It’s only been a week since American Idol gave back, but in its two subsequent results shows, America’s favorite talent competition has worked overtime to undo much of the good will fostered by its A-list-y fundraising drive.
Last Thursday, we had to endure Ryan Seacrest emotionally pistol-whipping all-around nice guy Michael Johns. And once again last night, the show’s producers worked overtime to psychologically torment the show’s seven remaining contestants — and by extension, the 30 million folks who’ve been cheering them on for the last nine weeks.
Yes, yes, I know emotional manipulation is part of the Idol experience, but I’m starting to get the feeling that Nigel Lythgoe & Co. have a dream of casting Mr. Seacrest as a metrosexual torturer in the next Saw sequel. I mean, after Tuesday’s performance show, which saw all seven contestants delivering decent-to-terrific performances from the Mariah Carey songbook, couldn’t the bad news have been delivered in a slightly less cruel, less convoluted fashion?
Instead, we had the old ”split the contestants into two camps” trick, with Brooke White, Kristy Lee Cook, and David Cook on one side, and Jason Castro, Carly Smithson, and Syesha Mercado on the other. I’ll admit, I was confounded, shocked even, at the prospect of either Rocker David or Jason landing in the bottom three, considering their position at or near the top of most major Idol polls, and the fact that their Tuesday performances, while polarizing, played well to their respective fan bases.
And then, of course, Ryan dragged out the show’s resident innocent, David Archuleta — much like he did last season with Melinda Doolittle — and you knew the kid was going to be asked to stand with the group he thought was safe. But not before Ryan muttered something about ”too many Cooks,” forced Syesha (her precision grin never wavering as she approached the plank) to swap spots with Rocker David, and made very clear which three singers were at risk.
To his credit, Little David plunked down on the stage, refusing to budge despite some hyperactive beckoning from Carly, and stayed frozen — possibly paralyzed with fear of choosing sides and damaging his Q Score — even after Ryan told him which trio was safe. Before you could say ”Inevitable Final Two,” Rocker David showed solidarity with his little buddy and sat down right next to him, while Carly, clearly committing to a new ”Must. Act. PEPPY!” mantra, broke out in an ear-to-ear grin and an inappropriate safety dance.
NEXT PAGE: A gutsy departure