With just three weeks and six episodes remaining, American Idol‘s ninth season is sputtering to its conclusion like a wind-up toy running out of juice. Is there any way to inject some electricity back into this machine? Let’s turn to our panel of experts!
Harry Connick Jr.? Nope, domestic violence jokes and vaguely creepy tales of elevator encounters with Frank Sinatra aren’t gonna cut it.
Randy Jackson? Dude, I’m sorry, but wearing a fluorescent orange V-neck isn’t the answer, either.
Ken Warwick? You got anything? Nah, we weren’t looking for gratuitous butt shots of Casey James or a double dose of group performances, for that matter.
Crystal Bowersox in fetching man-drag? Better — but not enough to hang a season on.
All right, Seacrest, let’s just get on with it. Go ahead and dim the lights and tell us the name of the person whose Idol ”journey” is coming to an end…
Yes folks, let’s put our hands together (though not raised above our heads like a Swaybot) and bid adieu to The Artist Frequently Introduced as ”High School Student Aaron Kelly,” a polite kid who rode his cuddly teen charm, his country-twang appeal, and a single usage of the ”I’m Dedicating This to My Mom” card (turned in during Shania Twain Week) all the way to a surprising fifth-place finish. Yeah, okay, so conventional wisdom would’ve had us believe Aaron’s ho-hum ”Fly Me to the Moon” on Tuesday night was enough to crack the top four, given how Casey James’ goat-bleat ”Blue Skies” was a performance only his adorably enthusiastic but always classy mother could defend. But think about it this way: Aaron made it remarkably far into the season — chugging along through 10 consecutive results-show telecasts — without once looking like a legitimate threat to take a confetti shower at the Nokia.
Didi Benami had ”Rhiannon” and ”Play With Fire.” Siobhan Magnus had ”Paint It Black” and ”House of the Rising Sun.” Casey, bless his volumizing mousse and wicked inconsistency, has at least managed to have a couple Idol Moments (TM) in ”Jealous Guy” and ”Don’t.” But Aaron was a singer who spent his Idol run at the intersection of Too Young and Just Ai’ight — solid but certainly not devastating takes on ”Angie,” ”I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” and ”You’ve Got a Way” as his legacy — and thus, as Ol’ Blue Eyes might’ve phrased it, he faced the final curtain.
Unfortunately for Aaron, his sing-out occurred while mentor Harry Connick Jr. was on stage with the band, which limited his choice of songs to ”Fly Me to the Moon” and, well, not really anything else. (You’d have to think the kid would’ve given an encore of his Shania Twain Week cover, had he really had the option.) That said, my ice-cold heart defrosted at microwave speed when Aaron’s mom tearfully declared ”God didn’t give you that gift to sing in the shower.”
NEXT: Some predictions, and some surprises