And lo, we journeyed to the shadow of the crevasse, where neither man nor moonbeam had yet touched surface, where the valley had not yet echoed with a strained rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Hero.” We stood in the spot the legend had foretold, and we pulled away the weeds and swept the soot, and there we found the stone lying in wait. Etched on its surface were the Four Faces of the Eternal—Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Harry Connick Jr., and Ryan Seacrest—whom neither time nor wind nor diminished audience could erase, affixed as ever for a 14th season upon the rock which so many hopefuls smash against, wave after wave of waiters who long to someday be third-billed in a Broadway matinee. And looking upon the graven stone, we knew that this…. is American Idol, and that it shall always be so, at least until Jennifer Lopez’s inevitable demand for a crazy huge raise or the show slips to fifth or below in the ratings, and Fox finally admits that it’s run its course.

Our quest thus completed, we set off into the veil of the dawgwoods, where superstition holds you can sometimes hear the howl of Randy Jackson.