So this is the last week of gender-specific performances (and, by extension, eliminations), which is really too bad for the boys, because they kind of sucked tonight. This episode was also sort of weird, because Okay, you know the first week of freshman year, when you've moved into the dorms and you have your first floor meeting with your RA, and he makes all the guys go around and say something interesting about themselves that "you might not know about just from looking at me" as an ice breaker? That bullshit? And each guy has a distinct physical appearance and style of dress by which you judge him, and then you judge him even more harshly after he admits that, "Um something weird about me well, sometimes, if I'm up early enough, I guess I like to watch The Ellen Degeneres Show"? That's what tonight was like, with Seacrest as the tiny, paradoxically simultaneously homophobic and extremely gay RA to these 8 musical misfits.
1. Blake Lewis "All Mixed Up"
Tonight Blake is that kid who wears plaid pants and really likes 311, so it's pretty safe to assume that he also likes pot, Airwalks, and 1995. His secret is that he really enjoys improv comedy and character acting, and then we get a glimpse into The Side of Blake Lewis That I Never, Ever, Ever in a Million Years Wanted to See, which is him pretending to be some redneck named Jethro or Tull or something else that only a person who has never met a real redneck because he's lived in Seattle his whole life would come up with. Aside from my delusions of Blake's perfection being crushed by that bit of knowledge, the performance wasn't all that awesome. He rocked about as hard as one possibly can on a 311 song, and there was beat boxing, which is always good, and I sort of appreciated that he bleeped out "ass" with something that sounded like "wikkity snizzle record scratch," but I've seen better. Strangely, neither Randy nor Paula had ever heard of 311, which prompted Blake to be all, "311 is the best band EVA!!!" which prompted me to be all, "Blake, why don't you just have a seat and drink some whiskey & wine until you can find it in your heart to stop killing me a shot at a ti-ee-ime?"
2. Sanjaya Malakar "Waiting On the World to Change"
Sanjaya is (probably in real life as well as in my imagination) that kid whose parents are foreign, so they've always pushed him to do really well in school, and he has an older sister whom he really admires, so he finds himself in college at the tender age of 17 with a girl's perspective on what makes a person cool. Because his voice probably hasn't changed yet, and because his short list of How to Fit In Among Older Kids includes only: "1. Sing a John Mayer song," he struggles to find common ground with the rest of the guys. Sadly for our young Indian friend, I can predict without hesitation that he will not find it by admitting that he knows how to hula because he took lessons for four years in Hawaii, nor will he win their respect by having silky smooth girl hair. Furthermore, even his fool-proof Plan to Win Friends and Influence People falls short, because apparently (who would have guessed?!) without an acoustic guitar with which to accompany oneself, performing a John Mayer song is really boring. I'm not sure what he was thinking when he came up with this one. You have to have an acoustic guitar if you want to impress the ladies. Everyone knows that.
3. Sundance Head "Jeremy"
Sundance is that kid on your floor who isn't even a kid, but rather a 35-year-old who has decided not only to return to higher education after a brief (15-year) hiatus during which he worked at a used car dealership as a night guard, but also to completely revive his former college experience by bunking down with some "young people." He attempts to impress them by 1) openly acknowledging the fact that he is a fat tub of oozing, yellow Creepy Crawler Plasti-Goop, 2) growing a stupid chin beard and sporting a fauxhawk, and 3) trying to be ironic by blatantly lying about being fat, insisting instead that it is a "fat suit" and that underneath, he is really thin and handsome. This ruse is about as successful on TV as it would be in person, with the same sinking feeling we all experience when we realize that we're going to have to tolerate this overcooked Virginia ham for the rest of the semester. Like all the other hip and with-it young bucks of 1991, Sundance impresses his audience, for better or worse, by screaming the lyrics to a Pearl Jam song while contorting his face as if a pack of miniature wolverines was trapped in his colon and trying to claw their way out through his generous buttocks. In case none of those things work, he is also wearing eyeliner.
4. Chris Richardson "Tonight I Wanna Cry"
TimberFAKE looks, and essentially is, that guy who makes all the other guys feel uncomfortable because he reminds them of JT, and he knows he reminds them of JT, and he's happy that he reminds them of JT. He's a little intimidating because they know girls are magnetically attracted to him, sometimes against their own will; for this, they will relentlessly insist that he enjoys having sex with other men. In the spirit of opening himself up to his floormates and proving that despite the fact that he has been genetically engineered to attract females like flies to honey he doesn't think he's any better than anyone else, he reveals that he used to be forty pounds heavier, and that he plays football. Then, just to really hammer home his vulnerability and inescapable appeal, he sings a country song about wanting to cry, but he manages to avoid sounding country enough to offend anyone, while still sounding country enough to attract fans of the genre. He is a sensitive teddy bear encased in the hybrid shell of a good ol' boy and a pop icon, and I desperately, desperately want to possess him sexually.
