Season 5: I Ain't Got Nothin' but the Blues

I am listening to Home as I am writing this recap because... sigh. This is tough. This recap is tougher to write than the one where one of my absolute favorite contestants ever, Trenyce, got booted, because then I could say that Josh Don't Tell advanced as far as he did only because the country was at war at that time. Trenyce's boot was unreasonable, and therefore it was easy to bristle at the injustice of it all. For this particular recap, however, can I honestly say that Elliott was unfairly booted? I adore Elliott, I love Katharine, and I think I can take Taylor in very small doses provided that I only hear him over the radio. Taylor is easy to dismiss as an irritating spastic monkey... except that he really can sing. Katharine is an uneven performer but when she delivers, she can really pull off a good performance. As for Elliott, I adore him but I am aware of the fact that he has as many fans as he has detractors. If you look at it, all three contestants left are polarizing in one way or the other, despite what their frenzied fans would like everyone to believe.

What I'm trying to say is, I've watched five seasons of this show and I bear the wounds of broken hearts from seeing a favorite leave as well as the scars from battles with angry fans of the show, battles that in hindsight weren't worth the effort which was why I avoided such online battles since the second season. What I've learned in the process is that this show isn't fair, but that's okay, because as much as it is unfair, it also allows audience to discover and connect with someone that they will otherwise never realize exist. Elliott made watching this show in the last two months a most enjoyable experience and in a way I am grateful to him for that. He allows me a glimpse into what it means to be starstruck in a most ridiculous manner to a most unlikely person like a teenager again. He makes me remember to look for something beautiful in this overcommercialized toilet of a show when even the judges cared more for bickering and grabbing screentime from the contestants than the actual contest itself, and that stops me from being an even more bitter and jaded troll regarding this show.

So... thank you, Elliott. It's truly been a pleasure. And unlike many people, I won't rant and gnash my teeth and scream for blood - I will try to remember to celebrate the finer Elliott moments on this show instead of sinking deeper into pointless cynicism that won't take down the big man or put you back onto the show. Because I'd like to remember this show as the season where I am a big fan of Elliott instead of a season where I hated this show and everything about it with the overinvested hatred of a million suns. Let me be an Elliott fan who loves his voice instead of a bitter Elliott fan who can't move on from any bitterness years from now.

And now, on to the show. Ryan "Raspberry Berret" Sleazebag stands in the audience and puts his palms together in a beseeching gesture of some sort as he reminds everyone tuning in not to forget him in the off-season months because he cannot bear the thought of living without a spotlight shining on him. No, he actually says that we're down to Three and the Three will be singing three songs each. The last sentence is almost a tonguetwister there, heh. Sleazie wonders who we will send to the Kodak Theatre for the finale taking place next week. By the way, he is sporting a stubble that unfortunately makes him look like pretty rough on the eyes. Maybe he's just sad because he too knows that Elliott's time on this show is up. That or he was in some wild and crazy pre-show quickie in the men's room shortly before the show begins. And with that, the credit rolls.

Woosh, the doors of the Mothership slide open to allow Sleazie to walk onto the stage. Look, there's Roseanne in the audience. I loved her sitcom back in those days, before Roseanne won the lottery and everything became stupid anyway. Why do I have this feeling that she supports Taylor? Back to Sleazie, he reminds everyone that Chris' departure was still the talk of the town. Funny, and here I am thinking the person talking the most about Chris getting booted is Chris himself. "Wah wah wah, I was supposed to win and Uncle Nigel told me so, wah wah wah, my fans didn't vote hard enough and I now have to go back to fixing junk in my smalltown, wah wah wah, didja know that Fuel want me to be their frontsman and... what do you mean you have no idea who Fuel is?" - that kind of thing. Anyway, the audience boo obligingly and Sleazie tells everyone to "vote, vote, vote". He has no advice for what to do when the votes aren't enough, though, to keep a favorite in the show. Those poor fans of Bucky, Paris, Melissa, Gedeon, and, of course, Elliott will have to stumble in the dark, blaming boogeymen for their messiah's untimely ascension to the heavens while crying for an answer from above to show them the path to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Sleazie now introduces the judges: Randy "At The Rate I'm Going, I'll Be Mentally Handicapped Next Season" Randy! Miss "Just You Wait, Sleazie, Just You Wait" Paula, and King "Okay, Instead Of Guessing Which Contestant Did Her Thing On Me, Can You Guess Who I Did My Thing On To Get American Inventor Renewed For Another Season?" Tut. It's quite amusing how King Tut always look the happiest when his name is being called by Sleazie - he'll always spend the rest of the night looking bored and trying to kick a puppy named Miss Paula for fun.

