'American Idol': Going Lightly

The Atlantic
'American Idol': Going Lightly
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'American Idol': Going Lightly

We are now two short weeks away from the end of this Idol madcappery, as the fourth place finisher was named last night and now only three remain. As always there was much fanfare before the contestant was given up to the old gods, so we should probably talk about some of that.

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There was a group number to Mamas & the Papas tunes and, I don't know. That band always makes me kind of sad. Not because John Phillips was supposedly carrying on with his daughter Mackenzie, which is a total f-cking bummer for sure. And not because Mama Cass will forever be thought of as someone who choked to death on a ham sandwich, even though that isn't true and actually she probably died because she was drastically trying to lose weight, which is a bunch of sad irony. Not because like all but two of the Mamas and the Papas are dead. That's not even the reason why the Mamas & the Papas make me said. They make me said because, boy, there was a time when you could have a band called the Mamas and the Papas. It just speaks of a simpler time now gone. Obviously there were some pretty gnarly, un-simple things going on behind the scenes, but in presentation, at least, it was just a band about Mamas and Papas and it makes me sad that such a band could never be again. So, a curse on you, Idol jerks, for making me feel sad for a few seconds.

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And then as if to really send me over the edge, they trotted out poor old King David Cook. He trundled out, fattened by too many blackbird pies, his beard greasy from meats, his black clothing more funereal that rockstar cool. Talk about bummers, man. David Cook. Woof. He sang some song that should have come out seven years ago and everyone kinda wanly clapped and Ryan Seacrest frowned his Richard Scarry frown and that was David Cook. I saw him once in concert (whatever I don't feel the need to explain my art to you) and he was acting like he was Bono, like arms all outstretched as if he was greeting a sea of millions of worshippers. In truth he was greeting a pond of about a thousand tween girls at a dumpy venue in Worcester, Massachusetts, so oh well. He's a bit of a ponce, that one. But mostly I feel bad for him. He would have had such a run in the early-mid '00s. But instead he won Idol in 2008. A day late and a combover short. Oh, well.

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After that blue note, Jennifer Lopez performed a "song" about making love for everybody and it was deeply silly. She is so good in most arenas, so smart — a perfectly appealing actress, a good American Idol judge, an excellent Fiat salesman — and yet she has this total bizarre blindspot for her music career. She is not a singer, and frankly she's not even much of a dancer at this point, so what is she doing, lurching around on stage pretending to sing in front of a bunch of people who, not but a minute before, had given her their full respect. It's like self-flagellation, like she gets too close to the ideal so she must punish herself by parading through the town doing a dance of shame, lips moving soundlessly while strange sourceless music plays. And to make matters worse, the song is about making love. A whole song about how she wants to make love. So much love, this Jennifer Lopez wants to make. And she has the sexy male dancers surrounding her to prove it. Oh dear, you thought she wanted to make love to you? Oh, gosh, no, I'm sorry. She wants to make love to this dude. That's the kind of dude she's making love to these days. That and Phil Phillips. Sorry.

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There was yet another Ford commercial that Phil Phillips was not in because that boy just cannot get his business together. We got to see a behind-the-scenes of the shoot and the three kids seemed very savvy all of a sudden about how commercials work and stuff, so that's good, that they got that training, just in case they have to be... mmpf... on... camera... in... snort... the future. SORRY, kids. I'm sorry. Good luck to you all.

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Hollie, you're dead. Yup, sorry. Ryan did some ridiculous fanfare last night where he brought people to the middle of the stage, made them endure Jimmy Iodine's Video Vivisection and then was like "Oh, ha, juuuusstt joshing, I have no results for you right now." So that was fake and gay, but what can you do. Finally at the end of the erpisode, it was revealed that Phil was a bottom and as was Hollie. So J Sanch and Josh-Josh sat comfortably farting into the cushions of the Couches Of Destiny while Phil and Hollie gritted their teeth and bottomed. Who would win the losing competition? Who would be safe from continuing on in the competition? Ryan snapped his fingers, a triangle trilled, the lights fluttered, and Ryan whispered Hollie's name.

