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American Idol

posted by Dave and Chad on 7/21/02

Every once in a while, a show comes along that captivates a nation. The Summer of 2002, will most definitely go down in the annals of history as The Summer of American Idol. Okay, so maybe we’re being a bit melodramatic here… but from the moment they started airing the commercials for this show with the infamous clip of Simon Cowell telling a young hopeful, “You are the worst singer in America.”.. people were chomping at the bit to tune in and find out what the hell this show was all about. Like every other show on American television, American Idol is the spawn of a British phenomenon known as Pop Idol, in which a bunch of young wannabes compete for the privilege of a recording industry contract. What separates this show from the other two bazillion “reality” shows, is that it’s pure, unadulterated fun. Seeing kids getting their dreams squashed is like an aphrodisiac.

If you haven’t been watching the show, you’ve already missed out on the best part… the open try-outs. It was during this time, that the true magic of this show was created. The fact that some of these “performers” even had the gall to show up is testament to the fact that not many people in this country have a true friend who is willing to tell them when they suck at something. Why else would some of these people have even bothered showing up? Some of these kids were soooo bad, yet here they were attending a competition for a recording contract. Now just watching some of these young people perform was entertainment enough.. but you throw in a quick witted judge who’s prone to speak his mind into the mix… and you have the formula for some great television.

In this article, Chad (in italics) and I will give our thoughts on the hosts, the judges, and final ten contestants of this treasure of a show. Along the way, you’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll truly live. Sorry… being melodramatic again.

Here we go…

The Judges:

Simon Cowell

This guy is the best thing to hit American television in a looong time. His “tell it like it is” style is such a refreshing change of pace from what is the norm nowadays. Of course, the media is trying to villify him as a big meanie… but everybody knows that he’s the reason this show is the success that it is. People tune into watch Simon and listen to what he’s going to say next. It’s been a sheer pleasure to watch a generation of teenagers and early twenty somethings who have been raised with the “modern” society approach of “everyone gets a trophy just for participating”.. have someone finally tell them the truth. What people don’t comprehend is that Simon is never harsh just for the sake of being harsh. He’s dead on, in pretty much everything he has ever said. If you suck, he’s going to tell you about it. If you’re good, he’ll give you praise. You never see anybody get excited when Paula Abdul says she likes their performance.. but when Simon gives someone praise, it actually means something and the kids in the competition know that. In the politically correct, Entertainment Tonight fluff piece, late night talk show environment that America has become in the past ten years, it’s kind of funny to see people so aghast because someone is giving their own, honest opinion. Hopefully television execs see the popularity of Simon and realize that people out there enjoy watching brutal honesty and there’s a market for it… Cause that’s a trend that needs to be started.

The biggest star on American Idol ironically happens to be Brit Simon Cowell. My theory on Simon is that it’s all an act. I’m sure he believes much of what he says, but he also realizes that he pulls serious ratings by being especially harsh on the contestants that don’t make the cut. If professional wrestling has ever proven anything, it’s that there’s nothing quite like a great bad guy to keep viewers watching. Example: An Undertaker that sacrifices people and kills the lights = good entertainment. An Undertaker that rides on a motorbike around the ring and gives smaller guys wedgybombs = bad entertainment.

My American Idol theory is Simon could carry all the judging and hosting duties himself, but then the show would become too efficient and wouldn’t drag out over the entire summer for Fox. The longer the show goes… the more money made through advertisers. The presence of the two hosts and other two judges aren’t only to balance out Simon’s rating-grabbing dream-crunching approach, but also to keep Simon sharp and in the limelight. After all, there’s nothing like a little infighting to provide entertainment when the talent comes up flat. In my commentary on the remaining judges and hosts, I’m going to give my perspective on how they play into this theory… mainly because Dave finished his half of the article first and stole all the good one-liners.

