'American Idol': On the scene for the Top 4 results night TRAVESTY
Well, so that happened. I mean, what do you want me to say, PopWatchers? I know. I know. You want righteous indignation. You want fireballs. You want to hear about how I desired to throw up on Kara DioGuardi’s face when she was spazzing out during Allison Iraheta’s gutsy final performance as though she’d ever given that girl more than the most cursory compliment over the course of the season. (EDIT: As many of the commenters have pointed out, however, those cursory compliments were often the only ones A.I. got.)
Whatever. We’re in a recession. There’s swine flu. The Taliban is taking over Pakistan. Santa Barbara is on fire. And tonight was one of my best friends’ birthdays, and I could only pop in at her party because I had to come home and write this silly recap about a silly talent show that attracts silly voters who wouldn’t know real talent if it hit them with the mic stand that it carries around because it’s trying to look “rock.” I get it. It’s not such a big deal. Allison went home. Adam Lambert’s gonna win. Or Danny Gokey. Or Kris Allen. (?) And I guess we’ll go on, unless we die broke and sneezing and on fire while subject to hardcore Sharia law. It’s fine. I’m fine. You’re fine. This…is what happened tonight at American Idol.
Got to the Idoldome with plenty of time to spare: Thanks to yesterday’s “incidents,” I wanted to be there, ready to report, should anything go horribly awry again. I even smuggled in my BlackBerry with my tampons. But there was no need to be on orange alert — I filed into the studio with the rest of the audience in an orderly fashion, passing the unattended light board and taking a second to look at the cues programmed on its screen. My favorites were TENSION and RESTORE. Oh, TENSION. How this show thrives on you. But RESTORE — how I yearn to know your warm embrace. On the floor of the soundstage, a small child was walking to its seat, wearing a Slash wig and top hat. Someone being funny seated this child right behind Mrs. Slash and her son. Hilarity ensued.
Can’t say I “missed” Cory’s routine amid all the drama last night, but there was something reassuring about having him back up and about this evening, or maybe that was just the “Sweet Child O’ Mine” dance remix being played in the background. We went through the usual dance-scream-dance nonsense, and based on the cheers in the audience when Cory asked who we voted for, I was pretty sure either Kris or Danny was going home. Then again, it was a weird house, full of the sort of people who just come right out and ask for an iPod. “If you ask for something, you don’t get it,” said Cory. “That’s the way we do it here.” (Ooh! Ooh! I want Kara to come back next season!) The room seemed totally resistant to lying about the fact that No Doubt and Paula Abdul were “performing,” if not downright hostile once they were told both acts were pre-taped. Cory also asked if anyone had been in the crowd for yesterday’s apocalyptic dress rehearsal, and one woman down in the stage left pit raised her hand, then asked about Debbie. “She’s doing very well,” said Cory. I don’t know why in hell that woman wanted to come back after what happened, but I’d like to thank her for being the only person in the room who took the time to check up on our beloved den mother, and I’m so glad to hear Debbie’s okay. (Really, RyRy? Not even a shout-out? Please tell me that wasn’t your call.)
Signs: Boring. Judges: Came in. Randy stopped to kiss Mrs. Slash. Kara saw a sign reading “Kara is a Rock Star!” and jerked both her hands into the air and pointed at her own head. It was like she was trying to throw devil horns, but…couldn’t. And after last night’s peace-sign debacle, I couldn’t help but wonder: Is Kara DioGuardi incapable of throwing devil horns because she is working for him and it is against some sort of rule? With about a minute to go, the Final Four entered (where is Adam getting these pants? where is Allison getting those boots?). With 22 seconds to go, Ryan walked in, acknowledged a couple signs, then walked down into the pit for the cold open. Had a hard time deciding which part of the cold open was lamer: The writers’ dorky “School of Rock/schooled” parallel, or Danny Gokey wrinkling his nose and saying, “This isn’t really my kind of music” with barely-masked disdain. (It’s okay, sweetie: Rascal Flatts isn’t really mine.) In general, I thought the Final Four looked uncomfortable, and tired.
