Who says you can’t learn anything from watching reality TV? Tonight, in the course of a single hour, I found out that ”Justin Bieber” is an actual person, not just a perpetual trending topic on Twitter; televised displays of strobe lights can be potentially hazardous to one’s health; and it only takes a single wonky performance — and an awkward assist from Ryan Seacrest — to get yourself booted from American Idol.
Okay, yeah, I should’ve already had that last nugget of knowledge imprinted in my brain, considering that it’s been driven home in the 100-plus results-show telecasts Idol has presented in the course of its nine-season history. And yet somehow, I always find myself surprised, or at least disappointed, when an inconsistent but interesting singer like Didi Benami gets ousted in favor of infinitely less promising vocalists.
Because no matter what you say about Didi’s Tuesday-night rendition of ”What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” — I’d call it drab, uninventive, and intermittently sharp — it’s nonetheless jarring that her exit leaves us with six males and only three females (one of whom may be a very life-like wind-up toy) for the duration of season 9, a year in which we were promised a strong slate of ladies.
Moreso than for the existing gender disparity, though, Didi’s ouster is troubling for another reason: With the number of competitors now down to the single digits, I feel like each of the remaining singers should have, at a minimum, two performances under their belts that signal at least an outside chance to make it all the way to the Nokia in late May. Didi had accomplished that much thanks to her lilting semifinal ”Rhiannon” and her dark and jagged Rolling Stones-week ”Play With Fire” — not to mention her tremendous Hollywood Week work on ”Terrified.” Can Tim Urban, Katie Stevens, Andrew Garcia, and (no offense to fans of solid ’80s cover bands) Casey James say the same? I’m not even sure wee Aaron Kelly has shown as much promise to date as The Lady Benami.
Ah well. It’s not as if Idol didn’t telegraph Didi’s fate by portraying her as the sacrificial maiden (and Simon Cowell as the Kraken) in that clunky bit of corporate synergy that passed as a Clash of the Titans intro. That said, with the way Ryan Seacrest cynically attempted to make Didi have an emotional breakdown Tuesday night — a moment that could not have helped her overall vote tally — maybe the multitasking host should’ve been likened to Titans‘ best-known beast instead of Mr. Cranky? After all, Ryan seems to be releasing his inner (toothless) Kraken at every opportunity these last few weeks.
(Side note: Could Sam Worthington and that pack of people who may or may not have been the cast of Lie to Me or Human Target or Whatever’s Replacing Till Death have been any less stoked to be promoting Clash/Idol? Worthington’s barely concealed disdain for the promo slot — in which he uttered a mere three words — completed the #CrossPromotionFail.)
NEXT: Kara goes after Tim