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Hello and welcome back to the American Idol results show. Last night on Idol, the contestants channeled their inner hillbilly with help from Kenny Rogers, a man so wrinkle free he could be a walking advertisement for a Sears ® steam iron. Simon was in a foul mood because he doesn’t appreciate country music, Paula “I’ve got This Drinking Thing” Abdul kept ducking under the table to get another hit, and Randy spent the evening in befuddled bewilderment, having dressed himself in the dark. Ryan looked like he’d rolled right out of bed and into the studio. But that was last night. Tonight’s show will be a million ba-jillion times better, so let’s get this party started!!! <--Gratuitous use of punctuation is sometimes required of a recapper in order to set the mood. Is it working?

Kenny Rogers Is A Nice Guy AND A Superstar
Almost thirty five million votes were cast last evening. Kenny Rogers coached the contestants with mixed results, and after a recap of the highs and lows – mostly the lows- Ryan introduces Kenny and asks him how they can make Simon a country music fan. Kenny says Simon just has to listen to more country music. Simon purses his lips and shakes his head, leaving Kenny to admonish him: “Don’t do that. I know you don’t like country music...” I don’t either. Simon replies “I like your songs.” Well okay then, that makes Kenny feel better. He talks about how great the idols are and how he enjoyed getting to spend time with them this week; he’ll be sad to see one of them go. “This is the night that breaks my heart” he says, and his thoughts and prayers are with them. Paris fidgets a bit but most of the idols smile sincerely at him and I get the feeling that they like Kenny more than the previous musical guests, probably because he’s so unpretentious.

Kenny’s going to be singing a song from his latest album Water and Bridges called I Can’t Unlove You. He’s a snazzy dresser with his blindingly-white tuxedo shirt but he holds the microphone too far away from his mouth and I have trouble making out some of the words. It’s an honest performance, I’m not a country music fan but I kind of liked it. The camera pans over to the idols sitting on the couch and at least they’re paying attention, except for Ryan. He’s talking to Taylor and making hand motions toward the stage. Taylor nods and mouths okay, then returns his focus to Kenny. When the song ends, Taylor follows instructions and is the first one off the couch to grab Kenny’s hand. All the contestants gather around and give hugs, and Travis Tritt beams from the audience. I read somewhere that Travis was supposed to be this week’s guest. Looks like he had to beg off, but he’s in the audience to lend moral support to Kenny. Those country folks really stick together, y’all.

I Can’t Believe I’m Recapping A Commercial
Tonight’s commercial features the old Ronstadt tune Just One Look. Kellie brings her old car to a mechanic shop. It’s a classic Ford - I have no idea what year or make it is, but it’s in bad shape. She drops the keys into mechanic Taylor’s hand and all the contestants gather round to work on the old car. The doors fall off and they pound it to a pulp amid much posing with tools. Chris looks especially natural growling into a pretend-microphone sledgehammer. Kellie returns to find her old car a wreck and cries until a new car is wheeled out for her, then everyone dances and sings. It’s a commercial, not high art.

Ryan cracks that Kellie thinks that’s how cars really get made and Kellie looks obligingly puzzled. Good girl, she wants to help out with her typecasting. Oh that’s right, it’s not an act. I don’t know which is worse, to act like you’re clueless or to actually be clueless.

Ohhh, I Wanna See That
Next week’s show theme is going to be music from Queen. There’s even a clip of the idols working with them this week, to the tune of We Will Rock You. Chris bellows and Taylor shows off his spazz moves. Ace looks like he’s about to cry as he waves his arms over his head. Somehow I can’t picture Ace as a member of Queen. Even Bucky is a better fit when he does a little head-banging for the camera. Katharine and Kellie do a few head rolls and everyone tries to show attitude. Roger Taylor and Brian May look, uh, elderly, but they seem to be having a good time. They’ll be live on stage next week. It’ll be interesting. Maybe by the season finale the producers can get Jimmy Page and Robert Plant back together. *tries to imagine Paris singing Stairway to Heaven, makes self nauseous instead *

Who’s In The Bottom Three Tonight?
Now it’s time to get down to the serious business of the show. Ryan says they’re going to be doing things a little differently tonight. Uh oh, I fear change. The nine remaining idols will be split into three groups of three and one of the groups will be tonight’s bottom three. Ryan will call out the contestant’s names and direct them toward the group they need to be in.

Taylor sang Take Me Home Country Roads. Ryan motions him to the near side of the stage.