Sleazie reveals that the Three will be singing three songs each and the first song will be selected by Clive Davis, the Boss of Everyone, as he has always done since season three. If you'll remember, he's the asshole who would choose one correct song for one contestant and very wrong songs for the other two in every show he manages to pollute. Remember All By Myself for Princess Jasmelisma? Greatest Love Of All for Fantasia? Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me for the rocker Bo? Crying for Cattle? On paper, the last two songs are horrific choices for the contestants they are given to, and I still say it's a testament to the abilities of Bo and Cattle that they pulled off a good performance. Anyway, the Boss of Everyone is seated in the audience like a slightly more fleshy version of the Cryptkeeper and Sleazie obliges to stroke the Boss' ego by introducing the tribute clip that tells me about the greatness of the Boss of Everyone to apparently build or crush music as America knows it by a wave of his wizened hand. In short, I've been seeing variants of this clip every year since the third season.

Elliott is going first. I know then he's done for because everyone that goes first in the final three always end up getting booted the next night. If you can remember, Nugget, Burger Queen, Princess Jasmelisma, and Vonzell all went first in their respective seasons. Like the "second person on the final five night will always get booted" rule, this particular rule has never been broken since day one. Even better, the Boss of Everyone decides that the best song to give someone who clearly excels in soulful blues-jazz sound is Journey's Open Arms. Yes, give the funky white boy the most whitewashed boring MOR ballad one can ever imagine and let him drown. The Boss of Everyone tells Elliott that he wants Elliott to understand that Elliott doesn't need to go over the top in every performance. Hence his choice of a song where the chorus sees the lead singer wailing at the top of his voice about open arms - yes, that makes sense indeed. That song will definitely show the world a more subtle side of Elliott! Clive also says that he wants to show the world that Elliott can do a rock song. Way to toy with someone's competition and possible chances at a future career just to soothe his ego, I must say. Bravo, now go to hell. Elliott sucks up by saying that he's honored to meet the Boss and hopes to work on some projects with the Boss. The Boss is like, "Yeah, yeah, and I'm sure your mother likes me too!" in his head as he just shakes his head and tells Elliott, "Kill 'em!"

Hey, when Elliott sings, I find myself thinking that song isn't that bad after all. Isn't that bad, that is, but not that good either. Elliott's voice sounds really strained during the chorus. While he sounds pretty good, this song doesn't really suit him, in my opinion, because it forces his voice to go into a range that stretches him too much instead of showing how beautiful it is.

Leeza Gibbons is in the audience, by the way. I have no idea who she is but then again, I don't follow minor celebrities. Who has the time?

Randy Randy is so happy to remind everyone that he was in Journey. Yes, Randy Randy, you were in Journey for an impressive two years, when you joined Journey during its decline in success. But feel free to remind me every season. Twit. Of course that buffoon won't find any fault with the song, only he thinks that Elliott had some problems with the chorus but Elliott - yes, you guessed right - "worked it out" at the end. Miss Paula's words of wisdom are as follow: "You are in excellent voice tonight." Huh? She then goes on to say that she can't wait for everyone to sing. That makes sense - she can't wait for everyone to sing because by that time the show is over and she can run back to her hotel room and proceed to get so drunk and so high that she vomits pink lovely hearts all over the bedsheets. King Tut says that the song choice is great. Of course he will say that. You think he will dare say otherwise with the Boss of Everyone seated in the audience? However, he thinks that Elliott looked "stiff" on stage - not like that, perverts - and asks Elliott to be confident about moving on to the next week. Donkey, carrot, big hole in front of the donkey. You fill in the blanks there. I'm too depressed now.

But if you think Elliott's song is bad, wait until you see what the Boss gives Katharine - R Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly. The Boss' reason is that he wants her to "dig down deep" in a modern classic and to give a "Katharine McPhee sound" to the song to make it her own. Eeuw, why would anyone want to make that dull and wretched song his or her own? Needless to say, this performance is another horrible mismatch of song selection and the contestant. Katharine tries to offer her own interpretation of this song using her own style of runs and even ad libs. I think she actually sounds pretty good until the end when she tries to hit high glory notes, big-voiced diva style, and exposes how she is really someone who doesn't have the range to hit those notes. Katharine can sing, but not those Whitney-style ballads.

