Apologies if this recap of tonight’s ‘American Idol‘ elimination episode seems a bit off; the performance by Diddy — sorry, I mean Diddy Dirty Money, the Frankensteinian group where the hip-hop mogul gloms two singers (including a member of his former girl-group project Danity Kane) onto his brand and produces an album about trains that is met with equal parts indifference and corporate stalling — threw me for a loop, thanks to the super-intense strobe lights used in its climax. (You can watch it for yourself, if you dare.) No warning flashed upon the screen before the performance could prepare your everyday viewer for how absolutely vertigo-inducing the strobes were. My brain is still a little hollowed-out by the whole thing.
At least mild vertigo is a somewhat appropriate reaction to tonight’s ‘Idol,’ even if you discount the strobe-light bits. What was happening? The still-competing Tim Urban looked like he was at a particularly mortifying family event whenever the camera wasn’t directly on him; Michael Lynche was called out by Ryan twice, once in the wake of Ruben Studdard’s performance (because, you know, they’re both big guys!) and once when Ryan faked out his being in the bottom three; Michael subsequently retaliated by picking Ryan up and flipping him around like a particularly delicate rag doll; Usher, who has such a great voice when he uses it, threw down a limp club track that showcased his breathing more than anything else; Kara DioGuardi hooted through Katie Stevens’ long walk to the Bottom Three Chairs Of Doom; and then there was that Ford music video, which was set to Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting” and which you can probably figure out the plot of just by thinking about the words “Ford music video” and “Kung Fu Fighting.”
Speaking of fighting, something sure was hanging in the air between Ryan and Simon Cowell. I counted three moments where the two nearly came to blows, including one awkward moment where Ryan was leaning over the desk, trying to get into Cowell’s face in a manner not unlike the way Robert Goren tries to psyche people out on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Is the tension of watching one of his 74 jobs spin out of control starting to get to Ryan? Are these two going to have a throwdown during Simon’s season-finale farewell?
Finally, in the one part of the show that actually moves the season-long narrative forward, Didi Benami, who resisted Ryan’s goading into revealing the story behind her decision to sing “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted” last night, unsurprisingly received the lowest number of votes. (Scuttlebutt among ‘Idol’ fans claimed that she got so emotional because she considered the song a tribute to her friend Rebecca Joy Lear, who passed away in a car accident in 2005.) In an effort to earn the judges’ mercy she gamely reprised Fleetwood Mac’s “Rihannon,” but the panel passed on saving her after just enough heated discussion to force the show to run over its time limit. Yes, that’s right; an elimination episode went into overtime. And here I thought last night’s episode had an egregious filler quotient that couldn’t be topped!
Next Week: The top nine take a crack at the Lennon/McCartney songbook. (Get it?) Also, mop-topped Canadian heartthrob Justin Bieber will appear on Wednesday night’s elimination show, which I have a feeling is going to have an unintended consequence of keeping the always-smiling, still-survivng Tim around for yet another week.
(Note also that in a year where the judges were banging on over and over again about how a female contestant was going to emerge victorious, 67% of the remaining contestant pool is male. Yes, Crystal Bowersox is still firmly in the front-runner spot… but will the male dominance of previous years hold as the contestant pool dwindles?)
Watch a recap of last night’s episode below: