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American Idol recap: Cake, Rattle, and Roll

The remaining five contestants play with their food and give viewers minor heart palpitations before Matt (once again) gets sent packing

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American Idol
Frank Micelotta/Fox

American Idol

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

To the casual observer, tonight’s American Idol results show might have seemed as routine and uneventful as, say, a pigeon on a park bench or a Kim Kardashian photo-op. Ryan Seacrest made his usual entrance via the Adam Lambert Memorial Staircase. Randy Jackson booed Simon Cowell’s introduction like an 8-year-old who’s still learning the difference between what’s funny and what’s merely annoying. And Matt Giraud, the guy everyone pretty much expected to go home, took his final bows to a heartfelt farewell from Paula Abdul (and one final lascivious look from Kara DioGuardi).

But right from the show’s opening moments, you could sense we were in for something strange, something decidedly out of the ordinary. Maybe it was that cryptic — and by cryptic, I mean nonsensical — sound bite from Rat Pack Week mentor Jamie Foxx about ”five people that shock the world,” which seemed like nothing more than an excuse to get the word ”shock” into the show opener. Maybe it was Simon declaring the season 8 race as the ”most open competition” in show history. Or maybe it was simply the fact that, unless Matt and Allison wound up as the week’s lowest vote-getters, the other nine possible bottom-two combinations would feature at least one contestant who’d never even cracked the bottom three.

Yes, folks, we’ve reached the homestretch of American Idol season. Side-effects may include headaches and nausea, mild-to-moderate heart palpitations, cramping, insomnia, depression, murderous rage, dry mouth, a craving for alcohol or unhealthy snack foods, exhaustion, delirium, and in certain instances, fans of Adam Lambert screaming ”Are you freakin’ kidding me?” That’s because the long-perceived season 8 front-runner found himself (possibly) on the brink of elimination tonight, standing alongside the self-described ”cat with nine lives” and waiting for Ryan to either swing the Idol axe, or inform him he’ll have a chance to sing some Axl next Tuesday.

That it turned out to be the latter option was really no great surprise. For all his talent and growing likability, this never really seemed like Matt’s competition to win. The guy got rejected by America after performing a melody-ectomy on ”Viva La Vida” in the semifinals, then got a second chance from the judges in the form of a Wild Card win. Booted again during Songs from the Cinema Week, Matt received one more stay of execution in the form of the historic Judges’ Save, but here, two weeks later, the Idol boat was all out of life rafts.

The good news for Matt was that he left the show on a high note, nailing the falsetto ending (and mostly everything else) on his exit performance of ”My Funny Valentine,” and appearing genuinely thankful for and moved by his Idol experience. And so what if the best parting advice Randy could offer was ”continue to make it hot,” Matt can at least be proud that he got booted after an evening of performances that were so uniformly solid, they even had Simon backtracking and declaring Rat Pack night the best Top 5 performance show in Idol history.

NEXT: A special announcement