After a wonderful skip-year, “Idol Gives Back” is swooping down on us like a poor, disease-ridden, bird of prey. It wants our time. It wants our money. It absolutely wants our votes. And I think, maybe, it wants our souls. This is American Idol. “Greetings, Princess. It is I, Carlos the Dwarf. The dragon has been slain, and you’re free to rule your kingdom.”
If you’re a fan of bad singing, overwrought musical arrangements, or 50-year-old men in thin Hanes t-shirts, this is the show for you. But if you’re a fan of malaria, AIDS, poverty, and illiteracy, then this is the event for you. Because “Idol Gives Back” has each of those things, in high-fucking-definition, and all the mosquito netting in the world ain’t keeping that shit out of your living room.
Before I continue, I just want to say a few serious words. I may joke around a lot, but the tragedies of the men, woman, and children presented on this show are a terrible thing. You might not get that by reading this recap, so I just want to let you know, straight up, that I do care, that I’m not an asshole, and that as human beings, we must do our best to help our fellow man. These lost souls, riddled with disease and struggling to get through every day of their horrible, hopeless lives deserve all the sympathy and help we can give them. Unless, of course, they’re ugly. Thank you.
President Obama and the First Wife appear, pre-taped, to thank American Idol for being the gloriously charitable caregiver that it is, once every couple of years, because “Idol Gives Back” is a great way to make up for all the people whose lives are destroyed during the audition rounds. Also, they hope Katharine McPhee wins this year, because she’s their favorite.
Seacrest lets us know that Queen Latifah is co-hosting from a remote location where A-list performers will take the stage, as opposed to the C-list shite being paraded out on the old Idol theater. We’re also reminded that someone will go home tonight (unless they pull the ‘Whammy of Giving Back’ and save the ousted singer, which has happened in the past, and will happen again, I assure you, if Crystal bottoms out). Then Ryan, who doesn’t have the sense God gave a retarded cat, starts talking “street” to Queen Latifah. “We ready over here, too!” Save me.
Group Sing. The contestants are all dressed in white to signify purity and charitable things, singing — excuse me — lip-syncing to some Auto-tuned jingle which, in parts, sounds exactly like Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night.” Maybe it’s called “Keeping the Dream Alive.” Maybe it’s called “We’re Dressed Like Ghost Sperm.” Unclear. The entire Top 12 is on-scene, including Andrew Garcia, Trixie Whats-Her-Face, and that annoying girl with the blue contacts.
Jennifer Garner is here to let us know that she’s sorry for Elektra and knows that her career is in the toilet. She goes to visit some poor people in Kentucky who heat their shack of a home by turning on the oven. The whole place is a mess, and…look, I understand not having money, but there’s no reason to just throw your shit on the ground and leave it there. There’s poor and there’s sloppy, and the two aren’t co-dependent. Also, it’s important that poor kids learn how to read, so send money.
Victoria Beckham appears, sucking in her cheeks and posing next to some children she’s abducted to inform us that she has also been to Kentucky to pose for some photos while wearing a baseball cap. She talks to the camera like she’s trying to give America a blowjob, and wants us to know that she was once a Spice Girl and her husband is disgustingly hot, so send money.
Jonah Hill and Russell Brand desperately want us to know that they’re funny. I want to promise you that they are not. Send money, but not on account of them.
Queen Latifah introduces the Black Eyed Peas, who perform something that samples “Pump Up the Volume” before turning into audio-vomit. Fergie is dressed like a super hero stripper and the back-up dancers are OMACs, which is pretty cool. And then I fast-forward…
Serious bit. In Africa, some lady and her kid die of malaria while her husband sits by helplessly. Also helpless? Literally shoving a camera in the lady’s face as she’s dying. What the fuck, Idol? What the honest-to-God fuck? Does she really need that right now? “Idol Gives Back,” defining “tacky” for a new generation. Then it’s all about the mosquito nets, which is what they’ve been saying on this show for the last three or four years, which are apparently cheaper than dirt, but which also apparently don’t reach their intended recipients or said recipients are making underwear out of them, because the mosquitoes? Still happening. The malaria? Still happening.
George Lopez? Still happening. Wayne Brady went away eventually, so I can only hope this guy’s time will come. George decides to take over Ryan’s hosting duties, but rather than dole out some contestant eliminations, he roasts the judges. Generally nonsense (calling out Randy on his use of the term “dawgs” for example, like that hasn’t been happening since 2001), but points for calling Kara “Karla” and addressing Simon’s man-boobs (“Saline or silicone?”). Goodbye, George Lopez.
Ford Ad. “We’ve Got a Big Mess On Our Hands,” in which the Idols knock over a paint bucket, a fruit cart, and break a fire hydrant. So buy a Ford car because you can get inside, lock the doors, and avoid contact with these clumsy idiots.
Crystal Bowersox sang “People Get Ready” and, in doing what she does every week, was above reproach. Casey James sang “Don’t Stop” and, in doing what he does every week, shamed the masses. Crystal is safe. Casey is B3.
Aaron Kelly sang “I Believe I Can Fly” which was great for the show, but not for the radio. Dweezil sang “The Boxer” because Rocky is an awesome movie. Dweezil is safe. Aaron is B3.
