American Idol: Doing It in a Group Is Better Than Doing It Alone
Hollywood Week has ended its first week! Yes, there's more than one week to this single week. Similarly, all the American Idols are German. It's just how things work — time bends, reflections change — in Ryan Seacrest's imagination world.
That's my theory about this show. When it is finally done, Ryan Seacrest will wake up and realize it's all just been a dream. Kelly Clarkson will be waiting tables somewhere in the grassy sprawl of Texas, handing out baskets of grease and meat, and suddenly she will sense a strange ripple in the air, in her soul, and she will wonder what it was. Sanjaya will put down the tube of lipstick and turn to his sister, bored and fanning herself on the bed, and say "Did you feel that?" The sister will exhale, tired, and say "Maybe a little." Dunkleman will stir on the recliner, his mom puffing cigarettes in the kitchen, but he will not wake up. And Ryan will rub his squirrely eyes and pad over to the window, Los Angeles brown and humming along, sticky under its blanket of sun and smoke. Another day on the radio, he'll think. And after such a wonderful dream.
At least I hope that's what will happen! But, as always, who the hell knows. All we can do now is watch and wonder. And last night I did wonder many things! Things like, Why would you pick a Gwen Stefani song with lyrics that are impossible to sing and remember? Or, more importantly, Why is there a Group Day at all?
This isn't called American Idols for gosh's sake. This is singular, lonely, hermetic. Who cares about how these individuals play with others? I think it must be that Group Day is grueling training for the show's most revered and hallmark of traditions: The group numbers that unfold like beautiful dying lotus blossoms at the top of every elimination show. You know, those whirling, shuffling dervishes of light and noise and squeaky-squawk voices and, as often as possible, glowing all-white suits. I guess, yeah, now that I think about it? Those are really, really important. They show us the terrific unit cohesion and mighty amassed Voltron splendor of Idol talent. Until you've seen Danny Gokey doing his hurdy-gurdy dance while Scott the Blind Guy does an awkward tush-push in the back and Adam Lambert and Kris Allen make furtive love to each other under Rickey Minor's golden mixing board of dreams, well... you just can't appreciate the true depth of talent that is American Idol. OK, so. Yes. I now understand why there is Group Day. For that reason. And also because it's fun to watch fights.
Oh isn't it fun to watch strangers fight about things we don't fully understand? What a delight and a joy television has given us, these hours and hours of watching strangers fight about vague things. Last night we saw groups of singing hopefuls whistle-whine to each other about dance steps and harmonies and the proper way to put out your hand and show the audience the notes your are singing while you go "uhhh HEEE uhhh HEeee Uhhh heee ahhhhhhh..." These are important skillz for any professional entertainer, especially that last one. If you don't use your hand to show the notes you are singing, then the audience will not believe that you are a good singer. This is just fact.
Anyway, the groups. Let's see. There were a few all-girl groups that did really well, one of them containing the tragic Angela Martin. Good to see her still holding on. People sang that "ooo OOO, OOO OO" Gwen Stefani song with the rap chorus about a refrigerator that is very hard, and no one could do it. One nerdy girl did it, so good for her. A boy group featuring the vocalz of Big Fat Guy Who Just Had a Kid and Cute Teengirl Bait In a Wool Cap saw half of their members killed by L'Ellen Degeneres' sharp-bladed tongue. But don't worry. Big Fat Daddy and TeenScream got through. So, more of that!
There was a horrible group who you can see above that mysteriously made it through. You know who I liked the least in that group? That total musical theatre queen who was all big expressions and Fosse moves. He reminded me of this dude, only he was more theatrey, if such a thing is possible. I mean, I guess when I say "liked the least" I also mean "hope sticks around," because he is funny and familiar, albeit plainly ridiculous. Ryan was doing some sort of setup for some bullshit and walking down the aisle and he made some comment about how grueling everything is and all this dramatic stuff and the camera quickly cut over to Fosse and he was like guffawing and making this big Laugh Face and I was like "You indicating motherfucker. Show, do not tell."
There were few others of note last night. That Egghead Latino is just fanfuckingtastic and is going to go really, really far in the competish, I suspect. He's like Danny Gokey if Danny Gokey wasn't a dead wife-pimping maroon who does lurching Kokopelli dances. So he is good and good for him. There's also a teen queen from Connecticut who has a bomb-dot-com voice, but I'm not sure if she's quite got the look. It would be fun if she and TeenSquirt with the hat ended up doing it behind Rickey Minor's autoharp of glittery sadnesses. I wish sometimes, when I am cold and lonely and home alone and cigarettes and wine are hardly a comfort at all, that they followed the contestants back to their ContestantHaus more often. Because then we could have seen Sanjaya and a camera guy share a tender first kiss. We could have seen Paris Bennett murder that drifter and bury him under a cactus plant. And we could see the Teen Queen and the Teen Dream fall winsomely in love. The world needs more of that.*
There was an annoying girl who wears big chunky Fashion Glasses of varying colors, and it was just so ridiculous. Big Chunky Fashion Glasses seems a careful way of denoting that you, special squiggly you, are an Indie. An Indie who goes to coffeeshops called Mud or Dirt or Spike or Grunt and you also like to look at bicycles and sometimes ride them, and mostly Joanna Newsome does it for you with her Thumbelina harp, and if your mother called you on a Sunday afternoon and said "What are you doing?" you would probably say something true and crunchy and boring like "Eating fresh tomatoes like apples." And you know what is the complete opposite of all of that? Being in Group Week on American Idol. And yet the glasses! Two worlds that should safely sail past each other end up catastrophically colliding and we all scratch our heads and get angry. Or at least I do. Plus she was annoying and couldn't sing that well, and yet? And yet the little sumbitch was put through to the next round. I guess Randy liked her glasses and Ellen liked her pearly white teeth.
The main focus of last night's entertainment was this group that was falling apart. It was composed of Raspy Rock Girl, Three Dud Girls, and this little flop-haired Kid. After much weeping and shrieking and bellowing at each other, it was finally time for the group to perform. They shuffled up on stage and then just sort of oozed around it. They set fire to the curtains and quietly suffocated a drummer. They wee'd in the corner and began softly mumbling the pledge of allegiance. They were, no fooling, spectacularly awful. They had 12 hours to learn one song, and yet didn't learn a thing. They forgot Song. They lost the Song in their hearts. They went backwards, the Marty McFlys of season 9 Group-de-Loop. Luckily for no one, Raspy and the Kid got through to the next round, as did one of the Dud Girls. All told, the old crones we call "judges" put 71 of 96 treasures through to the next round. Only 25 eliminated during the fearsome Group Day. That seems light, doesn't it?
All right. I'm not sure there's much else to say. Ryan, this is a wonderful dream you're having. Please keep it up. Never wake up, actually. Never, ever wake up, Ryan Seacrest. And then when you are old and dying and then dead, there will be a great rumble and God's booming voice will say "Seacrest, out" and we'll all plead with God to let him stay, but it will be too late. And somewhere in the Carolinas a scrawny celery stalk of a thing named Clay will look up from his Marie Claire and take a sip of lemonade and look out at a stormy summer sky, wondering.
*Total non sequitur, even for me: So I'm a total jackass and am just now catching up on Friday Night Lights, and watching Julie Taylor and Matt Saracen fall winsomely in love is, in this bleak awful late-winter, one of the few joys to be squeezed out of the day.