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10:05 PM: Thank God, finally. I’m so glad that we were able to survive it together. I don’t want my contempt for this show to detract from the fact that I truly, honestly believe in giving to charities (real ones) that you trust. Donors Choose is a great one, but so are lots of others. Pick something; give something. But that doesn’t change how unbelievably nitwitty this closing number featuring the idols dressed like ice-cream men singing about how they all sing for the Lord, despite the fact that we know nothing about the religious backgrounds of any of them, and I seriously doubt they were polled before this was planned, meaning that they are singing their love for the Lord because they were told to, and isn’t that what gives it all meaning? Good night, everybody.

10:01 PM: HOW IS IT NOT OVER? IT’S NOT OVER! Oh, man. Mariah Carey. Figures. With such a weak-ass show, though, what could possibly have gone long by this much? Did Robin Williams just storm the stage with that Russian thing without being invited? This completely confuses me.

9:56 PM: Daughtry is still as boring to me as he was when he was on the show. Boo!

9:55 PM: DAUGHTRY! This is the closer. The closer is Chris fucking Daughtry. In a show that also included Annie Lennox. Way to go, jerks.

9:50 PM: They have saved Brad Pitt for last! I really, really wish he weren’t wearing that stupid cap. Projects to build housing are pretty cool, though. “He wants to be the first baseball player and lawyer in space” — aw! I think they’re all just really happy about seeing Brad Pitt. Aaaand here he is!

9:49 PM: So: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade. They hit the trifecta of bug.

9:42 PM: I was listening to Robin Williams do this SAME THING in about 1986. Not one new trick since then.

9:40 PM: Oh my God, I would so rather be watching the actual Russian Idol.

9:38 PM: Dear Miley Cyrus: Pardon me if I find your sympathy for the poor somewhat hollow when you could lift them out of poverty by giving them a set of tickets they could scalp.

9:34 PM: Miley Cyrus AGAIN? Do we really need to see the same celebrity twice? Does she have some purposeful stomping she didn’t get done last time? …Apparently so. And really, when you yell “2, 3, 4!” during the only moments when the band isn’t playing, it kind of defeats the purpose.

9:32 PM: Ashley Tisdale is donating her old nose to poor people who don’t have noses.

9:25 PM: Dane Cook barf barf barf barf barf.

9:23 PM: The lesson here is that singing in a stage ensemble like the Rent cast does is harder than it looks, and coming up with that really true, impressive choral sound, even in a pop-style show, is not for sissies. It’s amazing how this song falls apart when nobody can get out of his or her own head long enough to sing in unison. There’s a lot of unison in this song, and it means having humility and learning to blend, which none of these goobers are trained in.

9:21 PM: Reese Witherspoon promotes the Children’s Defense Fund. That’s a good choice of charity, and AT LEAST IT’S SPECIFIC. Unfortunately, Reese does not have the natural touch of an Annie Lennox. She seems very nice, but the thing where you’re comfortable anywhere? She does not have that. I guess because I was raised by teachers, I’m always particularly impressed with programs focused on schools, which is why I commonly give money to Donors Choose. (Love the letter packets! Got one once that said, “Dear Donor: We learned with our computer that you could give a hamster a bath!”)

9:13 PM: Britain donates millions of mosquito nets! Now that needs a “One Shining Moment” video.

9:10 PM: I think they maybe could have chosen someone to introduce a malaria film who would have a slightly easier time conveying seriousness. (Stephen: “Does anyone on Earth have less gravitas than Sarah Silverman?”)

9:07 PM: Sheila E. Wow. And a whole chorus of show choir kids!

9:05 PM: Oh, Gloria Estefan. It’s nice to know somebody still thinks she’s relevant.

8:56 PM: Carrie Underwood. So very much the heart and soul of this show, because she’s so unobjectionable and so brutally generic. And can she walk in that skirt? Is she on top of a cake? God bless her, there’s nothing but melisma from fifteen seconds into the song. I love the way this show equates depth of feeling with number of stringed instruments, incidentally. It makes it much easier to figure out how I’m supposed to be feeling at any given time.

8:52 PM: I always really, really like Simon Cowell when he goes out and does normal stuff. I don’t know if I’m an apologist or what, but I generally think that’s a good guy, and an honest guy, who does what he does well and doesn’t have pretensions about what he does. And indeed, you get him with poor people, and he’s weirdly able to relate especially because he doesn’t pretend this is natural to him; he acts like a visitor, which he is.

8:50 PM: Is Jimmy Kimmel going to sing “I’m Fucking Simon Cowell”? Because that would be awesome.

8:49 AM: Every thought I have about what Celine Dion looks like standing next to underfed children makes me seem like I am made of evil with a dollop of whipped psychosis, so I’m going to keep them to myself.

8:41 PM: Hey, I got my wish! She’s singing!

8:37 PM: Hey, Annie Lennox! Now she’s kind of cool. She is way cooler than Bono. I wish she were singing. I also really love how easy she is with the kids in this segment, picking them up just like a mom — any mom. There’s something about her manner that seems much more genuine and real than most celebrities who go and have their pictures taken standing next to children in Africa. You can totally tell that at some moment, she thought about whether she could adopt those boys. For an instant, anyway, she thought about it; you can tell.