Randy Randy very stupidly says that the song isn't for her. Miss Paula compliments Katharine's dress but nothing else because she saves her venom to be used only on Sleazie. Katharine says that the judges were hard on her these few weeks. Oh great, I can see those "She's so arrogant!" accusations coming forth from the kiddies watching this show. Randy Randy talks about song choice again and Katharine correctly tells him that she did not pick that song. Randy Randy can only says lamely that he knows that. Yes, so why then blame Katharine for that? Stupid big corporate suck-up. Randy Randy tells Katharine that sometimes she just has to "sing the melody". What can Katharine say to such helpful and specific advice other than to say okay? King Tut, conveniently forgetting his own song choice blame game on Piggy Di Guano when it came to I Believe, says that Randy Randy is being unfair because Katharine didn't choose that song for herself. Ooh, Katharine should feel flattered that King Tut actually steps up against the Boss of Everyone to defend her honor. Has he ever done that to anyone else? King Tut says that barring the last few "bum notes", Katharine acquitted herself well. And I agree with him, fancy that.

The one time the Boss of Everyone manages to pick the perfect song for a contestant, that contestant has to be Taylor. See? I really have no luck when it comes to backing reality TV contestants. Taylor gets Bruce Springsteen's Dancing In The Dark. It's a song about having a jolt of high for life, it is written to be sung within the comfortable vocal range of a baritone or second tenor - gee, like Taylor, who can sometimes sound very much like Bruce Springsteen! - and it's a fast song that allows Taylor to do his spazz-out magic-fingers dance on the stage to entertain his fans. In short, this is a song that brings out everything that his fans love about Taylor. Taylor then thanks the Boss for personally calling Bruce to clear the song for Taylor to perform. He should also thank the Boss for helping him move on to the finale while crushing his competition for him. Taylor also points out that he's the first person to perform a Bruce Springsteen song on this show.

Anyone who can't stand to see this guy spazz out on stage, come here and let's have a group hug because Taylor is going to win and nothing can stop him, certainly not the Monkey Boy and definitely not the Mary Magdalene. It always hurts when someone else's favorite gets the preferred treatment at the expense of your own favorite, I know that feeling. I'm also a fan of this season's Melissa, Gedeon, Bucky, and, of course, Elliott. This season is the season where I get the most knocks in the heartbreak department when it comes to seeing my favorites getting the shaft in the screentime and pimp moment department and I will be probably too traumatized by the sight of Taylor shaking his brick-house booty at the camera in the finale next week as he sings the coronation song while confetti rains down, so much so that I may be scared to root for another American Idol wannabe in the future because I'll be huddled in bed with my knees tucked under my chin as I cry and sing along to Kelly's Because Of You.

When Taylor sings... what can I say? He's superb. He even dances with Miss Paula at one time, which makes me smile when I'm ready to cry on behalf of Elliott and Katharine, and I'm right: he does sound like Bruce Springsteen. Superb song, fantabulous singing, and I am actually on my feet before I realize that I am about to dance like a nitwit (or Miss Paula) and quickly sit back down. You know what, I'm at peace now. Let Taylor win. I will even buy his CD if it turns out that he will be singing something I'd be interested in rather than some tired old Manilow/Humperdinck crap. Why? This performance is freaking fantabulous and Taylor has much to prostrate himself in gratitude before the Boss of Everything for. Taylor noticeably sounds like he's out of breath towards the end but I'm sure many people are also that way after they have finished bopping their heads and swaying their shoulders to Taylor.

The judges are unanimously in rapture although King Tut is more reserved about how the original is better. Of course the original is better. Hell will freeze over when Taylor starts to measure up to the Boss himself. Randy Randy stupidly mentions song choice again, as if Taylor has anything to do with the selection of song. God, Randy Randy isn't merely stupid, he's - pardon my French - fucking retarded tonight. Doesn't he get it? If he likes or hates a song selection - take it to the Boss of Everyone. If he's too much of a brassless wimp to do that, then for the love of dogs and bitches everywhere, Randy Randy please shut the fuck up. Now, with that out of the way, let's get back to the show. King Tut takes the effort to "compliment" Miss Paula on her moves, which he claims is pretty good for someone her age. How old is King Tut, you ask? Yes, exactly. Ugh. Miss Paula repays the favor by humping King Tut on TV after creepily flirting with Taylor. Meanwhile, Taylor gives two random cries of "Soul Patrol!" in the meantime. I guess what he doesn't speak out loud, he telegraphs it with his wigglebum tush-dancing and magic finger gestures. In fact, I'm half expecting him to cry, "Soul Patrol! And these are gold!" until I realize he's probably too much of a tasteless dork to watch Bring It On.

