Thirteen finalists have crooned their way through some of Michael Jackson's catalog on show night. Now it's time to dispatch a couple of them back into the ranks of talented (or not-so-talented) unsolicited-demo-waving faceless multitudes. In addition, a new rule is about to be unveiled which, according to an overly dramatic Seacrest, will change the course of the competition. Dun, dun, dun!
Seacrest, sporting a studied and well-groomed five o'clock shadow and dressed in his best imitation Rat Packer uniform, intones with great feeling that 33 million people bothered to vote this week which is, amazingly enough, “a record for this stage of the competition”. Of course that's like saying that an average of 7.3% of all people are drinking coffee at 3:35PM in the afternoon and that's a record number for that particular time of day. Ah, AI, you great practitioner of sly overstatement, you never disappoint!
In other news, Kanye West is here, Kelly Clarkson is here and they are both going to sing live. The judges are introduced and they receive the customary rounds of applause, cheers and, in Simon's case, even some hypocritical loud booing from Randy. Stay classy, dawg! We also learn what the not-so-secret twist is when the images of Tamyra Gray, Michael Johns, Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry are flashed on the big screen, contestants who all fell victims to either voter stupidity or voter overconfidence, hard to say which. The twist is that the judges will have the ability to save one person per season. There are some rules such as they all have to agree on it and that the week after the save two people will be eliminated. It's also a one time deal that's good only up to the final five. I'm not sure whether this rule would have saved either Daughtry or Gray seeing as how they both got eliminated at final four, but whatever.
Simon insists that this is not about countermanding America's wishes, it's more about saving somebody the judges think deserves another shot after America voted for them to leave. Of course, whatever your say Simon. I'm going to be calling this rule the America, We're Just Correcting Your Giant Screwup Rule or maybe the Michael Johns Rule. I think either will do.
You live in a mansion.
I forgot that at this stage in the competition is when our crooners are finally presented with the ultimate motivation for singing well: the Finalists' Mansion. Seacrest knows that after seeing the manicured gardens, the pool, the two lane bowling alley, the private screening room, the indoor basketball court, the fancy bathrooms and such, none of them will dare sing off-key ever again lest they miss out on the free luxury housing.
I'm not sure whether it was the sight of their gargantuan swimming pool or what, but our bakers' dozen launches into a halfway decent Michael Jackson Medley group sing. Subliminal messages abound: Lil and Alexis sing together, as do Sarver and Gokey while Adam Lambert and Timberlake wannabe Matt Giraud are conveniently positioned close to the cameras. They all move around, of course, but certain people always seem to be more prominently featured; Gokey even does a solo booty dance which is about as sexy as a root canal and Alexis ends up dead center as they end the song. Lots to infer from this little setup about who AI wants people to focus on.
But drive a Ford.
After a hefty recap of Tuesday's singing action, and about 15 minutes into this night's show, Seacrest is finally ready to do his job. Well, almost. First comes some rehearsed banter with Sarver during which he conveniently mentions that the group managed to do their very first Ford commercial in their free time. Said commercial consists of nifty images of the contestants projected onto, what looks like, the LA skyline, the streets and a Ford Fusion, all set to Queen's We will rock you. Incidentally, you can win a limited edition American Idol Ford Fusion by entering a contest on the website, although why you'd want to is beyond me. Next.
In relatively quick succession Michael Sarver and Allison Iraheta are declared safe. Next comes cute 16 year old Jasmine Murray who is sent to stand at the center of the stage. Matt Giraud heads out for center stage before Seacrest tells him not to jump the gun because he is safe. Also safe is Kris Allen, which is not that much of a surprise. Meghan Corkery, wearing a necklace of colorful Easter eggs around her neck and who sang Rockin' Robin with a straight face – get it? Rockin' Robbin, robin... egg *groan* - ends up center stage next to Jasmine. Meghan with the Easter eggs is quickly safe, therefore Jasmine is out the door unless the judges save her. Jasmine gets to sing I'll be there yet again, ostensibly to make it easier for the judges to make a decision, but it's really because there are a full 39 minutes of show time left to fill and because the loser always gets to sing one last time.
Can't say she did better than on show night. Her performance is about the same with lots of smiles and loads of earnest cuteness. Seacrest asks for a verdict and Randy delivers it saying that they won't be saving cute Jasmine, sorry. She starts to cry even before her montage is played and Seacrest consoles her sweetly. Who knew there was a human heart beating underneath his teleprompter-reading metrosexual facade?
