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'American Idol' recap: Double whammy!

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American Idol
Ray Mickshaw/Fox

American Idol

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
15
performer:
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
broadcaster:
Fox
genre:
Reality TV

Contrary to widespread rumors of its untimely demise, disco hasn’t died. In fact, tonight, the erstwhile superstar got its AARP card, some ill-fitting, age-inappropriate clothing, and a performance slot on American Idol‘s results-show telecast.

Sigh. As a longstanding disco fan — uh-huh, you read that right! — it pains me to say that the lowest point of tonight’s particularly abominable results-show telecast had to be the medley of dance classics from Freda Payne, Thelma Houston, and KC (controversially operating sans Sunshine Band).

Now, I understand the producers’ desire to pay tribute to each week’s theme by booking a musical guest from said genre, but shouldn’t the artist(s) in question be able to hit more notes per minute than, say, Norman Gentle? Without the visual aid of Ms. Payne’s impressively toned arms, you might have mistaken the sound of her gasping her way through ”Band of Gold” as the opening segment of an infomercial for Life Alert. (Her pitch has fallen off and it can’t get up!) Was Cecile Frot-Coutaz unaware that Idol‘s own season three star Kimberley Locke scored a decent-sized AC hit with a cover of the not-really-disco classic a couple years back?

Similarly, why not invite Elliott Yamin or Chikezie or, heck, even Kevin Covais to cover ”Get Down Tonight,” instead of forcing the audience to endure the sound of KC’s wheezy falsetto getting launched into the path of an oncoming backing track? Worse still, the sight of KC, clad in a too-tight top and surrounded by four writhing, lycra-clad backup dancers, played almost like a tragicomic parody of Flo Rida’s results-night ”Right Round” a few weeks back. Of the medley’s participants, only Houston managed to do vocal justice to her hit (”Don’t Leave Me This Way”) but unfortunately, the insane neckline of her yellow cocktail dress was about as effective at containing her heaving bazooms as a store-brand paper towel might be if it were pinch-hitting for the Hoover Dam.

Thankfully, the Payne-Houston-KC medley did not dominate the episode the way it is certain to dominate my weekend nightmare reel. In fact, there was serious business to attend to, as two contestants had to be sent packing thanks to the fact that Matt Giraud received Idol‘s version of a winning MegaMillions ticket in the form of the Judges’ Save last week.

NEXT: Slezak’s disco song

First to walk the plank was Lil Rounds, whose ouster was treated like the foregone conclusion it was. Before sharing the people’s verdict with Lil, Ryan naturally took a moment to gnaw away at her emotional stability the way a baby grinds down a teething biscuit — asking her how badly she wanted to be in the competition, labeling her one of the show’s ”most courageous contestants” for her ability to blather on incessantly during and after almost every critique, and telling her that ”we need someone like you in this competition.” Um, Ryan, what did you mean by that exactly? An African-American woman? A parent? An enthusiastic back-talker? An overhyped contestant? (Oh wait, we still have one of those in the top five, and his name is Danny Gokey! Badum-bum.)

On the plus side, though, Lil can take solace in the fact that her exit performance of ”I’m Every Woman” tonight, while still suffering from some pitch problems, was a vast improvement over her Tuesday-night rendition. I just wish Ryan hadn’t asked the judges to give Lil some free advice before she exited the stage. I mean, what is the young mother of three supposed to do with an empty platitude like ”this is just the beginning, Lil.” Still, it was sweet seeing Simon backtrack on his past-tense fandom and amend it to ”I still am a massive fan,” especially since he ended his sentimental farewell by telling Lil he’d miss the sound of her family screaming at the judges’ panel every week.

I’m not sure if this is a sign of our tough economic times, but Lil was forced to share an exit package with the night’s second evictee, Anoop Desai. Not that I should be surprised, really, since Anoop never seemed to get much respect from the Idol machine — right down to the Groucho Marx eyebrow dig Ryan made in his direction just moments before the phone lines opened last night for voting.

I liked that Anoop was honest enough to admit he was ”really disappointed” by his ouster, especially because so many ejected Idols seem to be under the impression that it’s easier to become the next Jennifer Hudson or Chris Daughtry than it is to wind up the next Jessica Sierra or Charles Grigsby. (No I did not make up that latter name; check the link if you don’t believe me!) Also impressive was the fact that Anoop publicly stated he ”could’ve done better” with his Tuesday-night take on ”Dim All the Lights,” and in fact, like Lil, he seemed more comfortable and relaxed giving his encore tonight.

That said, since it came down to Anoop and Allison in the bottom three, I can’t lie and say I was unhappy with the outcome of this week’s vote. Anoop is no doubt a talented guy, but a co-sixth-place finish is certainly respectable for a guy who really seemed to struggle with uptempo numbers, and who resisted a major style upgrade until his final week in the competition. Keeping in my unrelenting adoration of Allison, and the pure cocktail of equal parts fury and pain I experienced from seeing my fave contestant (yet again!) at risk, I now continue my season 8 results-night tradition of writing an Idol-themed ditty, set to a disco classic — specifically ”I Will Survive.” Click here if you want a little musical accompaniment from none other than Miss Gloria Gaynor!

