American Idol – Season 12, Episode 9: Hollywood, Women’s Round

It’s LADY WEEK in Hollywood! That means lots of crying, although let’s be honest, the guys were a pretty weepy lot this time around, too. After a boring recap of last week’s nonsense (lines of ten in single performance, followed by extra-brutal group round), we experience a strong push for the ladies; Idol seems determined to at least pretend they’re not going to just hand over the win to another honky dude with a Yamaha guitar. I’m not sure what good this assurance does, since they don’t have any control over how the votes go…do they? Anyway, we are also assured that there’s an overabundance of girls this year, so the cuts are going to be a total bloodbath except instead of being fed to lions everybody will just have to go home. Ryan Toothpaste assures us that we will have both “some of the greatest performances in Idol‘s history”, which turns out to be a rather titanic overstatement even for size queen Ryan, and “more drama that we’ve ever seen”. No, Idol! No more drama for you! You’ve had enough and we’re cutting you off before you start dancing on top of the bar.

As we kick off day one of the gals with a hilariously sexist montage of giggling and screaming, we are introduced once again to our panel of judges: Mariah Carey, in a semi-tasteful Little Black Dress variant; Nicki Minaj, done up beatnik-style; Randy Jackson, beamed down from Star Fleet’s Televised Singing Competition Division; and Keith Urban, who is once again showing off his pectoral tattoo and making me wish more and more that the chestburster from Alien would eat its way out of him. Ryan Toothpaste guarantees cat-fighting, but I think he means the boring TV kind and not the fun porn kind. The girls of Line One include Angela Miller, who makes it through despite overselling her GIRL POWER WHOO! shtick and San Antonio’s own mariachista Victoria Acosta; unfortunately, early-round anorexic sob story Mariah Pulice doesn’t move on, and must head home to continue not not eating. I wish I felt worse about it, but her outfit is terrible. We also lose some other women, including black-eyed blonde fruit salad Ashlee Smith, seal-clapping newlywed Ann Defani, someone named Sarah Reticchio who I can’t remember ever seeing before, and a bunch of other people so important that Idol can’t be bothered to tell us their names. I’m sure they’re all just wonderful.

In the next line, Idol, apparently hoping that the lightning that is Carrie Underwood will strike twice, pairs up giant-mouthed smiling machine Rachel Hale and blonde charmer Janelle Arthur. The latter blows the former away, but I hate them both, so of course they make it through. (Nicki thinks Rachel is “relatable” — she is not — and “accessible”, which I guess means “boring”.) The rest of their group washes out, except a few others who don’t have names because they aren’t country singers. The “females”, as Ryan calls them to distinguish them from his own species, are tense as can be considering that the stakes are so low. FOR ME! There’s another winner montage, none of whom are identified, so here is what I can report about them: nothing. They probably all have vaginas, but you never know about the Iron Curtain athl…wait, this isn’t the Olympics.

“It’s a tense scene backstage”, we are informed by Ryan over a montage of people clutching Jesus pieces. Candice Glover busts out another boffo pile of melisma and makes it through; Megan Miller, decked out in bike shorts and the puffy shirt from Seinfeld, is off the crutches, but she’s also off the show. Despite the claim that this is the greatest group of female singers ever, Idol doesn’t trust us much to find out; despite the absurdly overlong two-hour runtime, the line auditions are rushed through at a rapid clip, so we hardly get a chance to hear any of them. Isabelle, who lost her last name somewhere between New York and L.A., sings a version of “Summertime” that is all over the place — it seems like a train wreck to me, but the judges let her through, so what do I know? After years of being in lockstep with Simon Cowell, I find myself completely unable to predict exactly what the hell these judges want; even Nicki, who often seems to be voting the straight Contrarian ticket, baffles me at times. They allow teams that completely fuck up and forget all the lyrics to move on, while groups that were much better get eliminated. Fortunes have probably been lost betting on my advice, though, so if you’re a betting sort, stay football fields away from my instincts about this show.

Idol is making a big deal about how “quirky” and “eccentric” Kez Ban, the Carolingian carnival artist, is, because she likes to do wacky stuff like eat, sleep, and not sing garbage songs. She’s also got a cold or something and has been cheering for all the people she likes, and her voice is shot to shit, meaning she can’t hit any of the crystalline high notes in “Be My Baby”, so I’m pretty positive that she’s doomed, especially when the rest of her group fucks off to practice without her. Amazingly, though, they all get through, so they can make fun of Kez Ban another day. She also insists on having fun, which seems to infuriate all the people who work for Idol, for whom the show is unending drudgery. She’s accompanied by Brianna Oakley, who is the girl who was “bullied” for her superior fame and talent, which I think we can all relate to if we are insufferable nerds, as well as Melinda Ademi and Ashely Feliciano, whoever they are.

As group rounds begin, I am informed of the existence of an American Idol app, which, no thank you. I can just picture dying in the remote forest and that’s what’s on my fucking iPod instead of a compass. The group featuring Isabelle, Erin, Lauren and human tornado Zoanette (who is wearing a huge LOVE ME necklace that looks like it could cut ham slices) clash over song choice, as she is overwhelmed by the country-singing Caucasians; Brandy Neeley, Cree Harrison, and season 11 washout Britney Kellogg all fall under the wicked control-freak spell of the unstoppable Haley Davis. After much handwringing by the gay vocal coach, everyone grabs a half-hour of sleep and we’re treated to an adorable montage of how the gals all have to get made up and purty before leaving their hotel rooms. Oh, females! Ryan Toothpaste, who hires olive-skinned Mediterranean boys to do all that sort of thing for him, informs us that an unprecedented number of ladies are writing the lyrics to their songs on their arms, because these songs are just that complicated. I blame this on the absence of quality henna artists in small-town America.