Paula Abdul

I think the reason she’s so nice to every contestant and never offers any criticism, is the fact that deep down, she knows what every one else does.. “Who the hell is Paula Abdul to critique anyone’s vocal talent?” This is a woman that clearly fits into the category of “How the hell was he/she ever popular?” that is pretty much applicable to anything in pop culture from between the years of 1989-1991. Her appearance on this show, squashes a belief that I’ve held for years… That Paula was blackballed from the entertainment industry solely for the “Hush Hush” video, in which her and Keanu Reeves gave a three minute Cliff Notes style version of Rebel Without a Cause. (Keanu Reeves being associated with anything that James Dean ever did should be made a felony) It’s fun to watch Simon and Paula bicker because if I remember correctly, Paula thinks that “opposites attract”. So even though, on the surface, she acts like she thinks Simon is a “cold hearted snake”... deep down she wants his fish and chips. ;) Just be careful, Simon. The last guy that tried to get with Paula was met with the business end of a fist, from a drunken, enraged M.C. Skat Kat.. who’s been reduced to having to appear in cartoon porn since his fall from the media radar ten years ago.

No matter how awful somebody performs, Paula always finds or devises a positive point to feed the contestant in place of honest criticism. She’s full of pat-on-the-back gestures, which is just to prevent the kids from crying. Honestly, most of these kids can take a lot of abuse… but to have Paula Abdul claim vocal superiority would pierce through the toughest of skins. Also, Simon’s most humorous critiques always are fueled by the need to correct Paula’s undeserved compliments of contestants that honestly have no shot at winning. She’s the good cop setting the bad cop up for when he dials in with the reality check.

Randy Jackson

You know, man. I’m just not sure what I think of this guy. I mean, it seems like he wants to be honest with the contestants… but at the same time, he’s coddling them. I’ve seen him give some good performances.. but sometimes he just doesn’t have it. I’m sorry, man.

Anybody that watches the show will realize my sheer genius, in that I managed to imitate Randy while critiquing him at the same time.

In all seriousness, Randy’s like a mix of both Paula and Simon, in that he’s honest.. but he sugarcoats things a lot.

Randy Jackson tries to come across as the “fair” judge, which he does by saying “man” a lot, and little else. His main role is to physically threaten Simon when he walks all over a contestant of moderate ability. He could probably pound the shit out of Simon if it came down to a fist fight, but Randy would most likely die of a heart attack if he had to run around the table to catch him. The anticipation of a violent outbreak surely keeps more than a few viewers… the perception of the viewers as opposed to the show’s participants is an odd duality. Everyone on the show wants to kill Simon off, yet everybody watching loves to hear Simon tell his tale. Who does Simon think he is… a coming of age story?

The Hosts:

Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman

Now I really don’t understand whose bright idea it was to hire two males to act as the hosts of the program. It’s been a well documented fact that throughout the history of television, the male/female dynamic works a lot better when you’re looking to have co-hosts. From Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford to Regis Philbin and Kelly “Watch me laugh after every sentence out of my own mouth in those pesky Pantene commercials” Ripa, it’s just the way it’s always been done. Hell, even America’s Funniest People had the common sense to partner Dave Coulier with a female (Arlene Sorkin).. Why I remember her name, I have no idea. It’s not like I ever watched that show. America.. America... This is yooooouuuu!!!

After seeing Mr. Seacrest and Mr. Dunkleman in action, it is now evident to me why the male/female dynamic is the norm. It’s kind of like why two guys going out to a bar, always have that fear deep down, other people at the bar might be looking at them like they’re gay for whatever reason… so they try desperately to add a third guy to the mix before going out. Same principle here. It doesn’t help that both of these guys dress and act like they’re about to stick their fingers in Pedro’s peanut butter.

Tonight Sean and I will be performing our own version of “Luka” by Suzanne Vega.

My name is Pedro.
Uh huh.. Yeah.
I leeb on the second floor.
I leeb upstairs from you..

Yeah. Yeah.
I theenk you’ve stuck your finger in my peanut butter before.

Cut the microphones!!

Pedro.. let it go, dude. It was just peanut butter.

Actually, I don’t mind Ryan Seacrest so much. He seems like an alright enough guy, who probably has a decent career ahead of him in broadcasting… It’s the damn Dunkleman I can’t stand. This guy has the perfect face and voice for radio, yet here he is on my television screen “trying” to go toe-to-toe with Simon every chance he gets. The only thing is.. this show is LIVE, so to see this Urkel struggle to be witty on the spot is pretty painful to watch. Whatta Dunkleman.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that Seacrest refers to him by the nickname of “Dunk”. Now why could that possibly be his nickname? (insert some sort of homophobic teabag related joke here)

Both of these guys are supremely guilty of completely being up the contestants asses. Literally and figuratively. When Simon’s being mean… they’re four shoulders for the contestants to cry on. Group hugs for everyone.

Dwiddle Dee and Dwiddle Dumb were originally supposed to provide some slapstick comedy relief, but were so God awful Simon began critiquing their work as well. These guys continually attempt to berate Simon now, never relenting even though they always come off worse in the exchanges. They’re unfunny, dull, and only achieve the opportunity to hug the weeping losers with broken dreams. In the grand scheme of American Idol, their true contribution will be in the future, providing a continual outlet for Simon’s critical sense of humor when there are no talentless contestants remaining.

The Contestants:

Justin Guarini

Win or lose, Justin has a nice career ahead of him as the long lost brother of Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons. Sideshow Justin definitely has some talent. He has pretty good stage presence.. and he makes Paula Abdul’s vagina moist. So did Emilio Estevez though, so obviously it doesn’t take much to make Miss Abdul wetty wetty. He definitely has a great chance of winning the entire competition. The fact that he’s half black and half white will definitely work to his favor… even though, the mixture has yielded a result that looks like Michael Jackson with a Chia pet on his head.

Being the first individual to really shine, Justin Guarini has always been the easy choice as the American Idol: chiseled chin, lovely (I can’t believe I just used that adjective) voice, pubic hair growing out of his skull, and without a doubt, the look to make all hot and horny teenage girls scream. Regardless of the outcome of American Idol, you’ll hear more of Justin in the future – he’s easy to market, easy to listen to, and if he gets out of jail again, he’s going to finally kill Bart Simpson.

Tamyra Gray

Overall, I think she has the most “natural” ability out of all of the contestants. Unfortunately though, she’s very generic looking. I think if she put on a silly Erykah Badu style headpiece, she might be able to differentiate herself from the pack a little more… and as in Erykah’s case, people might start referring to her as “gorgeous” even though she isn’t. Or she could always change her name to Tamyra.Gray. Hey, it worked for India.Arie. Any which way, in this competition, she needs something done to her image to help her stand out a little more. If she does that, there’s no reason why she shouldn’t be able to win the whole thing.

Without a doubt one of the most talented performers, Tamyra Gray’s major fault is the lack of a “look”. Unless, of course, if you count Mrs. Potato Head as a look. She’ll last in the competition as long as all the competitors stay friendly… but when someone walks out there and puts Tamyra’s ears on upside down and adds a green cap and fake glasses, it’ll be all over.

Nikki McKibbin

The well documented “wild child” of the competition. Of course, she’s been pretty down to Earth and bland anytime she talks on camera… but since she dyes her hair and wears funky clothes, she must be OUTTA HER FUCKIN’ MIND CRAZY!!! Or that’s what the show wants you to believe. She definitely has a sense of style about her and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her go far in this competition.

Sometimes confusing shouting with singing, Nikki McKibbin is the self proclaimed “rock’n’roll” of this competition – after all, she does have pink hair. Everybody blows praise up her punk ass about originality: as being the only mother on the show, she’s the only one certain to put out. This is an important fact, because if I ever have to sit through another year of virginity status updates like we did with Britney Spears, I just might have to cancel my cable and internet subscription. Or change channels/websites. Or masturbate thinking about her breasts.

Jim Verraros

This kid is symbolic of what’s wrong with America. Just because he has two deaf parents and Simon was truthful (what America considers “mean” nowadays) about his lack of talent… America voted Jim to be a finalist. (It evidently didn’t matter that the guy would probably be booed off the stage at Karaoke night at your local Piggly Wiggly) Sorry buddy. Just know that you had your fifteen minutes… and it’s over. File yourself along with “You are the Weakest Link.. Goodbye.” as one of those, “Oh yeah, I remember that. Pffftt.” memories people will have ten years from now.

