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'American Idol' recap: Go fourth and prosper!

Allison’s season 8 ‘journey’ comes to an end, while Danny dreams on to join Kris and Adam in the final three

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Kris Allen, Adam Lambert, ...
Michael Becker/American Idol/Getty Images

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

She never won Simon’s wholehearted approval, never got a ”you could make it to the finale” critique from the judges no matter how fantastic her performances. Well, except for that one time. From Kara. (Waah-waah.) And tonight, naturally, she didn’t even get a single post-elimination word of advice or encouragement to send her on her merry, sabotaged way.

But the good news for Allison Iraheta, fourth-place finisher on season 8 of American Idol, is that, like a high-school grad who moves on to the next stage of her life without giving a second thought to her locker, or her textbooks, or where she’s going to sit in the cafeteria during lunch, Allison won’t need to concern herself with the petty rituals of the Idol machine anymore.

In fact, with her scintillating exit performance tonight of Janis Joplin’s ”Cry Baby” — which was in every way looser, more soulful, and more pitch-perfect than her lovely Tuesday-night rendition — Allison took her first post-Idol steps toward superstardom. And whether she goes on to rock the stage of her local La Curacao department store, or perform for sold-out arenas, she’ll never again have to pause after a performance, grit her teeth, and have her personality, her fashion sense, her song choices, and various other non-singing-related ”flaws” picked apart by a one-time hired hand for Journey, a verbose she-beast in search of the perfect ”package artist,” a woman who isn’t ashamed to lip-synch in front of the singing hopefuls she judges on a weekly basis, and a dude who cares so little about his $36 million job that he keeps one eye on the clock while fantasizing about his cigarette breaks.

And so while I admit, I fought back a tear or two over Allison’s ouster as I live-blogged tonight’s results-show telecast (if you missed it, there are some excerpts at the end of this column, or you can click on the link to read the whole shebang), I’ve worked through my feelings of despair. After all, we didn’t need to look beyond the Idol stage tonight for comfort, thanks to the presence of Chris Daughtry, whose shock ouster back in season 5 landed him in fourth place, too, a fact that hasn’t stopped his band’s debut disc from going quintuple platinum.

NEXT: This week’s song parodies

My feelings of bitterness and resentment, however, are still lingering like the echo of Danny’s wounded-animal howl at the end of his Tuesday-night take on ”Dream On.” But before we discuss season 8’s unprecedented, all-male final three, let’s pause for our weekly Idol-themed ditty, set to a classic rock track — specifically the Eagles’ ”Hotel California.” Click the link if you want a little musical accompaniment!

On a dark Wednesday evening, hot tears in my eyes
I stared at the TV, looking at three white guys
Adam, Kris, and The Gokey, and yet there’s no Allison
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
Well you could color me stunned

There she stood on the big stage, her voice clear as a bell
But my brain found it hard to shake, Danny’s maniacal Tuesday-night yell
Then her ”Cry Baby” cover, put my poor mind at ease
I just wish that Kara would sit down, her dancing makes me sieze

Welcome to results-night hell on Idol
Such a heinous night
(Such a heinous night)
This result’s not right
Come rant against this results-night hell on Idol
Simon’s surly mug
(Simon’s surly mug)
Begging to get slugged

[WE PAUSE FOR A MOMENT FOR AN AD BREAK: Coming up next Tuesday night on FOX! American Idol‘s is down to the final three, but this season, instead of getting nine musical performances, you’ll get SIX! Yes, that’s right. Who wants to hear Adam, Kris, and Danny singing, when you can bask in the glow of the judges’ manipulative tactics? Watch Kara work the judges’ table like a stripper pole after Adam performs! Hear Paula predict the final two again! (Hint: She’s not picking the guy from Arkansas.) Listen to Simon demand that Kris act like a cocky bastard or risk immediate elimination! And Randy will use words, too. Possibly in a complete sentence fragment. Tune in, Tuesday night, on FOX!]

Oh, and before we step away from the subject of song parodies, I have to give props to a little ditty posted on the performance-night TV Watch message board by a reader named ”Finian.” It’s set to the tune of ”Dream On,” and it’s so good, I thought it really deserved to get reprinted here:

Wednesday night, when I look in the mirror
Those three guys, no Allie, it seems clearer…
the season’s gone
from strange to bad, and its just so wrong
Isn’t that the way?
Everybody votes and the talent’s sent away!!!!
Keep Danny – just for the ratings
blogs vent their wrath and hating
Keep Danny – make us still suffer
Scream louder and make Kara sputter
Aahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!

Yes, it’s another reference to ”Dream On,” a performance that got an interesting bit of revisionist Idol spin tonight during Ryan’s Q&A session with the contestants. Anyone else notice how Ryan asked Danny about ”the final note that the judges couldn’t let go of last night”? Um, actually, only one of Idol‘s four judges (Simon) made mention of the disastrous ending to Danny’s performance. And what’s more, Danny botched more than just one note of the song, as anyone who heard that final, unfortunate string of ”dream ons” can attest to. But this is Idol, and if you’re a preordained favorite who’s about to commit felony robbery (of a final-three placement) in front of an audience of 25 million, then even your worst performance can be passed off as wacky fun for the whole family! Let’s roll tape and see how Danny felt when he finally watched his performance back:

”When I watched it back — you know because it’s funny when we’re up here, the sound drowns everything out. So I walked over there kind of like, ‘Yeah, I hit this. I did a pretty good job.’ And I looked at Randy’s eyes, and his eyes were like big as ever. But I listened to it back and I have to say I laughed the whole night. It was the funniest night. I talked to my cousin, my cousin had told me that his mom had put the TV on mute at that point. My own aunt muted the TV. I heard people were making ringtones with the scary scream. I mean, I gotta be honest. I was with my family last night and I was laughing the whole night. I couldn’t stop laughing because I think it’s my funniest moment on American Idol. That note. And I think I definitely made a name for myself last night with that horror scream. I think it’ll be in movies pretty soon.”

Wait just a second now. You just gave the worst final-four performance on Idol since Jasmine Trias vomited up a puddle of ”It’s Raining Men” — and outlasted LaToya London in the process — back in season 3, and yet you couldn’t stop laughing about it?

NEXT: Preparation for next week

I don’t understand how Simon (with an assist from Ryan) can bash Kris for his humble expression of surprise about making the final four, and yet give a round of applause to a guy who thinks it’s a hilarious joke to perform so poorly that his glory note has become a comedy ringtone. Except for the fact that the man knows that outrage and fury is just as much a part of the Idol process as iTunes downloads, and great singing, and Randy’s woeful vocabulary. I mean, what is an Idol season if you haven’t yet uttered some variation on the words, ”This is my last season. I’m done! This time I mean it!”?

Which is why it’s important not to lose one’s sense of humor this late in the Idol season. Rage against the machine about Allison’s ouster, yes. But remember her huge smile as she kept the spirit of Janis Joplin alive tonight for an audience consisting of hundreds of thousands of kids who think Ashlee Simpson makes rock and roll records.

Brace yourselves for the uphill battle Kris faces next week because the producers have edited his footage in such a way that we know very little about his life, and because the judges cannot or will not give credit to an understated vocalist who has never aspired to participate in (as Jamie Foxx would call it) the ”throat Olympics.” But don’t forget he broke into a huge smile tonight when Ryan repeated Simon’s ”ice for lunch” critique.

Light your candles for Adam, because you’re still waking up with night terrors remembering that time he was in the bottom two during Rat Pack Week, and you have vowed to never let it happen again. (Yes, Mom, that sentence was directed at you). But don’t forget he’s totally going to win this thing.

And yes, Danny fans, keep the faith that next Tuesday, your guy will have an ”In a Dream” or ”Summertime” or ”Billie Jean” or ”Stuff Like That There” moment, and prove he’s a future recording superstar, not a budding voice-over artist for sorority-house slasher flicks and movies about animated howler monkeys. Because whether or not he earned it, his Rock Week performance pulled him past season 8’s fuchsia-haired engine that could, and once again my cries to ”put the ‘Go’ in Gokey” fell on deaf ears.

Ah well, there’s always next week!

NEXT: Paula’s…performance

And now for some highlights of last night’s live-blog. Again, click here if you want to read it in its entirety.

8:58: Here’s a thought! If Danny outlasts Allison, Adam, or Kris, maybe we should all take to our windows at 10:00 p.m., Network-style, and let loose with our best imitations of his ”Dream On” howl. After all, if that many people voted for him, then clearly they’re jonesing to hear that special brand of wounded animal.

8:59: Questions to consider for tonight’s telecast: Will Randy boo Simon’s intro? (Y.) Will Kara bare her armpits? (Y.) Will at least a third of Paula’s breasts be visible? (Probs def.) Will Simon show up in a tatty undershirt? (Gulp.) What shade of orange will Ryan rock? (Unnatural.) And which will be most annoying? (Randy, obvs.)

9:03 Danny borrowed one of Kris’ plaid shirts! Maybe I shouldn’t have read anything deeper into their awkward duet chemistry last night? Also: Randy ”the bomb dot com”? No.

9:05 I know we’re in an economic crisis, but this Ford Music Video looks like it was literally made using scissors and paste!

9:06 ”School’s Out”? But I wanted some ”early” Aerosmith. How much do all these kids love Allison? A lot more than I’m loving this beast of a performance.

9:07: Howl, Danny, howl! No, you are still not Adam.

9:14: I love that Adam loved his outfit. Love it.

9:15 Revisionist history! The judges did not refuse to let go of the final note! Only Simon made mention of it, Ryan, you little betch! That said, I have to applaud Danny for calling the botched note on ”Dream On,” but let’s hope it’s not the start of his movie career.

9:16 DID ALLISON JUST GET BLEEPED?

