So tonight’s episode of American Idol will finally get us out of boy/girl nights and into the seventh season’s long-awaited Top 12 — which, as Bryan complained about yesterday, is just another extended diversion until David Archuleta makes the Top 2.
That said, this year’s batch of supposedly über-talented contestants has been less than par in the past three weeks. In fact, more this year than perhaps any other, I feel like we could “trim the fat” early (thank you Gauntlet III) and pick the Top 4 tomorrow with ease. But that would spoil the fun of 2008’s inevitable “Idol Gives Back” week. And we’d be eliminating anyone from the chance to embarass him or herself in front of an even bigger audience. And shouldn’t we keep David Hernandez around long enough for personal photos to surface that would make Diablo Cody proud?
So instead of trying to pick the Top 4 or even this year’s winner, I’m going to unveil my deepest
Seacrest secrets as to how to make Idol‘s Top 12 without fail. After all, I think this year’s heat is more plagued by song selection and arrangement than vocal shortcomings — we truly have no Sanjaya going into the final dozen, and it seems like we’ve always had a Sanjaya in years past. So click below to find out how to please the people, the Paula, and — of course — the two coherent judges.
(1) How to Please the People. This comes down to the three H’s: be hot, handsome or hilarious. We’ve seen girls make it through to ridiculously late rounds just because they’re attractive — anyone remember Antonella Barba, the brunette bombshell who almost made the Top 12 based on racy photographs alone? Or what about Ace Young, the guy from Season 5 with a porn star name, porn star looks and a fucking twin brother? (Tell me that’s not totally porn star.) And even if you can’t be good-looking, you can be funny-looking enough to make it through: Chris Sligh, case in point. He was Season 6’s resident jiggly puff, and the people voted him off when he started bitching and stopped joking about how hard it was to breathe. This season, sadly, we don’t have hilarious — but we’ve got hot and handsome in spades. So take these words to heart and go do some photo shoots, kids. (Especially you, Kristy Lee Cook.)
(2) How to Please Paula. Seriously, do anything. Paula is impossible not to please — she would have told Hitler he had a “bright future ahead of him” on D-Day. But to make her like you even more, wear shiny things and be loud. Paula has to remember you to love you, and she’s on so many meds that OxyContin addicts think she’s gone too far.
(3) How to Please Randy. Sing a song by an artist that Randy has worked with. I did an extensive search on who makes that prestigious list, and so far I’ve come up with this: Journey. Sing Journey. It amazes me that no one took on “Don’t Stop Believin'” for ’80s night, particularly because it’s the one song known to man where every single karaoke version trumps the original. In the coming weeks, Idol hopefuls, give Randy Jackson the chance to name-check someone he worked with. This week alone, he mentioned working with Whitney Houston three times because three contestants sang a Whitney song. (Randy’s latest musical endeavor, by the way, is “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow” — the weeks-old comeback single from Paula Abdul. I think it got its title because literally every tomorrow is in jeopardy if you’re Paula Abdul.)
(4) How to Please Simon. Ah, Simon Cowell, the big man in the baby tee. Pleasing him is one of the hardest things to do in the world — a close #2 behind hitting a baseball in the MLB. To do so, all one has to do is be original. That’s it. Take a song, arrange it so it sounds completely alien to the original version, and sing it like a champ. If you fail, age backwards and become 17 again — Simon takes a particular liking to the young folks and a particular distaste to the old. (He hated Taylor Hicks for almost the entirety of his run on Idol.) But seriously, pleasing Simon is crucial to making the Top 12 and beyond. The public tends to eat up everything Simon says, which isn’t much of a surprise: two chairs down from him, Randy is too busy referencing canines and collaborations to say anything coherent; and next to him is Paula, who we’ve previously established is about as reliable as the chick your coke dealer cut off. So sing a rockin’ Pat Benatar song in acoustic mode, or a poppy Lionel Richie song in rock mode. Just don’t try to emulate the original…right, American Idol?