Every once in a while, America’s Next Top Model is so batshit, I have very little to say about it. What can I add to an episode in which the contestants were forced to make “viral” videos? (I put “viral” in quotes, because they didn’t actually make viral videos. Relatedly, Tyra Banks doesn’t know what “viral” means.) The entire conceit was absurd, and I love how this was presented as a reasonable challenge and not something insane Tyra cooked up while smoking the finest “pot ledom.”
“How else can you take your celebrity up a notch than going viral?” Jay Manuel asked. I’m pretty sure that was rhetorical, but sex tape, obviously. He then namechecked such viral sensations as Rebecca Black and Justin Bieber, suggesting that the models could one day join their ranks. And yes, I do think each and every one of these ladies could eventually become just as forgettable as Rebecca Black or even that guy who sang “Chocolate Rain.” But before they became YouTube stars, the contestants were asked to co-write and record their own songs.
Allison spent a lot of time freaking out over her inability to sing, which is a completely legitimate concern. I’m baffled by the assumption that all of the models would be able to sing—though I suppose in an age of Auto-tune, anyone can sound halfway not terrible. I’m really more surprised that the contestants were asked to write their own songs: not even Rebecca Black was tasked with that challenge. Allison continued to stress about her song and ended up writing a touching ode to her recently departed father. Because hey, nothing says viral like a dead parent.
When the contestants arrived at the studio to record their songs, they were informed that they’d have to incorporate the phrase “pot ledom,” which is “top model” backwards. I have no explanation for this, except perhaps that Tyra is a gnikcuf citanul. I also loved when CBS Records’ Tom Polce reminded the models, “You gotta make it fun … It’s all about fun.” Cut to Allison, who had to incorporate a funky hook into her dirge. Rest in peace, Dad. You were always a pot ledom in my heart.[tagbox tag="Tyra Banks"]
Somehow Allison managed to make it work. (She’s literally an alien, is the only explanation I can come up with.) Lisa, who won the songwriting challenge, killed it, and most of the other models did serviceable jobs. I say “serviceable,” because none of these women are professionals, and it showed. While I admired their enthusiasm, I was eager for the worst of the bunch (including my girlcrush Laura) to get Auto-tuned into comfortable mediocrity. And yes, I thought it was cute when Alexandria said, “I feel like I could be a recording artist.” But cute in that deluded, vaguely annoying sort of way. Let’s not shit ourselves.
The music videos upped the absurdity: back-up lipsynch vocals (yeah, I don’t know) were provided by Tyra and internet sensation Keenan Cahill. I’ll be kind to Keenan, because he’s a 16-year-old kid, but he’s famous for lipsynching and he’s not even very good at that. (See, I was nice. I could just as easily have said he’s a godawful talentless mess.) Tyra and Keenan didn’t ruin all of the videos, if only because the majority of them were irredeemably awful to begin with, but they were a frustrating distraction. I sympathize, though: Tyra and Keenan definitely needed the exposure.
I realize I haven’t said much about the songs, but they were mostly too generic to merit discussion. Almost all of the contestants chose to write about the competition, the challenges they’ve faced, and how they’ll ultimately emerge victorious—in other words, the same crap they spout every week but this time set to shitty pop beats. Shout outs to Laura for her charmingly inane “Southern Sweet Girl” and to Lisa for the legit fun “I Be Like Whoa.” No, Lisa, I be like whoa. Your song was somehow enjoyable.
In the end, Alexandria’s flat video didn’t cut it. Angelea foretold this chain of events when she noted, “There’s a line in her song that says, “Go, go, go.’ No, no, no.” And while I didn’t think Alexandria’s song was any worse than Shannon’s “World Go Round” or Dominique’s “Tooch Ya Booty,” I was glad to see her go. For a contestant whose main draw was her bullying behavior, Alexandria spent too much of this cycle flying under the radar. Sorry, girl, but if you want to be a household name, you can’t be afraid to make your voice heard. Every pot ledom knows that.