Wednesday, November 2, 2011

ANTM All-Stars: Don't Hate the Game...OK, Go Ahead and Hate

Warning: tonight is "music video" night, which means that not only do we have to watch these idiots pretend to be models, now we have to watch them pretend to be pop stars, too.  Tyra, why are you doing this to us? Not even you could succeed at this task (anyone remember "Shake Ya Body"? No? Just me?), so why are you inflicting these sad little famewhores on us? Are not the Kardashians burden enough for one nation?

Anyway, the girls are still reeling from the shock of Bianca's departure (no one seems to be reeling about sweet, boring Kayla), and Lisa comes into the house first, gleefully hollering about her photo on the wall.  (Really, anytime Lisa is mentioned, you can assume that "gleefully hollering" is implied.)  Laura and Allison reflect on how much they've grown during their ANTM experiences, with Allison making sure to remind us (or at least the producers) that her journey's not over yet.  Allison's hair is looking a particularly vile shade of yellow in this her dye job that bad, or does Tyra keep the confessional lights extra unflattering?

TyraMail! But instead of a terrible poem, we're greeted by a video of some toddler named Madison, who is apparently an "internet sensation," according to her chyron.  (Kid has a chyron at three years old? Screw her.) She's giving the girls makeup tips (and frankly, her skin looks better than theirs, so why not?) and then babbles something unintelligible. Angelea rephrases for me and says, "Keep a beat? Like something with music." Allison scratches her head absently, either puzzled or thinking about a sandwich.

Jay comes to tell the girls that today they will be "going viral," which does not mean what Lisa thinks it means. (Heyo!) Anyway, they'll be shooting a music video, and seem to think their videos can be compelled to go viral, which is more or less the opposite of the concept, but whatever.  If one of them gets run over with a golf cart during filming, I can guarantee it. Jay introduces a producer from CBS Records who must have pissed off an executive, and is now required to come "co-write" songs with these ninnies. Jay also reminds them that celebrities have been created from a strong internet meme, such as Rebecca Black or Justin Bieber.  (I will simply observe here that there is a pretty big gap between Rebecca and Justin.  Also, I will apologize to all of you who now have "Friday" stuck in your heads. Any of you with "Baby, Baby, Baby" in yours, too bad.)

Allison has an awesome WTF face on, which turns to despair in her confessional as she tells us that the challenge "is excellent for people who sing--I don't sing." Don't worry about it, Allison--they won't dump you before getting rid of either Dominique or Angelea, since those two are basically the same person.  The girls have 20 minutes to listen to pre-written tracks and write their own lyrics to the track...Producer Tom will pick the best song, and the winner gets a visit with a loved one.  The girls scamper off to their Nanos (Nanoes?) and Tom comes around to check in with each of them. Angelea is raring to go, crafting a battle anthem for her beat (which we don't hear). Alex doesn't know how to write to her track, which makes her want to dance, but eventually decides that she's created a masterpiece. Shannon is writing about her husband, and Tom seems unimpressed with her lyrics.

Lisa is sure she's a lock, because she's apparently been pursuing a music career up till now anyway. (Well, we know she's got pipes, because she never stops shouting.) She seems to be rapping? Laura is speak-singing her words to Tom, and I get the feeling not a singer. Also, she has the handwriting of a five year old. Oh, sweet Laura. I begin to fear she was actually dropped on her head as a child. Dom can actually sing a little, but her words are kind of literal. Lisa tells us that Allison is having a hard time, and has basically psyched herself out. She does indeed look like she's going to cry. What's the problem, girl? (I assume this is setting her up for the challenge win.) We don't see or hear any of her words--she just hands the pad to Tom, who says, "This has special meaning to you. I love it." (Incidentally, Tom, I give much more detailed critiques when I talk to authors. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin', y'know?) Anyway, Allison's song is about her father, who passed away last year. Well, that explains the tears. I think she's a lock--no one ever votes against Dead Dads (cf. So You Think You Can Dance, Season 3, the Mia Michaels dance).

