If there’s something that you can count on from America’s Next Top Model, it’s that an idea that gained some traction in a previous season, even an astoundingly awful one like “all supermodel wannabes should also have their own unbelievably Auto-Tuned single,” will eventually be repeated. Thus, last cycle’s All-Star bizarro music-video boogaloo was bound to reappear, particularly given that a CBS single is now part of the Tyra-whispered prize package for the winner. And reappear it did, in the hilariously painful faux Top 40 singles that both teams stumbled their way through. The whole episode had an element of studied strangeness about it, clashing with the usual cartoonish nature of ANTM. It was as if David Lynch had a hand in directing Spice World.
The first hint that things would be going in the YouTube-able trainwreck way was when All-Star winner and all-around crazy person Lisa D’Amato showed up the house, big earrings a-blazin’. In her life as an illustrious CBS-single owner and ANTM perfume spokeswoman, Lisa has apparently been penning pop singles that are crammed full of bad Tyra neologisms. Along with a leather-jacketed producer (and, no kidding, ex-Letters To Cleo drummer) Tom Polce—who looks like he’s been wincing for a solid month—D’Amato wrote two songs to be covered by the British and American teams respectively. These are exactly as bad as you hoped. Perhaps the only things that can match them in their over-the-top wrenching awfulness are the names that the teams choose for their girl groups: Fiercely British and United Sirens of America, both group titles that make Danity Kane seem like a sane choice.
Maybe it’s the accent boost or the Spice Girls legacy, but team U.K. does far better in the recording studio than the Yankees, despite being saddled with lyrics like “I’m the only fashion time traveler.” It’s the M.I.A. thing, you know? The Yankees, I’m sad to say, sound like flash-in-the-pan jokey hip-hop group Fannypack mixed with a 6th-grade-karaoke version of a Beastie Boys song. The chorus of their song, “Stop Drop ’N’ Tooch,” has an unfortunate shrillness on the final “raise the roof” that all the mixing in the world couldn’t mellow.
Luckily, the choreography session that the girls do is one of the most entertaining five minutes of the show I’ve ever seen. Tyra, always keepin’ it classy, comes armed with spandex pants that say “booty tooch” on the butt and a set of bottom enhancing pads for all the ladies. She then instructed the ladies on “the art of the booty tooch,” the delicate aesthetic of popping out one’s rear for a photo. Danger zones include the “hoochie tooch,” the “poochie tooch,” the “dookie tooch,” and the “smoochie tooch,” by which point I’m pretty sure Tyra was just grasping for things that rhymed. Her whole spiel reached the level of caricature; no Saturday Night Live sketch could touch the level of self-parody that scene involved. It was essentially an absurdist ass pep rally.
But in the midst of joyful butt bouncing, there was also drama. Azmarie has been getting cocky the past few photo shoots. She’s been gliding through the competition with nary a bump. But the rear padding is apparently past her breaking point. Azmarie tells Tyra that the bars mess with her androgynous look. Going against Tyra’s enforced-fun activities is a big no-no, and it results in her quiet expulsion from the class. Azmarie doesn’t exactly storm out, but her stand against tooching was clearly not going to keep her in Tyra’s favor. But it does lead to Kelly Cutrone’s ultimate jingle burn: “She’s a boaster and a coaster, and I think it’s time to toast her.”
As in the recording booth, the British girls completely own the video shoot. The set for both the videos is a nightmarish neon-and-strobe construction, the likes of which you normally see in a Bollywood movie about 1970s club-hoppers. Their song is “We’ll Mash You Up,” and, I swear, Sophie’s part is cribbed directly from “La Macarena.” The Americans do better than their vocal talent would suggest, but it’s clear from the beginning that the U.K. has the edge here.
Partially, it’s thanks to the lame performance of Kyle, who Mr. J considers the team’s weakest link. Kyle hasn’t been the favorite in the ANTM house ever since her wobbly dramatics about staying in the competition, but this week she gained a legitimate enemy in Laura after aiding in the maiming of a stuffed animal that Laura’s recently deceased friend had given her. Laura seemed to be hoping for Kyle’s failure, and the rest of the team didn’t exactly rally together for her either. Her Bambi eyes and long bangs didn’t help her lackluster, uncertain undulating.
All four British ladies got photos before the Americans even got one, but Alisha earned her place as first with dance moves that made Kelly Cutrone feel as if she was about to “take us to this dirty badass castle.” Though Laura had a sort of unattractively twisted face in her segment and Eboni disappointed by not, as Curtone hoped, doing a “robot baby dance,” whatever that means, the real losers were Azmarie and Kyle. I was hoping that Azmarie’s apology would keep her in the competition. She’s far more interesting than Kyle, even with her slacking in recent weeks. But Tyra raised the excellent point that after being covered in maple syrup, butt pads seem pretty tame. Being uncooperative is a fatal sin in the house of Tyra, and so Azmarie got sent home while Kyle gets another week. That is, unless Laura finds a way to kick her out of the house first.
- Indicative of the overall quality of the songs was Tyra’s compliment to the British team: “I felt like I was watching a real music video!”
- Nigel on Laura: “She’s got to control her face.”
- If I never hear the phrase “Pot ledom” again, it will be too soon.
- I think that they brought in Nadine Coyle to replace Ashley’s brogue.