Though we avoided an elimination last week, tonight, it had to happen. We said goodbye to the one “American Idol” contestant who has been dancing with last place for what feels like months now: Amber Holcomb. Repeatedly scorned for wearing dark lipstick and having an amazing voice but just being an unlikable human, Amber constantly found herself in the bottom but always escaped elimination—until now.
And you know what that means? She doesn’t get the “Idol” hometown visit storyline, in which she rides past her house in a limo, returns to her high school and feels popular for the first time, and some small-town elected official gives her a key or a proclamation or something. In case you forgot about the hometown visit, Ryan Seacrest took EVERY opportunity to remind us of it.
The show opens with a group sing of “Crazy in Love” with a kind of frenetic big band beat and black and white geometric shapes somewhat reminiscent of a Baz Luhrmann version of the 1920s. And at the end? Confetti! This is innovation on “Idol.”
There’s a video about the “Idol” tour, featuring our Top 11. And it takes me a whole bunch of seconds before I see Aubrey Cleland’s face flash across my screen and remember that there is another person whom no one wanted to ever see again on television who will be joining everyone else on tour.
Then for the Fiesta mission, the girls have to design cars that represent pop/country and rock/soul. The final artistic interpretation is literally two cars that have the words “pop,” “country,” “rock” and “soul” on and then an abundance of CD-ROM clip art circa 1996. Again, “Idol” innovation at its finest. Candice Glover says she really likes the microphone clip art on the side of one car. But no one seems very enthusiastic about the offer to take these two hideous vehicles out for a drive.
In Jimmy Iovine’s recap of the night, he says Angie Miller squandered her chance to “shut the entire contest down” with two not great performances. Amber sounded karaoke on her contemporary song, but crushed “My Funny Valentine.” Bruno Mars should write a song for Candice’s album, and that she was “head and shoulders above the rest.” And Kree, he said, has not lived up to her full potential the last two weeks.
Ryan follows up Jimmy’s infinite wisdom by saying that Kree is “one of our favorite contestants on this show.” Wait, so one of the other girls is not? I didn’t know Ryan was allowed to say stuff like that.
Season 7’s winner, David Cook returns. His intro shows him singing “Eleanor Rigby,” a reminder of everything this season’s contestants struggle with, not finding an interesting way to make very old, very famous songs their own. He sings a single off his new album, and then, somehow, it’s all about Mariah Carey again, as ever. Apparently, she guest mentored during Season 7, AND David sang “Always Be My Baby,” which of course is a huge honor for her, as most things in this world happen in order to honor Mariah Carey.
The earlier black and white geometric backdrop returns for Will.i.am to sing “Bang Bang” from Baz Luhrmann’s “Great Gatsby,” which in this context makes sense. Now, it seems clear that in “Crazy in Love,” someone forgot to hit a button that would have made the backdrop be something else.
Then a gaggle of girls with braces stand there smiling longer than any one person should while Ryan tells us we can get a CD of music of the Top 10. They keep smiling, while inside, they’re wondering, What’s a CD?
Also from vaults of “Idol” history is Constantine Maroulis, who is currently starring in “Jekyll & Hyde” on Broadway. Constantine talks about how he gets to play two roles in the show, and its’ all thanks to “Idol.” In fact, he says, “Maybe I even played one of my best roles on ‘American Idol’ as ‘Constantine.’” Yes, he actually puts his own name in air quotes. It’s a revealing moment about what “Idol” fame really is. Air quotes.
Then, last night’s guest mentor Harry Connick, Jr., sings a song off his new album, and it’s slow and simple, and he sings every lyric in such a way that you actually listen to them. It’s something that really doesn’t fly on “Idol.” No judge would give that a great critique. Too bad, cause it’s amazing. Afterward, Ryan tells him he’s surprised Harry didn’t do any runs, and then asks if he and Randy Jackson made up from their disagreement the night before. Harry says they made up, went out to dinner, and even fell asleep together (watching a movie). “We didn’t do anything!” he tells Ryan, but it’s already too late. “That’s always the way it ends with Randy,” Ryan says, and Randy’s all “Ho ho ho! A passive aggressive gay joke about ME, Ryan?” Annnnnd it’s dumb.
Finally, results. In no particular order, safe are Angie and Candice. Then Kree. And Amber, looking gawgeous as ever (I say that in tribute to her being the one contestant to tackle Barbra Streisand this year), she reprises “I Believe in You and Me” with an earthy acceptance of the fact that, indeed, with two weeks of voting even, she is still the least likable.