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