5. Jared Cotter "If You Really Love Me"
Mr. Cotter is that black kid who, either because he was raised Baptist or because he suddenly decided that it would be really cool to be white, wears argyle sweaters independently of doing a Bill Cosby impression. It speaks to his apparent ignorance of stereotypes that his "secret" is the one detail about him that everyone immediately assumes because he is tall and African American: that he plays basketball. After allowing sufficient time for the shock to subside, he explains that he realized that he would never made it in the NBA, so he decided it would be best to pursue his safety career being a pop star. He probably will not achieve that goal by continuing to ignore pitch, tone, and pleasing facial expressions in favor of straining his voice while yelling at me through my TV, but now that my world has been turned upside-down by the knowledge that a black man plays basketball, I really don't know what to expect anymore.
6. Brandon Rogers "Celebration" or "I Just Want to Celebrate" I dunno
In at what first seems to be a sharp contrast to Jared, Brandon Rogers brings the "black guy who looks like the lovechild of Denzel Washington and Lenny Kravitz, who is also awesome at singing" to the party. His secret, which is that he enjoys playing classical piano, is cheapened and made ridiculous by footage of him playing classical music on an electric keyboard with the tone set to "grand piano." Further, the performance of whatever the hell song this is, despite its insistence upon celebrating, it lackluster. Jock Jams, it was not, but then again, B.Rog isn't the black guy who also plays basketball, so perhaps he shouldn't be expected to know how to rile a crowd through the majesty of song.
7. Phil Stacey "I Need You"
I figured Phil Stacey's secret, as the resident Kid Who Looks Like An Alien and Is Probably Either Suffering From Leukemia or Is Supporting His Little Brother Who is Suffering From Leukemia By Also Shaving His Head, would be that he's a douchebag who missed the birth of his child to audition for a televised singing competition/explotiationfest. Anti-climatically, it is that he has not been bald his whole life. I am speechless. Wait, there's more to this story: he used to have LONG HAIR, but SHAVED IT OFF because he looks STUPID WITH SHORT HAIR. He looks stupid bald, too. I think it's just his face. He is also that kid on your floor who always wears a hat, but not a normal hat, like a baseball cap or a knit cap, or even one of those bastardizations of the two like Danny from the Real World: Austin always used to wear, but an old-person hat. Too add aural insult to visual injury, he sounds like a 62-year-old drag queen channeling Cher's future ghost for the first half of the song. Even after he finally remembers that he's a dude, he resorts to yelling instead of singing, and it makes me bleed from every facial orifice. Except mouth.
8. Chris Sligh "Wanna Be Loved"
Chris Sligh surprised me tonight. Apparently he's that kid who is smart, and has a smart sense of humor, and is also fat and has ridiculous hair, so you figure he's probably good for 1) knowing all kinds of Simpsons trivia and 2) eating anything if you bet him $5 that he won't. His secret was not very shocking, just that his hair didn't always used to be as long as it is, (which, guy, ps? Secrets about hair aren't real secrets, unless your hair is a wig or your pubic hair is dyed rainbow colors and braided into cornrows). Even more shocking than the sparkly angel breeze from heaven that issues from his vocal chords, is the detail that he has chosen to perform a song by DC Talk. Which means that he's in love with Jesus. Which means that the only person on this show with whom I can really, in good faith and with positive prospects, desire to raise a family, is TimberFAKE.
WHY, CHRIS SLIGH AND BLAKE? WHY DID YOU HAVE TO LOVE 311 and DC TALK?!? I GUESS 311 IS PROBABLY OKAY AS LONG AS YOU DON'T THINK THEY'RE THE BE ALL AND END ALL OF MUSIC, BUT SERIOUSLY, CHRIS?!? DC TALK?!? ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME?!?
He's probably not. He might even wish that I had minded my language, because God was listening, and he doesn't like swear words. If tomorrow is anything like this Meh. It doesn't really matter. I get to hear Antonella's secret, and that gift will be like a thousand Christmases all wrapped up in a velvet stocking bedazzled with Swarovski crystals.