They're regular folks — the guy who changes your oil, the mall girl with muffin top, your server at Applebee's.
They're regular, that is, until American Idol plucks them from obscurity so that we may dissect their every move, judge them harshly, hate them and celebrate them. Fun!
American Idol's Top 10 contestants let us do it in person, performing Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum. The show was slick, corporately smarmy and pretty entertaining.
The 10 were cast as narrow sketches. The retro chanteuse. The smooth soul singer. The plucky rock chick. The fans approved with chalkboard screams.
Escapist, yes, but also jarringly real. The most freakish testament to the show's titanic cultural muscle happened when contestant Lil Rounds (mom of three, former customer service rep) casually quipped, "When I told my production team I wanted to do this song…"
Fame, so far from our daily grind, really isn't that far at all. That's kind of cool.
But enough sincerity. Let's dissect their every move and judge them harshly!
Most troubling hair: Megan Joy sounded lovely. But she ruined everything with the frizzy blond tuft of Brillo on her melon. Think Phyllis Diller meets Willie Aames (Eight is Enough years).
Future comedy career: Blind singer Scott MacIntyre beat everyone to the punch line. "People wave to me from across the room, I don't see them. People try to give me a fist bump, I don't know what the heck's going on!" Try the veal?
Bad copy: Lil Rounds took on Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige with controlled, strong pipes. Way to go! Then, she covered Single Ladies. She sounded winded, in need of serious Gatorade. Beyonce would have nailed it.
Best snooze button: Anoop Desai crooned soft R&B to a video of puffy clouds and gentle spring rain dropzzz. Then, he RUDELY JOLTED US AWAKE with My Prerogative, Bobby Brown's lusty hip-thruster. We're up! Where's our toothbrush?
King of keys: Scott's piano was pretty during Vanessa Carlton's A Thousand Miles, but Matt Giraud showed him up with bluesy chops on Hard to Handle and Georgia on My Mind.
Parental gasp of horror: Allison Iraheta, 17, sang Pink's So What: "Guess I just lost my husband, I don't know where he went. So I'm gonna drink my money, I'm not gonna pay his rent." Pay attention, kiddos.
Most tender moment: Danny Gokey on Rascal Flatts' What Hurts the Most. His wife died right before his turn on Idol, and the crowd remembered, singing every word. "Never knowing what could have been…"
Clairvoyant guess: Adam Lambert loathes stools, dry ice and Mad World.
Reality check: When runnerup Lambert so much as snarled, the crowd had a hernia. They loved dreamy acoustic winner Kris Allen, too, but comparatively? Uh … oh look, a text message!
Nightcap: The group closed with Journey's Don't Stop Believing, a song with lyrics starring who else? Small town girls and boys.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8857.