You would think that Tyra Banks, of all people, would be able to tell you how to turn a relatively short-lived stint at fame into a more long-lasting franchise. After all, Banks is the woman who went from model (career expectancy: two to five years) to having her own talk show, young adult book series, and weirdly long-lasting self-replicating reality show. But if there’s anything we’ve learned on Top Model: All-Stars, it’s that she either doesn’t have any idea or is just not telling. In the wake of last week’s perfume ad and Snooki homage, the “make your own viral video” challenge was completely baffling and also totally unsuited to basically everyone’s skills. (I’ll give a pass to Lisa, who has been in training to be Ke$ha for 10 years before Ke$ha was even born.)
But really, the whole idea of the girls making their own viral video sensations means that Tyra and friends don’t have the slightest idea about the machinations of the Internet. I’m not the first person to point out that that’s the whole marvel of YouTube: It’s equally likely that Justin Bieber or a drunk chicken will be the most viewed item of the week. To launch a viral video, she didn’t need to give the girls glossy, over-produced singles and professional makeovers. She needed to give them a flip-cam and a basement full of liquor. Or maybe just a jar of Vaseline to freak out about.
Plus, I guess the models have always had to know how to act a little bit, but since when did they have to know how to sing? In the first challenge, when the girls had to write lyrics to a track “engineered for them,” it became pretty readily apparent that it wasn’t just the crowds that kept this batch away from the American Idol auditions. Poor Allison, whose complaints grow more heartbreaking every week, again looked crestfallen. “It’s excellent for people who sing. I don’t sing,” she sighed to the camera. Luckily, pretty much no one knew what she was doing. Lisa managed to win the lyrics challenge (and a visit from her embarrassed-looking fiancé) purely by virtue of knowing how to rhyme.
Of course, the painful music challenge couldn’t end there! No, no. That would have been humane. Next, the girls had to record their caterwauls and include the insanely irritating phrase, “Pot Ledom. It’s Top Model backwards.” Maybe Tyra has been studying the backmasking message oeuvre of Pink Floyd, maybe she thought that particular piece of schoolyard code-slang would be impenetrable, but she made every model put in not only the catchphrase but its annoying explanation, too. (Lisa opted for “That’s Top Model backwards, if y’all ain’t wizards.” Obviously only magic could make words go all twisty and wrong-ways round like that.) This, again, was the worst for Allison, who decided to write her song about her recently deceased father and not glitter/hairspray/bouncing around in pigtails.
Fortunately, Allison bounced back in the music video portion, where she and guest judge the Game developed an odd but pretty touching rapport. “Her face is like a work of art,” he commented, awe-struck, at panel. (Yeah, I am totally for The Game and Allison getting together.) Allison, to Angelea’s great chagrin, won the best picture with her song, a haunting but sort of catchy number that I might have actually listened to again if it weren’t for the “Pot Ledom” insert. Though even that paled in comparison to Tyra’s “viral” contribution, which was to show up in a feathered neon leotard and anime pigtails (I just can’t even. What.) with YouTube phenomenon Keenan Cahill to do out-of-place lip-synched backup singing on the tracks. I guess Maru the cat must be out of Tyra’s league.
Most of the other videos ranged from “mildly bad” to “personally responsible for the ruin of the music video industry,” but the real offenders were Shannon, Angelea, and Alexandria. Shannon’s video was basically a shot-for-shot remake of Faith Hill’s “There You’ll Be” video, minus the gratuitous Josh Hartnett-centric Pearl Harbor footage. She’s so boring, I can’t stand it. Glazed Shania Twain does not a Top Model make, I say. Of course, in Tyra’s infinite wisdom, Shannon got spared the axe, and it came down to Angelea and Alexandria. Angelea’s video was aggressive, terrible, and aggressively terrible. She sang while holding onto the back of a fence, as if she was stapled to it. But the judges saved their ire for Alexandria’s, whose video for “Go, Go, Go” curiously involved mostly shaking her shoulders, sitting in a car, and looking slickly comatose. “We needed more oil on that tin man,” the Game shook his head despairingly. But it was too late. Away pranced Alexandria, leaving six more models to duke it out.
- Why are they keeping Angelea around? My theory is that they’ll need a semi-normal foil for Allison or Lisa, one of whom hopefully takes the prize.
- I wanted Lisa’s gun glasses from that video so much. So post-Gaga.
- Poor Dominique. “Every time I drop to the floor it’s really because I’m falling.”