'American Idol': The Art of Fainting

Last night began Hollywood Week, sending some people tumbling down. 

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Finally, after three long weeks, we have returned to paradise. Gone are our days of shuffling through the soot-strewn streets of Pittsburgh, of languishing under the dull brown sun of San Diego, of the flat blues of St. Louis, the rainy soul's abyss of Portland. Now we are in Hollywood! The shimmering basin town of dreams, where palm trees sway in the wind like heads nodding yes, where mansions wink at you, tease you, whisper you promises. Hollywood, where every dream has broken the shackles of imagination and become manifest, become hard and real like diamond. It is a town of people ascendant, of beings in upward flight. Unless, of course, you fall off the stage. Then it's just a place where you fell off a stage once.

Ha, yeah, we should get that out of the way, probably. Last night, at the very end of the episode, a poor girl who had, actually, just sung very well, got faint while answering the judges questions and toppled off the stage. She just happened to faint and fall over the lip instead of crumpling to the stage floor. It was a little scary and a little embarrassing and we don't know just yet if she's OK, we'll find out first thing tonight, but I'm sure she's fine. Idol's not going to show someone dying or breaking their neck, I mean Fox is evil, but they're not that evil. So yeah, it's a little bit of drama and of course everyone feels bad for the girl, but also it was kind of funny how long it took the judges, who were like right there, to come down and help her? Like we actually only saw them helping her in the previews for tonight, not even in last night's episode. They all just sat there, mumbling "we have a pauper down... a pauper is down." The Steven Tyler witch even muttered a strange "She hit her head too..." that wasn't quite alarm, wasn't quite pity, was merely a strange observation, a little dim call from the witching world.

But enough of that! On to the singing. As ever, Hollywood Week was used to re-highlight some of the judges' favorites, perhaps chief among this Johnny Keyeser fellow from last week. Ol' Johnny Sandwiches has a touch o' the arrogance about him, does he not? While all the other contestants were shivering and shaking and strapping on their fainting pads, Sandwiches was there all cool and breezy, smiling his vampire bat smile and just acting all chillaxed and confident. I suppose he has a right to, as when it was his turn to sing-blast the judges he let loose another caramel swirl of easytimes music, sending J.Lo back onto the 6 and, up in his gilded observation balcony, setting Ryan's necktie atwirl. Johnny Sandwiches is someone we're probably wise to keep our eyes on, a gourmet grilled cheese who, like Casey James and Ace Young before him, will likely serve as the shopping mall king ladybait of this season. Luckily he's a better singer than those two goons, so the whole thing will at least be a more aurally pleasing experience. Aurally, guys. Aurally, OK?

The guy who went right after Sandwiches was Heejun Han, that mumble-speaking kid with the glasses and general downbeat air about him who can, actually, significantly blow. Though it's a little troubling that he's only sang that one song ("How Am I Supposed to Live Without You") so far, don't you think? Like, there's one particular Elton John song that I can sing fairly decently at karaoke ("fairly decently" is all relative, really) because I've done it over and over and over again (my friends love me! Also, no, I'm not telling you which one), but that doesn't mean I'm a good singer. Give me a Sophie B. Hawkins jam or a Bozz Scaggs tune that I'm not familiar with and it's like a donkey falling down an elevator shaft. Might Heejun suffer from the same problem? Is he just really good at this one Laura Branigan/Michael Bolton song and that's it? He's a robot with one function? "Yes, I see you have robots that do dishes and robots that provide, um, bedroom services, but do you by chance have a robot that sings 'How Am I Supposed to Live Without You'?" "But of course, sir, but of course. Here is the Heejun 3000, the best 'How Am I Supposed to Live Without You' robot since the Boltontron 1989 Edition." "Splendid." If you want that robot, here it is. So yes, Heejun. Let's mix it up some, eh? Don't let this become your "Baby Lock Them Doors," all right? We see how badly that worked out for Scotty. (What's that? He won? Oh, well, fiddlesticks. Never mind.) (Also, RIP Laura Branigan.)

I'm afraid to say that, as is often the case on this show, there was another parade of anonymous blonde girls. Though at least this season they weren't all failed Hawaiian Tropics models or former Belle understudies for the ninth national non-Equity tour of Beauty and the Beast. The blonde girls this season are a pleasing variety of shapes and sizes and vocal stripe, though most seemed to favor a rich, soulful quality that seems popular today. Meaning, Adele's influence has reached the tinny realm of American Idol, perhaps banishing all the old-style balladeering of Mariah and Celine and etc. wannabes. Oh sure they'll always be there, but they're not getting the same attention this year as in other years. (As in just last year! Remember Pia? No, no one remembers Pia.) That said, the former NBA cheerleader made it through, so, there's still that.