Tom, you surprise me! His top two choices are Lisa and Angelea. Dead Dad did not come through this time. And the winner is...Lisa. Ew. She gets "a special visit from a loved one." Her fiance is coming for a visit (that's right, I forgot she was getting married and they chopped off all her hair). Can you even imagine what her fiance must be like?

Next day, they all go to the studio, where Tom is mustering a shocking amount of enthusiasm for this venture. Tyra has set them all an additional challenge--well, a twist: each girl must incorporate the phrase "POT LEDOM" into her song. (Do you see what Tyra did there? I bet you do.) Allison looks crushed as she thinks about how to work this stupid line into her sorrowful song about her dad. Sorry, Allison--Tyra does not care about your artistic integrity. You signed that away when you came back here. While she noodles over how this is going to work, Angelea is already in the studio, singing her song (which is not called "Angelea," disappointingly. It's "I'm Here.") Amusingly, she jumps in right away by speaking over the track: "Pot Ledom. Say what? What's that mean? 'Top Model' backwards." She starts singing and it doesn't have a lot of relation to the music we hear, but I'm not sure if that's really her track, or just whatever the sound editor picked this week. While she works, the other girls are sitting and listening, except Lisa, who's strategizing. She explains to us that she wants to go last, so that none of the other girls can copy her. "This is MY craft." OK, honey, because it sure ain't modelling.

Shannon's next, and she's singing "World Go Round" in a teeny weeny, shy voice that's a good octave above her speaking voice. Then she tells us in a confessional that she decided to have fun, and the next thing we hear is her in her cigarette-choked alto, "rapping." Angelea is cheerfully encouraging, and is clearly having a blast just being in a recording studio.  Allison? Is still weeping. She doesn't know how she's going to incorporate Pot Ledom, and is considering not even doing it. I think she's taken enough good pictures, and is on Tyra's good side enough, that if she blew it off and then explained that she needed to be emotionally honest, Tyra and the judges would eat it up at panel.

But it doesn't come to that, as Allison tells us she pulled herself together and reworked her song, which we learn is called "Underwater."  Basically, she's sort of mope-talking, and is so wan and emo that she may have created a club hit. Angelea is charmingly jealous in confessional, saying, "She's so good at everything, she's good at acting, she's good at modelling...don't tell me she's good at singing too!" Well, no, Angelea, she's not--but apparently we're going to pretend she is for Tyra's purposes.  She sticks her Pot Ledom phrase onto the end of the song, and I'm furious because already it's stuck in my head. Dammit, Tyra!

Ha! Dom's song is called "Tooch Ya Booty." That's all we see, and really all we need to know. Laura's is called "Southern Sweet Girl," and sounds like the worst drunken karaoke you've ever heard. There are no real notes there, and all the girls are struggling not to laugh at her. Alex's song is called "Go, Go, Go" and she is wearing sunglasses in the studio like an actual pop star. It makes me want to smash her in the face. She sings with this sort of throaty, nasal quality, but we don't have to hear much of it because we get a monologue from Confessional Alex about how she thinks she could totally have a music career after she learns a couple more things. Oy. Next up, Lisa, whose song is called "I Be Like Whoa!" The other girls are impressed, and Lisa tells us her goal was to make sure Tom didn't have to do any work.

Back home, it's the next day when Lisa's fiance arrives. Adam is bald and stubbly and seems like sort of a normal, construction-dude type. Lisa looks at least eight years older than he does. They seem happy together, and refreshingly, she's not shouting!

Jay pulls up in a classic convertible and tells the girls he loved all their songs, and now it's time for them to film their videos.  It's not clear to me whether the girls have styled themselves, or if it was picked out for them, but they all seem happy with their wardrobe.  While they're getting ready, Jay comes in to introduce today's special guest, and before he can say more than, "You guys?" Angelea is losing her mind.  "Oh m'god! Omigod, the Game!" Yes, it's Game. The Game? Whatever, he's clearly pleased that he's been recognized. Ashley Simpson, eat your heart out.  Angelea has been reduced to a serious of hoots and hand waving that is pre-verbal. Game is here to direct their videos.

