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12 Artists Who Probably Won't Be Appearing on American Idol Any Time Soon (But Imagine If They Did)

It's watched by 24 million people a week and it provides some of the greatest guilty pleasure viewing material this side of The O.C. The cheesy musical numbers, the endless product placements, Paula Abdul's wardrobe, Ryan Seacrest's hair -- all make for some pretty entertaining viewing. What could make this cheesetastic prime time juggernaut any more entertaining? Well, how about performances by your favorite indie artists? Yes, this would change the context of the show completely, eliminating the cheese and replacing it with full-fledged awkwardness -- and, most likely, hilarity. With that in mind, we've listed a few artists whom we think have the most potential for Idol fame -- or perhaps infamy -- and speculated on how they'd do on the show...

The Decemberists' Colin Meloy
'Tis a pity. The Decemberists' verbosely Victorian frontman's gallant quest to conquer the highly sought-after title of American Idol comes to a dramatic and distressing end. He is amongst the final four contestants, battling it out for all the honor and glory that comes with the vestiges of victory. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse during sixties-themed week. Not realizing it's the nineteen sixties, Meloy opts to sing a Civil War-era folk song. He is immediately disqualified.

Antony and the Johnsons
Antony does surprisingly well after moving Paula Abdul to tears with his effeminate warble. There's only one problem: in the wake of last season's decision to split up male and female contestants during the season's early rounds, there is much debate as to where the androgynous singer belongs. He insists on performing with the girls' group. After vehement objection from the show's producers, he fails to get his way. This decision emphatically reinforces his sorrowful quest for gender-based acceptance. Perhaps, like the song says, "one day (he'll) grow up and be a beautiful woman," but alas, "for today (he) is a boy."

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O
"Ghastly, absolutely ghastly," proclaims Simon Cowell after a particularly torturous rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" -- but not before Karen has the opportunity to spew Coca-Cola, the AI beverage sponsor of choice, all over him in her trademark rage. After this little spat, Abdul apologizes for Cowell's harsh comments and then enviously asks O where she got her leopard-printed unitard.

Animal Collective
Not surprisingly, everyone's favorite freak-folk collective doesn't make it past the initial audition round, where they attempt to sing "Leaf House" a capella. Once Avey Tare and Panda Bear start meowing through the chorus, their joyous tribal chanting is abruptly put to a halt. Judge Randy Jackson claims "to not feel the performance at all", and then erupts into a hysterical fit of laughter, just before erroneously labeling Tare and Bear a couple of "Dawgs". Was he not listening? Kitties meow, not dogs. But they do not argue. Without humiliation or regret, they scamper off stage left.

Joanna Newsom
The judges glance at each other wearily as Newsom lugs a four foot harp onto the audition stage. She plucks a hypnotic melody and begins to sing -- or rather, squawk -- something about bean sprouts or balloons or whatever else it is that pixie-like harp players squawk about. The reaction is harsh but expected. She graciously accepts their misguided opinions and soon capitalizes on her newfound exposure. A duet with William Hung is in the works.

Tom Waits
Well over the 28 year old age limit, he sneaks his way into the competition by claiming to be a sword-swallowing teenage circus runaway suffering from progeria. He does a rousing, gravelly rendition of "I Believe I Can Fly", which is surprisingly inspirational and wins the judges' pity vote. However, he fares much worse in the later themed rounds. Disco week is particularly rough; he opts to reimagine KC and the Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight" as a spoken-word dirge, transforming it from feel-good anthem to a sardonically melancholy reminder of how deep human pain and suffering can be. This doesn't go over too well with the crowd and Waits gets the ax, missing out on the following week's showtune-themed episode.

Conor Oberst
The open call auditions land in Omaha and the earnest Oberst takes full advantage of this opportunity. He uses the airtime to spout his liberal politics, lament his troubled relationships and pout in front of the camera. This doesn't go over too well with the male judges. Paula, however, is completely wooed by his warbling quiver, glistening doe eyes and perfectly coiffed hair.

The Fiery Furnaces
The Friedberger siblings rock Idol with a hyperactive medley of showtunes. Eleanor and Matt ambitiously combine such Broadway faves as "Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)", "The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow" and "76 Trombones" in an idiosyncratic nine minute epic, complete with wah-wah pedal accompaniment. Deemed too theatrical and amateurish, they fail to make the final cut -- much to the dismay of their 80 year old church choir director grandmother, who insists that her grandchildren are among the most talented in the family.

Following his comeback album You Are The Quarry, the Pope of Mope continues to milk his resurgence in popularity by appearing as a guest judge on the program. He proves to be much harsher than renowned meanie Simon Cowell, providing such uncalled for criticism as "You are a flatulent pain the arse." It might sound cruel, but let's face it -- to the Moz, those insufferable hams just haven't earned it yet, baby.

Ben Gibbard
In a cross-promotional twist with The O.C., the FOX network actually commissions Gibbard's appearance on the Idol stage. The nasal purveyor of all things emo sings a couple of new Death Cab tunes, all of which happen to promote the upcoming plot twists on everyone's favorite neo-90210 guilty pleasure. The judges sit patiently through all of Gibbard's teen drama teases -- the drugs, the sex, the lesbian hook-ups -- all the pangs of teenage awkwardness. We feel their pain.

Mike Skinner
In an attempt to win back that missing grand in the form of a million dollar recording contract, Skinner drunkenly stumbles into the Idol auditions. When asked to perform, he raps clunkily about his unreturned DVD, long lines at the cash machine, missing tea with his mum and other seemingly mundane British things. The baffled judges dismiss his erratic performance, leading an angry, broke Skinner to call fellow Brit Simon a "crock of shit".

Jeff Mangum
The reclusive Mangum decides to make a comeback in the biggest way possible: he launches a quest to rid top 40 radio of its insipid garbage by winning Idol and infiltrating the pop charts. By performing the entirety of his Anne Frank-inspired masterpiece In the Aeroplane Over The Sea, he wins the hearts of Americans nationwide. His infamous "I love you Jesus Christ" line clenches his victory in red-state America; he reminds the country of the importance and power of universal love, endless life and unconditional redemption.

-- Jessica Gentile

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