American Idol
Top Three Performing Songs Of Various People's Choosing

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
What Isn't What Should Ever Be

Holy Moses, so many songs. So much happening.

So this is the one where the children pick a song they want to sing, and that's always interesting because you see them figuring out sort of their market platform and how best they can service it. Like, Scotty will probably sing a song about his grandma getting forced to wear a burqini and then at the last second she'll be like, "No!" But on the other hand, this category could be the best one because based on Haley's understanding of the judges, America and herself, she will probably be treating us to a smooth jazz rendition of "Straight Outta Compton" or "Sodomy" from the Broadway musical spectacular Hair.

And then some irrelevant old bitch picks a song for them, like Clive Davis or whoever, and I bet this year it will be Jimmy Iovine, because even though I still haven't figured out his purpose, on this show or on this earth, it seems like part of his shadowy undefined role would be involving himself in this round.

Generally these songs are well-intentioned telegrams from a far-gone era, but as Jacob from the future can tell you, they are also a way to pretend that the old irrelevant person has a personality. Like this year, this is actually a way for Jimmy Iovine to show us his indie cred, or what he thinks is his indie cred and is in fact his wrinkled old ass. A sort of thumbed nose to Steve Albini, the rest of the little Muppet Babies crew I made up and always imagine getting into scrapes and whatnot together, a message saying, "Don't you worry about that old boxing bet, I got Idol money now."

See, it's fun to pretend that music producers run around having stock footage run-ins and that they are so poor and need more money. But can you imagine it? Phil Spector and his ten tons of crazy stabbing on people and Rick Rubin's always sneering and throwing hand signals and they're like "Rick Rubin, stop with that fake British accent, you're not fooling anybody," and Butch Vig is like, "I invented that," whatever it is he thinks he invented it, and nobody wants to talk to Brian Eno so he just hangs out in the corner picking his nose and talking to black-and-white photographs. Right? Only they're babies.

When I was little, long before Dawson Leery, I was fairly certain that my marital options were limited to either Scooter from Muppet Babies or Father Mulcahy from M*A*S*H, basically anybody like that. Anybody fitting into the old Scooter/Mulcahy bracket. The puppet thing didn't every really represent a huge-like hurdle, which it just occurs to me now is kind of weird, but I had picked up on the fact that Korea was really far away. What I have learned in the last thirty years, through a sort of Eat Pray Love process of elimination, is that I'm worth Kermit. You don't settle for Scooter, who is like the Radar, whom I liked but never would have married because he had no gumption. Kermit: Loads of gumption, TCB on the reg, no time for your bullshit. And I think that's most of the reason I'm so obsessed with Ryan Seacrest, is that he is basically the Kermit the Frog of our reality.

Jacob, what are you talking about. Okay, I am barely awake right now, so hopefully we can keep on track. Anyway, the song that's always super amazing is Judges' Choice, where each of the judges except Kara DioGuardi picks the contestant they'd most like to eat the sweetbreads of on a windy moor, and then chooses the most gaywad song they have ever heard of, out of the three to eight songs that they have ever heard of.

I like to think of this one as "Paula's Choice," because it's mostly a funhouse mirror that tells you exactly how little the judges actually respect this process, the contestants, America, and us. This is where you generally get your "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" and your "Brass in Pocket" and your "(I Did It All For The) Nookie" and songs like that, songs in that genre.

This is also the one that gets revealed on the trip home -- one person outside at a car dealership, one person doing a radio show, one person chilling with their mayor; I bet you five dollars that's going to hold true -- which is always dicey to write about because you don't want to be mean about a whole town of people but you do want to be honest about a whole town of people, and sometimes those two activities are. Well. Linked.


Feist is the person that sings about them going home. "Feel It All," a song I really love but not as much as "Mushaboom" which is like the horcrux of my weird marriage obsession right now. Anyway, they are home, they are "feeling it all," and they're calling Haley Goldilocks, which is pretty fun. Fairytales are the new Lost, everything is fairytales right now, which is gross. When you go all Roger Rabbit on actual important shit like that, you're turning sugar into corn syrup and not the other way around. Food for severed wasps.

I'm not saying it can't be done, I mean Labyrinth is a legitimate mythic story, Harry Potter is so intent on being that story and still being good that it ends up marking off whole new territories, but when you look at the 2011-12 slate and it's like 90% fairytale cop shows you just have to be like, on the one hand the original Clash of the Titans looked like shit and on the other hand the reboot of Clash of the Titans actually was shit, so who knows anymore. I mean, I didn't see that movie because it has Sam Worthington in it and we are enemies, but I'm guessing it was not, like, a brave reimagining.

Anyway, Ryan is like, "Sooo it turns out that Durbin's trip home was not Dogville like I kept saying it would be. In fact, he had lots of fun!" Cut to footage of Durbin having so-so amounts of fun. Buying so many diapers.

Then it's time for Beyoncé Knowles, I don't know if you've heard of her but Ryan Seacrest is going to proceed as though you have not:

Beyoncé was found hidden beneath the crepuscular blossom of a datura plant in downtown Houston, an infant no bigger than your thumb, with a voice that could shake whole mountains. She spent years as a main attraction in a shady traveling show, eventually saving up enough money to have her tail removed, and now she searches the crowd each night for a mother she never knew. A tiny little mommy.

Beyoncé washed ashore fully formed, clothed in pearls and diamonds, along with a Louis Vuitton garment bag filled with whozits and whatzits, some gadgets, a few gizmos, and about twenty thingamabobs. Eventually, unable to verify her identity but assured of her ability to contribute meaningfully to the United States Domestic Product, she was set free outside the chainlink fence that had formerly defined her life. Everything owned, contained in a box to the left.

Beyoncé was discovered wandering the grounds of a bombed-out secret government facility -- unable to speak but in song; unable to identify herself beyond an urgent need to dance with fat children; bearing strange genetic markers that evinced tampering but seemingly unaffected -- by Agent Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopez during Operation No Scrubs.


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