Now that the remaining contestants are more or less “qualified” technically, it’s time for the American Idol popularity contest to begin in earnest. While some may have had their conspiracy theories about Jessica Sanchez’s placement in the bottom last week, I think at the very least we know she was in the bottom three; and that kind of information tells us that the audience has different priorities than we may have thought—a suspicion that is further proven tonight.
We start off with the Top 7 doing “Dancing In The Street,” another lukewarm feel-good group number which became much more entertaining as soon as I started viewing it as a multi-sensory obstacle course for perpetual over-thinker Hollie Cavanagh. There was a guy spinning on his head for like seven minutes behind her, and when the balloons dropped my first thought was Focus, girl! They’re just balloons! Don’t let your neh-ves get the best of you! Next in the customary elimination-night humiliations, the Idols take a page out of the Spinal Tap book of rejected costume ideas and dress up as signs of the Zodiac for their Ford commercial. I should really be used to how bad these bits are by now, but I still can’t believe that, for one of the finalists every week, that’s one of the last things anyone sees them do on television.
Time for some results. Joshua is safe, Hollie is in the bottom. It’s pretty clear by now that last week will probably be Hollie’s last one on the couches—poor dear’s days are numbered. At least the presence of Taylor Hicks (Vegas, baby!) and Kris Allen (KRIISS ALLEEEEN!) in the Idoldome tonight puts a lot of this competition in perspective for the finalists—whether you agree its choices or not, America frequently be crazy.
After Kris (whoops, sorry—KRIISS ALLEEEEN!) performs his new song “Vision Of Love” from behind a gigantic shabby-chic upright piano, it’s time for more results. Skylar earns herself a place on the couches, while Elise is sent to the stools again. Being anything other than 100 percent positive and grateful kills you on this show, but I appreciate Elise’s candor every time Ryan asks her what it feels like to be constantly on the bubble—and to endure harsher critiques from the judges than many of her peers. “Maybe they think I can take it because I’m older,” she says with a defeated shrug. In all fairness, her “Let’s Get It On” was pretty damn painful last night, and at this point she may just need to put on a happy face and make sure she gets paired up with Phillip Phillips as frequently as possible. (That has happened quite a bit already; someone in production likes Elise, even if J. Lo doesn’t.)
Ryan presents a sweet little tribute to Dick Clark; and even if about two people in that audience of 13-year-old girls knows who he is (they can’t even Bing it ’cuz they left their phones with security), Ryan’s definitely earned the right to deliver a personal goodbye to his late mentor in front of 10 million people. He’s an easy punchline now, but recapping The X Factor and The Voice have, among other things, made me appreciate the value of a good host, and how key they are in helping us actually connect emotionally to a cultural fixture like Idol. Barring some major personality breakdown, I think Seacrest will be fondly remembered in his own way (especially if we’re somehow able to forget that anybody with the last name Kardashian ever existed).
I may have sustained permanent damage from the whiplash transition from that tribute to LMFAO’s performance—which was terrible, for sure, but also just what this show needed in a strange, disastrous way. After half the performance is bleeped out, and Jennifer and Steven look like they’re just barely tolerating these bellowing idiots desecrating the hallowed Idol stage, hopefully everyone was reminded that these guys have had two No. 1 hit singles, and that in addition to being crazy, America also be duuumb.
In our final dose of results, Jessica and Phillip are safe, and Colton finds himself in the bottom for the first time. Ryan takes Elise for a little stroll back to safety (“I’m going to have to ask you to sit down again… on the couches!”) and it’s down to Colton and Hollie. And just when our little forest sprite (Hollie, not Colton) is beginning to accept it’s the end of her Idol road… Colton is eliminated.
And that, friends, is the power of attitude on Idol. Since Colton had never landed in the bottom before, and it seemed like he had some of the most vocal fans in the competition, one can really only deduce that his “I don’t care” comment last night is what killed him. “Doing your own thing” will win you points when it’s about sticking to your highly successful Dave Matthew impersonation, but specifically rejecting advice alienates you from an audience that isn’t ready to see you do human things like lash out in the face of criticism.
Colton gets down on his knees and sings a Jesus song that Skylar and Joshua appear to know (the rest were either too overcome with emotion or are godless heathens). But right before his swan song he apologizes for his attitude, saying that he’ll take their advice when he makes a record. “You do that! You make a record! Many, many records!” J. Lo shouts, which I guess constitutes her first piece of advice. Take it to heart, Colton! You don’t wanna look like a bad sport!
- Seriously though, Taylor Hicks jumping the gun on Kris Allen’s intro and Ryan’s barely stifled eyeroll was one of the best moments of the season so far.
- I'm filling in again for Claire this week, and sizing up the competition for The Voice, my regular beat ’round these parts. The two shows are almost inverse images of things done right and wrong, so it’s definitely interesting to check in.
- I keep being surprised by how much I agree with Jimmy in his postgame analysis. Jessica definitely needs to pick some younger songs—she doesn’t have the gift that Joshua does of conveying maturity and understanding beyond his years on the heavier numbers. No matter how grown-up her voice is, she still looks like a baby on stage, and that disconnect could very well be hurting her.