This week, American Idol heads to San Francisco. The show opens with a sad crying woman, who impores to the camera “Just because someone farts, let them finish the song!” as she walks away in tears. Really how can we argue? I’m sure Pavoratti farted lots and lots of time when he was on stage at the Met.

Judges Randy Jackson, J-Lo and Steven Tyler are set and ready to go. J-Lo and Tyler look exactly alike.  It’s as if, in a show of strong sisterhood, they’ve started sharing hairstylists and make-up artists. He must be getting tired of not being the pretty one. In honor of this, I’ve decided to dub him S-Ty, so he doesn’t feel left out of the J-Lo party. I’m hoping it catches on. S-Ty is slowly morphing into an aging drag queen. Everytime he starts to speak, I always think the lights are going to go low and he’s going to give some sad monlogue about “days gone by” before he launches into some classic torch song, like “Come Rain or Come Shine” or “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”.

And what wouldn’t be more fitting than a show stopping rendition of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”? Especially during the montage of all the “weird” looking people who showed up for the San Francisco audition, complete with a near shell-shocked Ryan Seacrest narrating what SF hath wrought on them. After all this, is where “electric” (read: gay) performer, Adam Lambert came from. (He’s actually from San Diego). But that doesn’t matter, because in the world of American Idol, San Francisco is to neon-colored hair and nose jewelry what Texas is to big hats and belt buckles. After all that’s, where all weird and crazy people in America are, get it? All the wildly dressed, kooky-personality, freaky people….who came to the auditions from Iowa, Hawaii, Indiana, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, Montana. You know, all those weirdo hippie California places.

For his part, Seacrest mostly laid low this episode (possibly still traumatized from his near-fatal belt buckle injury in Texas last week). The first contestant is some weird Eastern European pixie woodsprite gremlin girl, dressed in a pink jumpsuit like Safari Barbie. She does some painful looking contorted belly dancing gyrations and then sings badly. They say no, because she’s terrible, and she storms out fuming, “They’ve missed out on the biggest celebrity in Hollywood.” Yeah, you just lost out on the Ukrainian Katy Perry, American Idol. Your loss.

Then there’s a ton of women who are really, really good and we get some pop-y music and a montage of people bumping butts with their parents and jumping around with their arms victoriously in the air.

SOB STORY TIME. Stefano, 24 was nearly killed in a car crash that turned his life around. So we have to slow the music down and super-impose a lot of stock footage of firetrucks and emergency lights. He survived that accident, according to S-Ty, so he could put him through to to Hollywood. Because when you’re a billionaire rock star, every thing revolves around you, even other people’s horrific tragedies.

Then there is an adorable, bubbly karaoke host named Clint aka “Junebug”, who looks like Mr. Magoo crossed with a really young Andy Cohen. He belts out “Billionaire” better than Bruno Mars and he gets through in a cinch, thanks to Randy who dubs him “One of the best I’ve seen in San Francisco”. He also gets a big musical montage victory lap as he triumphantly hugs his friends and waves his ticket around.

Can I take a minute to comment on these victory lap musical numbers after each audition? Everytime someone gets a golden ticket, the music swells up like it’s the end of an action movie from 1991, bursting into some triumphant “It’s our time!” kind of chorus. These people did not scale Half Dome, OK? They just past the first round of an audtion. Olympic gold medalists don’t get this kind of musical treatment during their victory laps.

Then the Coolest Thing Ever happens, when contestant Drew shows up dressed as a Transformer Car that he built himself! He can’t sing, but who cares? THIS THING IS SO AWESOME. Dear Santa: Screw the damn pony, I want this!

Then there’s a montage of pretty girls who can sing and live in California, which for some reason, means the producers have to torture us with yet another place in our lives where we have to hear “California Girls” You know, when I first heard this song I was all: “Yay!! A song about me, a ‘California Gurl’ I wear ‘daisy dukes and bikini on top’! We DO go to the beach and get sand our stilletos. OMG!!” But now. I cannot get this frickin’ song out of my head. It’s no joke, I am worried. I hear it, constantly, burning from the back of my mind, forcing its way to my temples like it’s trying to completely dominate my brain. I hear it everywhere I go, every sound I hear eventually turns into “Fine fresh fierce we got in  on lock!”. What is the sinister, soulless force behind this power? Satan? Evil mind-controlling aliens?? Republicans??? Even now the clacking of my keyboard, as I desperately type this plea for help, sings out “West Coast represent now put your hands up!!” SERIOUSLY I CANNOT MAKE IT GO AWAY.

Next up is, Julia, 20 who has ridiculously pretty shoes and a sad story about her parents who were forced to abandon their home in Colombia because of war and strife and maybe that Katy Perry song got to them down first down there too and they thought they would escape it by coming to America, but oh no it’s here too! Her parents tell their story and they cry because they are so proud of their daughter, who rightly sings like an angel, naturally. Because Fox does not dig into the foreign news vault footage for your montage if you suck. They put her through, an J-Lo fires an assistant for making her be in the same room with someone with expensive platform shoes, because that is her thing, dammit.

Next up is Dave, who sings a Beatles song as is pretty good, but wait…S-Ty hates him and says he’s terrible, which I don’t get at all. Lots people have been way worse than this and gotten through. But S-Ty is really outraged, and furiously beats on his chest “Do you see what’s on my shirt!!?” which is a Beatles shirt that I didn’t even notice and proceeds to deride poor Dave like he just caught him trying to take a crap on John Lennon’s grave. See, this is what you get for forcing Steven Tyler to look at a much younger, cuter version of himself. If “Dave” were a 15 year old blonde girl from Torrance, she’d be in like Flynn.

Next up is a montage of hilariously bad singers that I wish’d we spent more time on, instead of Dave. Especially the woman dressed in the cop uniform belting out Rhianna’s “Drive”.

Then comes Suzie Sad Sack Emily Ann, who’s father told her “When you spread your wings, you better spread them far.” He didn’t tell her that sometimes when you spread your wings and fly far, you fly to a really great apartment that tragically burns down leaving you all but homeless and heartbroken. She looks like if Joni Mitchell and Nicole Kidman morphed into one person and then got a bunch of crazy arm tattoos. And she sings a little like Billie Holiday and Norah Jones. She gets through and then she belts out an even better song on her guitar.

Time for the last singer of the night, James, 21. He’s just the trifecta of American Idol Emotional Sob Story.  He has Death, Personal Adversity and A New Baby. His father overdosed on drugs and died. He’s got Turretts AND Asberger’s. And his girlfriend just had a baby!  Plus, they’re really, really poor!  He doesn’t have a job, they live in a crummy apartment and he can’t afford diapers sometimes!  So the solution is he gets a job as a low level employee in a mid-sized company where he works a routine yet none too stressful job that affords his new family stable health insurance benefits and a modest allotment of vacation days where he works just long and hard enough to meet all the requirements as a satisfactory employee and earn a steady stream of raises and promotions providing the best support he can for his new family tries out for a reality show.  He belts out “Dream On” (I think he’s pitchy and screechy, sorry) and they call him the best singer they’ve heard so far and we get Polyphonic Spree to play him off into the sunshine of victory.

Next week, it’s finally time for Hollywood! Until then…..“Sun-kissed skin, so hot will melt your popsicle Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!!!”