Going into tonight’s elimination, I had a sinking feeling that there would, in fact, be no elimination, and we’d be left with 11 people headed for the Idol Tour. This would not be unprecedented; it happened last year when the judges decided not to send anyone home in the all-important Top 11 elimination show – but that would not make it any less irksome. And there was, after all, already an elimination this week with Jermaine Jones’ death by TMZ (which was very tacky and town-square-hanging, wasn’t it?) so the timing seemed all too convenient. Thankfully, though, the judges found it in their hearts to crush another contestant’s dreams tonight, so I can save my screaming at the TV for Movie Night, when Deandre Brackensick wrestles back his divine right to sing “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” on national television, lands in the bottom, and wins a judges’ save. You may laugh, but it scares me how plausible that situation is.
But first: Cue the dubstep - it’s time for Tommy Hilfiger to talk about fashion! Yes, Uncle Nigel, sensing that some kind of Fashion Police or Style Cop would be needed to prevent another Shannon Magrane junior prom moment, fired up Encarta, entered “Fashion” into search, and found Mr. Hilfiger mentioned in the “1989 – present” subheading, and promptly appointed him Garment Czar of American Idol Season 11. “I’m very excited and I hope I can make a difference,” Mr. Hilfiger said. Is he approaching this gig as some kind of perverse charity work?
Next up is the Ford commercial, which is about how the Top 11 drive a Ford Focus to a haunted house and are terrorized by the angry ghost of Jermaine Jones. Then Ryan taps the Notecards of Destiny against the crystal podium and it’s time to get eliminatin'.
The first group up is Phillip, Skylar, Elise and Joshua. Poor Elise – not much suspense there. As we look back on last night Jimmy is more or less in agreement with the judges – especially about Joshua’s awesome performance last night. There’s a lot of residual (and deserved) breathless praise for him, including a letter from Percy Sledge who rated Joshua’s performance “a 10 out of 10.” Good for him – I had been on the fence about Joshua and last night won me over, though I am concerned that he may be peaking too early in the competition.
Demi Lovato comes out wearing something black and possibly studded because her selling point in the tween-pop arena is her manic depression. She sings a song, and she’s very trained and expressive and Disney and I can’t wait to hear this in line at a Rite Aid, though I can’t promise I’ll recognize it.
Colton, Deandre, Shannon and Jessica are up next. Jimmy, bless him, responds to the judges flip-flopping on whether or not song choice is important (Apparently it matters for Deandre, but not for Colton.) “What kind of show is this!?” he shouts at Randy, and Nigel Lythgoe, and Fox, and America. He also points out that Jessica’s imperfect rhythm was due to her losing her breath when she screamed the high notes, which makes sense. He’s really killing it this season, and Real Talk with Jimmy Iovine is quickly becoming the best part of the otherwise completely dull and predictable results shows.
Colton, Jessica, and Deandre are safe. Ryan again takes the opportunity to play his new favorite game: emotionally torturing Colton until he inevitably cracks. The whole “That has cost you… being away from your family this summer!” bit was the groaniest yet.
Then former Idoler Chris Daughtry and his band (called Daughtry, I guess!) play a song. I didn’t watch his season, so I have no particular feelings about him. I understand he’s pretty popular, though I don’t know anyone who listens to his music. I also didn’t know that anyone other than Dave Grohl still made music that sounded like this. Whatever, I’ll wait for the David Guetta remix.
Last up are Heejun, Hollie and Erika. I was a bit scared for dear Heejun for a moment – though I don’t care for his song choices at all, this show gains a lot from his presence and his continued sly irreverence for Idol that manages to never feel bitter or nasty. He ends up making it through, along with Hollie, and Erika joins Elise and Shannon on the stools.
Now, conventional Idol wisdom would hold that two token geriatric (by which I mean mid-to-late twenties) blondes are two too many, and neither could be long for this world, but conventional wisdom also holds that if you whiff two nights in a row you should probably go home. Shannon is in the bottom, and is granted the opportunity to sing for her life, though you can tell Seacrest is all “you know, you don’t have to. We could just wrap this up early and show that haunted house video again with directors commentary or something.” See, Shannon is exactly the kind of singer you don’t want to see put in a situation where they must “sing for their lives,” because as Jimmy noted, the harder she pushes, the more notes she misses. It doesn’t seem like her heart’s in the song and she doesn’t look too surprised when she isn’t saved. But Shannon has never been terribly emotionally convincing – even as she watched her farewell reel it was with a vague, dazed, open-mouth smile, and a couple of slow, doll-like blinks. I am not worried about her or her future.