Before tonight’s episode even began, my patience for this season of America’s Next Top Model was wearing dangerously thin. After several weeks of ridiculous challenges and unwarranted eliminations, now Bianca, and any promise of real drama to come, are gone. Plus, there hasn’t been a REAL modeling challenge in three weeks. THREE WEEKS!
And tonight, things just got worse, because that’s Tyra’s way. Just when you think she might realize her show is straying too far from its original premise, that perhaps it’s time to dial things back a bit and start making sense again … that’s when the REAL crazy begins. And not the ha-ha crazy. The bam-bam (that’s my head against the wall) crazy. Truly, the only joy I found in this episode was being able to air all my grievances here, for you. So let’s go:
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but is this the first video Tyra Mail we’ve ever seen? Here to host tonight’s Jeopardy Daily Double is adorable Madison, whose sunflower makeup tutorial has become a staple of my daily beauty routine.
A TRUE ALL-STAR!
Madison gives a cute little makeup lesson, and then regrettably shoehorns in the “Tyra Mail” part of the message, because she’s a polite, obedient young goddess: “My makeup lessons are free, but I really hope you can keep a beat.” Wait … what? Madison, come back! What the hell does that have to do with makeup?
And so begins the most preposterous, maddening, illogical adventure into Tyra Banks’ brain that perhaps we’ve ever seen. Honestly, if she ever commits a crime (like, a law-breaking crime, not the countless crimes against humanity that she’s already committed) this episode should be used as evidence that she is a threat to herself and others.
The Challenge: Write a “Viral” Song
Jay introduces tonight’s assignment, which we already know is for the all-stars to write their own songs and star in their own music videos. Why is our celebrity culture obsessed with music videos? And with people who have no musical talent making music videos? It’s a dangerous form of self-indulgence, self-aggrandizement and shameless self-promotion that is a SICKNESS, so I guess it’s fitting that the goal is not even to be GOOD, but to “go viral.”
Because, “how else can you take your celebrity up a notch than by going viral?” Jay says, knowing full well that he’s been handed a script of lies. Going viral is not how you INCREASE your celebrity. Going viral is how you BECOME internet-famous for like, a minute. Or a couple months, if you’re really lucky/really viral/really cool with being the star of local carwash ads as your next “career” step.
At best, maybe one of these videos, if it was monumentally, horrifically terrible, could make the internet rounds for like three hours, but A) what kind of “goal” is that? and B) no, it won’t, because the only way videos from major network TV shows “go viral” is if they are really funny, which these won’t be and C) you can’t go viral when you first openly admit that your ONLY (selfish, stupid) goal is to go viral. There’s no joy in that. There’s no “email this to 10 of my friends right now” hilarity or originality or surprise or freshness in THAT. Ugh. Tyra. It’s fine when you create your own little world for you to spread your crazy all over, but when you try to make the real world work according to your nonsense, I get upset.
To inspire them, Jay tells the adults in front of him that their career role models are now Justin Bieber and Rebecca Black. Why am I even recapping this? You guys know this show IS the joke, right?
Alright. Breathe. The bullsh*ttery continues: So the girls only have TWENTY minutes to hear the tracks that have already been written for them and write their lyrics, and then some bald guy in a blazer named Tom is going to decide who wrote the best lyrics, and that girl gets a special visit from a loved one. Sort of like how prisoners get parole for good behavior.
Poor Allison, the one creative spirit of the group, is completely paralyzed by the idiocy and artistic bankruptcy of this garbage-dump of a challenge, and responds appropriately:
She decides to go with her heart, and writes a song about her recently deceased father. Her earnestness is endearing; her naivete in hoping that Tyra won’t completely gut and exploit her very personal work is deeply troubling.
The “Challenge” Winner: Tom says that Lisa’s lyrics were solid, but he loved Angelea’s “clear story” in her song. And the winner is… LISA. How many wins in a row is that? Four? So Lisa gets to see her fiance, and even better, WE get to see the guy who wants to ride Lisa’s batsh*t rollercoaster FOR LIFE.