9:16 MC SKAT CAT! HELLS YEAH. I just wish the package had done a better job of showing today’s youth that Paula’s no one-hit wonder.

9:17 Is there any actual singing goin’ on here? Did anyone expect it? Do we actually care? I’ll say Paula still out-hoofs pop tarts half her age, and sounds 77% less mechanical than Jamie Foxx. And this is kind of a hot-ass song. OMG, is it too late to take that back?

9:18 That tore-up Paula-Simon pic was tore up from the floor up. But darnit, that dancer ripped it like he meant it.

9:21 Where’d my Corona go? Live-blogging while chair-dancing makes me thirsty, dammit!

9:25 Oh Gwen, this vocal is starting out all kinds of Ethel Merman does ska. But everybody’s hair is hella tight. Oh yes, it’s a good hair night on Idol.

9:26 Is it wrong I wish No Doubt was singing ”Ex-Girlfriend”? I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend. Whoa-oh. I kinda always knew I’d end up your ex-girlfriend.

9:27 Pushups < Being flipped by your backup dancer. But then again, Gwen actually has to sing.

9:29 I feel good about the lack of Harajuku up in here.

9:33 More than halfway through — and not a single hint of results. Now I am starting to get my panic on!

9:34 WHOA. 64 million votes. Backstage shot. Backstage shot always seems scarier than onstage shot. AND BLAKE LEWIS SIGHTING!

9:35 Hometown visits package: Where Archuleta says ”gosh.” The high schools all look alike. And Elliott’s mom makes me get misty.

9:36 DIM ALL THE LIGHTS, SWEET RYAN!

9:37 The reviews are in for Allison. I choose only to hear the good parts.

9:39 Kris almost passed the eff out. And I loved how Adam gave him mad hugs. Also: Did I note lack of huggage and only arm grippage with Danny? Scandale? Or lack of time. Now save the rocker(s) and save the season people!

9:40 Seriously, now. This throws a whole wrench or whatever tool into the proceedings. (I’m not very handy around the house.)

9:41 I just processed it: KRIS IS SAFE. OMG. J’AD.

NEXT: Allison shows them what they’ll be missiong

9:43 Please show how Simon dissed Chris Daughtry at his audition. Pretty please. He’s been such a beast this season, he really deserves to have his nose rubbed in Daughtry’s success.

9:45 Wow! This is a higher register than I’m used to from Daughtry. Also: Anyone else a little freaked by the way his earpiece runs together with his facial hair? Okay, Slezak?focus on the music. I’M JUST HERE FOR THE MUSIC. I gotta say, three seasons later, I still love the sound of Chris’s voice. And I’m glad this song has more of a melody than a lot of the singles off his debut album. This will be a hit, as surely as the shape of Chris’ head is perfect.

9:48 My husband just asked: ”How weird is it, in light of tonight’s performances, that Paula Abdul once sat in judgment of Chris Daughtry’s vocal performances.”

9:49 In the role of sorority chick plucked from the audience to present platinum record to former Idol, it’s?Kris Allen?

9:54 Second person doing the safety dance — in random order — (Allison looks so nervous)?it’s ADAM! Not a surprise. Smart move to announce him next.

9:55 That sound you heard was my heart breaking.

9:56 Oh, Allison?you made it farther, and more fabulously, than I ever thought this damned show would let you. I have to take comfort in that.

9:57 DENIAL: NO! NO! NO!

9:58 ACCEPTANCE: Girl, you sing this s—. Remind America why they got it wrong. Remind the world why we’re all gonna be lining up to buy your record this holiday season. And no, Simon, this is not sound-alike. You suck so hard. Kara, stop clapping like a monkey, you too are culpable. Somehow.

9:59 THAT IS AN EXIT PERFORMANCE, DAMMIT.

10:00 BARGAINING: Did that really happen? Did Gokey’s primal scream really get him more votes than Allison?

10:00 DEPRESSION: Another Corona, please?

10:01 ANGER: I am going to the window and doing my ”Dream On.” Sorry, Jersey City, for what you are about to hear!

10:03 Okay, my husband, bless his rational heart, just reminded me that Daughtry, too, was a fourth-place finisher, and LOOK AT HIM NOW! So I’m gonna go listen to my downloads of ”Someone to Watch Over Me,” ”Give in to Me,” ”Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” ”Don’t Speak,” and ”Hot Stuff,” and try not to cry. There is work to be done, people. And I speak not only of my full TV Watch recap that needs writing, but of the Adam-Kris finale we need to make a reality. Good night and good luck.

What did you think of tonight’s ouster? What stage of grief are you currently at: Denial, bargaining, depression, anger, or acceptance? And what did you think of tonight’s musical performances by Paula, No Doubt, Daughtry, and Allison? 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 Rat Pack Night, we keep tabs on week-to-week winners on our leaderboard. I’m currently in 351st place, up from 414th last week. And I didn’t even guess Allison this week!