At first I was afraid
I was petrified
Seeing Allison and Anoop
Standing there side by side
Oh I spent so many nights
Rooting for the pink-haired chick
I felt sick
I got the urge to throw a brick
How was she back
At bottom-three?
I’m addicted to my Idol
But want to turn off my TV
I should have speed-dialed my butt off
Should not have split her votes with Kris
I’d have blogged about her harder
If I’d have known it’d come to this

Go on now Lil
Walk out the door
You’re every woman
But you’re still a total bore
Weren’t you the one who yapped each time you got critiqued?
Take it from No Doubt
And heed their hit song: ”Don’t Speak”!
I feel sky high
My girl survived
As long as there is Allison
Season eight’ll surely thrive
She’s got mad hot vocal skills
Her true passion gives me chills
My girl survived
My girl survived

Now back to our recap!

NEXT: Paula gets down

In perhaps the first effective fakeout of this eighth season of Idol, though, Ryan actually had me thinking Danny Gokey was going to wind up in the bottom three. After all, The Bespectaled One was sitting alongside Kris and Adam, who’d both been declared safe, and we know how Idol likes to leave the weak impala sitting alone and vulnerable at the end of a row. Then, of course, we had that overly long bit prompted by Ryan asking Danny if he knew what Simon meant when he used the word ”clumsy” to describe Danny’s rendition of ”September,” complete with Ryan’s explanation that ”some of the bloggers” thought Simon was ”a bit harsh” when he said Danny’s performance lacked star power. (Wha?) Good thing Danny ”meditated” on the critique and thinks he’s figured out how to avoid being clumsy onstage in the future. (Ugh.) At least Simon shut down the nonsense by hissing at Ryan: ”You’re being facetious…Go back to the contestants.”

The only moment of the show that gave me more joy, actually, was getting to see behind the scenes footage of Paula Abdul choreographing the group number to ”Shake Your Body Down to the Ground,” then seeing the top 7 execute what looked to me like a pretty difficult (and jaunty!) routine for a bunch of novices. True, it was 1-866-Hei-nous to have to see the contestants of America’s favorite singing competition lip-synch their way through another live set, but they were clearly having so much fun shaking their groove things, I forgot to get indignant till after the show had ended. Side note: Adam and Matt are clearly the best dancers among the top 7; Kris, meanwhile, er, well let’s just say his adorable synthetic silver shirt had more natural rhythm than he did.

I’ll try to be just as diplomatic about season 7 runner-up David Archuleta, whose performance of the insipid ”Touch My Hand” was kind of a wash. On one hand, Archie has clearly made strides when it comes to his stage presence, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard him struggle so much to stay on pitch as he did during his performance tonight. But ’nuff said about that. I don’t want a rabid Archuleta fan to make fun of me for stupidly mixing up Brett Michaels and Vince Neil in last night’s TV Watch!

Let’s grab our No. 2 pencils and take this two-part quiz:

The most uncomfortable moment of tonight’s telecast resulted from:
A. Thelma Houston looking like Idol‘s season 6 ”Bird Lady,” Margaret Fowler.
B. Ryan making a really lame joke about Matt running late from commercial break because he had to stop and put on his makeup.
C. Ryan forcing David Archuleta to play life-coach for Anoop and Allison.
D. Allison weirdly sing-speaking ”here it comes, here it comes, here it comes again” while heading to the Silver Stools of Doom.
E. Ryan brutally reminding Matt that if America had had its way, he’d have gone home last week.

The most enduring mystery of tonight’s telecast is:
A. Was Anoop repeating the same blazer he wore on a previous results night telecast?
B. Who was the extra dude shown huddling with the contestants during their group performance rehearsal with Paula?
C. Why does the No. 1 show on TV still have the tackiest opening credits ever?
D. Was Matt making a dig at some of his rivals when he noted he’d arranged ”Stayin’ Alive” all by himself?
E. And did my sound drop out for a second, or did Archie get bleeped for a second during his post-performance interview with Ryan?

Go on now go!…and put your answers to these vital questions, as well as your thoughts on the rest of tonight’s show, in the comments section below. And if you’d like to be a call-in guest on Idolatry, shoot an email with your thoughts on this week in Idol (along with a daytime phone number) to idolatry@ew.com. Also: If you missed signing up this week for EW.com’s Idol Prediction Challenge, please do it now! Even if you missed scoring on Disco Night, we keep tabs on week-to-week winners on our leaderboard. I’m currently in 725th place, but I swear I’m gonna gain some ground next time around and get within striking distance of ”tsunamiwave7,” the player who’s been topping our leaderboard for several weeks running.