Idol Beat: The Dirty Two Dozen

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The fallout from Jennifer Lopez's Wednesday night freakout only ate up about ten minutes of last night's show. At least, that's how much it looked like as I was fast-forwarding my DVR. You've got to hand that much the producers of American Idol, they can milk even the most trivial of incidents for half a season's worth of drama. Hence, J Lo's sobbing fit was scrutinized by everyone from MTV the the Washington Post, and even that most sober of analysts, Ryan Seacrest, was led to wonder, "Will Jennifer find the strength to go on?"

Four more months, people.

Last night's episode was dubbed the "Final Selection," which gave the whole evening a nice fascist vibe. Drawing parallels to Nazi Germany was basically a way to kill time, since very little of what transpired was any surprise whatsoever.

In what might be considered a minor upset, Scotty McCreery took the "token country guy" slot from John Wayne Schulz. Then again, the guy's been featured in just about every episode so far, so somebody up there in Fox Heaven must like him. I don't. He's a one-note performer who duffed the lyrics the one time he tried something that wasn't a song about "locking the doors and turning the lights down low."

Plus, "John Wayne Schulz" is a much cooler name.

And Jessica Cunningham, she of the seven(!) auditions, got the boot in place of 15-year-old first timer Thia Megia. She also had some choice words (and fingers) for the judges, the producers, and probably the whole country as well. Can't wait to see her back in 2012.

As for Megia, I couldn't help but wholeheartedly endorse Seacrest's comment: "Lowering the age had its upside." That's so true. Hey, I have an idea: let's lower the audition age to three years old. That'll open the competition to thousands more contestants, and maybe they can stretch the show out for nine months...screw it, they should just have American Idol year round. That's the only way you assholes are going to catch up to CBS.

The list rolled on..."MySpace's" Karen Valentine (how much does that defunct, shitty website pay the network to get Seacrest to say that every time she appears?)...Robbie Rosen -- who looks like a cross between Justin Guarini and the stoner kid whose dad busted his party in Dazed and Confused...Tatynisa Wilson (the Jennifer Hudson to Ashthon's Beyonce)...Tim Halperin -- who the producers haven't seen fit to give a personality yet...Laurent Turner ("The maid makes it to the big time"...nice).

The constant bait-and-switch of the judges going, "I'm sorry to say...you made it to the final 24!" got old the third time they did it. From then on, I tried to occupy myself with hoping someone would actually vomit from stress.

Much more amusing was the growing desperation in the waiting room. By the time they got the final three (with one slot left) of Simply Brett Loewenstern, Colton Dixon, and Jacee Badeaux it was pretty hilarious. The eventual selectee (Loewenstern) was effusive -- to put it mildly -- in his praise for his fellow dudes. Idol loves that shit. He'll go far.

And wow did Jacee milk that farewell hug from Lopez. Well played, son.

Among the other unsurprising picks: Julie Zorrilla, Jovany Barreto, Rachel Zevita, Jordan "The Other Asshole" Dorsey, Lauren Alaina (who said she felt like she was going to pass out, not advisable in front of Steven Tyler), Stefano Langone, Pia Toscano, etc. etc. America was checking its watch with an hour to go.

But perhaps the absolute best part of the evening was wondering who the hell these 30-odd kids were who they never bothered to introduce to us. Seriously, who were these people? Kid in the plaid shirt? Nondescript black dude? Sort of Kim Kardashian-looking girl? Any pretense of surprise goes down the drain when you can mistake the "contestants" for production assistants.

The "demonstrative" Jacob Lusk made it through, of course. The multi-octave, polysyllabic Lusk is the male Christina Aguilera. Every time he sings, I can't wait for it to end. And so did James Durbin, whom I now hate. Dude, I'm sorry you've had a tough life, but that doesn't give you the right to screech through a Sam Cooke song.

Next week the voting rounds begin. Finally, the show will be in the hands of the people who gave us Lee DeWyze and Taylor Hicks. Can't wait.

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