''American Idol'' recap: Simon's star power | EW.com

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''American Idol'' recap: Simon's star power

After seven seasons, Simon reveals his lovable side in the final audition episode, livening up a mixed bag of tryouts with wit, charm, and real star power

”American Idol” recap: Simon’s star power

Let me start this column with a warning: It’s quite possible that I’ve gone a bit mad tonight. Writing about eight consecutive American Idol audition episodes — and trying to find an interesting and unique angle for each one — can do that to a person.

But even if my mind is as addled as Tiffany McCambell’s rendition of ”Hallelujah,” I still think I’m onto something when I say that Simon Cowell is to Idol what Mary Richards was to The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Okay, the decidedly American Mary was sweet, charming, and female, while the decidedly British Simon is cranky, cantankerous, and male. But consider for a moment the lyrics to ”Love Is All Around,” the iconic Mary Tyler Moore theme song, and tell me that with the little tweaks I’ve inserted, they couldn’t have been written for Simon.

Who can turn the world on with his smile? Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Well it’s you, Simon, you should know it With each glance and every little movement you show it….

Yeah, I know, I’m pouring out the love for a man who hardly needs an ego boost, but without Simon, this ”Best of the Rest” audition episode would’ve been nothing more than a bland appetizer to tide us over till Hollywood Week. I mean, on a night where golden-ticket holder Alesha Stelzl’s emotionally vacuous warble was used to denigrate the name and voice of the legendary Dolly Parton, the show desperately needed a rock star. And thankfully, Simon heard the call and took on the role himself.

Take, for example, the overlong three-way audition for Ashley Lawing and twin brothers Cory and Chris Lane. The whole package kicked off with a nauseatingly wink-wink, nudge-nudge intro that had me wondering if Ashley was dating both siblings at once (way to sleaze up the family hour, Fox!), but thankfully, she went out with the guys consecutively, not simultaneously.

Either way, while the tired trio brought little to their audition (aside from the world’s most adorable puppy), Simon managed to make the whole affair bearable. First, there was his appalled facial expression at the delayed takeoff of the twins’ pitiful rap number, then again at Cory’s accidental mispronunciation of his own name as ”Coby.” (Side note: If Paula actually wanted to offer constructive advice to the aspiring fameosexuals, she might’ve informed them that wearing matching outfits ceased to be cute after kindergarten.)

Things got even more entertaining, though, when Ashley entered the room with Panda, her six-week-old Pomeranian. I loved how Simon didn’t even bother to maintain his above-it-all mask and simply melted into a puddle of goo when he came face to face with the unspeakably cute fluffball. And then, the way he used just a raised eyebrow and a broad grin at Ashley’s provocative response to his threat to steal Panda — ”as long as you put me through to Hollywood, you can have whatever you want” — well, let’s just say it was the kind of masterful reaction shot that sitcom stars use on their Emmy reels. Unfortunately for Ashley, the flirtation came to a screeching halt (emphasis on screeching) with her rendition of Kellie Pickler’s ”Black High Heels,” but Simon’s put-down (”Even your dog is struggling to get out of the room right now”) was so viciously funny that she left the room still declaring her love for the guy.

And the one-liners just kept on coming. When Tiffany said her dubious vocal abilities were a gift from God, Simon asked, ”Does he have a returns policy?” Better still were the shenanigans that ensued after Joshua ”Jay Smoove” Moreland left the audition-room floor littered with glitter and petals following his baffling original number, ”Beautiful Lady.”

NEXT: Simon cleans up