Now Sleazie explains that the judges will each select a song for a contestant. As usual, the one that gets King Tut's pick will shine (Fantasia, Vonzell) because for all the man's faults and his crimes on music, one thing he can't be faulted for is his ability to discern a contestant's strength and weakness to select a song that will complement the contestant's strengths perfectly. Alas, Sleazie, posing with the judges and two cute cameramen behind the judge table, reveals that Elliott's song is picked by Miss Paula. Yes, Miss Mr Melody, I Can Get No Satisfaction Paula is doing the handpicking and Elliott learns during his homecoming tour that he will be forced to perform Bobby Caldwell's What You Won't Do For Love. It's a nice song but come on, it's also a smooth and mellow song that is probably too mellow for a competition. This is a song to get down to, not to get the fingers working on the phone! Miss Paula says that she picked the song because it was the first song that came to her head. No, she says that Elliott is "full of love" and is some "funky white boy with soul and rhythm". In short, she has no clue why.

My fears come true when Elliott tries to put up a valiant performance but this song is so laidback mellow that the performance becomes boring. Elliott's singing is as usual good but the song is doing nothing for him. It's repetitive in the melody, it has no exciting opportunities to launch into impressive runs, it's just Elliott singing. Yes, it's a song to get down and busy to before the fireplace, but this isn't some Honeypot Love Shack event, this is a competition and I want to see Elliott impressing everyone with something comparable to Moody's Mood For Love! Not What You Won't Do For Love, for which the answer in this case seems to be "stay awake".

Randy Randy compliments the song choice but feels that Elliott was sharp. If the performer couldn't pull off the song like Randy Randy is saying, how then can that stupid braindead tub of toxic lard say that the song is perfect for Elliott? Miss Paula is like, song choice, whatever, she still thinks she knows who Elliott is as an artist and she insists that Elliott pierces the heart. Oh, Elliott, I'm so sorry you have your song choice made by a drug-addled floozy. If she shows up at the doorway of your room tonight, let her in because hey, you're already screwed anyway. King Tut says that the song choice is dreadful (how predictable of him, and in this case, how right of him) but he feels that Elliott performed the song well. See, people? King Tut is on Elliott's side, in a way, and I have a hunch that if he chooses the song for Elliott, he'll pick something from the Rat Pack catalogue and we'll all be hugging each other in joy and composing pornographic emails to Elliott next week. Sigh.

After all, King Tut chooses Judy Garland's Somewhere Over The Rainbow for Katharine, which makes perfect sense as Katharine's best performances are of songs that allow her to sing and emote within the comfort zone of her range instead of songs that require Katharine to start screaming every other line. King Tut explains his choice by saying that he knows since day one that the song is perfect for her.

Katharine sits down and starts the performance acapella. Only after two lines when the chorus kicks in does the lone guitar comes in to accompany her. It occurs to me that there are times when the performance feels a little too sugary-sweet and even contrived, but then I remember where the song came from - let's just say that The Wizard Of Oz isn't exactly free of contrivances either, what with the lion wanting to find courage and all - so really, this song is perfect for Katharine. In a way, she is the Dorothy of this show. Katharine does ample justice to this song and I really like her performance. It seals it for her, I think, to move on to next week.

Trust the judges to overpraise the performance, however. Randy Randy calls the performance as one with the best vocals all season. I really don't think so. Miss Paula stands up and babbles about magic (really) and beauty. King Tut earns the right to gloat but he oh so modestly restrains himself to a humble, "That was the single best performance of the competition to date!" I like Katharine, probably one of the handful left that dare to admit this out loud in the wake of the angry Chris and Elliott fans currently on a bloody rampage in every online forum I dare peek into, but I think it is Elliott and Paris who have delivered the best vocal performances in this season.

Randy Randy, the talking anus who is also the master of song choices, picks Joe Cocker's You Are So Beautiful for Taylor. Randy Randy explains that the song is the best song of all time and Taylor is an old soul who would do the song justice. Yes, "old" is right.

