Punishment Pool: Swine flu vs. "American Idol"
So I figured, what would be worse: coming down with swine flu or having to stomach my first viewing of "American Idol?" I decided to let a hypothetical running diary of a bed-ridden evening with H1N1 and an all-too real running diary of "Idol" declare the ultimate winner ... or make that, loser.
Swine flu: "Ugh. It's off to the bathroom again. Why do they make toilet seats so damn cold? It's bad enough that I'm running back and forth to the can with explosive diarrhea. Now I have to endure a freezing toilet seat. Why did I kiss that runny nose Mexican on the mouth last week? WHY?"
"Idol": Ryan Seacrest trots out and informs the audience that a giant "Idol" globe logo almost collapsed on stage during rehearsals, and because of the delay, it will force each contestant to enter the evening "cold." And to think, my dream about Paula Abdul getting crushed by a large metal contraption from the sky almost came true.
It's "Rock Night," and woo-wee, Slash from Guns N' Roses is the evening's mentor. Yeah, because in a SINGING contest, you want to rely on a guy who is known for playing guitar and keeping his face covered by massive quantities of hair. Slash, if you're sober these days, I have a bottle of Jack with your name on it. You'll need it when you see the TV replay and discover what you signed up for. Please. This is a worse career move than Slash's Snakepit. Start shooting heroin again. Call Scott Weiland. He'll hook you up.
Adam Lambert is first. This dude is the Tobias Funke of "Idol," because to quote Dave Attell, "if that man is straight, then I am sober." He looks likes the orgy spawn of Liberace, Pete Wentz and Gary Glitter (and perhaps an 11-year-old Vietnamese boy). I mean, really. He's wearing several chains around his neck, including one with a padlock. What, are you a bike rack? Anyway, he chooses Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and comes off like Axl Rose -- with so much botox that his face barely moves in 2009, not the kick-ass Axl who looked like he would savagely bite the head off a fawn in the "Welcome to the Jungle" video. Predictably, this second-rate impression earns him "rock god" status from Kara What's Her Face (who's dressed like Wesley Snipes in "Demolition Man.") Randy suggests that Slash and Lambs make a record together. Slash just took his name literally and fled backstage so he could cut his wrists open. Paula showcases her unparalleled wit by labeling Adam's performance "a whole lotta perfect." Gosh, that was "straight up" hilarious, Paula. Ooooh, see what I did right there? I took one of her song titles and made a clever retort out of it. I should be an "Idol" judge.
Kara continues to dig a deeper grave by saying that Adam's album needs to be "classic rock of the '70s, glam rock from the '80s and Nine Inch Nails ... no one is doing that right now." Yeah, Kara ... that's because it MAKES NO FREAKIN' SENSE. Somehow I don't think the world is waiting for a hybrid of Boston, Roxy Music and "The Downward Spiral." Also, Nine Inch Nails is not a decade. Trent Reznor just replaced "Boinked Marilyn Manson" with "Mentioned on 'American Idol'" on his list of all-time worst career moments. Simon joins the cream fest by saying "nobody can top that tonight." Awesome! So can I stop watching now?
Score: "Idol" 1, swine flu 0
Swine flu: "Chills. Blurry vision. Morbid hallucinations. Respiratory congestion. Extreme vomiting. Body aches. Awful ringing in my ears. Oh wait, I'm supposed to be writing about swine flu, not 'Idol.'"
"Idol": Allison Iraheta, there's a special place in hell reserved for you. I'll just put it out there, Allison looks like one of those troll dolls. Except not as cute. There, I said it. I'm now envisioning a troll with one of those rubies in its belly button singing Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby." And yes, somehow this makes the performance more tolerable.
But back to my cruel reality ...
Allison has raspy, bluesy vocals, so Joplin is supposed to fit like a glove. Except she has more fake soul than Bruce Willis singing the "Seagrams" wine cooler jingle. Oh, c'mon, you remember that commercial. "Seaaaaaaaaaagrams, golden wine cooler! My, my, my, my ..." Yeah, Willis sucked. So does Allison. And that's not just my bitterness spewing forth like so much swine flu vomit. Paula says if there's a Janis Joplin biopic, Allison has the part sewn up. Frankly, I'd rather watch "Jackie Jormp Jomp" and the vampires that attacked "Woodstocks."
Randy "keeps it real" by saying the song choice was weak. Predictably, the crowd boos. See, this is why -- even if I liked the contestants on "Idol" -- I could never watch the show. Does the crowd really have to boo every critical thought on the show? And these aren't critical thoughts of a stinging variety. These judges -- even Cowell tonight -- are going out of their way to give Allison the Costanza-like "it's not you, it's me" treatment. Good god, it's not like they're taunting a blind kid trying to tie his shoes. Saying someone is merely OK doesn't mean you have to storm the Bastille, people. Allison is also wearing leather pants. Because nothing says "forced rebel" like a teenager with red hair wearing leather pants. A decent high school talent show performance at best. Allison, I root for your dismissal.
