When Michael Bolton Attacks

Any of you fine folks happen to catch the new Fox show Celebrity Duets last night? Of course you didn't. Because you're not waiting oh-so-patiently for your DirecTV installation date while attempting to entertain yourself with the only three channels you can barely make out through the static of crappy rabbit-ear reception.

I don't want to be accused of overstating here, but I think it's perfectly reasonable to say that Celebrity Duets is the most horrific fucking abomination to ever appear on a television screen. I don't even know where to start with this piece of shit. Oh, wait, yes I do: Michael Fucking Bolton. Did you know Michael Bolton has a new album? Did you know that Michael Bolton's new album is -- are you sitting down for this? Do you have a stiff drink handy? Is there someone nearby you can slap right across the face? -- all covers of Frank Sinatra songs?

Let me just repeat that, in case it didn't quite sink in the first time: Michael Bolton is making an album of Frank Sinatra covers.

Michael Fucking Bolton.

That's right, the same Michael Bolton who once wooed the ladies with songs like "Take A Look at My Face," "Soul Provider," and "Time, Love and Tenderness." The same Michael Bolton whose name alone was enough to prop up an extended joke in Office Space ("I'll be honest, I am a Michael Bolton fan, I truly am. For my money, it doesn't get any better than when he sings 'When a Man Loves a Woman.'").

You see, for most schlock artists, it would be enough to completely desecrate the work of Otis Redding ("Sitting on the Dock of the Bay"), the Jackson 5 ("I'll Be There"), and Sam Cooke ("Bring It On Home to Me"). But not Michael Fucking Bolton. No, he's got to feed that Hubris Machine. Really the only way this could turn out well is if Ol' Blue Eyes himself rose from the dead, tossed back a couple of Scotches and kicked Michael Bolton square in the fucking nuts.

No such luck last night on Celebrity Duets. Instead, audiences were treated to Bolton and Lucy Lawless doing "Time, Love and Tenderness," then Bolton pairing with Lorraine McFly (Leah Thompson) to butcher Sinatra's "That's Life." Then everyone in the studio audience stuffed cotton balls into their ears to keep the blood from pooling in the aisles.

The strangest thing about the show was that they got some legitimate talents to show up -- most notably Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson. Also, Peter Frampton, which was just ... well, strange. I kept expecting him to break out the voice box thingy from Frampton Comes Alive, but no such luck. Randy Travis also made an appearance, which was kind of random, plus Michelle Williams of (apparently) Destiny's Child.

Oh, and James Ingram. I actually kinda have a soft spot for James Ingram, partly because of the last name, and partly because he really does have a good voice, even if his particular brand of super-smooth R&B lite is both schmaltzy and easy to confuse with the super-smooth R&B lite of several other similar singers. Last night he sang "Somewhere Out There," but with gymnast Carly Patterson in the Linda Ronstadt role. And I was transported back to my 7th grade cafetorium, where I stood leaning against a folded-up lunch table and wished I weren't such a wuss about asking girls to dance.

Incidentally, I think something is seriously wrong with Carly Patterson, because she managed to gain twenty pounds between her first performance last night and her second. We really need to get a team of doctors on this before she explodes.

And speaking of something wrong, Little Richard is completely insane. Which, actually, is the only reason to even consider tuning into this program. That and the promise of a guest appearance by Kenny Loggins.

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