Fifty-three million votes were cast last night for “American Idol,” and all of them, apparently, were for different people. Not in recent memory has the voting public been so fickle as this year, when newbies have been landing in the bottom three each week. Last week Jessica Sanchez just scraped by via the judges’ save, but tonight, without any safety left, the bottom three welcomed its regular pals Hollie Cavanagh and Elise Testone, and one new face: Colton Dixon. It was his first—and last—time.
The Necessary Evils
But let’s rewind, shall we? Now that duets have been eliminated (for now) during the competition episode, group sing is back in full force. The show began with the seven-member chorus doing Martha & the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street.” The best voice in the choir, however, appeared to have mic troubles—when Jessica opened her mouth, almost nothing came out.
Then Ryan Seacrest said something hokey about how the grand finale is already “written in the stars” as a lead-in to the Ford music video, in which the Idols dress up like tarot card renditions of the Zodiac signs. For a minute, it seemed like they kind of gave up on that whole “find the badges” thing, which was always too complicated to explain on the show anyway (you have to go to the “Idol” website to learn what to do), because it barely got a mention tonight.
Tonight’s two “professional” performances were helmed by Season 9 winner Kris Allen and LMFAO. Kris, who had the lucky fortune of being introduced by Taylor Hicks, sang some pseudo-inspirational anthemic pop song called “Vision of Love.” (By the way, Taylor is “doing Vegas” this summer, which, no matter how cheesy that sounds, has got to be more sophisticated than what his runner up Katharine McPhee is doing on “Smash.”)
LMFAO and a dancing zebra—hear that? That’s the sound of “Idol”s older demographic collectively hitting the mute button. For those who stuck with their parody on party rock parodies, I can tell you that it was muted anyway, at least at selected parts when they rapped some naughty words.
Dick Clark got an extended tribute tonight, with a narrated video by Ryan that kicked off with this: “Everybody needs a mentor, and mine, without a doubt, was Dick Clark.” We got some cool old footage of Clark on “American Bandstand,” welcoming everyone from Chubby Checker to Madonna, and the show was touted as the most important thing to happen to music television. “His spirit will live on forever,” Ryan closed, “especially in music.”
First up were Joshua Ledet and Hollie Cavanaugh. Jimmy Iovine said Joshua’s cleverness with song choices have him on the road to the finale. Hollie, he said, took a giant step forward this week but is still fodder for the bottom three. Before Ryan gave the result, Joshua explained that he almost didn’t fly to Hollywood because he suffers from extreme claustrophobia. Luckily, he won’t have to deal with that in the “Idol” porn palace—I mean mansion—since he was safe, thank goodness. Hollie took her usual stool in the bottom.
Next up were Elise and Skylar Laine. Jimmy said that “Let’s Get it On,” Elise’s soul choice, caused a baby boom when it first came out. “Last night was no baby boom.” He advised that she find harder rock songs like the Zeppelin one a few weeks back. Skylar, he said, gets better each week and is the “best performer we got.” Ryan asked Elise if the judges and Jimmy are harder on her than on the other performers, and she said yes, and it’s probably because she’s the oldest. Points for honesty there. Anyway, Elise was back in the bottom, and Skylar was safe.
Last came Phillip Phillips, Colton Dixon and Jessica. Jimmy said Phillip is picking the best songs, Jessica is singing songs that are too old for her, and Colton’s night last night was all wrong—particularly the outfit, which he described as a cross between Billy Idol on MTV in 1985 and “Spiderman” on Broadway. Ha! Jessica was the first sent to safety, and then Phillip and Colton, neither of whom have been in the bottom, got the bad news—Colton (minus his red streak) was headed there.
After a lot of annoying wordplay and fakeries, Ryan sent Elise to safety. And just after the commercial break, Hollie joined her. The news that Colton was going home sent shockwaves through the contestants. Hollie was a crying mess, no doubt because of the guilt she feels for snatching all those British votes and remaining in competition long after her expiration date. Phillip was doubled over, not looking at the camera, just staring at the floor, over the loss of the friend he shared so many intimate moments with last week when they stroked each other’s hair during a Pink song.
Colton went out singing his favorite prayer by the almighty Lifehouse, “Everything.” And he changed the lyrics just a bit, using the opportunity to clear up a misunderstanding between him and Stevie Nicks: he is not singing this song to a girl, he’s singing it to God. God is all he wants and all he needs, he sang. Do you think the producers will take that as a snub to Jimmy Iovine? Juries out on which guy’s more powerful.