Best stuff on ''Idol'' tonight had nothing to do with the singing. There was Paula mildly criticizing Paris -- and getting booed. Simon, used to boos even before he has said anything, could not contain his amusement.
Then Simon raised the tiresome banter with Ryan to a new level by referring to Ryan -- with the sort of shadow-beard you'd make on a face in one of those magnet-and-iron-shavings games -- as looking as if he was going for a part on ''Desperate Housewives.'' (Ryan is reportedly dating ''DH's'' Teri Hatcher.) Ryan was too nonplussed for a good response.
But later, Ryan claimed ''someone at the (judges') table has a flask'' -- which will doubtless make viewers wonder yet again -- about the ever-wacky Paula, though. And I have to mention celebrity guest Kenny Rogers, whose skin color on my TV looked like Kellie Pickler's favorite fish -- raw salmon, farm-raised, dye added.
And why was all that so good? Because the singing -- on country night -- was bad. I know it is bad because Kellie is at the top of my list. Yes, country is a made-for-Kellie category. But I thought someone would have been better. (And, since I'm talking about ''Kellie,'' look at how she stares at the camera while singing Bobbie Gentry's bad-girl opus ''Fancy.'' However much she may be the dope with no vocabulary, she still knows how to come on to a camera.)
Anyway. Taylor opened the show. John Denver's ''Take Me Home Country Roads.'' Boring. Even Paula, unusually tough (by her standards) tonight, is dumping on him. He deserves it. D.
Mandisa. Shania's ''Any Man of Mine.'' Another bad outfit, and not much inspiration in the song. C minus.
Elliott grapples with Garth's ''If Tomorrow Never Comes.'' On the good side, at no point did I think of Garth while listening to him. On the bad side, wobbly performance, especially at the end. Between a C minus and C.
More later, after I record a podcast with Amy Gustafson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
I'm back. The podcast can be found at:
Paris. ''How Do I Live,'' a cliche even for ''Idol.'' Shaky vocals, trouble with the lower range. Still, a C, my best score so far -- and I should probably give her an extra notch for inspiring Paula's boo-generating comments.
Ace. You know how they say someone is so good, he can sing the yellow pages. I felt as if Ace WAS singing the yellow pages. Unmemorable song, C minus. And what was with Ryan's declaration that Ace is ''officially single''? He has reportedly been linked to Essence Atkins. One of my co-workers has wondered if Ace has been hurt in the fan voting by being part of an (alleged) interracial relationship. I'd like to think that isn't an issue. But interesting that Ryan made the announcement about his status.
Kellie. Comments above. Epic cleavage. C plus.
Chris. Another C, and I blame Kenny Rogers. Here's a guy who can kick it up, and I was waiting for him to do so, and he didn't. I think Kenny kept telling him to dial it down so much that Chris forgot what he was. Or, he was staring at Kenny's flesh tones, and forgot who he was.
Katharine goes into the Faith Hill catalog for ''You're Bringing Out the Elvis in Me.'' C plus -- barely. A little better than that on the chorus, not so good on the verse.
Bucky. D. Closed the show but didn't close the deal. Should have been a lot better.
By the way, since Simon had to admit that some of his comments came from a dislike of country music, I should mention that I like country. especially old-school stuff. I would have liked to hear some Hank or Willie, and Amy Gustafson mentioned in our podcast that this would have been a great week for someone to do a Buck Owens song. Lots of good Buck to do, too. Makes me wonder how much real country they licensed for performance.