TV Recap

'American Idol' recap: Skin Show!

A 'stripper,' a bikini-clad dude, and a dermatological revelation prove that naked ambition is alive and well in Denver

Danelle Hayes led the Denver pack with a ferocious take on a Melissa Etheridge ditty
Image credit: Fox

MILE-HIGH CLUB

Danelle Hayes led the Denver pack with a ferocious take on a Melissa Etheridge ditty

This just in — from the business news wire service in my mind...

LOS ANGELES — American Idol, the nation's No. 1 television program for eight seasons running, signed a two-year deal today with DermaFab Corp., to join its longstanding troika of sponsors, Coca-Cola, Ford, and AT&T. The upstart skin-care company's CEO brainstormed the partnership after watching Idol's Denver audition episode and marveling at guest judge Victoria Beckham's unexpected revelation that ''beautiful skin'' trumps actual vocal ability when it comes to discovering the nation's next superstar singer. After a subsequent half-striptease by a well-groomed male contestant led to his receiving a Golden Ticket, DermaFab execs committed to a reported eight-figure contract that will allow the company to promote both its face- and body-care lines to some 20 million viewers every week.

''In this economy, a foolproof marketing plan is like a unicorn: rare and beautiful,'' said Venus Milquetone, CEO of DermaFab. ''But if we can obliterate the acne, the unsightly blemishes, and even the distinguishing facial characteristics of the season 9 top 24 — as well as slather a little SPF onto Simon's oven-fried chest area — we could be as omnipresent as Randy's hyperbolic use of percentages.''

Wall Street investors, hypnotized by the other-worldly appeal of Beckham's barnacle-like hair bun, reacted favorably to the deal, and added that sales of high-definition televisions are likely to spike as a result of this week's revelations as well. ''For the next three months, viewers are going to have to look deeply into contestants' pores to try to determine which one deserves the Idol crown,'' said Smith Frank, analyst at Devlin Investor Services. ''Forget high-tech surround-sound systems; for season 9, it's all about HD image-quality.''

Okay, okay... so I've devoted three admittedly ridiculous paragraphs to a passing comment made by a guest-judge who's best known for outrageous footwear choices, not for actual singing. But I'm antsy and frustrated and hopeful and scared all at the same time, and I've got a sneaking suspicion I'm not alone: You see, after enduring seven episodes of Elvis wannabes and deluded football jocks and assorted costumed freaks, I'm ready for Hollywood Week. I'm ready for some Melinda Doolittle-y phrasing, some David Cook-y rearranging, even some Frenchie Davis-Kimberley Locke-y verse exchanging. (Look at me, rhyming!)

But before I start a one-way ''journey'' down Hell Week memory lane, let's not overlook the fact that in the midst of tonight's storm of superficiality, Idol's producers offered up two or three legitimate contenders who — with a few minor adjustments — have the potential to create misty water-colored memories that we'll be reminiscing about this time next year.

My favorite of the bunch — despite the fact that she's clearly a contender for the Von Smith Shouty McShouterson Memorial Trophy — was karaoke hostess Danelle Hayes, she of the giant crescent earrings, the jazzy silver necklace, and surprisingly chic headkerchief-and-gray-tank ensemble. There may not have been anything subtle about her take on ''I'm the Only One'' — then again, Melissa Etheridge's original isn't exactly a study in restraint — but there was the kind of bruised and broke-down passion to Danelle's full-throttle performance that had Kara correctly calling it the day's ''most moving audition.'' Better still, Danelle's gruff, muscular instrument sounded like a mashup between two highly underrated divas, Toni Childs and Anastacia.

NEXT: Haeley Vaughn is a little bit country

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