Sweet delusion

By JAMES PARKER  |  February 6, 2007

In the person of Eric Mueller, an overweight, freezingly blue-eyed young man whose audition in LA formed the climax of last week’s episode, the dark poetry of it all came to a head. “I’m gonna be very big in my lifetime,” Eric assured Toothpaste in his pre-audition interview, also detailing how he had devoted two years of arduous and solitary study to the business of being an American Idol. His speaking voice was deep, even, fairly rich — a surprise, then, when he began to sing in a lonely and terrified falsetto, a sound that could have been nurtured only in the wintriest spaces of the self. And what was he singing? “You see life through distorted eyes/You know you’ll have to learn . . . ” Unbelievable: “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”! Dressed in black, motionless as a ventriloquist, in a sort of eunuch-ized parody of the Oz wail, Eric Mueller was telling the truth about American Idol: the illusion, the death, the denial. “The execution of your mind/You really had to turn/The race is run, the book is read/The end begins to show/The truth is out, the lies are old/But you don’t want to know . . . ”

“That,” pronounced Cowell firmly, “is not serious.” But then — as a man well might who has only just discovered that he is attending the blackest of sabbaths — he looked worried. “Is it?” Oh indeed it is, Simon. Oh, most serious.

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