Live-Blogging Idol Gives Back

7:53: Happy Wednesday, everyone! Are we all ready to have our souls wrenched every which way by this evening’s Idol Gives Back episode? And are we still reveling in the glory that was last evening’s Madonna-themed Glee? I know I am. Onward, b-rollers!

8:00: We open with red, white and blue spotlights. And…cut to the Obamas. This is a far classier opening than Ryan’s usual Busby Berkeley-ing down the Seacrest Memorial Staircase.

8:02: Wow, the judges are quite dressed-up this evening! No t-shirt for Simon tonight. Although Kara is still wearing something sparkly. Of course.

8:03: That’s got to be one of the only times anyone has said “a big thanks to ExxonMobil,” no?

8:04: And now Queen Latifah is thanking ExxonMobil. Admittedly, they’re doing a nice thing by sponsoring this event. I’ll hold my (liberal) tongue.

8:05: Once again, the Top 12 shall sing an auto-tuned medley (are we not searching for credible live performers, for the love of all that is holy) and again this year, they are dressed all in white.

8:06: How short is Aaron? I know he’s the youngest, but he looks like a member of the Lollipop Guild out there tonight.

8:07: First celebrity sighting, non Seacrest/Queen Latifah edition: Jennifer Garner, reporting from Appalachia.

8:09: I love when celebrities introduce themselves in a refreshingly normal way (“Hi, I’m Jennifer…”). You always wonder if the other person is thinking, “Um, yeah. Duh.”

8:12: God bless this little girl for talking about her self-esteem issues in front of 30 million people, and doing so while seated next to Victoria Beckham. That is not an easy task, and she handled it with aplomb.

8:16: Do all of Olive Garden’s chefs really train in Tuscany? I call BS. That seems implausible, no matter how popular the breadsticks.

8:17: You know, kudos to Captain Sullenburger. But yeah, we know. Landed in the Hudson. Saved the plane and all. Awesome job. I’m just a little tired of hearing about it.

8:18: Not the best advertisement for Get Him to the Greek when the two stars are not terribly funny.

8:20: It’s just so damn incongruous to send someone home. “We’re saving lives tonight! Except for the person whose soul we’ll be crushing shortly.” Can’t they do this is as a separate special?

8:21: See, the Black Eyed Peas are showing us how to sing a group number live. And poorly. Take notes, Idol contestants.

8:22: I need a formal outfit to wear to my work gala this year. Official b-roll vote: Should I wear Fergie’s metallic-floral shin-guard getup, or the skin-tight pseudo-robot-soldier outfits of the backup dancers (complete with shiny mohawk and gold face makeup)? It’s a tough call, b-rollers.

8:24: Let’s take a count: 3 ExxonMobil shout-outs, several Queen Latifah and Common sightings, AND a commercial for Queen Latifah and Common’s new movie. I’m having trouble getting into the philanthropic spirit; I’m still too awash in cynicism.

8:27: Okay, way to segue, Idol. This malaria piece is utterly devastating. Not to exploit that poor man’s pain, but boy, was that effective – and a hell of a lot more so than a Black Eyed Peas performance. More of those stories, please.

8:32: I’m sorry, I know it’s “inspiration” week, but the all-white-clothing looks really stupid. Especially before Memorial Day.

8:33: George Lopez is growing on me. Maybe it’s because of the Danny Gokey joke. I’m always game for one of those.

8:35: Judging the judges? I’m down with that. As are the contestants, who are giving a standing ovation.

8:36: Kara did not think that was funny. I did. Sadly, Randy is declared safe.

8:37: It really was a steep slope for Kara, wasn’t it? She was so shy about the bikini last year, now she’s doing nude photo spreads.

8:38: Okay, the Ellen critique was underwhelming, gotta say.

8:39: The “saline or silicone” was mean. But I chuckled. Not gonna lie.

8:40: b-roll roommie assessment: “That was awkward at times, but occasionally funny.” Very true. Sadly, the funniest line may have belonged to Ryan with his Estrada reference.