The contestants stayed glued to the Ford video playing on the big screen as they took their places for the group number, which was sung live, probably because of Slash. (“If I have to solo on this godforsaken crapfest,” I could almost hear him saying, “you children are going to sing.”) By now you’ve all seen Allison’s not-quite-mock shove to Gokey’s chest, but I’m not sure if you caught the way the judges — Simon included — led the standing O at the end of the number. I am unclear on why. I mean, Slash is awesome and everything, but he was exerting less effort than Glambert up there. (Actually, that may be worth the ovation.) On his way out the door for commercial, Randy turned to Cowell. “Dude! What? What?” I saw him mouth in full “THAT WAS THE BOMB!” mode. Oy. I can only encourage all those who thought tonight’s Alice Cooper cover was good to watch the real thing. They knew how to breed a pit girl back in those days, I’ll tell ya.
During the first break, Allison whacked Danny in the chest again, this time by way of explanation — apparently, Gokey hadn’t known what Ryan was talking about after the song. (Dead inside…or dead outside?) Then Kris hugged Danny and Allison, then Danny and Allison hugged. Adam hugged the crew member who brought them water. Cory started dispensing t-shirts from a bag, and gave an iPod to a tiny boy from Arkansas wearing a completely fedorable hat. The Final Four started mugging in the direction of their families, and with seconds to spare, Mrs. Slash came darting in behind the judges. Paula, I noticed, was not at the table. I assume this is because she had to “prepare” for her “performance.”
Q&A portion of the evening was its usual uneventful self at the start: Yes, Danny, Wednesdays are mostly boring for us, too. Oh, Kris, aren’t you precious and bashful. How nice, Adam, that you were just having fun up there. But then Ryan asked Danny about The Scream, and the Gokester did his best to brush it off, veering close to likeable before driving into Douchebag Canyon when he suggested he might have a future in motion pictures. Then Ryan asked Allison about talking back… and I swear to you, PopWatchers, I heard her curse. But I thought she dropped an f-bomb, and when I went back to the broadcast to hear what they bleeped out, the bleep wasn’t really in the place where I thought that f-bomb had been. So I don’t know what they bleeped, and I am sorry. Insert your own expletive instead. I do it all the time. It’s fun.
Ryan went and sat in Paula’s empty chair while she “performed,” and I enjoyed watching the judges’ response to this tape: Randy and Kara gamely bopped along, while Ryan and Simon engaged in some deep, disinterested conversation. All four clapped for Ms. Abdul’s Dirty Dancing leap off the platform, however, and hey! There was pyro! I guess I missed that when I left after just one take of pre-taping yesterday. (Drat. I do love a good pyro blast, especially with all that hairspray in the pits.) Once again, the judges led the standing ovation. Once again, I marveled at the way the Idoldome audience reacts to videotaped events as though they are real. At commercial, Simon tried to get out to smoke, but almost every person in the stage right pit yelled his name. He turned around with a massive eye roll, and sauntered over to autograph a young woman’s book. “Awwww,” said the audience. (Raise your standards, audience.) Meanwhile, Cory was unloading Idol merch like the plane was going down.
Big applause for Paula after her triumphant “performance,” and a smooth transition into No Doubt — which got way less in-house response than the former Laker Girl. I choose to believe this was because everyone was still mad it was taped, and not because they were unimpressed by “Just a Girl” — but then again, some of these people obviously voted for Gokey, so maybe it’s just not “their kind of music.” Enjoyed seeing the moment where the pit girls from last night saved Gwen’s mic from rolling away while she was doing push-ups. Decided whatever Ms. Stefani does to look like that, I want to be a part of. When the segment finished, Cory congratulated us on enduring all the pre-taping, then looked at the swag in his hand and said, “This is an Adam bag.” The lady behind me got so excited she dropped her sign on my head.
