Idol Beat: Detroit, Shlock City

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In spite of Idol Beat's absence last week (I was undergoing treatment for nose hemorrhoids), Fox's karaoke juggernaut steamrollered on, topping the ratings once again for Wednesday and Thursday night. Last week's casualty, MySpace's Karen Rodriguez, wasn't much of a surprise. I mean, the bilingual thing was cute and all, but audiences were starting to expect it. And as M. Night Shyamalan could tell you, once the shtick overshadows the product, it's probably time to call it a day.

Isn't that right, Scotty McCreery?

Last night (for the fifth time in series history) the Idol contestants tackled Motown. The music of Hitsville U.S.A. provided the soundtrack for one of the most tumultuous periods in our history, and this fact was hammered home for a good ten minutes. Normally I would say spending the first part of the show rehashing Motown's history would be a waste of time, but these are Idol fans we're talking about.

And if anybody can make the words "in a time of great civil unrest for our nation" sound shallow and pointless, it's Ryan Seacrest.

The suspense was palpable: Can Pia Toscano be stopped? Would Berry Gordy show up in the audience again (Liv Tyler did)? Will anybody tell James Durbin his hair is, like, so 2002? Read on, disbelievers...

Casey starts us off. His choice, Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" is an unfortunate choice. He can't out-funk Gaye, but the judges think it's fine. Or as Randy put it, "You can only be you, which is perfect for you," or something.

Aerosmith's guitarist Brad Whitford was there. He looks like David Carradine.

Thia Megia is next with a throaty rendition of Martha and the Vandelas' "(Love is Like A) Heat Wave," and she seems to have dug herself out of last week's hole. Steven's "good with it." Jennifer and Randy applaud her for taking a chance. I want to know where she got that necklace? And those shoes! Jeez!

Jimmy Iovine says there's no one "more natural to sing Motown than Jacob." Bad news for Scotty, I guess. Aguilera Jr. reigns it in, for about three minutes, but his rendition of "You're All I Need to Get By" is enough to get a hug from Steven (and his grandmother) and exultations from the others. The final tableaux -- the first row of girls lining up to embrace him -- doesn't come across quite as creepy as it might otherwise have been...for some reason.

Lauren takes a page from Haley's playbook and vamps "You Keep Me Hangin' On" right next to the judges. It falters at the end, but you wouldn't know it to hear Randy and Steven. Four songs in, and apparently each one is better than the last. What are the odds?

One wonders much of the gleam has come off Stefano Langone's star, now that reports have surfaced about the drunk driving victim's own arrest...for drunk driving in 2010. Not much, probably because the audience was stunned into short term memory loss by hearing Lionel Richie's "Hello," the sweetest song ever written about a creepy dude stalking a blind girl. "Hello?" Jesus Jones, kid. Stefano might be in the cellar tonight.

Speaking of creeps, there's Gordon Ramsey! Sadly, more people know him than Otis Williams, the original Temptaion sitting next to him.

Haley is in the bottom three every week for a reason, and she didn't impress last night, as all over the place as she was with "You've Really Got a Hold On Me."

And I wish I'd set an over/under this week on how many of the contestants claimed they "grew up listening to Motown." Really? Nobody's parents listened to Duran Duran or Madonna? Everyone listened to Marvin Gaye and the Temptations in the 1980s? I call third degree bullshit.

Hell, Scotty said the same thing. And that influence must be why he made Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life" sound like Ronnie Milsap. Please America, put this smug little prick in the bottom three.

Sorry, but it looks like it's Pia Toscano's competition to lose. Her change up of Stevie ("All in Love is Fair") brings all the range and emotion McCreey's take lacked. She's got some pipes, but the judges would like her to add a little salsa to her Celine Dion-isms.

[Steven: "You're the closest star in the American Idol universe?" What? Sounds like the cocaine-scoured voids where his sinuses used to be have finally allowed to much oxygen into his braincase.]

I'm obviously in the minority of opinion on Paul McDonald. I see what the judges are doing, though. They're throwing "unique" out there like a subliminal advertisement, hoping it negatively embeds itself in the audience's memories, leading them to vote him out in three or four weeks. Fiendishly clever, that.

Look, I've been a fan of Naima from day one, and last night she convinced the judges as well. Even if the African dance interlude during "Dancing in the Streets" was a little...iffy.

Durbin closes it out with another Stevie Wonder cut ("Living for the City"). More wailing, not that it matters. The judges -- and voters -- love his ass.

The latest odds from Vegas were released this week, and online sportsbook Bodog unsurprisingly has Pia favored (at 2/1). She's followed by -- wait, what? -- McCreery at 4/1? Christ. Then there's Lauren (5/1), Fauhawk (5/1), and Beardo (6/1). Longshots, shockingly, are perpetual bottom dwellers Haley "St. Teresa" Reinhart and Naima Ade..ade..adenotgonnawinAmericaIdol, both at 75/1 against.

America whittles it down to 10 tonight. Bye bye Haley, I'm guessing.


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