American Idol

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
It (Only) Hurts When You're Singing

Lee: "A paint salesman!" Aaron: "A high school student!" Siobhan: "A glassblower!" Crystal: "A mother!" (Wait for it...) Mike: "A father!" Casey: "A construction worker!" God, how depressing. What would Ryan call you, if he was calling you names? I shudder to think. I would have been like, "A DAUGHTRY fan who drinks Coors! A drama club president full of secrets! A Tim Burton enthusiast with low self-esteem! A whiskey-voiced lesbian who will regret this decision her entire life! A big fat phony with a baby! A one-trick butterface Texan! Thissss... Is American Idol!"

Ryan's hair looks hard, unlike our hearts: Over $45M last week raised by IGB, which is pretty awesome considering the slow-motion trainwreck that is our personal American finances. Kara's wearing a bejeweled shirt around her neck, and Randy's wearing an ugly cardigan, but Simon is amazing and Ellen is wearing a skinny scarf that looks awesome. The Top Six come out proudly, people holding their signs upside down in the audience, Casey looking lush with body volume and manageability, and then the bad news: Shania.

The bleeping, ticking, twirking quirking "music" of Shania, and her wrinkle-nosed grinning, and her many outfits, and her many references to all manner of things in music past and present, and the sad truth is that she's sold more of this one album than any lady ever has. Which, I always thought that was Alanis, whom I love but whose approach to songwriting is not that different from Shania's: A list of common household objects or chapter headings from Eat Pray Love or Buddhist bumper stickers, set like jewels in some brilliant producer's best platinum. The difference is that Alanis actually thinks and says insightful things about herself and others, while Shania sings songs like, "(Zo u Look) Like Brad Pitt!? Thatttt (Don't) Impress ME MuCh!"

Aaron, God how he loves her. Lee loves Shania for her wisdom in saying that tonight, we must sing these songs as if we were the ones that lived and wrote them. That for tonight, looking like Brad Pitt must of necessity not impress Lee much. Shania amazes us, but mostly herself, explaining that she writes these songs "just bare bones," just "with a guitar!" Like the lush musical experimentalism we've come to expect from her is just possibly -- if you can imagine this -- a synthetic piece of mishegoss popped on top of two easy chords and a bunch of clich├ęs. Shania's like, "Can you believe how I fooled you? Anybody could do my job!" Which tonight, I suppose, will prove.

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American Idol




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