At the Recording Studio…
Yet another ridiculous rule is tacked on to this already mile-high pile of crap: Each girl, WHO ALREADY WROTE HER SONG, must now change her song to include Tyra’s latest stupid made-up term, “Pot Ledom,” (which is “Model Top” backwards, yet everyone keeps pretending it’s “Top Model” backwards, and even if it were, WHY IS THAT A THING?! It doesn’t mean ANYTHING!) in her song in some way. So now Allison has to include an idiotic, nonsense marketing word that Tyra made up in the heartfelt song that she wrote about her dead dad. Is that grounds for a lawsuit? This just feels like abuse.
Poor Allison makes the painful concessions and ends up whispering “top model backwards top model backwards” on her track like it’s the latest clue to a serial killer’s game. Laura’s song, of course, is called “Southern Sweet Girl.” She’s tone deaf, but adorable, so that first part doesn’t matter.
When it’s Alexandria’s turn to record, we discover that this challenge has tapped straight into the ego-masturbatory part of her brain. She’s LOVING it, and now thinks she could be a recording artist because she wears her sunglasses in the studio and waves her hair around a lot.
LALALALALALAAAAA! Can I have my Grammy now?
Oh, Alexandria. May you take yourself seriously forever. At this point, it’s the only way you’ll avoid complete, self-destructive embarrassment.
Lisa, to her credit, knows how to work a studio, and her lyrics are clearly the … fastest? I don’t want to say “best,” but they’re impressive in their sheer volume. And they’re entertaining, but mostly because she sounds a lot like Ke$ha.
Later, Lisa’s fiance comes to visit, and he’s … NORMAL? As Lisa explains, she’s the crazy, loud one, and “he’s the organized, quiet one.” The very quiet one. And a very CUTE one. Way to go, Lisa.
When asked if he has anything to say to the camera, Adam just says, “No, I just missed you so much.” Lisa is a recovering drug addict who herself is a sort of drug, and Adam’s addicted. I wish the dynamic of this Odd Couple were explored further, but then they retire to their sex tent. And we’ve got some MUSIC VIDEOS/ourselves to shoot!
The Music Video Shoot
Game, formerly THE Game (the rapper, not the Michael Douglas movie or the genre of things that you play) is here to direct the videos, and Angelea freaks out and screams and bows to him, because it’s in her contract to do so once a week. Now it’s time to make the MAGIC happen!
Dominique‘s song is called “Tooch Ya Booty.” Clearly, she wrote it hoping to appeal directly to Tyra’s ego. Clever girl.
Alexandria‘s song is called “Go, Go, Go…” but I want everything about it to “STOP, STOP, STOP.” The song is flat and boring, her movements are wooden and awkward, and oh God, her styling. HER STYLING. She looks like Sharon Stone’s Basic Instinct character on her way to Easter Sunday Brunch. It’s horrific, but in a “cover your eyes and pretend it’s not there” way, not a “post on Facebook so your friends know that YOU know what’s funny on the Internet” way.
Tyra Injects Herself into the Virus-Making, Because Of Course She Does
Tyra shows up and explains that every “viral” star needs a “backup posse” in their video, so she’s here, dressed like Big Bird on ecstasy, with “Pot Ledom” written on her chest, to add some extra stench of desperation (now available at Target) to every video.
“Tyra Banks” (It’s “Human Being” backwards)
Accompanying Tyra is Keenan, the world’s premiere Youtube lipsyncer, until he jumped the shark by making appearances like this one. Oh, Keenan. You are the internet’s precious fallen prince, and for what? Did Tyra even let you say anything on air when you were introduced? If she did, I didn’t hear it. Tyra threatens that they will be lipsyncing along in every video. Thankfully we won’t see their “contributions” until Panel.
Back to the shoots: Lisa‘s shoot goes off almost without a hitch. The great thing about Lisa is that she’s not afraid to make a fool of herself — and in situations like this, when foolishness is required, that means she looks like less of a fool than everyone else. Even when she’s doing Matrix moves in sunglasses that look like golden guns.
Laura‘s shoot looks like a mix between a Taylor Swift video and the cover of Girl Talk, the board game. She lies on red satin sheets and kicks her slippers around while writing down the names of boys she likes on her Lisa Frank notebook with her glitter pen. Again, the singing is not the important part.
Angelea‘s sporting a big, crazy afro, but she’s stiff and self-conscious in the video. She lipsyncs lyrics like “Here I stand, ready to win” but she still comes off as weak. She spends most of her time thrashing up against a wooden gate that has no business being in this industrial warehouse. I’m embarrassed for her, but she’s trying. She’s “still that bitch.”
