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'American Idol' recap: Keep it professional

Megan Joy flies the coop in appropriately batty fashion, but not before one final (and kinda awkward) showdown with Simon

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American Idol
Frank Micelotta/American Idol/Getty Images(2)

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

‘American Idol’ recap: Keep it professional

It’s her plank, and she’ll caw if she wants to. Yes indeed, Megan Joy (Corkrey), a woman who’s been labeled everything from the perfect package artist to a warbling, gyrating menace, exited American Idol on her own terms tonight: Flapping her arms and cawing like (quite literally) a loon, before finally breaking down in tears at the realization that she was about to go home to her toddler son.

To be perfectly honest, I still don’t know exactly how to feel about the particulars of Megan’s ouster from the competition, and I’m not sure I ever will — not without knowing what was in her heart during tonight’s glacially paced telecast. One minute, I was grumbling at the way The Artist Formerly Known as Corkrey appeared to be thumbing her beak at her participation in a show that maddeningly and consistently denied that same opportunity to so many incredibly talented singers over the opening nine weeks of the season. (I’ll spare you another litany of my fallen faves, but cannot resist the urge to list their initials, especially since there’s almost enough of ’em to make up a summer season of Idol: KM, MH, JJ, RB, DB, LY, FB, JF, JM, JR, and JL.) It’s not like I was expecting Megan to act like she was about to get shipped off to the Gulag, but it was a little jarring to see her spend the hour making exaggerated faces, dancing a goofy jig, and imploring fellow bottom-three dwellers Anoop Desai and Allison Iraheta to ”don’t forget to caw!” after Ryan Seacrest sent them back to the Plush Couches of Safety.

But then again, none of us have walked a mile in one of Megan’s sleeveless ensembles, and I swear there were moments tonight when her face revealed a tug of war between pure panic and impending relief. Megan’s Idol tenure had reached (or, more accurately, gone past) its expiration date, a fact that couldn’t have been lost on the contestant herself. So why not have a few laughs on the way out? Why pretend she was still seeking Simon’s approval when it was pretty clear she’d never again have to justify her musical existence in front of the guy? Sure, she was openly disdainful when Ryan asked her how she felt about the British judge’s critique of her ”Turn the Lights Down Low” cover — ”I love you, Simon, but I didn’t really care” — but as Carly Smithson taught us last year, sometimes the worst thing a contestant can do is to keep seeking love from the stepfather who’s long since ceased to care.

Then again, it’s clear Simon wasn’t completely unaffected by Megan’s zinger, since he turned the judges’ refusal to consider using their veto on Megan into something very personal. ”With the greatest respect,” he huffed, ”when you said that you don’t care, nor do we. So I’m not gonna pretend that we’re even gonna contemplate saving you. So this is your swan song. Enjoy it.”

Um, actually, Simon, Megan didn’t say she didn’t care about the competition. She just said she didn’t care about your critique of her performance. There’s a difference. But thanks for making it all about you, buddy!

NEXT: An ode to Kara (sort of)

Sigh. Even when the judges do the right thing this year, they still get it wrong. Wouldn’t it have been more honest (and more fulfilling for the viewers at home) if Simon had simply explained that Megan’s body of work on the show didn’t warrant a lifeline? That, really, nothing she could do in a 90-second Bob Marley song snippet could reverse the damage she’d done to the collected songbooks of Patsy Cline, Stevie Wonder, and Bob Marley? I mean, with only seven weeks left in the competition, trying to salvage Megan’s chances at taking over David Cook’s crown would be kind of like running a tomato through the garbage disposal, then trying to put it back together with Scotch tape.

And so instead of a desperate and tuneless encore performance, we got a defiant and tuneless performance, with Megan getting right up in the judges’ faces and flailing about like one of those giant, inflatable puppets that wave around outside of rural car dealerships.

But enough with kicking Megan while she’s down, when Randy, Kara, and Simon still have so much to atone for from their wretched performances behind the table on Tuesday — particularly Ms. DioGuardi’s oblivious mistake referring to Studio 54 as Studio 57. (Perhaps the latter venue, where all the guys channel their ”artistry,” all the girls ”dirty it up” real nice like, and all the monkeys continually clang their cymbals, exists only in Kara’s mind.) It is in their names that I present this week’s Idol-themed ditty, set to the tune of the timeless classic ”Cheek to Cheek,” which I suspect might be a more popular download than even ”I Surrender” or ”Caught Up.” Click here if you want to sing along with a little musical accompaniment from Frank Sinatra!

Seven. “Fifty-seven.”
Kara spews her nonsense till I start to freak.
Then it’s Randy’s turn to lob a lame critique.
And yet still I live for Idol all damn week.

Five-four. She meant five-four.
But the new judge, once again she did misspeak.
And now Simon’s calling Allison a freak.
And yet still I live for Idol all damn week.

Oh I love to hear Kris Allen
‘Cause Kris Allen never shrieks
But the judges never give him props
Their praise remains oblique

Now let’s say goodbye to Megan
She has got a hot physique
And she’s giving us one last ‘caw-caw’
Although she has no beak

Group singing!
Time for a quick shnack-y break
I’d kill for some cake
Is this singing fake?

Haha. Lady Gaga.
Has a zipper on her eye, my interest’s piqued!
When did Paula learn about singing technique?
This is why I live for Idol all damn week.

NEXT: Sexyface face-off

And on the subject of reasons to live for Idol, I actually jotted down a few more during tonight’s show: Randy didn’t boo Simon’s introduction. I spotted Alexis Grace and Jason Castro in the audience — although when are they going to let the Dreadlocked One take the stage and sing? Lil Rounds shot the most fabulous look daggers at Paula when the Lady RushRush kept going on and on about the brilliance of Adam Lambert. And not only did Kris Allen prove he’s got some rap skills, he also made an attempt at ”sexyface” that was only marginally more successful than the one I tried during Monday’s episode of Idolatry. (Click here, if only to see Annie Barrett’s withering response to my utter failure.)

On the flip side, Idol also offered a number of moments that made me die inside: That deeply disturbing ”Mixed Up” Ford ad contained zero water balloons, and instead opted for disturbing images of Danny’s eyes matched with Anoop’s mouth and Allison’s hair and forehead. The group performance of ”Don’t Stop Believin”’ left me bewildered by the fact that it sounded 27 percent less lipsynched than last week’s Top 10 ditty, and yet still contained suspicious moments where contestants’ mouths didn’t seem to be in time with the music and where Megan hit all her notes.

And then there were the contestant impersonations: Anoop poking fun at Kris’s side-mouth singing, Allison loopily attempting to growl like Danny Gokey on ”PYT” and ”Jesus Take the Wheel,” and Danny doing his best impression of Matt Giraud’s horrendous semifinal performance of ”Viva La Vida.” Now why did the first two examples make me chuckle, while the last one did not? (Nope, it’s not because I’ve never drunk the Danny Kool-Aid.) It’s because Anoop and Allison both poked fun at numbers that had been mostly lauded by the judges, while Danny chose to mock a universally panned performance that prevented Matt from cracking the top 12 without the help of the Wild Card. Oh, and then Danny followed it up by making a bleating goat noise, because it’s every contestants dream to get compared to a barnyard beast and/or Carmen Rasmusen.

Good thing we got to spend a few minutes with David Cook, who was moved to tears after getting presented with his first platinum record. As for the performance of his new single ”Come Back to Me,” let me offer a Randy-esque critique: Dude, what’s goin’ down? For me, for you, it wasn’t my favorite song in the world. But dude, you stepped up there and you did your thing and you worked it out. And your drummer totally reminded me of Animal from the Muppets. And I loved seeing your mom, and your voice sounded great, and here’s hoping you have a hit with it. For me, for you. What’s goin’ down? Aaaaand…cut!

NEXT: Idol should ‘Just Dance’

As for the Lady Gaga…um, what can you say? The woman wore an aluminum blouse, a giant zipper over her eye, and played a piano filled with Christmas ornaments. Or were those bubbles? Whatever. It was wacky, and kind of riveting, and further proves the point that Idol really needs to step up and have a dance music night — not a disco night, mind you — that focuses on uptempo hits from the ’80s, ’90s, and our current decade.

And now, because we’ve come to the end of this article, I have to ask: What the hell was Allison doing in the bottom three? Hearing her blurt ”Hey, familiar chair!” as she approached the Silver Stools of Doom was the night’s funniest unscripted moment — until the realization kicked in that America would rather listen to the early ’80s Lite FM stylings of Scott MacIntyre than the awesome, audacious rock ‘n soul sound Allison brings to the stage every week. Is there any way my favorite contestant is going to crack the top five, or should I be scheduling an appointment with my therapist for next Thursday morning? Do share your thoughts on the subject, and 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 Top Downloads night, we keep tabs on week-to-week winners on our leaderboard, and hey, how often do you get to chat on a message board with Melinda Freakin’ Doolittle?