Dom is first, and has been told to work her sparkly little dress and her wavy hair and channel Beyonce. The track starts, and Dom has been Autotuned to within an inch of her life. Just as well, really, and it's still not really what you'd call musical. She is flinging herself all over the place, but every time she gets down low, she drops out of shot. Game astutely directs her: "Let's not drop." That is some quality directorial experience right there, yo.

Alex is next, in a little blue strapless dress and slicked-back hair like a cross between SATC's Samantha and a girl from a Robert Palmer video. She's standing next to a fancy sports car, and Game tells her to pretend that the car is "a short guy you're really into" (because she towers over the car in her heels). Basically, she's stiff and awkward and they can't get her to loosen up. As we go to commercial, Game tells the camera, "Not enough time to put oil in the Tin Man." Ouchers.

We're back! And someone's arrived to crash the's Tyra, dressed like a crazy person. She's in a neon yellow leotard with "Pot Ledom" on the front, and she has a cape made out of pink and blue feathers, and her fake hair is in super-long pigtails, and...I just don't know. She's a deliberate hot mess, and she says she's going to be in their video as a "Featured" guest star. But she can't do it alone! She enlists the help of another Internet phenomenon I don't know, some little boy named Keenan Cahill. Or maybe he's a midget? Seriously, I don't know who this is. I'll find a link for all of us in a minute, but at any rate, his videos have over one million hits. I'm beginning to hate the internet. (Not YOU guys!)

Shannon's turn, and she's basically doing every Colbie Caillat video, ever. She's in a floral sundress, walking through gauzy white curtains and spinning. I will say that she films well--her eyes look huge on camera and she flirts with it well. But we don't care, do we, because it's Lisa's turn! This is going to be insane. She's in hoochie wear that is still more restrained than her usual panel outfit, and she's getting out of the same car Jay drove up in. She dances, kicks, does your garden-variety "I'm a bad ass" moves, you get the idea. She be like whoa!

Laura is lying on a bed "writing" in her "diary," and suddenly I feel like I'm watching the Glee Project again, but with less talented singers. If Shannon was doing Colbie Caillat, Laura is doing Taylor Swift, down to the hair in a scrunchy.  Alas, she's too old to be doing Taylor Swift, and it's drifting dangerously close to schoolgirl-fetish.  Angelea is in a corset and super-tight pants, with her hair poofed out like crazy. She's posed against an elevator set, but one of those freight elevators with the wooden pallet doors that I've only ever seen on TV for characters who live in extraordinary loft apartments on the wrong side of town? (Sort of "Step Up 3D"?) She is not over the top enough, and the Game warns her they are running out of time and takes. Jay says he liked her song, but her eyes were dead.

Allison's the only one left, and we get a quiet moment between her and Game as she explains that the song is about her Dead Dad. Game commiserates, as he lost his grandmother who supported him when he was just starting out, and the tinkling Piano of Somber Reflection plays in the background. Allison's basically in a cream colored nightgown and holding a toy bunny (and drinking a Red Bull, which spoils the look a bit). They stage her on a swing in a garden, and the camera is pulled in so close and lit so brightly that she looks like a ghoul. It ends with her eyes taking up almost the whole frame, and Game and Jay are shivering and giggling at how good they think it is.

And that's a wrap! Time for judging. Dom is first, and her video looks like...a video. It's not bad, the track is danceable, but do I actually hear her refer to her "LashBlast eyes" at one point? Surely not. More important is the chorus: "Tooch tooch/ tooch tooch/ tooch ya booty girl./ Tooch tooch/tooch tooch." Truer words have ne'er been spoke. They like her video overall.

Laura is next, and neither her song or her video is as catchy. I think they just intercut the same four poses of her on the bed a bunch of times, but the little kid does some rapping: "Hey Laura/I adore ya..." Not clear if he ad libbed that, or if she wrote it. Nigel says she's lovable in it, and ALT (who must surely be wondering why he's still here) says, "It's giddy, it's fun, it's charming..." and trails off. Tyra laughs and says, "You don't like it." He simply repeats, "It's giddy, it's fun, and it's charming!" None of us think Laura will be the next Mariah Carey.

