American Idol

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Ahoy, Polloi!

So the opening sequence is a very meaningful thing with the lights and the backlit people talking, as though this were a movie. Which is a great idea, I guess, except none of these people including Jamie Foxx has anything in particular to say, so it's like Million Dollar Baby, but with singing. They should have done it in the style of Powder or something, and had some football players horsing around. Like in the rain. Remember when Taylor Swift sang in the rain, but onstage? Did she ever do that on this show, or just on the YouTube? That was great. Or maybe it was Justin Bieber that did that. It's all the same, I guess. I am so not looking forward to any of this.

Remember when Carrie Underwood came out like the Sugarplum Fairy and all those little boys came running out from under her skirts? With like a fiddle. That was great! Maybe that was last week, maybe a hundred years ago. Now instead it's the triple threat of Bon Jovi, Fantasia and DAUGHTRY. Which is sort of like Peter & The Wolf. The part of Randy Jackson will be played by the bassoon. Here he comes lurching now.

First is international star and Rihanna haircut-having Fantasia. She seems very subdued tonight and she has Cabaret eyelashes, in a charming lamé jacket that just screams Boca Raton. Her song is about thinking about things, particularly but not limited to "you," meaning us. Or her lover. I can't quit with the eyelashes, man, they are a visual feast. Fantasia is also wearing brass knuckles that say HATE, and has learned the word "bittersweet." Other than that, it's a song much like many songs you may have heard before this point in your life, so I'm not sure what to say. It's nice to listen to, but also a hundred years long. That's sweet, but it is also bitter.

Oh, a talking breakdown about a situation. I wonder what Fantasia is saying. Part of her is missing you (bitter), another part is looking back fondly at your time together (sweet), and part of her is letting go, other parts not so much, and just basically what is happening is that there are lots of parts of her, pairs of which lie in just this same diametric opposition. Then, once she has been fully mapped into these various bitter and sweet areas, Fantasia and Ryan chatter at each other in cartoon voices. I understand -- this has been, historically, an ongoing issue -- very little of what Fantasia says.

It surprises me every time there's no Aaron Kelly in the Top Four. I guess last week is when my brain finally stopped. The kids do a commercial in places all over the world that look like Koreatown and Little Italy but are meant -- you can tell by the indigenous clothing they all end up wearing -- to represent real places. And as has been the case recently the most distinctive, not to say horrible, part of all of this is Casey's intensely awkward attempts to seem enthused. The cocked knees, the arms thrown wide with elbows tucked in, the rocker face, the shivering hair: Life is just one long Spring Break photo pose for old Casey. It's like his body, and the world, are just painted-on plywood scenarios, with a cutout face-hole, mugging away with increasing desperation: Look, America! I'm a circus strongman! I'm a gorilla! I'm an American Idol! Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson!

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American Idol

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