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No big surprise: R.J. gets voted off ''American Idol''

No big surprise: R.J. gets voted off ”American Idol.” Sure, Nikki is a lousier singer, but she’ll be packing her bags next week anyway, says Jessica Shaw

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RJ Helton, American Idol
RJ Helton: Joe Viles

American Idol

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

No big surprise: R.J. gets voted off ”American Idol”

Boo-hoo, R.J. is going home. I’m sure there are a few prayer-loving teens who are weeping their eyes out, but the rest of us know what Simon knew all along: This guy was barely good enough to be a boy-band understudy. That said, he’s friggin’ Stevie Wonder compared to the train wreck of Nikki McKibbin.

Of course, in order to fully appreciate the aural disaster that is Nikki, let’s go back to Tuesday night’s show. Hello, were there any producers on hand to make the hour less than excruciatingly painful? Why is no one telling Randy not to repeat his insidious refrain of ”Kelly, Kelly, Kelly” and ”What’s up man?” and ”You made it your own”? Does the guy actually think he’s being clever? How about when he told R.J. ”I still love those initials, man.” Let it go, Randy! (Bonus points to Ryan Seacrest for calling Randy on his redundancy on the Wednesday half-hour. It’s about time the hosts busted on someone other than Simon. And double bonus points to Ryan for calling Simon ”prick-ly.”)

On with the gripes: The product-placement promos are too horrible to be believed. Did we really have to watch the gang raid Sephora? And those Ford Focus spots are enough to make me never buy an American car again.

Also, it was nice to see past ”Idol” rejects sitting in the front row but couldn’t anyone stop Ryan ”I so desperately want to be a” Starr from making bizarre, ”put the camera on me!” faces while pulling up her skanky low-cut top? (Now we know she actually dresses like that in real life and not just when she’s performing).

And finally, what’s up with choosing Burt Bacharach songs? I was all excited when Ryan and the dorky Dunk told us the theme was love songs, but could Burt be any further from this show’s demographic? You know 95 percent of viewers had no idea who the white haired cheesemeister even was. How about getting someone good like Carole King aboard? Or what about Elton John? Or — and I know this is major wishful thinking — Madonna? The idea was a good one, but execution, people!

But however horrible the show was for the first 50 minutes Tuesday night, nothing could have prepared us for the unbelievably off-key ”Always Something There to Remind Me” sung by the deal-with-the-devil contestant Nikki. I felt so sorry for her Living Doll-lookalike son, Tristen, who had to watch his mother butcher an already mediocre song. Even Burt knew she was hideous when he said she’d do ”fine” with the song. Even he couldn’t muster up excitement about Ms. Tongue Pierce singing his lyrics.

At least we know, for certain, that Nikki will be going home next week. There is no way on earth she’s going to outlast Justin, Tamyra, or Kelly. The only question is how brutally Nikki will butcher a song next week and if Randy will manage to tell Nikki, Nikki, Nikki that, man, she made it her own.

What do you think is going to happen on the next episode?