Angelea's song is actually the most coherent and workable as a single, but her eyes often read as sad or tired rather than angry, I think because they're almond shape? ALT wishes for a bit more variety in her movement, and Game throws her under the bus by saying he directed her to change things up. Tyra drops some knowledge on us, yo: "Now people are hearing music? With their eyes." Ummm...OK, we'll let it go. Tyra says she was blank, and Angelea says that she's disappointed, but not defeated.

Alex's turn. She dances only with her shoulders. She should take my Zumba class--it would totally loosen her up. She does get some Tyra suck-up points for working in "H to T, head to toe" (or maybe that was Keenan's idea?), but she mostly looks like one of those music video ads Bravo does to plug all their reality shows. They found her too languid and detached from the song.

Shannon is next, and I am grudgingly forced to admit that her little bubblegum love song is kind of catchy. But if you call me on that, I'll deny it.  Also, I would like to point out that Game's incisive direction means that on the line "You turn my world upside down," the shot of Shannon is also upside down. You can't buy expertise like this, people! Judges? They hated it! Awww...Nigel didn't "see the glint in the eye," and Tyra basically says she didn't smize. She was just staring at the camera widely. Game says something I can't understand, but maybe that it was fake? (I think that's a little shitty, since he directed her and didn't say anything about it at the time, that we could see.)

Ugh, Lisa. Tonight she is in a one-shoulder silver glitter dress that looks like she rolled in a puddle of oil.  It's all smeary yellow-brown on one side, presumably by design rather than accident. Tyra says she looks sexy, and I now think that Lisa may have a lock on this cycle. Seriously? THE GIRL LOOKS LIKE AN IGUANA. Anyway, she is wearing sunglasses in her video that we never saw--their frames are shaped like revolvers. I can't even. ALT loved it and thought it had "the energy of Missy Elliott." Everyone loved it. Oy.

Allison is last, and the dance track feels really obtrusive here. There appear to be almost no lyrics to her's just "Father/sister/mother/brother/sinking sinking underwater" and the whole video is just her, overexposed. Tyra just goes, "Whoa" in a way that I can't tell if it's good or bad, but Nigel calls it extraordinary and claims he would buy it. I could imagine it being a good song by which to take drugs. Game says, "You are...weird. And it is the greatest thing in the world to me." Basically they were sucked in by her Creepy Chan eyes, as they always are. Lisa looks pissed.

At deliberation, the judges basically say what we've already heard. Their bottom two will no doubt be Alex and Angelea (or possibly Shannon). Game is still hung up on Allison, and wants to keep her picture. Tyra says, "Allison's video...touched me. It created an EMpathy." ALT is nodding his head, but rolling his eyes. Free Andre!

Results! Tyra isn't handing out photos this week, but "what we call 'screen grabs'." Oh, thank you, Tyra! What are these "screen grabs" you speak of? Idiot.  Our winner is...Allison. Are you surprised? Of course not. Lisa is super-pissed, but comes in second, so we don't get a bitchy confessional (at least not now). Then Dominique, followed by Laura. Shannon squeaks in fifth, and Tyra gives her a pop quiz on the runway: "Let me see the fire!" [Shannon gives Blue Steel.] "Now let me see innocence!" [Shannon gives Blue Steel with a slightly lifted chin.] "That's it! See the difference?" Kill me now.

So who will get the axe? Alex or Angelea? I hope it's Alex...she's boring. Angelea is growing on me, and her song was better. Yay! Angelea is safe and lives to caterwaul another day. Tyra says, "Even though it wasn't as strong as the song that you wrote, your performance was much stronger than Alexandria's." Ouch. That seemed a little needlessly mean. But whatever, Alex was boring and has dead eyes in all her photos, so good riddance.

And that's a wrap! I hope you all go viral this week! Fierce and Love, Abzurdity.

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