Before her shoot, Game and Allison bond over the raw, real emotion in her song. He talks about how he lost his grandmother, and then they sort of hug. It’s a sincere moment of connection between two real people trapped in a room of maniacs and twisted funhouse mirrors. Can you say COUPLE WATCH?!
In her shoot, Allison is on a swing, and her eyes look freaky-amazing. Her lyrics go, “Father sister mother father something something underwater” — they’re hard to catch because she’s whispering, and Jay and Game are cooing over the track because of how incredible she is. Allison IS the manic pixie dream girl.
Judging and Deliberation
Tyra introduces Game as “this lovely tatted maaaan” and then sing-shrieks the rest of her little speech. This episode is relentless. Now, for your viral enjoyment, the videos:
Dominique: “Tooch Ya Booty”
She looks like a (drag?) Jennifer Lopez impersonator, and the song isn’t outright terrible, but it IS a completely shameless advertisement for Covergirl. Shame on YOU for being so shameless, “magnifique” Dominique.
Laura: “Southern Sweet Girl”
First, check out that “what we call screengrab“… and THEN hit play.
Well, Laura’s vocals sound like she sung them up a chimney. But I keep TELLING you, that’s not the point. Andre hates the song, but even he musters, “it’s giddy, it’s fun” about the video, because to say otherwise would be like crushing the dream of an eight year old.
Angelea: “I’m Here”
Holy moly. The end result is a lot worse than I anticipated. The way she’s talking and spastically jerking around in that corset, it’s just … tacky. Also, what kind of song is this? Like, what genre would you even classify it as? “Chant”? Also that gate. WHY THE GATE? There should be a scandal about what that gate is doing there. It will be called Gate-Gate. Tyra is displeased with Angelea’s ability to emote and says, “Now people are hearing music with their eyes,” Tyra says. I’m tasting B.S. with mine.
Alexandria: “Go, Go, Go…”
Her song is about going, but she NEVER GOES ANYWHERE. She just stands there looking like a sad mannequin from Frederick’s of Hollywood who can’t fully move her mouth to go along with the lyrics that she wrote. This is a nightmare in dark maroon lipstick. “Go, go, go…” AWAY. “We needed more oil in the Tin Man” says Game.
Shannon: “World Go Round”
What up, Shan-Shan? Oh, just stringin’ some cliches together and smilin’ real big and hopin’ all the smiles and quick cuts mean we won’t notice that you’re barely even trying? Too bad, we noticed.
Lisa: “I Be Like Whoa!”
Andre “loved it,” and felt Lisa was giving Missy Elliott, which is generous … but not as generous as Tyra saying she could “hear this one on the radio”! I’ll give her this: Lisa committed. And made a LOT of faces.
Allison’s dreamy, trippy, loose-association lyrics actually work pretty well with the shoot, minus Tyra and Keenan’s terrible, unwelcome interludes. It feels a little bit like “before you die, you see…” but in a sweet way? The real stars of the video are Allison’s eyes. Nigel calls it “extraordinary.” Game says Allison is “the most weirdly beautiful person he’s ever seen in his life”!!!!!
GAME + CREEPYCHAN 4EVA
THEN, when Allison is out of the room, Game says she’s “special,” and “beautiful,” AND he’s attracted to her. YES! YES! Go Gallison! Wait: Gallison or Gameison? Alligame? Let’s VOTE:
Best Video: ALLISON! Game winks and blows her a kiss and later proposes marriage, I wish.
Bottom Two: Angelea and Alexandria
Ohhh, Tyra. What is this? Angelea at least tried in her video. She did her best! Not everyone is born to thrash on a wooden gate in a corset! But Alexandria was just wooden. Tyra shames both girls for their “uncomfortable” videos and then …
NOW Alexandria gets to “Go, Go, Go…” OUT DA DOOR. But not before she shakes her hair and cries out of gratitude for the “great experience.”
Have a question for Alexandria? You know the drill by now. Put in the comments before 11 AM Thursday (PST).
Next Week: The competition moves to Greece, where Shannon immediately turns her international plane ticket into a huge waste of money when she refuses to pose in underwear for an underwear campaign. God, Shannon, can’t you just be cool about stuff for like, ONE MINUTE?
(Images courtesy of CW)