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''American Idol'': The first elimination

On the first elimination night of the season-6 finals of ”American Idol,” the voters rightly shun Sanjaya and Brandon, but what is Phil doing down there?

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American Idol

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

”American Idol”: The first elimination

You’ve got to be kidding me, America! And no, I’m not outraged that you kept inept Sanjaya Malakar in the American Idol season-6 finals at the expense of underwhelming Brandon Rogers. I’m buggin’ because you unjustly put Phil Stacey, who on Tuesday gave a pretty darn good (or at least halfway decent) rendition of ”I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” in the bottom three. Yes, the man is follicly challenged. And yes, his midperformance facial expressions sometimes make me worry that he’s thisclose to pouncing on adorable Jordin Sparks, attaching himself to her neck, and sucking the youthful lifeblood right out of her. But dude can sing. And he doesn’t forget his lyrics. With Haley Scarnato and Chris Richardson sitting safely on the bleachers, it broke my heart a little to watch Phil take the walk of shame to center stage this early in the competition.

Speaking of Mr. Richardson, if you’ll allow me a quick rewind to last night, I feel it must be pointed out (since Simon, Paula, Randy, and I neglected to do so) that he botched the lyrics to ”The Boss” on two occasions; he sang the opening line as ”Fancy me, never thought I degree in love,” when it should have been ”Fancy me, thought I had my degree in love,” and later, he stretched the incorrect phrase ”didn’t confront” over 11 (yes, 11!) syllables when he seemingly forgot the line ”didn’t control whatever moved in my soul.” Unacceptable! Also, could someone please explain what was going on at the bottom of Haley’s midnight-blue minidress last night? Was that a little somethin’ from the Hefty Cinch Sak: Satin Collection?

Yeah, yeah, I know, I just totally went off on a tangent, but there was too much to pack into one column last night, and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to sleep tonight if I hadn’t gotten those thoughts off my chest. So thanks for listening.

Anyhow, back to the subject at hand. While Phil’s third-to-last finish was perplexing, this week’s bottom two was spot-on, and in my mind, it didn’t really matter which one was sent packing. A TV Watch reader named Mickey, who’s evidently a horse-racing fan, summed it up brilliantly on our message board when he wrote, ”Give me $2 on the entry of 1-Sanjaya and 1A-Brandon to leave tonight! Thanks!”

Ever since his lovely audition of ”You Were Always on My Mind,” folks (myself included) have been waiting and hoping for Brandon to give a performance that proved he belonged on a stage once ruled by Clarkson, Underwood, Barrino, and Daughtry, but for four consecutive weeks, the former backup singer has been the contest’s biggest disappointment — in terms of song choice, charisma, and ability to sing on key. In my mind, the fact that Brandon’s voice cracked and strained on ”You Can’t Hurry Love,” a song that’s pretty much the opposite of a vocal showcase, was just as unforgivable as his forgetting the lyrics.

And so it’s back to backup for Brandon — immediately! Indeed, thanks to the fact that guest vocal coach Diana Ross needed an extended (and fabulous) pose-and-bask intro before her peculiar performance of ”More Today Than Yesterday,” the telecast ran long, with not even a note or two of Brandon’s exit performance making it over the airwaves.

As cruel a fate as that may be for Brandon, it’s not as cruel as the fact that Sanjaya will be back again next week. Seriously, his unbearably whispery performances are turning this season of Idol into an extended game of chicken: Who’ll collapse into the emotional fetal position first? Poor overwhelmed Sanjaya or the uncomfortable viewing public? One thing to keep in mind next week, America, is that if Sanjaya makes it through one more round, he’ll score a spot on the season-6 Idol tour. Do with that information what you will.

And finally, we come to our reader comments of the week, an assortment of random (and highly amusing) observations about the week in Idol. Take it away, TV Watchers!

SW: ”Is it just me or does Haley Scarnato look like Linda Blair? It’s a little uncanny. Every time she sings I wait for her head to spin around. Which actually might liven her performance.”

Mozz: ”The men, I thought everyone of them was terrible. Especially Sligh. This was a singing competition, he sounded like a fracking asthma commercial. Even Beatbox Blake disappointed, and he may have been the best one. But Brandon is just terrible; I cannot ‘pronunciate’ how bad he truly is.”

KBIRD: ”LaKisha and Melinda are the only two real musicians in this group. Great voices, great timing and styling, always hit the notes, always convincing. Why does anyone resent them? Are we in a culture where we prefer mediocrity because it makes us feel better about ourselves?”

Mike: ”Did I miss something, or did LaKisha ask advice from Diana Ross about using a mic stand and then not take it? In my mind, if you get advice from Diana Ross, you freakin take it. Rude not to.”

And finally this, from Anonymous: ”Is it me, or was Simon’s T-shirt du jour obtained from a Jockey 3-pack?”

What do you think? Was Brandon or Sanjaya more deserving of elimination? What was more disturbing: the heinous ”Ford Music Video” or Phil’s placement in the bottom three? And how did you like Miss Ross ignoring Ryan’s ill-advised questions about who she thought would be going home? Also, if you’d like to take part in our new Idolatry webcast, e-mail your comments or questions about this week’s show (specifically your likes and dislikes) to idolatry@ew.com, along with your full name and a phone number where we can reach you between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. EDT on Mondays and Thursdays.

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