This is as bad a song choice as Miss Paula's for Elliott. Taylor this time chooses to show his Very Sad Face instead of his usual I'm So Happy Face. This means he is frowning to the point that his mouth almost takes the shape of an inverted U. I find myself laughing when he does that. This song is, in a way, similar to What You Won't Do For Love - it has a very repetitive hook and it therefore gets very boring when one is not in the mood to get naked and do some energetic aerobic exercises. Taylor tries, but the arrangement of the song makes sure that he doesn't sound any livelier than a funeral march stuck in a massive traffic jam. "You... are... ... ... so... ... ... .... beau... ti... ... ... zzzzzzzz."

The judges however insist that it's his best performance so far. They're all on crack. Me, I'd take Dancing In The Dark and Jailhouse Rock - which spastic spazz-butts and magic fingers aside, has really good vocals - over this sleepy piece of crock.

Sleazie reveals that after the judges have given the contestants enough rope, the contestants will now hang themselves since they will be now singing songs of their own choices.

Elliott performs his one-man execution on the stool with Sleazie when he reveals that he will perform Ray Charles' I Believe To My Soul, although, wisely wanting to avert another Chris versus Live type of feud, he clarifies that he'll be doing Donny Hathaway's version of that song. So, what do you call someone who covers a cover version? What is Elliott thinking? The problem with this performance is that the song actually downplays Elliott's strength, forcing him to dip into his lower register during the chorus to the point that he is nearly atonal throughout most of the chorus. The verses are more energetic but once more the band is drowning him out, to the point even the supposed cute highlight of this performance, Elliott's "Oh, Nelly, when you know my name, Elliott Yamin!" comes off yet another barely-audible yammering drowned in a sea of trumpet blasts. This is a performance that is comparable to Fantasia's All My Life in the finale of season three: upon the first listen, the performance come off like a complete mess of gibberish. Over the years, I've actually grown to appreciate Fantasia's performance of that song because it's actually sweet and heartfelt when I listen to it without the distraction of the crowd in the TV show and all. Maybe this performance will have the same effect on me, I don't know. But I know that first impressions are very important and if there are people out there like me who find this performance a mess due to the distracting lighting, the loud band, and the gnawing concerns in one's heart whether one's favorite will make it through to next week, Elliott is in very serious trouble since his previous two performances have been very ordinary.

The judges know this. Randy Randy says that the song isn't right for Elliott (ha, now he's talking about the wrong song choice) but he feels that Elliott can sing very well so he credits Elliott for a job well done, "no matter what it is". The "no matter what it is" seals it for Elliott, really. Miss Paula - oh, who cares what that cow says? King Tut is even more coherent than Randy Randy in stating the case for Elliott as he says after a fake cough into the microphone (to silence the cheering audience), "Elliott, your songs are not going to carry you through to the next week. That's the problem." Aww, Elliott's eyes are glistening as he nods. And my heart? It's breaking and it hurts. King Tut continues, "However, you are a great guy, you are a great singer, and whatever happens, you will make your Mom very proud for what you've achieved in this competition." Yes, well said, King Tut. And... thank you. Gosh, I'm a pathetic bundle of nerves, ugh.

Katharine tells Sleazie that she's singing Ella Fitzgerald's I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues because she doesn't want to be compared to someone contemporary and also because she loves the song. In this performance, Katharine tries to sound like Ella and sometimes she comes close to succeeding. But on the whole, this performance is another one of those that don't grab the audience at once like a competition performance has to. The song isn't one of those songs that the audience of this show will immediately recognize (also a problem with Elliott's song choice) and it lacks a hook that will reel the audience in. At this late stage of the competition, she should be pulling all stops to pick something more catchy and engaging. This performance unfortunately won't be helping her reel in the votes, I suspect.

Randy Randy thinks the performance is just okay because he can't help comparing her to Ella. That is such a ridiculous thing to say. Maybe they should then outlaw songs by Ella and other iconic performers on this show? Miss Paula twitters in her irrelevance. King Tut thinks that this performance was merely okay as well as he wishes that Katharine could have sung Somewhere Over The Rainbow as her closing performance. He really wants Katharine to go through, doesn't he? Of course, one can say that he wants Katharine to go through because she'll be a weaker competition for Taylor and therefore Taylor can win, but at this point, the ridiculous conspiracy theories of the Elliott and Chris fans online have made tinhat speculations something to be embarrassed about so I will wait until the next season to put my conspiracy theories back in action.