Queen Latifah introduces Jeff Beck and Joss Stone, who perform “I Put a Spell On You.” He looks like something Buffy might have slayed once. His wig is fooling no one. And she’s…famous? Who buys that stuff? The Joss Stones and Alicia Keys of the world must appeal to somebody, but really, this is what we get nowadays? Where are the Anne Murrays, I ask you? Where are the Helen Reddys? The Tennilles?!
Morgan Freeman and Randy go to visit some poor folk in Mississippi, and help kids learn to read via a “Save the Children” program so they can grow up and buy Kindles.
Ah, and here’s Alicia Keys herself, making no impression on me with either her singing or the way she’s touching herself inappropriately. When Tim Urban starts doing that, I’ll pay attention. Skippity-skip.
Carrie Underwood shows up on Stage Latifah and continues to be the most boringest Idol winner ever. She holds her microphone like somebody’s trying to steal it from her, but her stage presence has grown since her days as a contestant, and now grades at only slightly less than zero.
Ellen DeGeneres and Dewey from Scream visit some poor American family, who, despite the father having a job as a teacher, can’t really afford to eat. There’s a lot of things wrong with this country, but the fact that you can get 15 million dollars for throwing a ball into a hoop while a teacher can’t feed his damn kids is a thing that should shame everyone. And it’s never gonna be fixed until we stop treating celebrities like they’re gods, because except for Neil Patrick Harris, they’re mostly just assholes. Ellen and Dewey talk about a local program where it appears you can buy the entire contents of a grocery store for a mere 10 dollars. Which is truly thought-provoking in that it makes me consider taking on a life of poverty. If this place has DVDs, I’m totally in.
Seacrest interviews Bill Gates and his wife. Ryan’s expression of deep interest and his head-nodding makes him almost identical to Scooter. Mr. and Mrs. Gates talk about the sum of 10 dollars, which across the board seems to be the magical number. It buys bed nets and ends malaria. It buys a week’s groceries for a family of five. And, maybe, it’ll buy you certain “favors” from Ryan. Just slide the money under the stall door and leave without speaking.
Wanda Sykes does a ten minute routine, and swear to god, I can’t tell you a thing she said — and I’m watching it right now.
Big Mike sang “Hero” and didn’t suck too much. Siobhan Magnus sang a song from that cartoon movie nobody saw, instead of from Aladdin, which everybody saw. Tim Urban sang “Better Days,” which despite the judges generally liking it last night (on Tim terms), we’re being served a cup of Kool-Aid sweetened with the flavor of “the judges didn’t like it.” Siobhan is safe. Big Mike is safe. Tim is B3.
David Cook tells us about his trip to Ethiopia, where he looked at some poverty-stricken people and then played them a song about being a hero on his guitar. Was it an edible guitar? Was it a magical guitar that unfolded into a house with clean running water? Then I’m not sure I see how this is helping anybody. Just sayin’.
Annie Lennox visits a woeful little AIDS-stricken girl in Africa. She’s 7 years old, but weighs about as much as a 1-year-old. She’s skeletal. Very sad. The kid seems genuinely happy to have Annie’s company, as Annie plays with her and fixes her hair. Of note: Annie doesn’t sing at the child. Rather, she offers actual comfort. Queen Latifah informs us that Annie is stuck in Europe because volcanoes fucking hate American Idol. But a video update lets us know that the little AIDS girl has received good medical care and she looks wonderful and healthy. The whole thing is very touching, and far less self-congratulatory than anything we’ve seen tonight. Then Annie sings a song and it’s lovely and beautiful and amazing. Alicia Keys…pfft!
In one of the most insane moments in television history, Mary J. Blige, Orianthi, Travis Barker, some other people, and Randy Jackson perform…”Stairway to Heaven?!” Seriously, this actually happens. Mary wears giant sunglasses the whole time, looking like a big insect lady. She stomps around, all crazy. She wails and screams. Lights are flashing everywhere. It’s like a funhouse, but a funhouse made of crystal meth and epilepsy.
Simon goes to visit some hot bald doctor who drives around in a mobile unit in Arizona, helping poor people with their medical problems. There’s a sick kid and a crying mother, but hot bald doctor is distracting me with both his hotness and the fact that he talks like Stephen Hawking’s computer voice.
Elton John wants everybody to use a condom and stop barebacking and being stupid twats on Manhunt, and to get tested and take care of their shit, then treat their shit properly if the results come back positive. Be adult and be responsible. So speaketh Sir Elton. Then he sings that song from Moulin Rouge.
Casey, Aaron, and Tim are our Bottom Three. Aaron is sent to safety. Casey is safe. Tim Urban is going home. Oh my gravy! That’s it. No more bad singing and pretty eyes and swooning and smiling and downloads that I shouldn’t be buying, anyway. Guess I’ll hang my hat on Dweezil now.
And although “Idol Gives Back” is over, it’s important to realize that Africa is still with the malaria and the starving, and America is still with the poverty and the illiteracy and such as. Everywhere else is fine, I guess. So if you’re inclined to donate, either because you care or because I’ve pissed you off into taking action — either is fine — go to AmericanIdol.com or call 1-877-IDOL-AID.
Next week, Shania Twain and her so-called songs…