Idol gives back, and gives Ellen the spotlight

Ellen DeGeneres will host Idol Gives Back on Wednesday. The two-day event, which starts tonight, will raise money to combat extreme poverty in the U.S. and Africa. Tonight’s episode is a typical Idol competition, while Wednesday brings us a “star-studded extravaganza.” That’s where Ellen comes in. I predict she’ll have her dancing shoes on.

I love Idol, and I love Ellen. But you know what I don’t love? Charitable piano music. You know what I mean: that light tickle of the ivories that often plays during telethons and charity promos. The video on the Idol Gives Back website is a perfect example. Why, oh why? Has the lone, ambling piano been scientifically proven to inspire compassion? How about a rousing Idol-rific rendition of “We Are the World” instead? OK, maybe that would be too cheesy.

Speaking of cheesy, the theme for tonight’s episode of American Idol is “inspirational songs.” That could be bad. But really, just about any song could qualify as inspirational if Melinda Doolittle is singing it.

The superstars scheduled to appear on Wednesday include Keira Knightley, Pink, Gwen Stefani, Annie Lennox and Helena Bonham Carter. And the most surprising participant? Borat. I suspect Ellen is on the phone with Sacha Baron Cohen right now, perfecting the patter.

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