By Josh Wolk
July 19, 2006 at 09:30 PM EDT

It’s a shame that more people suffering in thenationwide heat wave last night didn’t watch ABC’s The One — a rock& roll reality rip-off of Rock Star, which was, in turn, a rip-offof American Idol. (The premiere landed fourth in the ratings.) Thoughthis musical showcase’s mission statement was to find the nation’shottest undiscovered talent, it was so devoid of heat that you couldhave wrapped your body around your television while it played andlowered your body temperature by 30 percent.

The singers were carefully handpicked torepresent wannabe hacks from all across the musical spectrum. Actualstars like Mariah Carey, James Blunt, Bruce Springsteen, and Pink wereeach emulated by an imitator who seemed to have just been introduced tohis or her own vocal chords right before the show. Each contestanttackled a tired classic like “Keep Me Hanging On” and “The Weight,” andput his or her own mark on them: a skidmark. It’s unfortunate thatmusic does not fall under the Geneva Conventions, because the singerstook these songs and did the musical equivalent of strapping electrodesto their testicles. Somewhere on a damp cellar floor, “Devil in a BlueDress” is still naked in a fetal position, shivering with the memory ofits treatment by tempo-impaired bad-boy rocker Michael Cole.

And yet, shockingly, after each belter finishedtouching each song in its shame-shame spot and then throwing it a dirtytowel to clean itself up, the three judges heaped praise on theperformance. I began to question my own sanity when, at the end of yetanother musical debacle, the judges cheered that the singer had“It!” But perhaps what was coming out of the contestants’mouths was irrelevant. At one point, judge Kara DioGuardi told theshrieky, hot-pantsed, J-Lo-lite Jadyn Maria, “You’ve got two thingsthat are a big commodity in the music industry: One is hot, and one issweet.” Grammatical confusion aside, with hot and sweet at the top,where does the ability to carry a tune rank in the music industry’spriority list? Just below zazz and pow, but somewhere abovekickassitude and oo-ee?

Host George Stroumboulopoulos (only those withwide-screen TVs got to see his full name) constantly stressed that thiswhole competition was about discovering the undiscovered, and by theshow’s talent-free end, one conclusion was clear: After countless TVtalent searches, it’s finally over. Everyone who is worth discoveringhas been discovered. The rest of America can stop trying. Which doesn’tmean there isn’t a way for ABC to salvage this show. Just keep thecontestants, change the goal, and switch the title to Everybody’s GotTalent as a Fry Cook. Then I think we’ve really got a competition, anda more realistic one at that.