I haven't written much about American Idol lately, mostly because there's a lot written about it already and I don't have much to add that's original.
Last night, however, pissed me off thoroughly. My second favorite contestant is Katharine McPhee, a lovely young brunette with a really nice voice for jazz standards who has theater experience and seems to enjoy performing. She came out last night in the first spot (a major handicap, you are easily forgotten there in an hour-long show) and did a decent job with "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston. She's not a singer of Houston's caliber, but still hit the high notes and looked demonically hot while doing it. The fact that she flashed her panties inadvertently when a couple of buttons gave way at the bottom of the front of her dress (I actually missed it the first time but my wife insisted I rewind and slo-mo to confirm - am I the luckiest husband ever or what?) is irrelevant; she picked a very difficult song and pulled it off.
Then the judges destroyed her. Randy told her she was terrible and that when you pick a Whitney song you have to do as well or better than Whitney did back when she wasn't a crackhead (when did this become a rule?). A visibly hammered Paula rambled inchoherently for long minutes, the upshot of which being Kat was a disappointment in every way but appearance. Then Simon, who should know better, told her she had taken a step back in the competition, after puffing her up unreasonably the two weeks before that after performances that were nothing terribly special.
I understand that AI management has to try to influence voting because it's stuck with the winner for a long time and lots of money. I don't fault them for gaming the system from within, and I don't pretend to understand the mechanism used to actually do so. For all I know, the best thing that could have happened to Katharine last night was to have the judges crush her spirit for no good reason in front of 40 million people.
But even if they're just trying to get rid of her, they didn't have to destroy her. Katharine looked genuinely shocked and hurt at what she heard, then graciously thanked the judgest with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face, only to have catty Ryan Seacrest say something like "well, maybe people who had their volume off will vote for you." I'm almost sure it was meant to be a weird compliment that referenced the long, awful judge comments, but it sure sounded like a kick when she was way, way down.
I won't mind terribly when Katharine gets voted off; she'll do fine afterward, and I'm an Elliot Yamin fan first and foremost. I would be happy if he, Paris or even Chris won the whole shebang. And I'll watch the rest of the show and enjoy it even if that nightmare Kellie Pickler wins. But I'm done with the judges' comments. Whoever invented fast forward: thank you.