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Karaoke Karnage

American Idols Live: Catch ’em while you can.

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As utterly talentless and annoying as Utah’s last reality-TV star was during her 15 minutes of semi-fame (that would be Survivor’s Neleh Dennis), a local American Idol can’t help but be an improvement. Dennis fumbled her way through a “reporter” gig on KUTV 2 for nearly a year in an embarrassing spectacle of intra-corporate fellatio—KUTV and Survivor are both owned by Viacom—that may never be lived down by either party. How could cute li’l Bountiful gal Carmen Rasmusen ever outdo that?


Don’t look now, but here’s American Idols Live.


Actually, it’s Pop Tarts Presents American Idols Live, and it’s not quite the debacle that what will henceforth be known as the Neleh Nadir was. Satan & the Legions of the Underworld Present American Idols Live, maybe. But Pop Tarts? Nah.


The tasty toaster treats are bringing the stars of the second season of Fox’s American Idol to the gigantic sports-boxes of the USA, toneless concrete hulks like St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center, Cincinnati’s US Bank Arena, Ft. Lauderdale’s Office Depot Center, Albany’s Pepsi Arena, Providence’s (kid you not) Dunkin’ Donuts Center and now Salt Lake City’s Delta Center. A tour of smaller, more intimate venues more in tune with the singers’ roots was reportedly considered before a Fox suit looked up from snorting Columbian genius powder off an Asian transsexual’s ass and rightly observed, “Hey [sneeze], they got no freakin’ roots!”


Are Carmen, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Kimberley Locke, Kimberly Caldwell, Rickey Smith, Julia DeMato, Charles Grigsby and Trenyce (just Trenyce) really nothing more than karaoke savants, trained chimps memorizing other people’s songs and trilling them back with just that much more skill than a tipsy office temp with a cheap wireless mic on ladies’ night at the Hard Rock?


Yes, and they’re stars for it—at least until January, when the third edition of American Idol drops. At that moment, it’s Dunkleman Time for most of the AI2 posse. Top Idol finalists Ruben and Clay (Live co-headliners much in the way that fudge and crackermeal co-headline over the rest of the ingredients of Frosted Chocolate Fudge Pop Tarts) could have the staying power to maybe dual-host a spring break special on Telemundo, but that’s about all she wrote.


Apart from genuinely talented first American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, we’re not talking career musical artists here—we’re talking future Access Hollywood footnotes and (God help us) local-channel features reporters. Nothing wrong with it, that’s what America wants anymore: Disposable pop stars who look cute and don’t have a damn thing to say or offer. Think Clarkson’s runner-up Justin Guarini has a single idea ricocheting around in his bubble head? Other than contemplating a sweet gig murdering soul classics on Carnival Cruises for blue-haired oldsters, or maybe a sandwich? Not likely.


Reviews for this year’s American Idols Live tour have been mixed, ranging from “good clean fun for the whole family” to “a micromanaged karaoke brainwashing exercise for 7-year-olds.” Our own Carmen hasn’t been getting high marks for her solo spot (singing Shania Twain’s “Up,” go figure), nor have the all-together-now epic Bee Gees medley and the girls’ cutesy-slutty take on “Bootylicious” won over any cranky big-city newspaper critics. General consensus among middle-aged ink jockeys who don’t pay for tickets: Ruben’s got pipes, Kimberly Locke’s got better pipes and Clay’s the next David Hasslehoff—Gott im Himmel!


And then there’s the concert’s manipulative flag-flapping finale, all nine belting Lee Greenwood’s sub-literate proud-to-be-an-American anthem, “God Bless the USA.” In the known universe, there’s only one song worse: Orrin Hatch’s “America Rocks,” a horrific cheese-pop tune used to torture uncooperative Third-World dictators into submission and sterilize hamsters.


If you happen to see Hatch in the D-Center wings passing out surprise sheet music to the Idol kids, identify all exits. Fast.

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