”American Idol” recap: Did your favorites go?
A few things we learned from tonight’s episode of American Idol: Wearing a black bandanna to the Thursday-night results show is bad luck. There’s no way to avoid looking awkward in the ”family mourning area” of Idol‘s red room. It’s not too early in the season to feel your heart break (just a little) for a contestant you didn’t even know you cared about. And, last, Asia’h Epperson subscribes to the philosophy that even when you’ve been delivered an unexpected emotional kidney punch, you do not pass up an opportunity to grab the microphone and sing for 30 million viewers.
Let’s focus on those last two points for a moment, since both were connected to the elimination of Alaina Whitaker, the perky teenager who Simon Cowell had described as a potential season 7 dark horse only 24 hours earlier. When Ryan brought Alaina and fellow contestant Kady Malloy to center stage and informed them that one of them was the week’s lowest female vote getter while the other was among the bottom three, I got a sinking feeling Alaina was in for a surprise, and not the good kind.
You see, at the end of Wednesday night’s episode, I had pegged Kady as a possible goner, based on her excruciating rendition of ”Magic Man.” But Thursday afternoon, my colleague Dawnie Walton (who’ll be this week’s Idolatry co-host; e-mail us with your phone number and your take on this week in Idol at Idolatry@ew.com if you want to be our call-in guest) dropped by my office to insist that Alaina was the likeliest blond contestant to go home, because her ”Hopelessly Devoted to You” was hopelessly forgettable. Sure enough, after reading 47 pages of TV Watch message-board comments (oh, yes, I did!), I found that mentions of Alaina were few and far between — never a good sign.
Of course, that didn’t make it any less painful to watch a shell-shocked Alaina turn into Crying Girl Part Deux after Ryan announced her elimination. But then, moments after Alaina declared that there was no way she could go on with her exit performance, her fellow contestants rallied around her and urged her forward, with Asia’h muttering something about the possibility of ”a record producer” tuning in, and Carly and Amanda sweetly offering backup-vocal support. And while I’m still not quite sure why Ryan was offering his ”congratulations” (on being the lowest vote getter?), I’ll admit the whole scene was pretty touching.
By comparison, the ouster of Alexandréa Lushington (and her black-and-white peace-symbol bandanna) was far less emotional, unless, of course, you were David Archuleta (who took Alexandréa’s exit as if he’d just found out the fate of Bambi’s mother) or you shared my feeling that the abrasive teenager was one of the season’s more interesting vocalists.
I know, I know, I’m in the minority on that one. A reader named Cara said she found Miss Lushington’s voice so ”tiny and blah” that she began reading her latest issue of EW the second her cover of ”If You Leave Me Now” got under way. And even Alexandréa’s fans had begun to abandon her. ”I’m not sure what happened this week,” wrote JohnnyD. ”Someone sucked away the confidence of last week’s ‘Spinning Wheel.’ Alexandréa’s ability to jazz up a melody creates TECHNICOLOR, but last night it appeared she accepted the fact that it was her last song.”
(Side note: I leave it to you guys to discuss the fact that Amanda Overmyer dodged a bullet after her unspeakably gruesome treatment of Kansas’ ”Carry On Wayward Son” on Wednesday. Viva la Rock & Roll Nurse!)
NEXT: The right guys go
The other contestant this week who seemed pretty much resigned to an unhappy fate was Jason Yeager, who ended his performance of ”Long Train Runnin’ ” on Tuesday with his head down and arms stretched outward, almost as if he were expecting to be crucified by Randy and Simon and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. A reader named Motown said that the male judges’ ”personal insults to the underdog performers” like Jason were so over-the-top the last two weeks that they’ve been ruining his enjoyment of the show.
On the flip side, a reader named Nan held the Yeagermeister himself accountable for marring Tuesday night’s festivities. ”Jason Y. reminds me of an out-of-work Vegas lounge singer,” she wrote. ”His demeanor, his grin, his creepy staring straight at the camera…it all has got to go. I see him, and I see white patent-leather shoes and a gaudy plaid polyester suit, paired with gold chains and a faux Rolex. He’s the epitome of ‘when lounge goes bad.’ Seriously.”
The hilariously named Asia’hhhhhhhhhhhhh agreed: ”Jason Y. suffered from the same problem Colton did last week, singing a song like Long Train Runnin’ with a big ole grin on his face. Read the lyrics! Passion, people!!”
Jason wasn’t alone, however, in his ability to stir up rancor among EW.com readers. This week’s second man to get expelled from the semifinals, ”Rocker” Robbie Carrico (who also sported a black bandanna, emblazoned with hardcore skulls!), inspired a rather amusing rant from a reader named Ahoy: ”I hate Robbie for singing that dated Foreigner song. (BTW, did anyone else think he still kind of looked like a pirate?) I’m supposed to be sending this project out at work and I have ‘I’m hot blooded! Check it and see!’ playing over and over in my head.”
But don’t feel too bad for Robbie. If, as he contended all season, he is truly a rock & roller at heart, he can at least rest easy in the knowledge that he’ll never have to participate in another soul-destroying results-night sing-along with his fellow contestants. Truly, tonight’s was so off-the-rails awful that instead of devoting another sentence to it, I will offer my two favorite reader comments about current Idol golden boy David Archuleta.
The first is courtesy of message-board regular DJM: ”David A did make a good choice in changing up the arrangement of ‘Imagine.’ Singing it straight would have been beyond cheesy. Still, I have no doubt after the ‘aw shucks’ routine and the cameras turn off, he’s all, ‘That’s right MF-ers! That’s how I roll!’ ”
And our second David comment comes from a reader called No One Puts David in the Corner: ”Even my 18-month-old loves David A. Every time he comes on, she points to the TV and says ‘Baby!’ When he’s done, she claps and yells ‘More, more!’ She doesn’t do it for any of the other contestants.”
And on that note, riddle me this: Does anyone out there believe that Sony released the rights to the Lennon-McCartney songbook this season because of the strength of the current crop of contestants (as Ryan would have us believe)? Also, who else is loving the way David Hernandez spontaneously busts a move at every opportunity? And have you all noticed how Ryan and the judges are using the show intro to defend Idol against criticism from fans? (Last week we had Paula sticking up for semi-pro constestants; this week Randy pimped on behalf of theme nights during the semifinals.)