Many things have happened in one hour. Wars have begun and ended. Countries have formed and crumbled. People have found true love; people have found bloody murder. Heroes have emerged, and so have villains. You, however, wasted one hour watching hundreds of American Idol hopefuls gallivant around like kids looking for dates to the summer-camp dance, strutting and fretting that hour on your TV screen until singing was heard no more. Because there was no singing. There was going to be some singing, right there at the 0:59 mark, until the show vamoosed from the screen as the first would-be vocalist opened her mouth. It's like Lucy yanking the football away from Charlie Brown, if she also installed a landmine in the ball's place.
A couple of you, over Twitter, had a very tempting suggestion: "so just skip the recap if nothing happened! Stick it to the man!" Alas, we cannot stick it to the man; we signed up to recap every episode, which means we signed up so you can watch us slowly simmer in anger and brim with schadenfreude. We'll even give you their Road to Hollywood videos instead of the death march of nothing that we were subjected to. Let's get right to the simmering, then, starting with the obvious source:
THE HOPELESS: 27-20
27. The Producers: Nothing's gonna boost Idol's ratings quite like trolling their viewers for an entire hour promising singing, then cutting away at the start of the first note. That alone would earn them the bottom rank, then Nigel Lythgoe got defensive over Twitter, claiming he loved that episode despite having passed up the tweet-along this night. Then he stretched out the trollface, claiming that he "loves banging the hornet's nest." Funny he said; watching this episode of Idol really did feel like banging a hornet's nest. Thank you. We'll be here all night. Like last night.
26. The “Idol Bug”: 1 fever, 2 falls, 2 vomit attacks, 1 kidney stone episode, and 2 huge headaches (belonging to your recappers). Oh, and, according to Heejun, “Cowboy has, I dunno, ‘brain stones’ or something.” Heejun, if it’s cool, we’re going to borrow “brain stones” and throw it at the producers.
25. Richie Law: Shouldn't wearing a Stetson automatically get him placed in a group? On Idol, that's like wearing a sandwich board reading "LOOK AT ME, I'M A COUNTRY SINGER AND WILL BLESS YOUR GROUP WITH THE PROSPECT OF SEMI-MEGASALES." Although you could argue that that'd make contestants less likely to hang with him for fear of looking like the uncool, uncommercial one. If so, they clearly missed the part where he grandstanded for box-stepping cowboys, which have only ever sold tickets to Oklahoma!
24. Alisha Bernhart: (to the tune of Joy to the World, the Christmas-song version) We follow 'round an angry cop / the designated jerk! / If Fox could get away with it, they'd play NWA with it / but all we get is shouting, shenanigans and pouting / and over-excited pleas for CCR. / She prowls the floor with pissy-face / and no's from every group. / She doesn't have a fever, but says "no one likes him either" / which strands her all alone / resignation in her tone / and dashed aspirations to the Idol throne.
23. Steven Tyler: “I believe a little sleep deprivation brings out the best in everyone.” This is essentially the same logic behind torture.
22. Ford: We hoped the days of the glistening Ford banners were behind us. We also hoped there would be singing in this episode of a singing competition. These hopes were hopeless.
21. Ken Warwick: Appears on screen to kick off the 12 hours of nothing. He speaks to the hundreds of once-hopefuls like a DMV guy would speak to a hundreds-deep line, if the DMV guy were stern and British and panicking on the inside about missed (ratings) quotas.
20 Ryan Seacrest: Unlike Ken, Ryan has the unenviable task of continuously cobbling narrative out of nothing, but the best he ever does is "Panic sets in as time runs out." The worst he ever does is describing Symone's blackout as a "casualty."
For icky product placement, visible camerapeople and stage parents, click NEXT.
THE HAPLESS: 19-13
19. Bad Medic Lady: One medic at Symone’s side nervously shouted, “Someone get her a Coke or something!” 1. A panicked medic is as useful as a shy politician. 2. You could hear the ® after she said “Coke.” 3. Are sugary chemicals the cure for fainting now? 4. Was this in the release Symone signed? “You consent to your unconscious self being used to shill soda”? "Your near-lifeless corpse will be used for every bit of endorsement synergy, and you cannot act like this is in any way irritating"? Actually, it probably was.
18. Randy Jackson: If you remember anything Randy did, you either have photographic memory or horrible time-management skills.
17. Shots of Happy Contestants Synchronized Jumping: You feel the opposite of how we feel.
16. Cameramen: We don’t need to see people barfing. We don’t need to see people fainting. We don’t need Dutch Tilts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_angle) to make us more nauseous than we already are. Finally, we don’t need to see cameramen and boom mics in almost every shot.
