Image Credit: Frank Micelotta/FoxFans of my snark demon Smirkelstiltskin will be sorely disappointed to learn that he will not be appearing in this on-the-scene recap of last night’s American Idol results show (after this paragraph, anyway). Smirkel had such high hopes for it, too, given that the very first sign we saw upon entering the Idoldome said “CT hearts Katie!” (like, the very same CT from The Real World Paris, and The Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno, and The Inferno II, and The Duel, and The Inferno III, and The Gauntlet 3, and The Duel 2? That CT? Who knew he was such a fan of reality competition shows?). But then Adam Lambert took to the stage, delivering by miles the best live guest performance I’ve seen on an Idol results show ever in the history of awesome. Alas, Smirkel became so enraptured by Glambert’s laser-light tornado that he let one of the green laser beams hit him square in his third eye. He’s currently convalescing inside Randy Jackson’s belly button lint trap.
Suffice it to say, Glambert completely blew my everloving mind last night, and judging from the deafening roars from the live audience before, during, and after his performance of “Whataya Want from Me,” I’d say I was far from alone. Unlike the horrid group numbers, which are exponentially more horrid in person, in large part because they are choreographed for the cameras and not the studio audience, Glambert constructed his number as much (if not more) for those of us inside Idoldome as those of you watching from home. For one thing, as cool as those lasers looked on TV, they had true dimension and shape in person (in other words, they were in 3D!). For another, the music simply sounded big and gorgeous live, a perfect sonic match for the visual spectacle. Unfortunately, both the live show and the televised version were hobbled by a way over-zealous fog machine; I’d love to tell you what the Idols and judges made of Glambert’s show, but all that smoke utterly obscured them from view.
Oh, that’s right, this was a results show, not a Glambert concert. You could’ve been forgiven for thinking it was the latter, though. A completely unscientific visual survey of the audience counted at least as many pro-Glambert posters as ones for all the other current Idol hopefuls combined. And the mere sight of Glambert during the show’s Dramatic! Opening! Video! Montage! sent the audience into conniptions.
Yes, of course, the Idoldome crowd also had some love for the judges — especially Ellen DeGeneres, who was greeted like a minor rock star herself — as well as the Top 9, although as they scattered around the stage to their places for the group number, they all appeared far too nervous to really acknowledge the adulation. All save for Tim Urban, who really couldn’t be happier to be anywhere else, or to be anyone else, for that matter. Right before they began their lip-synced desecration of the Elvis Presley catalogue, Grinning Timmy even smashed it out with Big Mike, coaxing the new father into the rare non-stankified facial expression.
After the group number, we entered the ad break, and Simon was surprisingly the first judge to welcome Elliott Yamin. The Idols were placed on the velvet benches of doom, and Ryan walked in while singing the single word “Viva!” over and over, but otherwise, in stark contrast to Tuesday night, the host appeared well-rested and was well behaved. As Ryan went around shaking every Idol’s hand and wishing them well, Debbie started fanning an overheated Big Mike’s big head. Mike soon began fanning himself with his hat, until finally a make-up person had to blot the dude’s face with some paper towel. Goodness, lip-syncing can be such exhausting work.
Just as we were about to come back from the break, I noticed Lee Dewyze sitting cross-legged on the benches, and for some reason I desperately wished he’d stayed seated like that. Perhaps it would’ve put poor Lee in a more zen state of mind for the wrenching events that were about to unfold. As it was, after Lee’s bestest buddy ever Andrew Garcia was 86’d from the show, Lee clearly had no idea what to do with himself. After Andrew’s farewell song (during which all the Idols clapped along, except for Big Mike), Lee hung far back as the rest of the contestants swarmed Andrew for the customary bear hug goodbye. Then the judges approached Andrew for their habitual final words of encouragement, and Lee began nervously pacing across a small patch of the stage, as if he realized that his own chance at a farewell moment with Andrew was quickly slipping by him. Lee’s eyes became fixed on the judges, willing them to just speed it up already, for chrissakes.
Eventually, though, the demands of live television intervened, and Debbie had to move all the remaining Idols back to the benches. She gently placed Lee on the last spot next to Siobhan, where he looked like a boy who’s watching his best friend from down the street move away and no one will give him a chance to say good-bye. Finally, Debbie took Andrew in hand to lead the newly axed Idol off stage; seeing his opportunity, Lee intercepted them, but it everything just came out all wrong. Lee sorta half fell into his bro-hug with Andrew, awkwardly forcing his buddy backwards a few steps, and it looked like they barely had time to get out a few cursory words before Debbie wrenched Andrew away for good. Even with Ellen taking the time to talk to Andrew’s wife in the audience, it was just not enough for Lee, not by a long shot. With Andrew gone, he slumped back down onto his seat, occasionally sharing his bitter discontent with the remaining Idols, who could do nothing to mend Lee’s broken heart and so glumly stared off into the middle distance instead.