Two tragedies of the evening were that Travis Orlando, the sweet Bronx boy with the glasses who has the sad story about mom leaving and who was also in Hollywood Week last year, was cut by the judges. Aw, c'mon, judges! At least put him through to group night for heaven's sake! This poor kid, who dropped out of school 'memba, does not really seem emotionally hale enough to deal with this second rejection. Of course the case could be made that maybe then he shouldn't have auditioned for American Rejects again and maybe shouldn't have dropped out of school but instead tried to focus on finishing school and maybe trying to go to college for music or theater or something, that argument could be made, yes. But this is America! We live not in a nanny state, but in a reality state. It was reality TV's job to get this nice kid to the place of his dreams and last night they didn't hold up their end of the bargain. What's next? You gonna stop paying my medical bills, Biggest Loser? Feeding my family, Top Chef? American Idol exists for the granting of wishes for people who want their wishes right now, and yet for poor Travis Orlando last night, that didn't happen. And speaking of cruelly scuttled American wishes, Jim Carrey's daughter was given the boot! Yes! I have a sneaking suspicion that they axed her early on so as to not be accused of celebrity spawn bias, which was probably wise of them. Oh, plus she didn't sing that well. There was also that. But, again, have we sunk so low as a nation that American Songblast can't even do their due diligence by catering to the very bedrock principle of this country, sheer and unabashed nepotism? I don't even know where I live anymore. What is this, communist Sweden? You let Jim Carrey's daughter through because her dad is Jim Carrey. That is how this beautiful, closed circle works, guys. What's going on? Did you all faint and fall off the stage? Did I faint and fall off the stage? Am I not really writing this or watching this, but actually lying on the ground below a stage, eyelids fluttering, the hardened oatmeal visage of Nigel Lythgoe hovering above me? Things just feel crazy right now.

Craziest of all things is the success of Reed Grimm. Do you remember Reed Grimm? He's the guy with the family of musicians who's been on stages since he was like knee-high to a Seacrest. So he's got all these showbiz "chops," right? Really knows how to work a crowd, get 'em all jazzed up, yeah? Except, well, no. F. F minus to Reed Grimm. Least favorite contestant so far? Reed Grimm. He's grim. He's worse than that, he's Grimm. He's that bad. What a showboating motherf--ker this guy is, huh? Just a real hot-doggin', knee-knockin' sonofabitch, this one. What did he "sing" last night? He sang "I've Got a Golden Ticket" from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, because get it they get golden tickets in that movie and they also get them on Idol, except he didn't so much sing it as he did spit out some wails and hisses and some seriously dreadful whiteboy scatting that sounded absolutely nothing (what is it good for?) like the actual song. And he seemed soooo pleased with himself, and all the dope-o-nauts in the audience were all cheering for him because, why, to say loudly "I remember the movie you have just referenced!"? Congratulations, guys, you've seen that movie. We're all terribly proud of you and find you super cool for referencing one of the most laboriously over-referenced movies in movie-referencing history. (I was a movie reference history major at PCU.) And Grimmsy up there with his sh-teating grin, ughhh. How unpleasant! How truly nutso. And yet the judges let him through, I guess because they think he's entertaining and that enough people will be too scared to admit they don't get it so will pretend that they like him and that he's cool. "Who? Reed Grimm? That guy who makes all the... noises, and refers to children's movies from the 1970s and seems almost painfully cocky and sure of himself? Oh, yeah. Yeah... He's... He's great. Just real, real... great." Enough, people! Let's all stand brave and strong and firm on this. Reed Grimm is the pits, the absolute Tartarus of pits, and he should be put back in his shipping container and sent back to whatever second-best-on-campus college a cappella group he crawled out of. Be gone, grim thing!

So I think that's basically what there is to say about this episode. That little kid with the impossibly wonderful name of David Leathers (Leathers... it's just so... something) who's otherwise kind of annoying was sent through, as was that weirdo from the park in New York City whose name is something with an "ake" sound in it but I can't remember so I'm just going to call him Jonathan Frakes, he went through. Number Two has made it through. A couple more blonde ladies, and that's it for now. Tonight is... group night I believe? Always more about fighting and social horror than actual singing, but that's OK. I'm just so happy to be at Hollywood Week, you guys. Back in the sweet sunny embrace of Blisshaven, CA. Where everyone's got a hug and a smile for ya, where the world is your oyster, where up in the Hills you can come home from a long day of work, tired and rattled after a scary medical incident, and sit on your couch and close your eyes, and almost drift off to sleep. Until, of course, you hear the key in the lock and the sound of laughter, sloppy slurry laughter, and you look up and there's your, ahem, housemate Tim Urban, and there, uh oh, is his new best pal Colton, Colton Dixon, lord of spikehair. And they're there wobbling in the foyer, obviously drunk, giggling about some conspiratorial thing. And all you want to do is run, oh god just grab Tim's hand and run out the door, because something bad is happening here, something dark and strange, with this Colton character. But for now you're tired, and the sun is dipping down into the Pacific, and soon it will be morning all over again, and you need to sleep. To have a black and empty sleep, free of dreams, there in smoky, smoggy Dreamland.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.