OK then. We've now seen the crop of lady-girls who were selected by the Idol panel to battle it out for our amusement, and it's not pretty. Well, it's certainly pretty, there are many pretty girls in the lineup, but vocally? It doesn't seem like they're going to get the Kelly Clarkson they're so clearly wishing for.

I mean, you noticed that too, right? How ugly and discordant this show is when all you do is stuff the ladies' side with a bunch of sprig-throated young belters? Ugh. Watch the clip above. Granted the sound quality is a little off, but it's still a good representation of how similar and yelly all these ladies are. Just a seemingly unending string of power ballads and unfortunate big band vampers. Did you hear an interesting voice last night? Sure some of the screamers were better than the other screamers, but we're still talking about a bunch of screamers here. Why are you screaming at me girls??? Why?? I didn't do anything wrong!

Well, no, of course I did. I've done so many things wrong. Maybe these girls know where the bodies are buried. Edgar Allan Poe's The Telltale Idol Screamers. Fair enough. Let's be positive for a second. You know what I love? The new font they're using for introducing the tributes right before they sing. It's the LOLCat font. It's the same exact font. White with a thick black border. LOLIdols! It's great. Someone on the production end is either really lazy or really clever. Good work, anonymous Idol drone. OK, basta.

The Good
Ha. This is gonna be hard! No, actually, it's not that hard. Lauren Alaina, she's good. I feel like I don't want to like her, just because she's young and sweaty and everyone at Idol is so clearly in the tank for her. I don't want to be played like that, by a child, by a team of hissing Idol demons. But she is, in the end, quite good. The current meme in country music seems to be women with big power voices who can shrieeeek at us on both the country stations and the pop stations, they just digitally remove a guitar twang here or put in a zither strum there depending. Lauren Alaina has that. I guess the cold corporate side of me recognizes that in her and responds well to it. For some reason I just got a picture in my head of me living forever at the Hampton Inn on Wolf Road in Albany, NY (a place I've been many, many times). That is where the cold, corporate me lives. At that particular Hampton Inn, eating at the Wolf Road Diner, and it's always winter and I'm listening to Lauren Alaina and nodding my head in cold approval. It's bleak, but it works.

One could say basically the same thing about Pia Zadora. Here's a pretty girl with a pretty twirl in her voice who could probably do some echoy dance hall numbers in the style of Rihanna but could also be the singer of songs that you listen to when you are driving home, alone at night, from Jason's house after he's been particularly distant and weird, and you're wondering if he maybe did actually hook up with Ashley Duncan on the school trip to D.C. that you couldn't go on, and you feel like something big and way older than you is swallowing you up, like you are maybe realizing that being alive in the world is pretty much harder than it is easy, that there is a vast lake of hurt and sadness that you've just now dipped your toe into. That kind of teen mourn music for the pop set, not an Elliot Smith or a Muse or whatever the alternative kids listen to now, but something mainstream with a black & white piano melody and a chilly, clear voice. Pia could do that, given the right producers, given the right strange, whirring, gland-like machine that can tumble out all the imperfections, smooth the edges. So she's good, for this, for this show. But she's not good.

The Bad
And neither is anyone else. Honestly. I'm sure it seems like I'm being unduly harsh on the girls after being so jokey and silly about the boys yesterday, but there was something so aggressively packaged and boring about these girls that I just feel angry today. (The hangover does not help.) At least with the boys there's a range of styles and voices — Lockthemdoors with his ridiculous whatever, Frizzbo with his goblin jittering, Paul McDonald with his serial murderer shiver — that make them entertaining, if not always musically satisfying. The girls this year just seem so damn boring, or at least they did last night.

I guess one "entertaining" highlight was that girl Zevita or whatever completely mangling "Criminal"? I mean, that was sort of funny, to see someone sing that song (that great, great song) with a big band sound and, from what I could tell, a completely different melody. I give her props for even attempting a Fiona Apple song, but that's about all I give her props for. I'd be a terrible stagehand because I would refuse to give her more props. "But I need that for the next scene!" "No." "Richard, come on! I need that prop!" "No." The worst play you'll ever see. "The acting was good, but why was there only the one prop? Was it a statement on something?" I'm just pretty stingy with the props.

Oh god, the girl who went out first, rattling that Rihanna song about being the only girl in the world, that was just splendiferously awful. You guys sent that Virginia holler cricket home, you know the backwoods Billie, and you kept... this? It's funny how they are so desperate to have a girl win so they tried to engineer it so a girl would win, and this is how they do it. I mean it makes complete sense that Idol would be completely dopey and tone deaf about something like this. "These pretty girls can warble, the audience will love that!" I'm just wondering how in ten years they haven't figured out that most people watch the show for very different reasons than they seem to think we do. Like, how many among us settle down on the couch every week and say "Let's see whose future records I'm going to buy"? None, I would guess. It's a television show that is fun to watch because, typically, there is an array of talented(ish) and diverse weirdos who we can root for and hiss at and boo and cheer and then when it's all over we've forgotten their names in a week. It is not so we can be sold records. And lining up all these attractive, same-voiced young women like a "pick your next pop star please" ballot is just snoozeworthy. But also a little funny? Ha. Idol thinks it's people. After all these years, it wants to do the first year all over again. It all goes so fast, doesn't it, Idol? We're dreams and then we're dust, just like that.

We have to talk about the Colombian girl, you know the super pretty one (looking at last night's lineup my friend said "They all look like Miss Venezuela" and he was not wrong) who I thought was going to win the whole damn thing and then she came out last night and just belly flopped. I mean, the prom queen sharted on stage when the assistant principal was putting the crown on her head. Just a poop-stained Jessica McClintock dress and a stunned silence. She was terrible! Hilariously terrible. She arrogantly sang a K. Clarks song, the "Breakaway" one that is her worst one maybe?, and she just ham-slammed that thing into the ground, dirt and pebbles flying up into the air, Randy spitting and sputtering, J.Lo waving a hand in front of her face, the old witch passed out on the desk from drinking too much spider wine. It was great. I really loved her. Maybe I should move her up into "The Good" just because it was so much fun to watch Best Looking poop in her 7s at yearbook superlatives picture day. And that white dress! Worst Quinceañera Ever.

Oh golly, who else? I don't know if there's anyone else I feel like talking about. Oh, I actually didn't hate that the Rodriguez girl sang half of "Hero" in Spanish. I guess I just maybe wish she'd sung the whole thing in Spanish, just so it didn't seem like some school assembly singing group was trying to teach us about diversity. Just go whole hog, girl! I know the lyrics to that song, I don't need your help. It'd be fun to have a contestant just do Spanish songs the whole time. It's actually not a bad strategy. She'd be sure to lock up at least one voting bloc, which, as Jasmine Trias can tell you, is not a bad way to get to the top three.

All right, I'm done here. Sorry guys. I know this was brutes magutes, but they brought it on themselves. Their crime wasn't that they were the worst singers in the world, it's that they were just so very not interesting. I suppose that's not their fault. I suppose we've the judges and their unseen, cloaked overseers to blame for that. Half of those girls mixed in with some Bowersoxes and some Brooke Whites? Sure, I'd do it. But 12 belters shrieking at me for ninety minutes is more than my ancient ears can take. It's just too much. You could see it in Ryan's face, too. So much going on at home and now this? Now all of this? It's like he could hear the Earth creaking on its axis, like he could feel the pain of turning and turning and turning for all those years. Like maybe it would feel good to stop for just a second, to listen for just a second to the strange lunar hush of a sea full of stars doing absolutely nothing.