It always happens. My end-to-end favorite contestant has never, ever won American Idol. They usually do pretty well, but they always flame out within a few weeks of the finish line because of some combination of nerves, bad choices, mass bad taste, and the fact that they’re just generally pretty weird. Jacob Lusk went home last night, ending a seriously great Idol run, and I’m just happy he stuck around for as long as he did. His chaotic gift of a voice–he’d sing massive runs that would jump between levels on some Super Mario shit–and his flamboyant mannerisms were terrifically entertaining, but they weren’t built to last on this show. More than once, it seemed like his run would be cut a whole lot shorter than it was. He’s been making near-escapes for a while, but it couldn’t last. Too bad.
One thing about the end of Lusk’s run, though: I got the distinct impression that most of the people involved in the production of the show totally hated him for whatever reason. When he was singing his final song on the show, my wife Bridget pointed out that Ryan Seacrest had to nudge all the other contestants forward to hug him goodbye. Jimmy Iovine persistently shit on him. The judges didn’t make a big show of paying tribute to his talent after his elimination. In a lot of the show’s video packages, he was barely there. So maybe he’s just an insufferable asshole behind the scenes. During his parting interview, he actually said, “America fell in love with me,” and I’m not sure I’d ever want to hang out with someone who said that and meant it. Still. Great singer.
Some other stuff happened on the stretched-thin hour. Here’s some of it:
• Steven Tyler has a new book, and it’s called Does The Noise in My Head Bother You? This is not a good title. I don’t think I’m going to read this book.
• All the contestants sang “So Happy Together” together, and that song is good enough that it didn’t deserve this hacky Disneyland treatment. I thought the kids from Ernest Goes to Jail did a better job with it. They really caught the spirit of it, you know? And as much as these contestants are all supposed to be friends with each other, aren’t they also competing with one another? In their situation, I would not be happy together with all these other motherfuckers trying to take my shine. I’m just saying.
• In this week’s Ford commercial, all the Idol kids did computer-generated magic tricks, stuff like Scotty McCreery spinning around on a BMX bike. It looked weird, but it wasn’t anything like the surreal absurdities they’ve been throwing into those things lately. Be weirder, Ford commercials!
• In a tedious time-eating skit, the kids all went to visit the Hell’s Kitchen chef guy for synergy-related reasons. They all had to cook omelets, which didn’t have shit to do with shit, but it was weirdly nice to hear a British guy yelling at these chumps for once. It brought back some fond memories. And gentle as that guy tried to be throughout, he at least wasn’t above letting some people know they sucked. This continued later in the show, when Lauren and Jacob had to have some sort of taste-off for absolutely no reason. Both of them were absolutely disgusted at having to eat tofu. I don’t know why I found this funny, but I did.
• Lady Antebellum stopped by to sing one of their interchangeably nice country ballads that sound way more like Richard Marx songs than like actual country music. It was a perfectly acceptable way to eat up four minutes of programming. I don’t really get Lady A’s sudden country-radio dominance, but I’ll take them over Rascal Flatts in a goddam heartbeat.
• More product placement! Awesome. I’d been hoping for some more of that. In a video package, the Idol kids talked about how hard it is to pick songs and clothes for the show. They did not convince me that this constitutes actual work. All this supposedly had something to do with Bing. It did not make me want to use Bing instead of Google. Nothing anyone ever does will convince the world to use Bing instead of Google. It’s nice that they’re still trying, though.
• Jimmy Iovine once again gave his reviews of all the kids. He semi-diplomatically shit on James Durbin, said that Lauren Alaina was too scared all the time, called Jacob Lusk “slightly off” and said that he was losing confidence and that everyone knew it, called Haley Reinhart “a lioness” and “a lock for the finale,” and mostly said nice things about Scotty McCreery. Jimmy is pretty harsh! Someone has to be, I guess.
• Jennifer Lopez performed with Pitbull–two of my Status Ain’t Hood-era evergreens at once. I half-expected Combat Jack to walk out onstage and start making fun of me just for watching. I am about 500% certain that Lopez was lip-syncing, or at least that her vocals were mixed way way down, all of which makes her position as a singing judge pretty funny. I still liked it, just because “On The Floor” is such unabashedly silly Europop. We also saw a few seconds of her next single, which sounded way less Europop and way shittier. I’m also fairly certain I heard some will.i.am ad-libs on there, and fuck that.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 6, 2011