Jim Verraros wasn’t known so much for his singing ability as he was for his “story.” His parent’s are both deaf, and it’s his life long dream to have them hear him sing: so he signs all the words while he croons. Unfortunately for all of us left with our hearing, his hands carried a better pitch than his voice. He’s hoping to become the American Idol because of fame’s past history of curing family disease: if the crippled grandpa could walk again after Charlie found the Golden Ticket in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” then obviously Jim winning a multi-million dollar recording contract would cure his parent’s hearing disabilities. However, before his most recent performance, he told all the viewers at home to judge him on his talent and not on his family’s blessing in disguise. With the sympathy vote cast off, he hit the stage without his glasses and left the sign language out of his performance, forcing people to concentrate strictly on his singing ability. Subsequently and not surprisingly, Jim wasn’t voted through to the next round.

EJay Day

The best nickname for this guy came from Guse, one of W-D’s forum regulars. He referred to him as “Captain Mandible”. Seriously, this guy looks like a bulldog.. and everytime he was on my television screen I looked at my wife and barked like RedMan did to that girl in the commercial for “How High”. I truly believe that he was eliminated after the first round of the finals, simply because of the hat he wore while performing. Sorry boss, unless your first name is L.L. and your last name is Cool J… you aren’t getting away with that lid. America has spoken. EJay Day… You must’ve just turned into EJay Night. Cause the sun just went down on your fifteen minutes of fame. Haha. Me so clever.

It’s a shame EJay Day is no longer part of the show, because the dent in the center of his face always made me laugh. It looks as if he was on the receiving end of a steel chair shot to the face, with the bridge of his nose lying deeper than his eye sockets and a constantly swollen bottom lip, further protruded by his significant under bite. Despite the obvious appeal of looking like you had your face stepped on at an early age, EJay’s quest to become the American Idol recently came to an end. While there is commercial acceptance for entertainers like Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Cruise, young girls simply weren’t willing to vote through a homosexual in disguise. Singing “My Girl” in his final performance was completely transparent: I guess you’d say, That hat makes him look pretty gay, EJay, Day, Talkin’ about EJay, DAY!! OOOO!

R.J. Helton

Most notable for being the contestant that Simon and Randy argued over. (By argue, I mean, Simon was honest and compared his performance that night to the two other “losers” who were already voted into the finals… and Randy responded by standing up and intimidating Simon by talking in a voice three octaves higher than what even dogs can hear). His more recent claim to fame is being the only contestant taken to the hospital after the show for falling through a part of the stage. Oopsies. He’s a likable enough kid and his performances have been pretty good so far. Not spectacular. But solid.

RJ said his most embarrassing moment was peeing all over himself at McDonald’s as a child… and every time he goes on stage, he looks like he’s about to piss himself again. He rocks left to right, side to side, back and forth, over and over and over… and it has very little to do with tempo or rhythm. It looks to be bladder control. The judges always end up fighting over his talent, dragging out his onstage time and leaving him standing uncomfortably, doing his best to suppress his need to urinate. Hopefully he can take comfort that FOX would most likely edit out any visible pee-dots, as FOX cut his “oops the stage collapsed as RJ walked across it” segment from airing.

A.J. Gil

I don’t know whether if it’s just his eyebrows or what that creep me out… but this guy has a strange “child molester” look to him. He also has no stage presence whatsoever and maybe if this were Making the Band and not American Idol, he could slip into the Lance Bass type background role in a boyband.. but since this is a solo competition, I really don’t think this kid has what it takes. Neither did Simon, considering A.J. was one of the two “losers” to make it to the Finals that Simon was talking about, when complaining about America’s voting habits. Also, on his bio page at the website, he stated that he would name his first album “Thanx 2 U”.. He should be voted off, just for that statement alone. Call your album “U B Voted Off Soon Admiral iBrows”, cause really, you shouldn’t have gotten out of the first round.