Taylor Hicks closes the show with Otis Redding's Try A Little Tenderness. Nadia performed this song early in the semifinals of the last season, if you can recall. I think at this point, it is dangerous to continue playing the drinking game whenever Taylor goes, "Soul Patrol!" since he's determined to do that every time he has the opportunity to. This is classic Taylor. If you don't like him, you'll flee in terror to the nearest church or other religious sanctuaries where the Soul Patrol cannot catch you. If you like to hear him sing but can't bear to see his repertoire of half-squat magic-fingers spazzy-thighs constipated-expressions motor function breakdowns, turn your backs to the TV and point your butt at the TV for good measure while enjoying the singing. If you love Taylor to the point that you color your kids' hair grey and nag your husband for being a hard-muscled hot stud freak instead of a sexy ancient-looking geezer with paunch and flabby thighs, it's time to pack your bags and lock the kids up in the basement with enough canned tuna for a month or two because the tour is starting anytime now and you will want to follow the winner from city to city until your money runs out and you are forced to tearfully sell all your Taylor Hicks merchandise on eBay to pay last month's credit card bills.

Randy Randy has a new nickname for Taylor: "Have a Good Time Funky Taylor!" Is this where we play Play That Funky Music with overlying laugh tracks to emphasize how tragically ironic this moment is? Miss Paula says that she wanted to choose this song for Taylor until she's learned that Taylor has already chosen it. So she then went and screwed Elliott royally, I see. Thank you, Miss Paula! Here, have an OD on me. Despite the awful ending where Taylor screeched until his fans collapse in a swoon while his detractors double over in pain, the performance has King Tut thinking that Taylor would be a shoo-in to move on. Maybe Taylor should move on, if only because he's the only one here who has picked the correct song tonight.

Anyway, Sleazie now recaps the performances of the night and the Yaminion suicide watch officially commences. Parents, do you know what your kids are doing right now?

Results show. Sleazie still hasn't shaved because his stubble is now thicker than it was in the previous night. Maybe he's joined me in our being so blue about Elliott's time on this show being up and all. It's strange - I actually never expected Elliott to come this far because I assumed his looks and lack of screentime would work against him. Yes, I know, we also have a big fat spazz like Taylor and he's insanely adored by the masses, so what I do know, heh? Still, when the moment comes, I still can't help wincing when it happens. I guess I've been swept up on the Elliott carpet ride to even start believing that he could win.

For a change from his usual consorting-with-the-ugly-audience starting scenes, Sleazie now walks in front of Katharine, Taylor, and Elliott like he's a slave auctioneer introducing three people on sale that night. He wonders who will move on, et cetera, and the credits move in.

Sleazie walks out on stage and the camera zooms in on all those Soul Patrol signs in the audience. Wow, that's some very subtle subliminal message there from the show. Good thing I didn't blink or I would have missed it. Hey, Ace and Kellie are in the audience and Kellie has cut her hair short to about her neck. She actually looks pretty good with short hair. Sleazie tries to pretend that Kellie is going out with Ace and those two deny it. Elsewhere, Conty Bint must be yelling at the TV at Ace not to copy his stunt so blatantly. Good for Kellie, by the way, for making the full use of her fifteen minutes by becoming fake dates for greasy oily guys on public events everywhere.

Sleazie reveals that this is actually the most popular season ever and it's actually true, I hear, so I can't help feeling a little worried about having to keep watching this show when I'm 99 and begging for some nurse in the intensive care unit to throw the bloody TV away so that I can die in peace. Sleazie also says that 515 million votes have been cast so far, although given his lamentable lack of accuracy when it comes to numbers, the actual figure could be anything from 515 billion votes to 51.5 million votes. Either way, this show is only becoming bigger as the show becomes more bloated and obscenely greedy about taking advantage of its audience every year. It's the new Blob monster, I tell you, and we are all going to be eaten by this show one of these days.

After prattling some more about votes and winners, Sleazie says that over 50 million votes came in last night and the difference of the number of votes each of the Three receive is supposedly marginal. If that is true - this show is full of BS, after all - that means the Soul Patrol isn't as indomitable as it seems to be. Next week when the disenfranchised fans of Elliott throw their votes to Taylor, that's a different ballgame altogether, heh. Sleazie then introduces the judges where it can be seen that only Randy Randy is eager for Sleazie to pay attention to him while Miss Paula and King Tut are busy gazing into each other's eyes. Poor Randy Randy, he is always so desperate for attention.