Mandisa sang Any Man Of Mine. Mandisa is told to take the middle of the stage.

Elliott sang If Tomorrow Never Comes. Ryan tells him to join Mandisa center stage. Elliott bounces over to Mandisa and does a flirty little move, grabbing her arm and smiling at her. Wow, Elliott’s turning into a man-hottie right before my eyes. I like the goatee he’s got going on, and the longer hair looks good. Woot! Way to go Elliott!

Back to the show, Paris sang How Do I Live. Ryan tells her to join Mandisa and Elliott. She giggles as she takes her place beside them.

Ace sang Tonight I want to Cry. Prophetic words, and Ace looks like he’s going to as he takes the far side of the stage. He’s the first person in the last group, and he’s trying hard to believe that he’ll be okay tonight.

Kellie sang Fancy, and Ryan tells her to join Taylor. She smiles and does a little skip to Taylor, knowing she’s safe if she’s in his group.

Chris sang Making Memories With Us. He joins Taylor and Kellie.

That leaves Katharine and Bucky to look at each other. Only one group is left, and it includes Ace, who’s been in the bottom three the last several weeks. Katharine, who sang Bringing Out the Elvis and Bucky, who sang Best I Ever had, know what it’s like to be there, too. They join Ace downstage with all the enthusiasm of kindergarteners told they have to take a nap before recess.

Ryan paces back and forth between the groups and tries to whip up the studio audience. Could this be your bottom three? He lets Chris, Taylor and Kellie off the hook, which is no surprise at all because they are the group least likely to be in the bottom three. Chris shakes Kellie’s hand and gives a one armed hug to Taylor as they stroll back to the couches.

After an interminable commercial break we’re back with the remaining two groups. Ryan does his best to stretch out the drama as he reads off the judge’s comments.

First Group: Ace, you split the judges. Katharine, the judges thought you were bluesy, sexy and peculiar. Bucky, the judges thought you were in your element.

Second Group: Mandisa, Paula liked you but Simon thought the song was horrible. Elliott, the judges thought you were fresh but lacked confidence. Paris, the judges thought you had a tough time. Paris nods and mouths okay, as if this is good advice for future performances.

In a surprising announcement, Ryan declares Bucky, Katharine and Ace safe. They slither back to the couch after quickly exchanging hugs with the bottom three, and we’re on to another break.

When we return Ryan reminds us who’s in the bottom three. Um, yeah, like the commercial break was so long I forgot. Mandisa, Elliott and Paris have never been in the bottom three before, and they all look a little shocked. Ryan tells Paris it’s been a good run. She agrees, and says she wants to have more fun. She’ll get to, and Ryan tells her to take a seat. That leaves a tight-lipped Elliott to grab Mandisa’s hand. She looks like she’s about to swoon.

Ryan turns to Simon for his reaction: “You said Elliott has one of the best voices in the whole past five seasons, and you’re a fan of Mandisa’s as well. What do you make of these two?” Simon makes the horrible monkey-faced grimace where he sticks his bottom lip out and down. (is he being pouty or showing disapproval?) He says that no matter how good a singer they are they will always be tied to the songs they sing, so if you sing a sucky song you should expect to go home. He guesses that Elliott will be staying tonight. Elliiott nods, unsure if he can go sit down now or if he must wait for the official vote.

Leaving us tonight with the lowest number of votes is...Mandisa. The contestants sit open mouthed. Taylor raises his arms but stops in mid clap. Even Elliott’s family sits, as if they misheard. Elliott’s mic is on and I hear him tell Mandisa he loves her. That’s sweet. Finally, there is clapping, and Mandisa starts to cry. Ryan puts his arm around her and says they have loved having her on Idol. He’s so sincere, really. If I was Mandisa I’d pinch him surreptitiously so he could have tears in his eyes too.

Mandisa says her fans mean the world to her and the prayers they have lifted up for her will continue to have full force. Or something like that. She ends with a hearty “God Bless you in the name of Jesus.” Dang, I’m starting to get a little teary eyed myself.

We see her back story and she gets to sing her song in its entirety. I can think of several people I’d rather have seen go before Mandisa, but she’ll be okay. Paula jumps around trying to dance and Simon laughs at her, Randy claps and the idols gather around for the final notes. All’s well that ends well out there in TV land.

Next week’s song choices are going to be a hoot. Who’s going home and who’ll be singing William Hung’s version of We Are The Champions? Email me at Dinahann@fansofrealitytv.com