissa is the one who got sent home. I did see this. Paula didn't say anything particularly drunken. Randy said something meaningless. Ryan and Simon didn't leap across the abyss to wrap their hands around each other's neck or around anything else.

So, Melissa went home. See, Melissa? Weeping and hand wringing, the staples of remorse on reality television. Punish yourself so that voters don't have to do it for you.