#272 – Playback’s a Bitch!

I subscribe to the old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” but I never thought I’d apply it to Simon Cowell. Yet watching American Idol this season, I’ve found myself ruing his departure. That’s why I spliced together some of his best moments from the show … into the recording which has me in hot water with my wife’s family, again.

Sophia and I love American Idol, but we applauded the exodus of Mr. Cowell and the mean-spirited barbs he couched as “constructive criticism.” Last season, we considered the kindness of Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler a refreshing change. Not anymore though. This year, the judges at most seem to offer milquetoast criticisms; and especially since winnowing the field to the top twenty-four, the panel has limited their most cutting remarks to something along the lines of: “That may not have been the best song for you.” The Mrs. and I began sharing “What the F*&@?” looks at the same performances the judges praised as the Second Coming. That’s when we began to long for just one more “that was utterly horrendous” from Mr. Cowell.

Simon obviously won’t return to American Idol anytime soon. Even so, I figured, his voice and words could still play a part in our viewing experience. I consequently combed the internet this past weekend for snippets of his best critiques and welded them together into a file I stored on my iPhone. Last night, I planned to surprise Sophia by playing back the file at appropriate moments while watching the show. First, however, I had to eat dinner at the in-laws’.

After the meal, Sophia’s sister-in-law announced that her four-year-old daughter wanted to sing a song she’d learned in pre-school. The whole family served as the girl’s captive audience. I don’t use the term “captive” in jest either. Sadly, little Maria isn’t a child prodigy, and her performance didn’t exactly impress. I grew so bored, so fast, that I pulled out my phone and cued up the Simon Cowell recording, just so it’d be ready to roll when needed.

Spotting my rude behavior, Sophia kicked me in the shin and silently mouthed: “Put that phone away or else.” I grudgingly complied but, in the process, accidentally pressed “play” while sliding the device into its holster.

Moments later, the minute performer burst into tears, while her parents, grandparents and one mortified aunt glared witheringly at me, after Simon Cowell’s voice echoed through the room:

I can’t listen to this anymore. It’s just awful. It’s everything I hate. I mean, the whole act is excruciatingly bad. Honestly it’s just terrible.

To be honest with you, the whole thing was just horrendous. I mean, from the outfit to the song choice. And what was even more frightening is that you sounded like a baby.

I don’t think you’ve got star quality, and I don’t think you ever will.



Behind that smile rests a barbed tongue.

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