It's been a long night here in New Orleans, where the theme is live, raw, real passion. The Passion Live, narrated on Fox by Tyler Perry, is a live retelling of the Biblical narrative of Jesus's betrayal by Judas, his violent crucifixion, and his subsequent resurrection. We have a lot of people singing like they're vying for the grand prize on Season 1 of Jesus Christ's Funhouse of Horrors. But because there can only be one winner, allow me to take on the role of the singing competition's judges. Welcome to Jesus Idol. I promise not to call anyone "pitchy."
LAST PLACE: THE PEOPLE OF NEW ORLEANS
Hasn't New Orleans been through enough without its citizens being enlisted to carry a huge, glowing, white cross through the city? Some people spoke live on the show about how carrying the cross was very emotional for them, and perhaps it actually was healing, but the forced comparison of Jesus's resurrection to post-Katrina New Orleans (with a surprising absence of black people, the ones actually affected by Katrina — Tyler Perry must want white fans now) was as clunky as a True Blood metaphor about vampirism equaling homosexuality. Sorry, people of New Orleans, but the judges aren't feeling you tonight.
It was actually Judas who betrayed Jesus, not Peter, so why was he up there singing Hoobastank's "The Reason" on live television in 2016? What did Peter ever do to deserve this? Sure, he denies Jesus exists in the midst of the song, but maybe because no God would have anyone singing Hoobastank, save for the original band members who were the victims of an ancient curse that doomed them to wander the earth, singing horrific rock songs like an American La Llorona.
The judges were concerned that because you were wearing diamond earrings and a designer dress all night, you didn't really convey the role of Mary, mother of God. But thank you for bringing some taupe, milquetoast no-energy to Whitney Houston's "My Love Is Your Love," because most people like to butcher "I Will Always Love You," but why should that song have all the fun?
Did you sing "Bring Me to Life" on American Idol? The judges think that if you had, maybe you would've made it to the finals and beat Taylor Hicks. Though, to be fair, you were kicked out during Elvis Presley Week, so the smooth vocals of Evanescence actually wouldn't have saved you. But where were we? Oh, yeah -- as Judas, you sang "Bring Me to Life" on a bridge, and that was pretty dope. It has nothing at all to do with betraying Christ, but if songs about love are vague enough to pretend they're about Jesus for Sister Act, then dammit, they work for The Passion Live, too.
You are very gorgeous and hilarious and wonderful on NBC's Telenovela opposite Eva Longoria. But it's nice to show that you have the versatility to play Jesus as someone who wanders around New Orleans wearing the Gap's fall line. Singing Creed was a really fucking awful choice and you should've been kicked out of the competition for that alone, but you were already going to be nailed to a cross and killed, so the judges let you hang around. You should have sung "Unconditionally," by Katy Perry, because all of her songs are vaguely about Jesus anyway. But also, you didn't actually get crucified anyway.
This rendering of Pontius Pilate is confusing — are you a businessman? A liberal who hates the conservative message of Jesus? Why would you be in a position to arrest Jesus? Why would you put him in an orange jumpsuit? The connotations are that the police would kill someone like Jesus in modern times, but aren't we supposed to love the police? Your duet with Jesus, "We Don't Need Another Hero," was fine, but the judges don't really think you two have a duet album in store for us. This is no Lady Gaga–and–Tony Bennett situation, if you get what they're saying. But your rendition of Tears for Fears's "Mad World" was really quite illuminating. It's almost as if you're a professional singer, Seal.
RUNNER-UP: TYLER PERRY
If you thought this whole night was about Jesus, you were very wrong. This night was about Tyler Perry, and he had a great night, with everything focused squarely on him. Why see the crucifixion when Tyler can describe it in grindhouse detail? Why see the resurrection when Tyler can just tell you what happened? Every bit of action, every character motivation, all of it is explained to the audience by Tyler. He was the true star of the show. Bravo, sir.
Even if it was bad, how wonderful that the story of Jesus was told on national television for the heathens. I think even Jesus would rather listen to "Drip Drop" on Empire than go to church.
This post has been updated to more accurately reflect Tyler Perry's involvement in the production; he narrated but did not have a role in creating the show.