Sleazie now recaps the performances of last night. Then it's time for a hideous Ford clip where the Three as very old coots lip synch to a rap version of Frank Sinatra's Young At Heart. I suppose it can be funny to see a wizened Katharine shaking her bum at the camera or an ancient Taylor acting like he's Hugh Hefner but I'm tired of reading Janet Evanovich novels so I'm probably overdosed on the horny old people joke by now. Sleazie tops off the end of the clip by saying that he didn't know that King Tut was having a party. King Tut then punctures Sleazie's moment by not cooperating with a comeback, instead telling Sleazie to merely carry on. Deflated, Sleazie now has to move on to talk about the official website and how I can apparently win a Ford that I can use to drive to the finale. Does this mean that I can use the Ford to drive through the ampitheatre and run over Randy Randy just for laughs? Of course, don't forget to buy tickets for the tour, kiddies!

As it is with every season, there has to be a product placement for a movie. This time, it's for the new X-Men movie where Rebecca Romjin and Hugh Jackman - swoon - go backstage to meet the Three and pretend to be big fans since day one. Ooh, Hugh can speak to me in that accent all day long. In fact, they can cancel this show and replace it with one hour of Hugh just saying sweet nothings to the camera for all I care. Hugh then offers the Three each a "sneak peek" DVD of the movie for their enjoyment on their flight to their hometown for the usual Homecoming Trip thingie. At least it's just that silly show and not that special home video Hugh and I made during the Christmas of '03, I tell you. Nah, I'm just kidding. Hey, is there any way we can hold a Celebrity American Idol thing in the future and force Hugh to take part? He can sing the slushy coronotion song wearing only tight leopard-skinned pants and nothing else and I'll be in heaven.

After some babbles with the Taylor about the Homecoming Tour thingies (Taylor is all about eating ribs), it's time to see Taylor's Homecoming Tour. Of course it's crazy. Radio shows! TV shows! It's the "Welcome Home Taylor Day" today! The usual, really. Taylor generally acts like overgrown kid, going "Woo! Woo! Woo!" to the police escort vehicle's sirens and saying "Soul Patrol" only a hundred times or so. Everyone is happy because everyone believes mistakenly that they will all get to be rich and famous too when Taylor becomes the new American Idol. Back on stage, Sleazie and Taylor talk some more and it is very amazing how vapid and uneloquent Taylor is when he is talking, as opposed to the big spazz he is. He takes the stage to reprise Takin' It To The Streets, where he once more tries to convince everyone that he's a Doobie Brother who grew up on the wrong side of the street and he's now protesting about social injustice. Who's better to be that person than Taylor, right? Those streets of his whitebread home, they're buring with hate and crime, yo. Whatever, Taylor. What-effing-ever.

Now it's Katharine's turn to get her spotlight for her Homecoming Tour. Her trip is literally one over the hill because she lives in LA. She also gets a TV gig and she visits her high school. It's quite sad when she talks about how she has more support from the entire state than from her hometown, but then again, she lives in LA. In LA, famous people are everywhere and everyone's pretty much has either slept with or related to someone even a little famous or has played roles big or small in TV or in movies before. It's to be expected that no one in LA is really going ga-ga over an American Idol contestant, unlike someone living in a normal and not-too-exciting city far away from LA where it is expected to vicariously share the excitement of a local kid making it good on that show. Maybe later they will realize that the local kid who did good will only drop by only when he has to show up to fake up some "And this is my hometown which I truly adore!" antics for some TV show, but for now it's all about town or state pride. Katharine then takes the stage to reprise Think. Yup, another whitebread tyke wanting to be an activist and telling everybody to stand up for social equality and all. Next thing I know, she and Taylor will be posing naked for PETA, for which I'll say, good for her and please don't for him, for the sake of all our eyes.

