Simon Cowell slams awful Dancing with the Stars singers; finalists limp through R&B, soul

American Idol 9 was, for me, worth the two hours of pain for a single moment: when Simon Cowell ripped apart Dancing with the Stars awful singers, who mangle music so much every night that they make Idol‘s bad karaoke seem like Grammy-winning recordings.

“If you’ve listened to one of those dancing shows, they always have the singers murdering a song on it–if you’ve ever watched it–that’s what it kinda…” he said, before the insipid morons in the audience interrupted by booing him when they should have cheered. Simon was comparing the Dancing with the Stars singers to Didi, which sucks for her, but it was still awesome. (Meanwhile, Simon Cowell also made fun of Star Search, for which ABC decided not to hire Paula Abdul.)

Ryan Seacrest worked hard to salvage the episode by being an ass–seriously, what is his problem this season?–and asked Didi repeatedly why she was crying during her rehearsal. She declined to be specific, and Seacrest kept pressing, so Didi said, “He wants me to say him.” That was so great, but then Seacrest, because he cant handle being one-upped, decided to tell us anyway, saying “she sang this song for someone.”

The only other moment of real entertainment during the two hours came when Ellen DeGeneres referenced a Tim Urban drinking game and said she was going to say “adorable” a lot “because those people may never drink again.” Alas, Ellen’s not giving Tim fans enough credit.

Otherwise, here’s how the episode went down: Time wasting, time wasting, time wasting with Usher, Siobhan disappoints, more time wasting with the judges who judge her twice for some reason, producers humiliate Siobhan backstage, time wasting mentor segment with Usher who does no mentoring, Casey splits the judges, Usher creeps us out by staring through the camera at us, Mike bores but the judges like it, Didi cried but sucks, Ryan Seacrest harasses Didi because he’s a prick, Tim Urban sucks again, Tim Urban develops a personality and makes a joke about judges criticizing his smile, Andrew doesn’t suck so everyone likes it, Ryan Seacrest encourages Andrew’s mother humiliate him while Andrew protests, Katie Stevens doesn’t warble so everyone likes her vocals, Simon yet again smacks down Kara (which is his new favorite past time), Lee Dewyze surprises and impresses the judges and tears up when the judges don’t rip him up, Crystal Bowersox does okay but not amazing and Simon tells her to stop listening to the other judges and just stick with what she does best, and Aaron Kelly ended the show with the middle-of-the-pack thing he does so well.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.