Well! Last night's episode of Professor J.J. Blunderful's Mysterious Song Machine was certainly a doozy, wasn't it? Quite the dramatic episode of television, was it not? Everyone was singing their guts out, spilling them on the floor, blood and other viscera soaking the stage. Gross!

It was the top five, which means that Randy gave his traditional and always stirring annual lecture about being In It To Win It. What does being In It To Win It mean? It means, dear friends, being In It To Win It. One must be In It To Win It if one does, of course, want, in fact, to have, you'll see, to Win It. You must be In It in order to, ipso facto, cogito ergo sum, Win It. Randy was wearing his professor cap and said "I wonder, James Durbin, when is a raven like a writing desk? When it's in it to win it!" And then he said "The square root of an isosceles triangle is, of course, IN IT TO WIN ITTTT!!!!" And everyone cheered, because Randy says so many relevant, salient things, all the time. "Yes, I have Professor Randy from the Hooting Institute on line one..." "Put him through, Barb. Put him through." (Poor Barb. You should be nicer to your secretary.)

Yeah, so Randy was saying silly bullshit right from the onset last night, presaging an entire episode of ninnery. Jennifer Lopez, dressed like Mrs. Havisham on a Miami vacation, contributed heavily to the inanity, while the old Tyler witch, sitting there in a corner with her flop-hat and curious gnarled smile, was as pleasantly useless as ever. The judges are tired, you guys. They are tired like us. They are tired like humans get tired. But I do not think that excuses them. I do not think that at all.


The Good

Haley was good. Haley was very good guys! But it was very frustrating last night. The theme was... well, there was no theme. They were to sing one up-tempo modern tune and one down-tempo jam from the nineteen hundred and sixties, which is big and open and vague enough that everyone had so much room, so much room to dance and romp and twirl around and do whatever the hell they wanted. So they did, to some extent. They did. For Haley, everyone was like "Oh my gah this is crazyyyy" because she sang a song by Lady Giggles that was Unreleased. This was a secret Lady Giggles song that Haley was going to sing, she even talked to Lady Giggles on the phone and got her approval apparently. The song was a slow earthy jam about lovin' somebody and whiskey and lipstick, perfect for Haley's patented honey-growl. But was it too risky? I mean, this Unreleased Lady Giggles song? Apparently it was! Because, though Haley sang that strangled cat to the ground, the judges were all "Ehhhhhh... Ehhhhhhhhhh. I don't know if that was the right song choice. The song choice. Was it the right one? I don't know. It's unreleased. It was a bit... You should have sung something everyone knows. It was..." And so on. All they talked about was the song choice, not the performance. They were just finding things to criticize her for. What is the judges' problem? Why are they being this way? Why are they so consistently cruel to Haley? It makes no earthly sense. Also, as my esteemed colleague and friend Maura Johnston points out, Lady Giggles has performed that song on the freaking Today Show. So it's not like some secret bootleg track. Unreleased. Unreleased my aunt Fanny. All of this controversy and "Ehhh" felt very ginned up and false. I smelled a rat. I did, I did.


So then for her next song Haley pointed to the seats way up above left field, toward the Green Monster basically, and wow, she was calling her shot, she was pointing way beyond the outfield and that's where she was going to send this song. She sang, as is always appropriate for American Dry Hump, "House of the Rising Sun," a slow burning curl of a song about a brothel. Sure! Everyone who watches American Idol has been to a seedy New Orleans bordello before. It's just something that Idol viewers like to do. So yeah, it's sort of a silly song to sing on this show, but man if the Babe didn't actually shoot it past the flagpole. It was very good! It was a good singing performance. It's funny how anonymous and dull Haley used to be, and now she's, like, a favorite! Amazing! What did the terribly biased judges think? Oh they gave her a standing O and Randy hooted "Best of the night! Best dawg! For me for you for best! You will win it by being in it to be winning it. That's some Descartes, motherfucker!" Randy really liked it. And then I wondered. I wondered if — though I'd been so convinced after the first round of judging that they were out to sink her — if this was all some grand show. If they tore her down to begin with, only to craft this redemption story at the end. Haley sang last, after all. And they knew what song she was going to sing, and likely knew it would be good. I wonder if they wanted to give her as much momentum as possible going into the voting. Do you think that's possible? Do you think they're secret advocates for Haley? Do you think this thing goes that deep? Does it go all the way to the White House? Did Haley kill Oksana Baiul or whoever just got killed? I mean, don't be taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy, but think about it, at least. Think about it. I think something happened last night, something that was carefully orchestrated. Cloak and dagger type stuff. Ominous.

Other than Haley, the good person was Baby Lockthemdoors. Baby Lock'em sang some fast country song for his contemporary ditty and it was good! For an Aeropostale-wearing, baseball-playing teenage boy from small town North Carolina, the kid can work a stage. I mean, he's not a seasoned professional yet, but he's not doing badly. He's got some innate talent there. And he's so adorable. You just want to pinch his cheeks and say "Now go sit out on the porch, I'll bring you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk." Sure he's got that secret sex wink he thinks no one but the teenage girls is noticing, because sometimes teenagers think we can't see them, but that's OK. Scotty is mostly a nice boy who sings nice songs nicely. His second tune was Elvish's "You Were Always On My Mind," which he kinda warble-stumbled through, but it was OK, because he's a nice boy and always makes it home by curfew. (Well, except the one night after the fall dance, but he was with his friends and that real pretty date of his, so we let it slide, boys will be boys after all. But never again! And he knows that. He knows he got off easy on that one.) We all know that Scotty is going to win this thing, or at least make it to the top two, so there's not really that much to be said about him. The judges seemed resigned to the fact of his success, so they were just like "Yeah, I'd go to that concert," trying to drum up a little cash for 19 Entertainment. Yeah, we'd all go to a Scotty McCreery concert, probably. Sitting on the lawn, the beer getting warm, the bugs biting, the air all sticky and not quite right. We'll all go to that Scotty McCreery concert at some point in our lives, wondering what it was we'd wanted to see so badly when we bought the tickets, now, months later, just wanting to go home and sit in the air conditioning with the lights off. We'll all be there someday.