8:41: I will once again maintain: Making this 1/3 telethon, 1/3 comedy hour and 1/3 Idol results show seems grossly inappropriate. Seriously, we’ve gone from the heartbreaking story of a guy who lost his wife and unborn child to malaria to George Lopez riffing to the contestants being separated into “safe and bottom three.” I mean, come on. It’s incongruous at best, callous at worst.

8:43: Crystal and Lee are safe, Casey and Aaron are potentially not. That’s exactly right, America.

8:45: This is a cool, slinky rendition of this song. I hope every guest performer who was unable to sing live thus far is paying attention to Joss Stone – who, incidentally, has one of my all-time favorite Grammy moments: singing “Cry Baby” in a Janis Joplin tribute medley, and then joining Melissa Etheridge (in her first post-chemo performance, bald as a newborn) in “Piece of My Heart.” They tore the place apart. It was incredible.

8:51: A So You Think You Can Dance promo! That’s almost as exciting as a Glee spot. I heart both shows.

8:52: Hello, Morgan Freeman! See, he’s (rightfully) getting even more applause than Ryan Seacrest. The man did play God, after all.

8:55: Wow, Randy Jackson even name-drops in voiceover. Not surprising, since we’ve heard how he’s BFFs with Mariah Carey approximately 874 times.

8:56: Really, dawg? An orange-striped tie with a checked shirt? Epic fail, dude.

8:58: Not that it isn’t for a good cause – sorry for the double-negative – but how many parents are going to open the cell phone bills of their adolescent children and gasp in horror thanks to the ability to donate via text?

9:00: Holy crap, is this song boring. And Alicia is a wee bit pitchy tonight. Which is strange, because she’s usually a good live performer.

9:01: I feel it is my solemn duty during this performance of “Empire State of Mind” to direct you to the super-fabulous “Granite State of Mind” parody. This may only be funny if you’re from New Hampshire. But if you are, it’s completely hysterical. Holla, 603!

9:04: Maybe I’m being unfair by comparing to the first Idol Gives Back, but this year’s edition is nowhere close to that one. It all seemed bigger and more epic, with oodles of amazing performers and stories. This is kind of blah. Not to be mean, just honest.

9:06: The enduring question of this Minute Maid commercial at Casa b-roll: Why don’t the people in the boat just throw the thing in gear and get the hell out of there when they see a shark approaching? Why did they wait around to see what the shark would do? That confounds me. I understand that I’m dissecting a lemonade commercial, but still.

9:08: Yes, let’s definitely revisit Russell Brand and Jonah Hill. They were so epically funny the first time.

9:10: I’m sorry, is Octomom sitting behind Russell Brand? WHY ARE YOU GIVING THIS WOMAN SCREEN TIME?

9:11: My flesh is actively crawling. I cannot believe that they dragged the Octo children into a comedy sketch. Lord have mercy.

9:12: ExxonMobil shout out number 4! Followed by Queen Latifah and Common talking about their movie. Well, clearly all bets are off in the “shame” department.

9:13: I have to give Carrie Underwood credit – she always comes onstage, sings a lovely song impeccably (remember her flawless “Praying For Time” a couple of years ago?), and classes up the proceedings. Which we need desperately right now.

9:15: Yeah, see, that is what this show is supposed to be about. Not Octomom and Russell Brand. Sorry, that bitter taste refuses to go away.

9:18: It’s kind of terrible that a teacher can’t afford to feed his family, no? And THAT is why educators need better salaries (said the child of two public school teachers).

9:21: I’ve heard this said before, but in light of this piece, it’s especially true: They shouldn’t have to make coffins that tiny. So sad.

9:26: I love how Ryan’s on a first-name basis with Bill Gates, apparently. “What is the short-term goal, Bill?” “Well, let me tell you, Ry…”

9:29: Um, Wanda? This is a family show. And even as an adult, I never want to hear another word about Simon’s nipples. The visual is traumatizing me.

9:30: This is hilarious because it’s true.

9:31: Ryan just stood up abruptly, like, “A joke about me? THIS MUST END NOW!” Exit Wanda Sykes, stage right.

9:33: b-roll roommie Monisha: “I’m over Siobhan.” Me too, kinda. I (gasp!) agree with Kara. I wish we knew what kind of artist she wants to be. Sorry, I need to go change into something sparkly now.

