Last night's installment of Glitter Rodeo 3000 finally, finally, brought us into the present. Yes the theme this week was blessedly not "Songs You Might Find in an Old Haunted Jukebox" or "Very Much Your Daddy's Top 40." It was "Songs Written in the Last 10 Years." Ha, that's all, just songs from the new century.

They were songs for a new world, even! It was very exciting that we absolutely would not hear any old-timey sounding stuff. That's all done now. We're here, in the modern era. Well, sort of.

But before we get to the singtestants, we should at least briefly discuss the hideous group number that proceeded the competition portion of the evening. Yes, there was a group number, on a performance night! But no, it was not from the seven remaining ghouls. It was from the six dead, eliminated ghouls. Yes! People like Ashley Rodriguez and Whosername McWhatsons came out and blurted Pink's "So What" at us, defiantly saying "So what you don't like me, I'm back baby, back performing again." Back performing, terribly, on Idol just a few weeks later, begging for people to not forget about you. Ladies (and whisper demons), if they forgot about David Cook, they're going to forget about you. Naima seemed to be the only one to really understand this sad fact, as she threw her shawl over the camera, blacking the world out, as if to say "Be gone! No more! I am no more." Everyone else seemed pretty into it, especially that felled arrogant thoroughbred Pia, strutting around as if to say "See what you lost? See what you went and fucked up and did?" Yes, we do. We're not upset about it. We maybe were for like five minutes but then the rest of Thursday night happened and then it was Friday and then the weekend and we just kinda meandered on with our lives, as we do. Oh well. I'm told that Paul forgot the lyrics at some point? I hadn't even noticed that he was in the performance, so I guess Paul forgot his lyrics and I forgot Paul. Sorry, Mr. Whispuhz! Better luck next life.

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The Bad

OMG you guys. I'm starting with the bad. I'm so mad at some of these kids. I'm mad because they chose songs that were just like Nooooooo. Scotty McDREARY, yeah I said it, chose some fool LeAnn Rhimes song called "Swingin'" which no one had ever heard of. (I mean, I'm sure people have heard of it, but not enough people.) He did his increasingly gross sexy-man routine and sidewinded his microphone as always. Before each singer they had a little intro package that was the other contestants talking about the person, making fun of one specific thing, and for Scotty's they focused on the way he holds his microphone. And everyone was like "He holds it like a flute," and so they all did hilarious awkward French blowjob pantomime (I'd imagine the French give blowjobs differently) and it was so uncomfortable. I mean, the whole thing was just ripe for photoshopping. I don't possess such skills, nor do I really have any interest in doing the photo research required to find the necessary images, but I'm just saying. Someone who was interested could have a field day with that. But yeah, Scotty's package (his INTRO PACKAGE, jeez) was the most interesting thing about his performance, chiefly because he chose a dumb song.

Lauren Alaina had a big chance to shine this week, to prove herself fun and contemporary, and she farted out, I mean literally almost farted out, some Sara Evans song that, again, no one has ever heard of. LAURENNNNN. You idiot. I'm sorry. You're an idiot. You had SO MANY well-liked, fresh-in-people's-minds songs to choose from, and you picked some random, tuneless Sara Evans dud. Sure there were a few big notes and you got to teen-dream about "learning to fly" and other pat nonsense, but c'mon. There is absolutely no reason she should not have blared out a real Favorite. Unless rights were an issue (which, admittedly, they very likely could have been), there is no reason she shouldn't have sung, like, a Taylor Swift song or something. Even a Dixie Chicks song. You know what I wish she'd done (and been able to do, time restrictions and all), oddly? Sheryl Crow's "If it Makes You Happy." Wouldn't that have been fun and different? But no, she did some random song and sang it fine, fine as always, but was so boring and meek about it and I'm just tired. Tired of her not delivering. Send her home. She's done. She plateaued long ago.

So Scotty and Lauren fucked up their song choices, yes, but neither were as annoying as the show's biggest, hammiest scenery chewer, Jacob Lusk. Jesus Christ, Jacob, give it a rest. Do you know what he sang? Do you know what he sang on the week when he was supposed to sing something contemporary and recent? He sang a motherfucking Luther Vandross ballad. About dead dads. Yuppppp. When in life will the context be right to listen to Jacob Lusk's album? "Hm, well, I am right now graduating from Prestige University, after growing up in a pile of dirt behind Pittsburgh and befriending a feared and misunderstood hobo/wild animal and learning life lessons from him/it, so I guess I should listen to Jacob Lusk's weepy emotionalism, an entire album's worth, right now." Is that when? Is that the only time when? I mean otherwise you are such a weird, crazy person, driving home from work and listening to Jacob Lusk give birth to a tear-baby on your car stereo, the post-work traffic droning along outside, while you experience the entire emotional range of the Free Willy movies in one commute home. You are such a weird person for listening to that Jacob Lusk album. I'm sorry. Anyway, there was this whole strange thing where he choked up at the beginning of his performance because he was singing about a father, and his own father died, but then afterward he said that he was hearing something weird in his earpiece, it wasn't emotions that tripped him up? So I don't know. Some people think he was sabotaged, but I think the weird thing he heard in his earpiece was Inspirational God, who looks like Della Reese but sounds like Roma Downey, saying "Please, Jacob. Stop. Please stop. Sing some John Mayer or something, for me's sake."