8:34 PM: The Beckhams ask that you donate money for people who “have no world.” Victoria is shocked to know that some people don’t even have ridiculous fur hats.

8:30 PM: Oh, of course it’s “Fix You.” Of course it is. That poor, poor song.

8:28 PM: Damn, it’s the Katrina stuff that always kills me. Damn you, Fox.

8:25 PM: Oh my God, Adam Sandler, stop acting like you’re better than this. You’re not better than ANYTHING.


8:19 PM: I swear to God, there is nothing in the last fifteen years that has done as much for Heart as American Idol. There’s this small collection of people — Heart, Diane Warren, Martina McBride — who are, like, eight times as famous because of American Idol. Heart was famous anyway, but where do you mostly hear actual Heart songs now in the context of existing popular culture? American Idol. And did Fergie really need to butt in? I just listened to her. Heart needs her help, is the theory?

8:16 PM: I feel so bad about the fact that I’m one of those people who can’t forget the pictures of Fergie after she wet her pants onstage. I really admire the way that later, she was like, “I didn’t get to go before I went on; what’s the big deal?” But it is still the first thing I think of every time I see her. I apologize, Betsy Wetsy.

8:08 PM: Wow, they got Bono for their charity project? That must have been tough.

8:07 PM: I kind of like the way Miley Cyrus performs by stomping over to one part of the stage and then turning on her heel and stomping over to another part of the stage. Like, “I will sing some lyrics over HERE! And then over THERE! Have you noticed that my hair is BOUNCY? Because it IS!”

8:04 PM: This bit where Billy Crystal and Miley Cyrus have never heard of each other could not be stupider if they both did it with their tongues hanging out.

8:01 PM: Wow, Billy Crystal looks OLD. And puffy. (Stephen: “Is Billy Crystal morphing into Christopher Walken before our very eyes?”)

7:54 PM: Okay, I’m kind of interested in this Band From TV performance. I’ve heard of it, and I can’t remember who’s in it. I hope they explain it better. GREG GRUNBERG! Oh, Teri Hatcher. I liked you better as Lois Lane. I’m not too excited about the — OH MY GOD, BACHELOR BOB. Is that Dr. Chase on fiddle? How hot! It would be nice if they’d explain who all these people are.

7:50 PM: Paula and Randy! Like it’s the Academy Awards! Hey, at least she’s standing up. And they are visiting poor children. No swimming pools, and lots of gang activity. I like how the carefully stay with the woman who works at the school until she bursts into tears. Don’t miss that part! Hey, at least they all hugged Paula. But this whole thing underscores my fundamental problem with Idol Gives Back: what charity are we giving to?

7:45 PM: Snoop Dogg! Surrounded by small children! I wonder if those children qualify as “bling” for tax purposes. That would make quite an itemized list. “Grill, giant microphone cover, moppets.” Poor Snoop is telling the audience how to clap. Sadly, they need it. I also would think they could have afforded kids who can put their hands in the air and wave them like they just don’t care without hitting each other in the face.

7:43 PM: The only thing I can think of while watching this high-concept “yellow jug” ad is how the ad agency must have been so impressed when they thought of it. It’s a yellow jug!

7:41 PM: I would buy Stiller Whips Whitney’s Ass For Charity.

7:40 PM: Maria Shriver! Mrs. Governor Of California! And Seacrest made it through her intro without doing his Schwarzenegger. But the band did not get through it without playing “Maria” from West Side Story. I guess that pegs the number of songs with “Maria” in their names at one. Maria wants me to be a volunteer. I’m sorry, but does her forehead and brow look kind of…Klingon to anyone else? Forehead too shiny; brow too pronounced. Seriously, her eyes look mean. “We can all be American Idols in someone’s life.” Barf-o-meter: 1.

7:38 PM: I think George Lopez just declared for the presidency.

7:34 PM: There’s a Jimmy Johnson other than the one with fancy plans and pants to match? Oh, wait, that’s Jimmy James. That guy still looks like he might have fancy plans and pants to match. Flame-retardant NASCAR pants. I think I just figured out what I want for Christmas!

7:32 PM: I never thought I’d find anything with less street cred than Step Up 2 The Streets, but I’d say this opening number is right up there. Is there a reason for Idol to be hosting a review of various dance styles? Isn’t this a singing show? It’s like this is an obituary for Dance: 1986-1998. Dear poor and needy people: At least you do not have to watch this. Oh, it’s the So You Think You Can Dance people! That makes sense, and yet it makes no sense.

7:30 PM: The time has come, bitches. And by “bitches,” this time I mean “Ryan Seacrest.”

Starting at 7:30 ET (that’s in half an hour!), watch this space for live and ongoing coverage of Idol Gives Back. I’m not going to lie to you — the reason I’m doing this is that I want to watch it and I will for entertainment value, but I am fairly sure I will be crushingly bored, and struggling to entertain you will keep me awake. I will be following it live, and also probably stealing the best of the annoyed text messages I am likely to receive, because nothing pleases me more than lifting brilliance from my friends.

June 2018
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