9:34: David Cook! Perhaps my favorite Idol. Serenade us, won’t you?

9:35: So our bottom three is Aaron (yup), Tim (right on) and Casey (fair enough, he kinda stunk this week). I might’ve swapped Mike and Casey based on personal preference, but otherwise, well-done, America.

9:37: The adorable Ethiopian kids look like Swaybots in training. So cute. (The children, not the Swaybots).

9:43: Ohmigod, someone scoop this poor child into your arms, for God’s sake.

9:44: Okay, Annie Lennox is breaking my heart. Once again.

9:46: Wow. That’s all I can say. Just, wow. God bless that darling little girl. Tears accomplished.

9:48: This marks the second consecutive Idol Gives Back in which Annie Lennox was the most memorable part of the evening – remember that tape of her breaking down as she took those children to be tested for HIV, followed by her unforgettable version of “Many Rivers to Cross”?

9:53: I know I’m not a NASCAR fan, but why, oh why, would anyone watch it on television? Isn’t it pretty much four hours of cars going in circles? That’s entertaining, how?

9:55: b-roll head cold update: I have rapidly progressed from “kind of stuffed up” to “cannot taste food.” Damn you, plague-ridden children of Disney World!

9:57: Seeing Mary J. Blige, is anyone else flashing back to last year’s 30 Rock “Kidney Now” telethon episode? Is it kinda blasphemous to mention that right now? Yes? Okay. Forget I said anything.

9:58: They’re playing the short version of “Stairway to Heaven,” right? Because we’re almost out of time and this song is 17 minutes long.

9:59: How long until Kara charges the stage in pursuit of Mary’s shiny shoulder-pad sweater? Odds, anyone?

10:01: We’re now into overtime, with a Simon taped piece on deck. We still have an Elton John performance and results, and possibly more. We’re officially in “how far over can this show go?” mode. Kinda like every single Oscars ceremony.

10:04: Ben Affleck comes to us straight from his latest film role as a hobo! Thanks for dressing up, Ben. No need to shave or wear anything other than a hoodie. You’re good.

10:06: I really like the AT&T commercial – it’s cool and effective – but you can’t do anything quickly on a mobile phone, particularly if you need to buy a train ticket in a split second. Be serious, AT&T.

10:07: I loved Sex and the City, and will certainly see the second movie, but I’m not optimistic if the best quip they have for the commercials is the desert/hot flash joke I’ve now heard 79 times.

10:09: Elton John! J’adore. As excited as I am to see Elton’s performance – on a red piano, no less! – I really need to go pack for an NYC trip (that I need to get up for in about seven hours). So wrap this up, Idol peeps.

10:11: I like Elton John too, but no need to scream like a lunatic, Queen Latifah. You’re fake royalty, for crying out loud.

10:12: Love “Your Song.” Easily on the official b-roll Top 20 Songs in the History of Ever (I smell a future blog post…). My favorite version? Heather Headley’s gospel rendition to Elton John at the Kennedy Center Honors. So spectacular that Sir Elton could barely keep it together. Watch this clip when the damn show finally ends. You’re welcome.

10:16: The Sponsor Who Shall Not Be Named gets another mention. Were they contractually obligated? “Queen Latifah shall thank us no fewer than 18 times. We’re trying to be likable, damnit!”

10:21: Shania Twain week next week? Oof. That’s limiting. Which guy will be singing, “Man, I Feel Like a Woman”?

10:22: Adios, Tim. I have to say, you made me like you more than I thought possible. You were downright okay the last few weeks. And you were always upbeat. So congrats. And to everyone who voted for Aaron’s painful “I Believe I Can Fly” over Casey’s (admittedly dull) “Don’t Stop”, well, you need to start reconsidering some things.

So, I’m off to pack and shower for the trip that is screaming towards me at this very moment. Good night, fellow Idol fans!


  1. More than 22 minutes over?! Yeesh. Couldn’t they just plan to take it to 10:30, and find 8 more minutes of filler and commercials, and then my tifaux would have caught it all? Boo AI! Boo!

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