The radio is on Easy (Non-Threatening) Listening for Clean Cut Upwardly Mobile Urbanites.
We're now 29 minutes into show time. I could fast forward through the rest and just give you the highlights but then you'll miss me telling you about Kanye West's, er, performance. If you could call it that. The huge screen, glowing a golden yellow, splits in two and there he is, Kanye West in all his backlit glory materializing like one of the aliens from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The alien slowly emerges and he's dressed in head to toe denim except for the inexplicable presence of a navy blue hand towel artfully dangling from his back right pocket. I wonder whether it's a designer towel or just a plain one from Target. I think that's an important detail. The song is called Heartless and it's got imaginative lyrics about homies and, I guess, heartless people. Kanye is scampering about the stage with mic in hand, although I'm pretty sure he's just lipsynching, then he jumps on the judges' table to more properly interact with his adoring fans. His jeans are nearly falling off his ass which is so 1998 it's not even funny. He's also wearing more gold bling than an 85 year old wealthy Florida retirement home resident, black gloves and sunglasses. Oh, and his underwear is dark gray. Just thought you'd want to know.
His band is somewhat more interesting. One of his background singers is wearing what appears to be black cardboard football player's shoulder pads on steroids while his keyboard players – all four of them, hee! - the drummer and the guitarist all have full face plastic visors on. To protect them from deadly Earth radiation perhaps? After heartlessly
lipsynchingsinging his entire song, he is finally off the stage and we're off to another commercial break.
A gentle breeze is blowing. There are no surprises.
Seacrest comes back soon and quickly tells Scott MacIntyre that he's safe. Alexis and Gokey are also safe and both act as if they're surprised by this. Anoop is given his summary but then he is dispatched to the center of the stage. Adam Lambert is next. He is declared safe amid loud audience cheers and hollers. What a shocker there. Yeah. Jorge is kept standing by the couch while Seacrest tries to ratchet up the surprise level by giving Lil her verdict. Gee, what's it going to be? Drumroll please! You get an empty can of Coke if you guessed that Lil is safe and Jorge is sent to stand next to Anoop.
Who will be eliminated? Will he be saved by the judges? I can tell you right now that there's no earthly way they'll use that save on anyone else besides Gokey or Lambert if America should ever attempt to get rid of either one of them, but I'll leave you in a bit of suspense, just like AI does, because Kelly Clarkson is here to sing.
Someone really good sings a new song. You want to be just like them.
My all-time favorite Idol finally makes it back to the AI stage! She is part of AI's new campaign of bringing back a former Idol every week. Hell. This means that the white haired guy will be back – keep forgetting his name – and probably Underwood too, not to mention Fantasia. Groan.
Kelly is looking healthy but, damn, perhaps she's been hitting the Rocky Road a bit too hard or maybe it's all those sequins on her jacket. Her song is My life would suck without you and, no, it's not a hymn of thanks dedicated to AI but a song about relationships. I'm not ready to put it on my iPod but it's catchy and she's singing it live – no lipsynching here! - with an actual band behind her, so that's always a plus. Besides, her voice is what it's all about, the rest is just garnish.
Whew! You're going to drive that Ford back to your mansion. Next!
Now that they've been reminded of the kind of stuff that AI can do for them, provided that they're not eliminated, Anoop and Jorge must be shaking in their boots even more. Anoop is safe and Jorge, who is shorter than Seacrest, a fact that I haven't noticed before, looks like he might just loose his lunch. He is allowed to sing the ironic Never can say goodbye while the judges pretend to deliberate whether to keep him or not. It comes out weak and shaky except for the screamier parts, probably because Jorge can see that door to fame closing behind him with alarming speed. Paula, always ready to do a good deed, dances graciously at her seat while the others whisper around her. They're probably exchanging cocktail recipes or making plans to go out for a beer after the show, because I doubt they're really deciding poor Jorge's fate on the spot. Seacrest finally aks them and Simon offers up a simple and short “no” that is not a shocker except in the near cruelty of it's briefness.
Jorge gets to contemplate his journey while Underwood's unlikely cover of Mottley Crue's Home sweet home plays in the background – this year's good-bye song apparently. Thus we're down to 11 people. What songs will be butchered next week? Will anybody be saved? Will Gokey ever get contact lenses and stop looking like the spokesperson for Stupids 'R Us, Sarah Palin's, long lost cousin? The answer to this and all your other burning questions will be delivered by either me or the fabulously talented MotherSister so come back for the all the fun.