The faerie, my friends, is gone. She was very graceful about leaving, singing her favorite song, Miley Cyrus' "Can You See The Mountain Past The Eagle's Soaring," and she shook hands or grabbed hands or just mashed hands with the judges and then at the end of her song she whispered something small and secret into Ryan's ear and then she was gone, flitting up up up into the rafters, out of the hole at the center of the Idoldome, into the blue velvet night sky. Everyone clapped the traditional three faerie claps, clap-clap-clap, and then they silently filed out and went home to burn incense and pray to the tree spirits that Hollie may safely find her way to the lush green lands of the faerie afterworld.

Ryan, as had become routine lately, delayed leaving as long as he could, but eventually he had to get in his car and drive home. To once again endure the loneliness and terror and ache of Tim still being gone, missing, taken by the ancient Colton demon who, though no longer corporeal, still taunted him, haunted him in his big Hollywood Hills home. Dread curdled in Ryan's stomach the closer he got to his house but when he pulled up, much to his surprise, there was Hollie, waiting for him with a curious smile on her face. "I'll help you," she had whispered in his ear before leaving the auditorium that night. Ryan had shrugged it off, figuring she meant she'd be good for the show's future or something. But he now realized she'd meant something entirely different.

He walked up to her and she smiled more and said "Take me to the center of it." Somehow Ryan knew what she meant, knew that she wanted him to take her to where Colton's dark pulse was felt strongest in the house. So he lead her to his bedroom, pointed to a spot on the carpet and said "There. He's there. He's always there." Hollie nodded her head, more sagely than someone her age should be capable of, and she whispered a few strange Celtic-sounding words and suddenly there was a wind, a steady and chilly wind, in the house. She whispered more words and there was a rumble, a shake. Earthquake, Ryan thought, but Hollie looked at him and said "No," as if she had read his thoughts. And maybe she had. She turned back to the spot on the carpet and she whispered some more strange runic words and the wind persisted and the rumble grew and there was the sound of flutes or recorders or some woodwind kind of instrument and suddenly the room was full of birds and Ryan was not sure he liked Hollie's faerie magic but he let her go on. She whispered faster and faster and faster now, a light emanating from the center of her chest, the rumble growing and growing and growing, the light brighter and brighter until it was too bright to see. Ryan stood, blinded, hearing Hollie's words much louder now, a faerie scream -- and then suddenly it was gone. All of it, the wind the rumble the birds the light, it was all gone and Ryan was still standing in his bedroom. He looked at Hollie. She smiled at him and pointed to the floor. There, lying there on the floor, was Colton. Or Colton's body at least. Hollie turned to Ryan and darted in for a quick hug. "Burn the bones," she whispered. "And then he'll be gone." Ryan blinked, confused. "But, but what about Tim." Hollie giggled. "Oh, I suppose he'll be around. Why, is that him right now?" She giggled again as there was a knock on the front door. Ryan ran to it, he opened it, and there, shivering and naked but wonderfully alive, oh thank god still alive, was his Tim, his dear Tim Urban. "Ryan??" he said, voice trembling. "You found me. Thank god you found me." And Ryan wrapped him in an embrace and they stood there for a long, long time, hugging and crying. Ryan did not understand Hollie's faerie magic, but he was grateful for it. So, so grateful for it.

When he eventually went back to the room Hollie was gone but Colton's body was still there. So he did what she said. Ryan dragged the body out to the yard and burned it until the bones were mostly cinder and ash. He dug a hole and buried the ashes and bones and other bits and filled the pit with dirt. Done. It was done. Oh thank god it was done. Before heading back into the house and lying next to Tim for what would turn out to be an entire week, Ryan chuckled to himself. "Oh Hollie," he said. "I knew there was a reason we brought you back this season." And up in the dark sky a single star twinkled and it was her, our Hollie, smiling in the night.

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