The Bad

Jacob Lusk is just so stupid at this point it's hard to even talk about him. I'm so very tired of his silly shtick. To his credit he tried to break out of it by singing "No Air," a modern song by Jordin Sparks and He Who Shall Not Be Named. To, y'know, show that he's relevant and Now. But oh holy moly it was just so dumb. He still cry-wailed the whole stupid thing and everyone was just like "Shut up!!! Shut up shut up shut up!!!" I can't stand the yelling anymore! Stop yelling at me, Jacob Lusk. And please, for the love of sweet frisky heaven, STOP pelvic thrusting while rubbing your inner thigh. Sweet fancy Moses did you see him doing that last night during "No Air"? It was insanely troubling. Insanely. It was like catching the Slimer ghost masturbating himself with a cheesecake. It was that bad. It was really that tremendously bad. Jacob's second song was "Love Hurts," which only ever brings up images of the lame dance the 9th graders go to in Dazed and Confused. Jacob basically coughed up a ball of tears and threw it in our faces and we just shrugged and wiped ourselves off because what are we supposed to do with Jacob Lusk? Randy keeps being like "Luther, Luther." What? I thought it was 2011? I thought we were trying to find relevant recording artists? Luther. Luther, now? No. That's like if there was a girl contestant and Randy was like "Linda, Linda." Linda Ronstadt? What? Now? No. And no to Jacob Lusk. He doesn't even seem like a nice person anymore. He was all talking to Ryan about how, yup, his is a pretty amazing story. Why, because he's from Compton and works at a spa? I don't know. Nicholas Nickleby is an amazing story. Spa worker to soon-forgotten American Idol contestant is less so. That's just my two cents.

Lauren Alaina is boring and dull and is not, actually, In It To Win It so I will give her as much space in this recap as she's earned. That's all.

Durbin Plight

If there was a contest for American Idol viewers where if you won you could slap one of the contestants, I would enter that contest a million times until I won and I would slap James Durbin across the face so hard he'd spin into next week. Not that I advocate violence. Not that. I just want to snap him out this strange fever delusion that he's some sort of Good Singer or Good Performer. He is neither! And while I'm at it, maybe I'll slap all the judges for HEEEEEEAPING praise on him last night as if he'd just jizzed out the second coming of Jesus. (Ew? Ew.) Oh my god the judges just basically stuffed him up all of their butts. "Here, come in here where it's safe and warm and you're close to us. We love you." It was unreal! Especially considering just how particularly awful James was this week. His first song was something by 30 Seconds to Mars, which like, that's all you need to know, basically. I mean, do you need to know anything else? 30 Seconds to Mars. Jared Leto's little hair band. Fuhh. And James literally just screeched through the entire thing. From note A to note Z was just one long unintelligible screech. And then the judges were all "That was it! You're amazing! You're amazing!" Do they want him to win? Are they trying to get him sent home? What are you playing at, judges?

And then, oh god, for his second song James sang "Without You," a beautiful and wonderful song that should have been put to rest after Mariah Carey recorded the definitive modern version of it wayyyy back in 1993. (Lauren Alaina was not even alive. Man, take me out to a field and shoot me. Birthday in 26 days!) And oh holy Carebears in heaven, this fucker was weeping, straight up weeping during his rehearsals for the song, and then when he sang it live he had single streaks of tears running down his doughy face and he was all scrunched up and it was just the most embarrassingly stupid thing I've seen in a long time. And I watched Sex and the City 2 last night after this show. James was more embarrassingly stupid than that embarrassing, stupid movie. He was just the living worst. And of course the judges whizzed and creamed all over the whole thing and hugged him in their judgey embraces and it was so annoying. "Ohhhh James misses his kid." I'm sure he does! But does James also miss trying to be a fucking professional who doesn't blubber through a poorly sung performance? Gross. Gross manipulative claptrap that was. He blubber-whispered to Ryan after he sang "I leave everything out there every week." Ew, stop it. What you leave out there is messy and awful. Don't leave everything out there. Take that home with you. Don't leave your mess for someone else to clean up. Randy said "Your emotions were incredible." Ugh. "Want to go see that new emotions singer at the concert hall tonight? He just weeps for two hours. His emotions are supposed to be incredible." No thank you! No thank you forever. Please god send James home. I know he won't. There's a Scotty/James finale headed our way, I fear. I fear it, I do.

Tonight? Tonight Haley could go, unless that weird judges Hail Mary pass actually worked. If it did? Adios, Mr. Lusk. I think. Maybe Lauren. Maybe everyone? I wouldn't really mind that, I don't think. I'm tired. We're all so very tired. Even Ryan just goes home and goes straight to bed now, curls up next to Tim and Stefano and doesn't even try anything. Just falls quickly into a deep sleep in which he dreams of seasons past, those good old days when all of this felt like it meant something. And then in the morning, he wakes up, sighs, and does it all over again.