These are tense times on the Starship Idolprize.
The producers who have been used to the kind of growth not seen since Richard E. Grant’s in “How To Get A Head In Advertising”, are now wondering if the money vine is about to wither faster than the average Hollywood skin graft.
Over 1 million people deserted the show between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Neil Diamond.
It is not known whether these were people whose colostomy bags needed urgent servicing or whether there has been a sudden increase in ear surgeries in America’s hospitals.
So the atmosphere on the set resembles Times Square after a man in a skirt and a cowboy hat has just shouted that he has released enough smallpox virus to destroy Europe.
The remaining four contestants are, to some extent, choking on the fumes that make Beijing seem like Tahiti.
The theme this week is some verbiage about rock and roll.
Please allow me to translate: “Dear contestant, sing a song that will sound vaguely modern, vaguely entertaining and will vaguely make more people tune in, stay tuned in and then iTune in.”
Frankly, our Fabulous Four can sing any song they want.
Can I prove this?
Naturally. As usual.
Please try Googling “The 100 Greatest Rock and Roll Songs of All Time.”
Number two on the chart is some obscure gentleman’s list. Number One on that list is Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.”
If that is a rock and roll song, then last night I really did sleep with Lindsay Lohan, Barbaro and the late lamented Archbishop Makarios of Greece.
So the contestants have been challenging the producers who want to limit them to some Rock and Roll Hall of Fame list of 500 old but terribly significant songs.
As far as the Final Four is concerned, the theme this week is Anything Goes (As Long As It’s Vinyl.)
Which does not necessarily explain Jason Castro’s cavalier approach to song selection.
He has taken several songs with him to rehearse in front of a small piano and a large mirror.
There is unquestionably some truth in the rumor that Jason has given up. He was heard this week to say that he has by far the weakest voice of those remaining. However, in the following breath he defied anyone to beat his eyelashes.
The songs on Jason’s shortlist are, unsurprisingly, an eclectic group.
His greatest desire is to sing “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” Please withhold your guffaws. The song to which I am referring is the Wings classic that leaped to number one on many charts across the globe. Principally because it was part of what was quaintly called a Double-A side with a ditty called “Give Ireland Back To The Irish.”
Jason first heard the Paul McCartney song and whispered to himself: “Yes. This is me. I feel like Mary. This is my song.”
Of course producers took him aside and made threats of long flights into Polish woods with nothing to eat but kielbasa and beets.
However, Jason believes he has nothing to lose. Which is why the three other finalists in his current set are Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale”, the classic Yes song “Yours Is No Disgrace” and Buddy Holly’s “Oh, Boy.”
I will attempt to keep you appraised of Jason’s vocal developments but the Idol caudillos are still gunning for me with Russian bazookas after I so subtly picked “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” and “Song Sung Blue” for Brooke White last week, two messages which got through to our more sensitive readers as indications of her already ordained departure.
Syesha Mercado has proved so admirably that she can be rocked but still roll with any punch thrown at her.
Syesha went back to her now rather solitary bedroom last Wednesday, bathing in the incredulity that someone in America had actually noticed she could sing.
She knows that her fan base resembles Dennis Kucinich’s, so her only concern is to choose songs that Simon will like.
Syesha very cleverly put in a call to the rather perplexing woman who appeared on Wednesday’s show and claimed to have been Simon Cowell’s first kisser. Her name is Tara McDonald-Smith and she has had no facial surgery.
Syesha and Tara had a good old chinwag, as they say in the sort of circles Simon used to run. Tara helped enormously in creating a shortlist that will appeal to Mr. Cowell’s core.
For this weekend’s rehearsals, Syesha has been grappling with Jethro Tull’s unimpeachable lament “Too Old To Rock and Roll, Too Young To Die.”
This comes from Jethro’s later period and, if she can pull it off, she will have cemented a career overnight.
In the soprano sense, not the Sopranos sense.
She has also shortlisted Van Morrison’s “Moondance” and Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight”.
Both are, like Jethro Tull, solidly British and from about the era of Simon’s greatest vulnerability. However, Tara may have had a couple of rum and cokes too many when she suggested that Syesha look at Oasis’s “Wonderwall”, Depeche Mode’s “Everything Counts” and The Jam’s “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight.”
Though all are most excellent examples of Britain’s finest, Syesha will surely struggle once she begin to hum them to the sweeping hand movements of the smiling rehearsal piano accompanyist who looks as if he can only get through the day with the aid of his good friends Captain Morgan and Eli T.
Of course, most of the Idol talk continues to be about the two Davids.
David Cook, whose confidence is growing like that of the presiding priest at the midnight hour of an especially raucous wedding reception, feels as if this is the week to show why he will be the King of the Download for the next ten years.
However, he must avoid the cheese of recent weeks, the beef that he may not be able to deliver and the potatoes that are so many of Daughtry’s finest offerings.
He has therefore decided to err on the side of cultural cred rather than crud.
His shortlist looks like this: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”, The Moody Blues’ “Nights In White Satin”, The Doors’ “Riders On The Storm” and Blood, Sweat and Tears’ astounding anthem “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.”
However, he was spotted spending some considerable time learning the words to Joe Tex’s great hymn to comfortable sexuality “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More With No Big Fat Woman.”
I have been guaranteed that these words from the song were heard coming out of David’s mouth: “She was rarin’ to go, that chick was rarin’ to go. Then she did a dip, almost broke my hip.”
In fact, I understand that Mr. Cook was caught red-handed and dirty-mouthed by his great rival, David Archuleta. Little David walked into the restroom for a little respite only to discover David Cook had turned Texan.
Shortly afterwards, Little David was heard talking in deep, forceful tones to his father, Jeff: “Dad. My mind’s made up. This is rock and roll!! I am going to eat a bat on stage and I don’t care whether you like it or not!!!”
Mr. Archuleta Senior’s answer was inaudible, though David was to be seen not many minutes later seated on a stool with his arms suspiciously folded across his stomach as if he had no choice but to keep them there.
I have been faxed a list of the songs a placated Little David has been supplicated to choose for rehearsals:
1. “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys.
2. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton.
3. “Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel” by the Eurythmics
4. “Oh, Daddy” by Fleetwood Mac.
Of course, with the Archuletas it is a fluid affair. Songs come, then someone notices the song is pro-drinking, pro-fornicating, pro-lasciviousness or anti-polygamy and it is replaced by something more appropriate.
The producers have turned seventeen shades of livid with the Archuleta shortlist.
They were hoping he would choose songs that hit the sweet spot that lies on the tantalizing border between uplift and ick.
Instead, they fear his final two will make it seem like the high school prom the strangely enticing Natasha Bedingfield was seen inviting herself to on national television.
The truth is, the producers feel (if those last two words are not a total contradiction), that Little David has been outperformed, outwitted and outmanaged and they simply don’t know how to get through to his clan with a plan.
The right-on rocker versus the cute crooner.
That was their intention for the pulsating final.
Now it may all just be tears in hell.
Show business. Why would anyone push their children into it?
Well, almost anyone.
The Pond thanks Dideo for his evocation of Fournication.