A.J. Gil’s continued presence on the show is bewildering. He’s not a bad singer… but certainly not as skilled as other contestants that have been passed over. That’s what happens when the average voter age is 15. My girlfriend predicted his success due to his cute look… you know, because he doesn’t shower, has fag flakes in his hair, and ran a miniature lawnmower up his nose breaking his eyebrow into two pieces. He’s never been to a concert (which would explain why he’s so boring to watch perform), but that’s probably because he’s the eldest of 10 children that his single mother has popped out. A.J.’s trying to win the contest for his mom – and if he gets the big money, he’ll pay for all the facial hair to be transplanted off her face onto his own.

Christina Christian

I thought she was better when she was tagging with her sister, Christina Edge… Actually, that’s pretty much the only stab at humor I can make about this girl. She’s pretty much a total package. Or package totale, like those annoying Taco Bell ads say over and over again. She’s a looker.. and she has tons of grace and poise. I think she’ll be a force to be reckoned with in this competition.

Only thing standing in Christina Christian’s way are the bitter talentless ugly girls sitting at home voting for the contestants – they could derail Christina simply because she embodies everything they are not. Graceful and gorgeous, she has this ability to stare through the camera right into your very eyes. I’m pretty sure that it’s some sort of hypnotic ability, because by the end of her performances, I’m always left speechless - if I don’t have anything mean to say, I don’t say a thing at all. I’m pulling for Christina Christian to become the “American Idol,” simply because she’s the only contestant that would make an album I’d buy.

Ryan Starr

I heard that she walks around backstage saying, “This competition is mine! I’m the only real Starr in this competition. So choke on that… slapnuts!”. Alright, so I made that up… but you can imagine what it would be like if she did.. Heh? Huh? Alright.. everyone on the bus!! She’s my wife’s favorite performer in the competition… but then again, she did marry me, so she obviously has no taste whatsoever. Great rack on this chick by the way. I’m into class… It’s my new thing.

Ryan Starr is the contestant I always forget about. She’s like a dating show – good for a cheap laugh, not the worst piece of trash to pass the time, but utterly forgettable. Maybe it’s because the whole choke collar/arm tie/fishnet mittens look seems rather forced, much like my attempts to slam her. Truth is, she lacks an obvious flaw, and for that, I can’t remember a single thing about her. Damn her for leaving me without a punch line, she better disappear from the show soon or all the fun will be taken out of watching.

Kelly Clarkson

One word to describe this girl.. spunky. She’s the contestant I’m rooting for, mainly because in her video package, they showed her hanging with a bunch of guys, throwing a Nerf football around. How can you not love a girl like that? This is the type of girl that you could probably call up and ask to come over and pitch you some whiffle balls, while using a lawn chair for a strike zone. Plus, any white girl that can belt out Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” gets my R-E-S-P-E-C-T . A real keeper. You go, girl!

Kelly Clarkson is the Fozzy Bear of this show – full of bad jokes and just waiting to say “Wocka Wocka Wocka.” She’s one of those great all around girl-next-door chicks: carefree, a sense of humour, and can contort her mouth in a whole variety of odd shapes. Straight outta Texas, Kelly seems to be enjoying herself immensely, and seems to be good enough all around to take this competition. But I’m telling you, if she becomes the American Idol, she’s going to fuck you all over and begin singing country music.

Without a doubt, Simon is the true talent on this show. It’s funny, one would hope that “American Idol” would aspire a generation of future musicians while throwing another hero up the pop charts. More likely, much of the musical talent is soaking up the final moments of their fifteen minutes of fame. The only character on the show that we’re all rooting for is Simon, because he doesn’t award everybody with a participation ribbon. Quite honestly, he’s taking what Whatever-Dude has done countless times to numerous celebrities (tell it like it is), and applied it to all the youngin’s with dreams and a self-illusion of talent. It may be cruel, it may be harsh, but it is honest and fair. If American Idol has any lasting impact on our entertainment culture, it’s hopefully a further proliferation of a “no-bullshit” manner, bringing a whole generation of children that think they’re special back to reality. If this trend continues to become acceptable in the mainstream, it could land all of us here at W-D writing jobs that pay the bills… or at least subsidize our drug habits.

-Normal fonts brought to you by Dave Macchia
-Italic twist is a Chad “fouff” Production
-Most pictures stolen blatantly from the official American Idol Website. Feel free to announce the presence of this article on their message board. ;-)
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