The Swagettes are the first group to perform, consisting of Candice Glover, Kamaria Ousley (in an alarming pair of Loverboy tights), Melinda Ademi, and Denise Jackson. They “managed to avoid the drama” of group round by acting like normal human beings, and perform a deeply confused version of “Hit ‘Em Up Style”, which nonetheless gets them all through to the next round. Nicki has switched to her blonde wig and a tacky appliquéd ball cap; Mariah is in another of her Norma Desmond gowns; Keith is wearing a Six Dollar Tees rejected design; and Randy is missing in action. What else does Randy have to do? Clean out the fryers? Anyway, Raisin’ Cain (Morgan Leigh Boberg, Lauren Mink, Brandy Hotard, and someone else whose name I was too distracted by the thought of my own mortality to catch)is next, line-dancing through a song called “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” which is not by Kay Kyser and His Orchestra. They all make it through, because it’s just that kind of year, I guess, but they do prompt Nicki to do an amusing Southern accent.

Almost Famous (domineering gang boss Savannah “Emotion Lotion” Votion, Liza Weiss, Daysia Hall and the frighteningly named J’Leigh Chauvin) lives up to its name, wearing way too much fake leopard print and doing the first, but not the last, terrible version of Gotye’s overworked “Somebody I Used to Know”. When Daysia is the only one who makes it through, Savannah throws a hissy fit, blubbing that she did all the choreography and song choice and harmony while Daysia forgot the lyrics; it apparently has not occurred to her that Daysia moved on because she is talented and charismatic, and the other three are flavorless white girls with mediocre voices. Meanwhile, the Dramatics (Janel Stinney, Christable Clack, Kriss “Dope” Mincey, and someone who was not identified due to the fact that her neon pants had subsumed her identity) are hobbled by Janel throwing what I can only characterize as a hoovering diz-fit. (Kriss characterizes it far more kindly than I would, saying “Janel is overzealous to the point that she is compromising her vocal health”. Someone’s going to shine come peer review!) She melts down over nothing in particular, ignores everyone, and twice walks out on her group, setting a pretty solid precedent for Freak/Villain of S12, and caps it off by completely forgetting all the words to the song and making it through anyway, thanks to some bewildering lobbying by Nicki Minaj. She throws a pity party for herself saying “sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in”, but really, that’s just because she’s a selfish, neurotic egomaniac. Anyway, they all make it through, and something is definitely happening here. This could be the Gleiwitz Incident of Idol Season 12. Then there’s a parade of losers from which only Shubha Vedula, Sarina-Joi Crowe, and Aubrey Cleland emerge unscathed.

The next group up is Urban Hue, and I would like to talk about who names these groups. They’re so depressingly on-the-nose that I suspect the hands of the producers, but there is also the even worse possibility that the contestants think them up themselves. I mean, for Christ’s sake, Zoanette’s group is named “The Poo Snaps”. Anyway, Urban Hue is Kiara Lanier, Tenna Torres, Jet Hermano (who is surely stealing the name of a professional wrestler somewhere) and Seretha Guinn, the lady with the cute kid named London. This decision makes even less sense and Nicki’s decision-making is just bewildering; Seretha is perfectly fine and gets sent home, while Kiara, who was scattered and forgot the lyrics, stayed in. She has no choice but to go home and “continue to have a happy life”. After a commercial that implies that if you don’t buy a Subaru, you want your children to die in a horrible fiery crash, Randy returns from whatever food-related errand he was on, wearing a purple XXXXXL tee and…you know what? I don’t get paid for this so I refuse to have an opinion about whatever pleatherette abomination Randy Jackson is duded up in for group round. Let’s move on.

Zoanette Johnson, carnal monolith and star of the Poo Snaps, gets to be filmed snoring on a bus because, I don’t know, Idol is racist probably. The rest of the group is Erin Christine, Lauren Bettes, and Isabelle, but who cares? Can any of them hold the dirty clientele of a strip club in 1974 Kansas City spellbound in the palm of their hands? I think not. Lauren gets sent home and nobody cares. Handsome Women stars Courtney Calle, Liz Bills, Alisha Dixon and Israeli superstar Shira Gavrielov, and they’re a bloody wreck; Liz is the only one who makes it through after their demolition of that fucking Gotye song, and she honestly doesn’t deserve it either. Shira, on the other hand, decides to stomp back on the stage, occupying it like so much Palestine and demanding that the judges explain why they didn’t let her through even though she once had a #1 hit in Tel Aviv. This is all highly amusing.

4U (Alex Delaney, Kalli Therinae, Holly Miller, and platinum-damaged lingerie clerk Stephanie Schimel) switched their song at the last minute, going from “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to, you guessed it, fucking goddamn Gotye. He’s gonna be able to buy a new boat on tonight’s royalties alone. Following a night of inexplicable decisions, Stephanie, who was mediocre at best and forgot a bunch of the words, makes it through; even she can’t figure it out: “Why did they let me through? I totally botched that thing.” Oh, Idol. Are you at your worst when you make no sense, or your best? I really can’t tell anymore. But this segment does have Nicki raising another laugh by putting on a goofy face and mocking all the dipshits who wrote the lyrics on their hands. Can’t stay mad at no Nicki Minaj.  At some point “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” happens again and we haven’t seen the last of Brandy Neeley, but by then I’m riding the high of the show being almost over.

Tomorrow: more of the ladies, because this show has to be on all the time or else I might actually get something done.

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