Now it's Elliott's turn. Hey, Gavin DeGraw is in the audience! Then again, he will show and claim to be the best friend of everyone who sang his songs on this show - isn't that right, Bo? - since he's a desperate "look at me, buy my CDs!" type. He may have to engage in a bitchslap duel with Daniel Powter though if they both want to fight it out for the title of the Vaguely Recognizable Bloke With One Big Song on this show. Elliott claps like he can't care less for Gavin, which is probably the case, while Katharine waves at Gavin like a besotted fan. She probably is a fan, who knows. Back to Elliott's Homecoming Trip, it's also another day of TV shows and all. Elliott says that it's good to be king for that day - I half-expect him to break into that song from The Lion King there and then - and he takes the adulation and the cheerings with a mix of genuine bewilderment and cocksure glee. Elliott used to work at the pharmacy, which meant that he was the cool high school buddy with free prescription goodies that I always wanted but never had. Oh, Elliott. He performs Home to an audience who cheer like crazy and generally behaves like a dork who has suddenly become so cool that he tries to act like a cool kid but his inner dork still shines bright. In short, Elliott is finally living out his own Adam Sandler movie, where at the end of the day the guy who started out a loser is finally the hero, cheered by the people who once doubted and mocked him, and he's finally the Big Guy that he always wanted to be. Sleazie is extra nice about complimenting Elliott and even Mrs Yamin because we all know that we have to make his departure as painless as possible. Ah, Elliott then reprises on stage Moody's Mood For Love and... hello, Elliott. Have we met before? I know we hardly know each other but I believe that we are meant to be. So... would you like to marry me?

Sleazie now reminds everyone that it isn't enough to buy tour tickets, games, and Coke, there is also the CD out next week that has to be bought as well. And then, because there are some time to kill, it's time for a "Let's see how great we all are to you kiddies!" self-congratulatory clip. The show lies about Kelly becoming a superstar with Since U've Been Gone when Kelly became a superstar after she fled this show's clutches. The show lies about the success of Ruben and Fantasia. The show isn't lying about Cattle's success, but that's because Cattle is singing good songs on her CD that are the kind of songs that people became her fans from watching her perform them on the show and they are also songs that fit in with today's contemporary music landscape. Cattle is singing country pop because she's good at it, hence her successful debut CD, unlike Ruben and Fantasia who were forced to sing crappy music that weren't suited for their style. And of course, all their successes are supposedly due to the guidance of the Boss of Everyone. I can hear the collective vomiting of Tamyra, Justin, and Piggy Di Guano now. The Boss then takes the stage... is there a reason for him to be on stage? The Boss lists on stage all the successes of the Idol alumni and then thank everyone on this show and in the audience for helping to "revitalize pop music". Yes, because the world is going ga-ga over Bo's latest CD. I can see Taylor becoming the new international man of music. The Boss then spooges over the cake, so to speak, by happily accepting some stupid award "on behalf" of his recording company and all from this show.

Now that the people involved in this show are spent after their mutual self-pleasuring, it's now time to ditch one of the Three. Sleazie, with the aid of big numbers on the screen, reveals that the lowest vote-getter receives 33.06% of the votes. The next person receives 33.26%. The highest vote-getter has 33.68%. So who has the 33.06%? Sleazie decides to rub some salt in the wounds of the unlucky sod by asking aloud, "Who is so close to moving on but is going home tonight?"

Well, that person is Elliott, of course. A lot of angry people are saying that Katharine's mother "acted too happy" but all that woman does is to clap and mouths to the camera that her daughter is moving on to the finals. And funny, really, how no one complains about other people celebrating their moving on until their favorites get the ax, really. I'm really serious when I say that I know now how the sane Kewpie fans feel about the crazy majority of the Kewpinites: I really cringe in embarrassment at some of the over-the-top antics of Elliott fans out there. Sleazie makes doubly sure that everyone and Elliott know that Elliott is much loved by all and he will have a bright future, although why we need to coddle Elliott like this, I have no idea. Is it because he is deaf in one ear and he has diabetes? And what's this over the top "Elliott loves his mother and vice versa" appreciation showcase? My husband suggests that maybe the show is trying to prevent its studio from being burned by angry insane Elliott fans by making the blow land as softly as possible. Perhaps, heh, that explains the special gentle accoustic version of Daniel Powter's Bad Day that plays in Elliott's eulogy clip.

Elliott closes the show by reprising I Believe To My Soul. Ouch, the lines "One of these days, and it won't be long/You're gonna look for me and I'll be gone" feels so sadly prophetic now.

Thanks for the wonderful songs and performances, Efraym Elliott Yamin. If you ever come up with a CD, and I hope you do, I'll be looking forward to it.