With yet another dramatic montage, promising – “You won’t believe who is going home”, the top 11 elimination show from American Idol made it’s way on air. Usually, I would dismiss that kind of hype out of hand, but after last week’s save of Casey, I was a bit concerned heading in to the elimination show this week. Did America get the wake-up call last week? With over 55 million votes cast, it appeared that it had – but whom did everyone vote for? Cue the lights, roll the music – it was time to find out who made it to the top 9 this year.
- It was good to see Ryan’s hair back to normal.
- I liked the idea of having the contestants split up in to small groups and perform for the results show. For one, we weren’t subjected to another horrendous group number. Secondly, it gave us a chance to hear the contestants tackle another song this week – bonus music.
- The first pair to sing was Scotty and Lauren – singing “I Told You So.” Their voices meshed well, and Lauren again impressed me with her country chops. It would have been a tremendous performance, had they both not been so obviously self-conscious about singing the song together. It’s easy to forget they are both teenagers sometimes. This was not one of those times. Ryan called them both to the center of the stage and quickly informed them both they were safe.
- The Ford music video this week was Kryptonite. In the video – Naima, Casey, and Jacob played super heroes. Get it? The song was Kryptonite. Get it? Superman. Get it? It was every bit as crap-tacular as it sounds.
- James showed everyone the custom made, WWE Heavyweight belt he received in the mail, engraved with “Crazy James”. For James’ sake, I really hope the belt came from the WWE itself. If not – it feels like we might be talking “Misery” territory…
- Naima and Jacob were the next duet to hit the stage. They sang “Solid” by Ashford and Simpson. Was it just me, or did it seem that Jacob was singing Simpson’s parts, and Naima was playing the role of Ashford? I felt bad for Jacob – being saddled with Naima. They both turned in a dance performance worthy of the world’s best theme parks and then, mercifully, the song was over. One of them was safe, and the other was not. Ryan paused…and announced that Naima was in the bottom three. Good to see America got the first one right.
- After the break, season 3 winner Fantasia was up to promote her new single. I was reaching for the TiVo remote when Ryan threw out the title of the song – “Collard Greens and Cornbread”. I couldn’t help myself, I HAD to see what that was all about. It was a surprisingly good, in a throwback, 1930’s kind of way. Fantasia’s voice is still too cartoonish for my tastes, but I liked the song in spite of myself (it would have made a great Prince song, circa “The Symbol Album”.) I have to ask though – who decided that putting a Swiss Cake Roll on her head would be a good hair style choice? After the song, she went over to give the contestants some advice. It was at that point my finger finally found the fast forward button.
- Hailey, Thia, and Pia were up next, singing “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry. Putting Hailey and Thia alongside Pia was not doing them any favors. (Hailey – Louis Armstrong called and he wants his growl back.) I pointed out to my wife that Thia did not get a single solo line in the entire song. Curious. Would it mean that she was in the bottom three? Yes sir, it did. As much as I wanted to see Hailey go home – the judges simply praised her too much last night for America to put her in the bottom three. America got it right with Thia.
- Look – it’s Kris Allen and his wife.
- Our montage this week was a look behind the scenes at what a typical week is like for the contestants. Recording tracks at Interscope. A charity appearance in Arizona. Rubbing elbows with Reba McIntire, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, and Muhammad Ali. Filming a Ford music video. Fleeing a leaky mansion (so let me get this straight, people in California don’t know how to build mansions that keep rainwater out?). Lauren falling down the stairs, and then saying “that’s definitely going to be on TV” (and my kids yelling, “they should send that to America’s Funniest Home Videos”). Selecting songs for next week. A session with their stylists, and finally rehearsals for the live shows. Sounds like a fun week to me.
- The American Idol Contestant Band – Casey, James, Stefano, and Paul – were last to perform with their version of “Band on the Run”. I really wanted to like it. I really did – but it just wasn’t that good. It’s not a great, get up and cheer kind of song in the first place – until you hit the chorus. Once they made their way there, it showed a few signs of life. In hindsight, they should have just started there. I guess four good voices does not a band make.
- Ryan moved in to announce the final member of the bottom three. He sent Casey to safety first, telling him “if you knew how many votes you got, you would be very proud”. Interesting tidbit thrown out by Ryan there. James was sent to safety next, leaving only Paul and Stefano. Flashing back to the opening montage, I realized that this would have to be the surprise moment of the night – and I was right. Stefano was safe; Paul was in the bottom three. (At this point my daughter informed us all that she was hoping Paul would go home. Why? “He’s too hairy.”)
- The final musical number of the night was Jamie Foxx and wil.i.am “performing” their song “Hot Wings” from the movie “Rio”. My mom always told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” Good advice.
- When Ryan came back to reveal the two contestants going home, I had a very uncomfortable feeling that Paul was in trouble. I was convinced he was going home. It was the only result that would have been shocking. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. It was close America – but you got the bottom two correct this week.
So, we bid farewell to Thia and Naima. No more emotionally uninspired ballads from Thia. No more wild dancing and total disregard for pitch from Naima. Looking ahead to next week, if I were Stefano, I would be thankful for the reprieve, and on notice to bring my “A” game going forward. If I were Paul, I would drill in to a song next week and show America that folk/rock singer that wowed them with “Blackbird”. If I were Hailey – well, I still wouldn’t vote for myself.
The theme next week is reported to be “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”. Lots of fertile ground to play with there. I can’t wait to see what the contestants pull out of their hats for the show. Until then – Word Zombie out.
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