Moving along we come, regrettably, to James Durbin. Good grief. Everyone made fun of his little poopcloth in his intro segment, so that's good, the more shaming for that the better. Though, less lighthearted next time. The teasing of the poopcloth should be darkhearted. Dark as blackest night. Speaking of dark as blackest night, holy Uruk-hai, what was that fool wearing? Uruk-hai might be a bad reference. He was dressed like a Klingon. What's the Klingon for "Who does this idiot think he is?" Because for Della Downey's sake he was acting, once again, like he'd just reinvented music, coming trundling out from backstage with his post-apocalyptic dojo outfit on, followed by an ominous drum corps, bleating out a Muse song. Everyone was really into it, which is annoying. The kid's not singing well! Sure he gets to the shrieking part and that goes OK, but everything else? It's not actually ever in tune or full-bodied or anything. He's all wrapped up in shtick and ridiculousness and hoping no one notices that he's not really singing most of the time. I'm noticing! I'm sure other people are noticing! Stop the insanity! Amirite, Susan Powter?

Next up on the chopping block is Casey. There was a whole jokey thing about his beard, and yes yes, ladies and gentlemen, Seacrest jokes abounded in the head like spring pollen. I have no idea which particular Seacrest/beard joke to make, so let's just consider them all made. Ryan kind of made one himself, after Casey sang. He came out wearing a beard and Casey said something about it and Ryan was like "There's a joke in there, but I'm not going there." Then Casey ripped it off and Ryan was like "Thank you, that was uncomfortable! It must so hard being a man." Haha. Oh Ryan. Oh sillybilly. Silly bean. Um, but yes, Casey sang a Maroon 5 song like a proper maroon. I mean, it's a freaking Maroon 5 song, and yet he treated it like it was this big, roiling rock song. And then he did this whole nonsense with going up and kissing J.Lo on the cheek at the end and ehhhh. He's all gimmick and no guts. Y'know? Like if you stripped off all the weird faces and plunky stand-up bass stuff and J.Lo kissing, there's nothing really there. There's no there there. He's all Fraggle and no rock. Or something. I don't know.

The Good

Haley was good? I suppose Haley was good enough to be the lone entrant in the "Good" category. She wailed an Adele song, which was the second ambitious Adele-tackling of the week, and I'd say she fared better than Gwyneth Paltrow (this is not terribly hard) and, of course, way worse than Adele. But she didn't embarrass herself. Haley doesn't embarrass herself these days, so that's good. But I think she's maybe reached her peak. She's surprised us with her moxie and growl, but now we're getting more and more used to it every week and waiting on something new and I'm just not sure there's anything else there. I think we've reached the end of the line. For uptown service please transfer to... well, no one. No one's headed uptown on these Idol games at the moment.

The Long One

Oh, Stefano. Stefano "Long-one" Langone is a dirty bird. A dirty, dirty birdie. His package (take it as you will) was all about how he fancies himself a ladies man, and for the second time that evening vague and only half-formed beard jokes raced through my head, but I didn't quite get there with any of them. Much like Stefano with the ladies. I mean, obviously that's how he likes it. But yes, Stefano had it in mind to really woo the audience this week, so he sang CNe-Yo's "Closer" and it was all sexed-up and shrieky and he was wearing weird drop-crotch pants with suspenders hanging down, as is the style with 1920s aviators like CNe-Yo, I guess? The whole thing was silly and kind of embarrassing, with awkward crotch thrusting (complete with synthetic bulge) and one really lewd final look that Stefano gave to the camera. Did you see that thing? Yiiikes. Gross.

I mean, do we think Ryan found it gross? Do you think they drove home in silence and fell wordlessly into bed and never spoke of it again? Or do you think Ryan was giddy after the show, wanting to have one more drink than usual in his office, fooling around with the fake Casey beard, giggling and snickering? Do you think maybe the laughter died down for a moment, Ryan sitting on his desk, Stefano walking up to Ryan, standing in the space between his legs. Stefano reaching to take off the silly beard but Ryan putting his hand up, stopping him. Ryan saying "No, no. Leave the beard on." Stefano raising an eyebrow and letting out a low, sinister little laugh. Ryan kicking the door shut. Down the hall the old janitor Sven shaking his head and continuing to mop the floor, pretending not to hear the rattle of Ryan's desk, of staplers and pencils, of loose change and keys, of time ever moving, pounding on and on.