By Michael Slezak
Updated May 18, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT

”Shut your mouth and say it ain’t so!”

Yeah, yeah, I started last week’s Top Model recap with the same quote, but I can’t help myself. I’m having a hard time finding words to appropriately express my excitement that Danielle — my favorite reality-show contestant in the history of ever — overcame the usually jank judgement of Tyra Banks and her fellow judges to claim the title of America’s Next Top Model (Cycle 6). Please, PopWatchers, tell me I’m not the only one who got choked up hearing the country-South, gap-toothed beauty exclaim, ”I’m a Cover Girl, mommy! I’m a Cover Girl!”

If nothing else, we’re all going to be crying tears of joy come September, when Danielle’s ”My Life as a Cover Girl” campaign starts airing. After enduring the twin agonies of Cycle 4 and 5 Top Modelbots Nicole and Naima delivering dialogue so wooden that it felt like my soul was being ripped from my chest and into my TV set, it’ll be refreshing to see a real, live human being take over the role. Who knows? Maybe we’ll actually get to follow Danielle as she tackles actual modeling work (not fabricated ”appearances”), given that she possesses an unbeatable combination of flawless physique, radiant beauty, and killer charisma.

For most of last night’s episode, though, I didn’t think it was gonna happen.

Not with the way Tyra once again ragged on our gal’s speaking voice(despite the fact that her ad featured a woefully awkward script).Thank heavens Twiggy and Miss J, neither of whom exactly work a poshaccent, finally came to Danielle’s defense this week. ”A little bit ofvoice-coaching,” J noted, before Twiggy finished his thought with,”and she could have tea with the Queen, darling!” A to the men,ladies! Then, of course, Danielle’s saucy runway strut got impeded whenshe was forced to carry a drum (!) for the first pass of the Issueclothing show; but not to worry, her pose-wink-pose maneuver carriedher to victory over worthy rival Joanie, who surprisingly lost focus onthe catwalk. (Speaking of which, didn’t the odd camera angles duringthe runway show rob the final challenge of its urgency?)

Anyhow, speaking of Joanie (who was pretty terrific in her CoverGirl ad), how awesome was Danielle’s ”Ebony and ivory, sucka!”assessment of the final two? Of course, as I pointed out last week, itwasn’t like the panel could’ve allowed deluded Jade to finish anywherebut third. Joanie so succinctly summed up the situation by describingJade thusly: ”Her personality smells like a dirty diaper.” And Jade,of course, sealed her own fate by ignoring Mr. Jay’s direction andattempting some g-g-g-gawkward improvisation during her ad. I couldn’tunderstand why the show’s producers were subjecting us to Jade’sridonkulous post-elimination beat poetry until, in a stroke of purebrilliance, they choreographed the disappearance of her photo in thetitle sequence to the sound of her own finger snap, a nice littlereminder of why Top Model is perhaps the most addictive guilty pleasure on television. Snap, snap, and suh-nap. Can’t wait for Cycle 7.

Episode Recaps

America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel

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