Quick question: Do we really need a video montage of previous homecoming video montages? I would have gone with no on that one, but hey, I also wouldn’t have voted for Danny Gokey, so what the hell do I know? As we moved into judging (TENSION), no one booed when Ryan referenced Simon’s comments on The Horror, but everybody booed the negative comments about Kris. I looked down and noticed a dog sitting at the bottom of my aisle, leashed to a mohawked boy in a wheelchair, but before I could process this image, Ryan declared Kris Allen safe. The crowd made a literal popping noise as they gasped in unison. Allison pumped her fist, and went to grab the stunned Kris as soon as we went to break. Once the other contestants left the stage, Kris fell into a long, deep hug with the water lady. (RESTORE)
No Doubt set-up time yesterday: 40 minutes. Daughtry set-up time today: less than three. Ryan materialized two rows in front of me to introduce the former castoff, as Chris himself emerged and bowed a couple namastes to the crowd. I thought it was nice of him to let another band dude talk in the introductory clip, and then he was sharp for pretty much the whole song. A crew member had to move the dog out of the way to let Ryan back down the stairs. That service animal, I thought, is not getting paid enough to be here.
Next break. Simon headed back stage right to hug another girl, Randy went on stage, Daughtry (just the lead singer) went into the stage left pit, and Kara ascended the opposite set of stairs, presumably to find whoever made her the “Rock Star” sign and pay them their $20. The dog started to look sort of sad/irritated, and laid down with its nose on its paws. The remaining unsafe finalists took their spots center stage, and I really missed Debbie. Cory was up in the middle house, talking to a woman who was pregnant with twins. “If you name one of them Cory, I’ll give you an iPod Touch,” he said. The woman behind me dropped her sign on my head again.
And then they sent Allison home. Kris Allen looked legitimately sick about this, first covering his mouth with his hands, then clutching at his stomach and folding his arms in tight. You didn’t miss much else other than what you saw on TV. I think A.I. took it better than the rest of us, and absolutely killed that teary-eyed “Cry Baby” reprise. I found it really weird that the judges were given no chance to comment on the results whatsoever — but then they never did know what to say to this girl, so why start now? Because I watched it later on TV, I know that Kara spent much of the show’s end wailing, “Allison! Allison!” as though she’d just lost to Apollo Creed, and because I saw it as I huffed out the door, I know that Kara was also the first person on stage to hug the rocker. The word “disingenuous” comes to mind, as do several others. I will not repeat here the last thing that I scrawled into my notebook tonight, because this is a family magazine — but it would have gotten bleeped if I’d said it on TV, let’s put it that way.
A few small consolations, of course: Allison is now free, and no longer subject to the whims of a clueless nation. She follows in the proud footsteps of True Idols such as Carly Smithson and Melinda Doolittle, not to mention the five-times-platinum artist who performed live this evening and was mostly sharp. She will probably have significantly more creative and personal freedom in her future career thanks to tonight’s vote, as well as develop the kind of thick skin that is necessary for longevity, if bred only by disappointment. And the first song on the radio when I got in my car was “Gunpowder and Lead,” by the great Miranda Lambert — a kickass chick who, it should be noted, also did not win her reality show. When that song ended, I changed the station and landed on “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” which I did not, then jumped again and found Depeche Mode’s “Policy of Truth.” I rolled down the windows and sang along quite bitterly with that “never again is what you swore the time before” line, because it seems I will never learn. Amazingly, this song was followed by one of Aerosmith’s old-timey classics, “Jaded.” It was at this point I decided my radio was just being a brat.
It’s bedtime here in L.A., so what do you think, PopWatchers? The comments are open, and I hope you’ll go to town — I’m gonna quit while I’m marginally ahead and not bore/anger you with my extended thesis on the way modern misogyny is being largely perpetuated by girls under the age of 22. I encourage anyone thirsting for further Aunt Whittlz insight on tonight’s results to visit my new blog, I Told You A Woman Would Never Again Win This Show But You Mark My Words Right Now Allison Iraheta Will Outsell Whoever Does Dot Com. And since this is my last regular-season recap of the season — I’ll be back for the finale, bringing you full team coverage alongside Adam “The Beav” Vary — I’d just like to thank everyone for tuning in, unless you voted for Danny Gokey, in which case you stopped reading 10 paragraphs ago anyway. For the rest of you, a parting gift. Doo-doo-doot!