“The American Idol Judges Review My Recent Karaoke Performance,” by Harrison Scott Key

Apr 28th, 2010 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

RANDY JACKSON: Yo, dog, yo.  When I heard you would be singing the Godfather of Soul, I was like, What?!  But “Sex Machine” is dope, y’all.  If you do that song, you got to bring it, yo.  And guess what?  You slayed it!  You got a little pitchy, especially when you started changing the words up and singing about trying to conceive a child with your wife.  Where is she?  Is she here?  Yo, what’s up!  I was like, Where’s this going?  Is this cat making up words right now?  Did he just say “ovulation” on live TV?  And (what!) you rhymed it with “across this great nation.”  Whack!  But yo, look: you made up some words to the song, so what?  It’s about sex! You stayed on topic.  I liked it.  You slayed!  What do you think, E?

ELLEN DEGENERES: You almost convinced me to change my orientation.  No, really, I loved it.  I did.  I was a little freaked out by your kicks. You did a lot of kicking.  Was that intentional, or were you having a stroke?  It was very Karate Kid.  Watching you is like when you’re watching Animal Planet and for some reason they have to tranquilize a bear, and the bear is fighting it, he’s pawing and growling and thrashing, and just when you think he’s asleep, he eats somebody.  And they shoot him, and they kill him.  In that scenario, you’re like the gun, and the song is the bear, and the Billboard Hot 100 is the bear cage.  Or maybe you’re the game warden.  That’s what I love about you.  And my favorite part of all was when you started making up words, like when you said, “I want to make some babies up in here” and you kind of humped the TV monitor.  That was brilliant.  You have a lot of fans back home that will connect with that, I think.  I connected with it.

KARA DIOGUARDI: You know, every song is a story, and all the great singers are storytellers – and you told a story, man.  You did.  You told the story of a man who likes to have sex and needs it now.  That’s a story that all of America can relate to.  When you looked into the audience and started doing that thing with your zipper – where you were pulling it up and down real fast and making that cool sound with it – that really connected to people, I think.  People notice that kind of thing.  It makes them like you.  It makes them want to be a part of your life. You sold the song.  You did.  As far as your singing, it’s hard to describe.  I’m not actually sure you were singing.  It was really more kind of barking – like rapping, but also like having a heart attack at the same time.  That’s what makes you different.  Also, you were sweating a lot.  You seemed angry.  But that’s part of the story.  You’re a storyteller.  I’m a fan.

SIMON COWELL: Absolutely, one-hundred percent brilliant.  Listen, you did everything right, didn’t you?  You’re not the most gifted singer out here tonight, but you know who you are.  And who you are is an artist who knows how to steal a coat from someone in the audience and use it as a hat and then as a cape.  You’re an artist who, in the middle of a song, climbs into a fat girl’s lap and makes her feel pretty.  And look at that girl now. Where is she?  There she is.  Look at her.  So happy.  That kind of thing sells records, my friend.  Especially to fat people. You know what I like about you is that you know who you are.  You’re not pop.  You’re not country.  You’re dirty.  And I have a feeling that other dirty people are going to like you quite a lot.  Dirty people buy records.  You’re contemporary.  You’re relevant.  Well done.


Harrison Scott Key lives in Savannah, Georgia.  His humor and essays have appeared in City Journal, Document, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and elsewhere.  He welcomes reasonable proposals and invitations at HarrisonScottKey at gmail dot com.

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