Lemon Pledge

I must like pain; that's the only way to account for most of my life choices. How else to explain my decision to check back into KCTS for several consecutive nights, despite my past whining about its standing as Prime Purveyor of the Middlebrow.

Let's just say its title remains unchallenged, and I've hurt myself again.

Now in the, oh, 75th week of its pledge drive, channel 9 has, I'm dismayed to report, suddenly found a new Pledge Whore, that much-sought-after broadcast pretty that it will proffer to unsuspecting viewers for the next several years. Fulfilling any one of the following qualifications can cement a performer as a Pledge Whore:

1. The performer is a prime example of the KCTS theory that singing only means hitting all the right notes (see also: bleating Britisher Charlotte Church, the Belgian fhrer Michael Jr.).

2. The performer is just aesthetically pleasing enough that he/she can follow a Lawrence Welk broadcast without bursting the blood vessels of the ancient subscribers who now apparently run KCTS (see also: Sarah Brightman).

3. The performer makes cuddly pledge host George Ray—whose body, as reported here earlier, has been subsumed by an alien pod with worse taste than Roger Ebert—go crinkly-eyed and reverently sentimental (see also: the Moody Blues).

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to inform you that Josh Groban fulfills not just one, but each and every category. His concert ran at least four times last week.

Groban is a 21-year-old with a very pleasant would-be operatic baritone. His white porcelain face and curly black hair are sort of cute in that passive way that pleases upright young women and sighing Oprah-devotees—he looks like the kind of nicely pressed young man working in Kenneth Cole who helps moneyed hairdressers pick out the perfect knit sweater.

His r鳵m頲eads like the contents of Velveeta: He was handpicked by kitsch pop producer David Foster (the composer behind the theme to St. Elmo's Fire) as an emergency replacement for Andrea Bocelli in a duet with Celine Dion on the Grammys; he began hawking his self-titled, double-platinum—ol' George plotzed over that—debut album by playing a crooning nerd who takes Calista Flockhart to his prom on Ally McBeal, a series that once threatened to outstrip The Love Boat for sliming guest stars; the song he sang on Ally was titled "You're Still You," a sentiment that would certainly have someone like Richard Marx green with envy, were it not for the fact that Groban actually sings one of Marx's lachrymose ballads in his concert. Let me further tell you that Groban's concert features a woman in a tight dress with a bare midriff stepping out at the top of a staircase to play "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" on the violin while Josh looks up at her and hits corresponding high notes, creasing his brow in a pained expression that resembles the one I had when the number started.

You have been warned. Feel my pain.


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