Idol Chatter

"To crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet — to take their horses and goods and hear the lamentation of their women. That is best." -- Genghis Khan, 1162-1227

Ol' Genghis could just as easily have been talking about the appeal of the early rounds of American Idol, wherein a seemingly never-ending, all-too-human stream of delusional no-hopers are pilloried, filleted, diced, scattered, smothered and chunked by Paula, Randy and Simon, and You, the audience at home and Time's Man of the Year.

On last night's season premiere the judges' panel — joined in this episode by the icily serene Jewel, who really doesn't have all that much to be so smug about these days — seemed to go about their sadistic task with nakedly unabashed joy. Enemies were crushed with the utmost efficiency. Contestants fell at the feet of the almighty Simon. Female lamentations were heard. And when did Genghis Khan ever have the privilege, if you can call it that, of crushing the dreams of someone who considered him their personal hero, as Jewel did with that bellowing Mall of America make-up artist who batted lead-off for the whole show?

Sarah Krueger, she of the billowing raven curls and the equally lovely rendition of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" was last night's hands-down winner — I'm ready to predict that this uncannily composed natural beauty will be Top 12 right now. I would give nobody else a better than 50-50 shot. Denise Jackson, the 16-year-old former crack baby, is definitely a rough diamond, but right now she's about as in control of her dynamo of a voice as a drunk Montgomery County redneck is of his speeding Dodge Ram on a patch of black ice. Colombian cutie Perla Meneses is at best a third-generation Xerox of Shakira, but she did set cash registers ringing in Simon's head (not to mention un fuego below the belt), and she has an eminently milkable backstory. Matt Sato, the 16-year-old Mamas and the Papas fan, is a not-particularly-strong contender for the Cheddarov / Clay Aiken / Kevin Covais kid-with-the-old-soul and the creepy fanbase role. Michelle Steingas, the country-singing blonde, is very forgettable, save for her piercing, Pod Person-like eyes. And the two singing soldiers are little more than cannon fodder — Simon's cynicism was on naked view when he told both of them "I think America will like you." (What he meant but didn't say: "...because out there in Wal-Mart Land they are suckers for kids in uniform. But you really don't have a chance in hell here.")

But you didn't watch this episode to see songs well or even competently sung. You tuned in to watch fat, scantily-clad girls trilling like the Cowardly Lion, or delusional 16-year-old geeks juggling hippie sticks, or the most bizarre performance of Prince's "Kiss" of all time. Or maybe you got a kick out of watching that hefty goth girl who said Idol was her BFF get destroyed by that very same BFF, or taking in the surreal spectacle of a group of paid professionals having a serious conversation with a crazed sub-mediocre opera tenor decked out like Apollo Creed. Or maybe you wondered what was really the deal between that fairly hot young girl who could only sing when she was purring "Fever" while gazing longingly in the eyes of her paunchy schlub of a middle-aged boss. And then there was Yarlin' Josh Flom, who managed to steer even Abba's "Dancing Queen" into the quagmire that is BuzzMushRawk.

What fun! And tomorrow's Seattle edition promises to be the worst ever! And apparently, they will be mocking retarded people, which is a new low, even for Fox. -- John Nova Lomax

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