Score: "Idol" 2, swine flu 0
Swine flu: "I just pooped the bed."
"Idol": Not only do I have to watch solo performances, but Kris and Danny/Allison and Adam are also singing duets tonight. Kris and Danny do some nice harmony work (a compliment!), but are forgettable as they sleepwalk through Styx's "Renegade." I have a soft spot for this song solely because it's the lead-in to the Geeks vs. Alan White fight in the flawless "Freaks and Geeks" pilot. Paul Feig, thank you for saving me again. Kris sings the "rock" part of the song with as much ferocity as Rick Astley. Danny decided to grow a hobo beard for more "edge." "Mr. Roboto" would have been way cooler.
Now it's Kris solo, and having been spared thus far from watching previous installments, my guess is that he's supposed to be the sensitive piano balladeer on the show. Because he does not rock. The Wiggles rock harder than this tool. Kris butchers "Come Together" by The Beatles. He butchers it like that douche from Maroon Five would butcher it. Or more accurately, he butchers it like a douche pretending to be that douche from Maroon Five would butcher it. Krazy Kara gets booed because she agrees with my assessment -- she just doesn't use the word "douche" as much to describe Kris. Paula says, "Your signature was all over it. Your imprint made it truly compelling." We're not talking about fingerpainting here, Paula. Then again, I'd also be generic and vague in my critical assessments if I had nothing constructive to say. Paula also gives Kris credit for tackling a Beatles song -- something Simon also said to Adam in reference to picking a Zeppelin track. OK, so these guys are getting courage points simply for picking classic songs by world-famous bands? This is "Rock Night," right? What, were they supposed to play it safe with some Asia instead? God, I hate this show.
Score: "Idol" 3, swine flu 0
Swine flu: "Cough, cough, hack, hack. Cough, cough, hack, hack."
"Idol": Cough, cough, hack, hack. Right on cue. It's Goooooooooooooookey time!
Milwaukee's man of the moment (how's that for alliteration?) comes off like a poor man's Bob Seger. And yes, I totally intended to disrespect Bob Seger by writing that. This one has trainwreck written all over it once Danny reveals that he's picked Aerosmith's "Dream On." You want to duplicate Steven freakin' Tyler's trademark scream at the end? Even Sebastian Bach thinks that's crazy. Slash is also skeptical, but because he's completely useless tonight, doesn't even attempt to talk the Gokester out of a suicidal stage move. Honestly, GNR's notoriously racist/homophobic "One In a Million" rant would have been a better choice.
And here it comes ... yep, Gokey-Dokey finishes the song sounding like an 85-year-old man trying to pass a kidney stone. Absolutely awful. Even the judges can't ignore how terrible it sounded, though Randy sugarcoats it by telling the Gokemeister that rock is "not what you do." Well, good luck "doing what you do" back home in Milwaukee, Dan Dan the Singing Man. You'll be lucky if the Brewers even let you bland up the National Anthem before a sparsely attended game against the Washington Nationals. Kara cements her status as biggest idiot of the evening -- and that's saying a lot next to Paula "I Clap and Gyrate For Every Song Like a 4-Year Old Doing the Pee-Pee Dance" -- by telling Danny, "I'd rather you played some earlier Aerosmith like "Cryin'" or "Crazy." Unless I'm suddenly the crazy one, I swear that's what she said. Kara: music history 101. "Dream On" came out in 1973. IT'S ON AEROSMITH'S DEBUT ALBUM. "Cryin'" and "Crazy" are songs with the slutty Alicia Silverstone videos. Does time not mean anything in the "American Idol" universe? IS THE WHOLE WORLD GOING INSANE AS THE APOCALYPSE NEARS? Kill. Me. Now.
Final duet of the night ... and good God, I feel like Andy Dufresne rising from the muck and mud having finally escaped from Shawshank. MAY THE RAIN COME AND WASH THIS WRETCHED STINK OFF OF ME.
Adam and Allison bob 'n' weave to some Foghat -- because it wouldn't be "Rock Night" without (ahem) Foghat -- and the forced theatrics and playful laughter make me more uncomfortable than watching Mick Jagger and David Bowie almost make out in the "Dancing in the Street" video. Also, I can't stop looking at Adam's padlock. That is a padlock, right? Now he's making me question the padlock, it's so absurd. The judges slobber over Adam like he's a newborn who pooped his diaper for the first time, even giving him credit for saving Allison (nooooooooooooooo!) tonight. Seriously. The guy can sing and he looks the part. But he's not the second coming of Elvis Presley. I'm beginning to think the judges would invoke jihad on behalf of this man.
Score: "Idol" 4, swine flu 0
The evening ends. My pants are diarrhea-free, yet I still feel incredibly, incredibly dirty.
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, email@example.com