15. Geo. Black, Symone's Dad: Like TVLine, we are denying him the Google Alert he probably wants. That said, we're inclined to be gentle on anyone even tangentially affected by that fainting-for-ratings stunt. Even if quotes like "I want to be a famous mentor!" and "she needs to drink more!" make this near-impossible.
14. Camille Van Hugel, Brielle’s Mom: If Idol's group night is like asking people to the camp dance, then Camille is the mom who--well, first, who hangs around at sleep-away camp, then stands 50 feet away from Checkpoint Charlie narrating every brushed hair and sidelong glance while clutching a handful of darts.
13. Brielle Van Hugel: She was in Pia Toscano's group last year but didn't make it, which somehow makes her an expert on success. (She also auditioned with Travis Orlando, but the show's already thrown him down the memory hole, so he didn't get the namedrop.) Anyway, her expertise is mainly used for mumbling out riffs for her groupmates to copy, which to be fair represented 50% of the show's singing.
For Jesus, medics and a judge, click NEXT.
THE HARMLESS: 12-7
12. Brianna Bell: Meanwhile, Brianna going "ohhhhh lord" at a singer who doesn't know whether she's a soprano, alto or mezzo represented 100% of the musical chops shown on Idol so far. Great moment at the end, too. Very "AND I AM TELLING YOU I'M NOT LEAVING (THE FANTASTICALLY NAMED BETTYS, THIS CAMERA SHOT OR YOU HANGING ON WHETHER I'LL START TO SING--OH WAIT."
11. The Word “Medic”: If you played a drinking game for every time the word “medic” was uttered, you’d need a medic.
10. This Quote: “I’m not letting the devil play with me like that. Guess who’s on my side? Oh yeah. Jesus. I’m gunna do it whether the devil likes it or not.” --Amy. I believe she’s paraphrasing a scripture from Fox 17:13, “Lo, the devil shall cast upon ye reality TV contestants slight fevers, so Jesus shall be on your side to reduce said fevers.”
9. Jesus: Jesus was not on our side to reduce our headaches. We did take his name in vain a couple times, though. Mostly during the prayer-circle bit.
8. Sound Effects: The season of silly SFX continues with a double gunshot when Cowboy’s antics cause Hee-Jun to shoot himself with a finger gun. This was punctuated with the theme from “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” ( which is, at this point, essentially a sound effect.
7. Jennifer Lopez: The one judge who seems to help Symone of her own volition, instead of waiting for a cameraman's cue (Randy) or standing back, a bleeping bystander (Steven). Then she disappears into the plot black hole.
For some singers who might've been excellent had they ever sung, click NEXT.
THE FLAWLESS: 6-1
6. Amy Brumfield: The part that you don't remember from The City Mouse and the Country Mouse was the part where the Country Mouse auditioned for Idol and was taken into a sumptuous wonderland of music (not shown) and hoi polloi (shown at their worst) and the vivid color of Ryan Seacrest's skin, and the sensory overload made her fall deathly ill. The rest you do remember, though: she's chased around by catlike cameramen capturing her every cry for mercy: "I'm suffocating!" "I'm going to pass out!" "I need fresh air!", and plagued by a group who thinks a hippie-Joni lady should sing "More than a Feeling." The part that comes next is the part where she'll retreat back to the safety of her tent and the great outdoors and the good lord Jesus Christ.
5. and 4. Jacquie Cera and Mathenee Treco: Get all Yeezy on stage about how "More than a Feeling" is one of the BEST SONGS OF ALL TIME! Nobody cares. Not even when they promise they'll "give you more than a feeling" or when they say the song is "epic." Cliche? No! The song was, in fact, on Epic!
3. Heejun Han: Has been hanging out too much with Steven ("I don't know how they do it in cowboy town, but this is not how they break it down!"), but anyone who shares our attitude about Idol in general is our soulmate forever. (Sorry, Phillip Phillips. You can be everyone else's guitar-wielding, Kris Allen-looking soulmate.) If Idol does what Idol inevitably does--crown said bland dude with a guitar--he's got a glorious future as the next something. (Ann Powers suggests Fred Armisen.)
2. Symone Black: Here is why Symone is probably a fantastic person. Suppose you've just blacked out on stage, and your only consolation is that Steven Tyler didn't rename you "Symone Blackout" or that the producers didn't edit your unconscious face to mouth a Coke slogan. Theoretically, you could now get into any group you wanted, because only an idiot would risk Idol's roving cameramen spotting them being the asshole who rejected the girl who passed out. You have the perfect opportunity to capitalize upon the audience's despair! Symone didn't. This possibly makes her not cut out for reality TV. But it makes us like her even more.
1. This Quote: “My friends at home are going to laugh at me. Because of this Cowboy. I don’t even know his name.” Good news, Hee-Jun. We’re laughing with you. And we want to be your friends. You don’t need to bother learning our names either.