And that’s how they all remained, from the Idol Gives Back package with Elliott and Kara, through Brooke White and Justin Gaston last-minute duet of Elvis Presley’s “If I Can Dream.” With my snark demon in recovery, I have nothing to really share with you about this performance, other than the only Idol to show any real engagement with it was, yes, Tim Urban, who managed to tap his left foot to the beat through most of the song. Through my entire life, one of my mother’s unrelenting mantras as been “attitude is everything,” and good grief does Tim follow that aphorism with single-minded enthusiasm. Even after he was bottom three’d, Tim practically ambled off the stage with Big Mike and Katie, his perfect grin splashed effortlessly across his face.
As the crew loaded in Glambert’s equipment with clockwork efficiency, Siobhan clasped her hands together tightly, almost doubled over in her seat, and MamaSox gave Lee a warm hug. The audience was so keyed up for their promised dose of Glambert that some began wildly cheering when one of his band mates stepped onto the stage. When the real Glambert finally appeared with about 15 seconds to go before air, the place became unmoored, and I’ll be darned if Glambert didn’t look totally humbled by the sheer tonnage of adulation.
After he finished performing, Debbie brought Tim, Mike, and Katie back out into the wings, and I realized that they had apparently missed the chance to see Glambert perform live. Ryan threw to commercial, and all eight remaining Idols made a bee-line for Glambert, along with Kara and Randy. Simon left the stage immediately, waving his hand in front of his face as if bothered by the saturation of smoke in the air — kinda ironic since, according to Seacrest, Simon uses practically every ad break to steal away a chance to smoke.
We came back from the break, Ryan told Tim to smile, told Mike he was safe and not even in the bottom three, and told Katie her Idol journey was at an end. As she delivered a shaky, humanizing “Let It Be,” Debbie got the entire audience to clap along merely by miming clapping to the beat from the extreme stage left edge of the Idoldome. This woman could lead a small army if she wanted to.
Out of nowhere, Andrew appeared again on stage, and before anyone had a chance to blink, Lee had zipped himself by his BFF’s side, wrapping one arm around him, beaming with genuine relief and great pleasure at the second chance to say goodbye. Then Andrew and Katie’s Idol journeys began unspooling on the Thunderscreen, and the reality proved too much for Lee, who once again separated himself from the rest of the group, choosing to nervously fidget in solitude instead. Katie, meanwhile, just buried her face into Casey James’ chest. After the show was officially over, in fact, Katie proceeded to bury her face in the chest of anyone willing to match her two-arms-slapped-tightly-around-your-back embrace (e.g., not Simon).
Finally, after much lingering, especially on the part of Katie and the judges, Debbie cleared the stage for two post-show taped performances. The second, by Lady Antebellum, I did not get to see, as the first, a comedy bit for Idol Gives Back, took a whopping 45 minutes to complete, and I desperately needed to eat. The skit in question featured Russell Brand and Jonah Hill (coincidentally, the stars of this June’s Get Him to the Greek), in a pre-taped bit in which they pretend to head up a celebrity Idol Gives Back call in center and banter with Seacrest back at the Idoldome. Last night, Ryan had to pre-tape his side of that dialogue, but it doesn’t really matter whether that makes any sense or not, since Ryan himself put it best once he was done: “I don’t know how I’m going to look good [in this skit].”
What does matter was the disarmingly charming way Seacrest entertained the audience while the Idol crew sorted out their complicated technical concerns. He commiserated about craving chicken stir fry, and how funny it would be for the entire audience to flash mob a Whole Foods for dinner. He took audience questions: Yes, he wears a new suit every week. Yes, “I do date girls,” though not for very long. He is 5′ 8″ (“and three-quarter inches with shoes!”), but he does not wear lifts — although one unnamed Idol judge apparently does. His preferred scent is Thallium cologne. And then there was this: “Do I watch…what’s The Soup? I like Joel McHale. He’s my friend. I give him enough material, don’t I? Joel McHale walks my dog.”
At this point, both Ryan and Debbie grew impatient with waiting, and started bickering like old marrieds:
Ryan: [to audience] Have you met my wife, Debbie?
Debbie: Oh that would last about two seconds.
Ryan: [to Debbie] Are you married now?
Debbie: No, I’m not, a——.
Ryan: [to audience] You have to understand, Debbie and I have worked together almost every day for ten years, and—
Debbie: He can be annoying.
Ryan: She calls it annoying, I call it charming. [Begins singing] “Whadaya want from me?!”
Debbie: Your blood.
Priceless. Absolutely priceless.
What did you make of Adam Lambert’s performance last night, dear readers? In your heart of hearts, do you think in a year’s time anyone from this season could match it, if not in drama than at least in the ability to take total command of the stage?