The judges toy with saving one of the Top 9; Nicki Minaj and Scotty McCreery perform
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The question on no one’s mind: If Heejun Han had sung the Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” would the judges — who looooved bringing up that song because the kid’s name kind of sounds like it — have saved him? Nope. As “the diabolical Jimmy Iovine” put it, Heejun simply didn’t sing as well as the other eight contestants on the show.

Heejun went out on top, delivering a “sing for your life” performance of Donnie Hathaway’s “A Song for You” that improved upon Wednesday night‘s rendition in terms of heart and soul. I loved watching everyone’s eyes slowly fill with tears as they grappled with their own mortality. (Except J. Lo. She’ll always be safe.) Heejun’s bromantic love interest Phillip Phillps looked especially rattled. Who will tell him bedtime knock-knock jokes now?


It was Steven Tyler who called Heejun out on not taking s— seriously last week, so it had to be Steven Tyler who broke the news to the class clown tonight. “Let the record show that you knew this was coming yourself,” said the Aerosmith frontman fully committed to global warming this summer. “You took it up a couple notches. Unfortunately, we’re gonna have to let you go, man.”

Hollie Cavanagh and Skylar Laine joined Heejun in the bottom two and three, respectively. Skylar was a surprise. I’d have thought DeAndre Brackensick would land himself in jeopardy after this week’s “Sometimes I Cry.” But you know who disagreed? DeAndre’s personal idol Eric Benet himself, who meandered onstage for a spontaneous meet-and-greet with The Hair. Sometimes DeAndre cries, but mostly he just gapes wide-eyed at his good fortune like an adorable baby lion prince.

I’m just glad it wasn’t Hollie tonight. Imagine having to float out of America’s line of vision with that giant doll braid attached to your head! It would traumatize you for life.

Jimmy introduced a “Jessica Sanchez vs. Hollie Cavanagh” concept that hadn’t been openly acknowledged on the show to date. He said they both sound beautiful, but Jessica “comes at it from more of a soulful perspective,” while Hollie’s approach is more “intellectual.” Do you wanna be a diva or do you wanna be a nerd? Make the right choice, America! Weird that he pitted them against each other like that.

NEXT: Space invader Nicki Minaj doesn’t even pretend to sing Jimmy was all smiles, though, as he presented season 10 winner Scotty McCreery with framed proof that his debut album had gone platinum — “a really Herculean act” in today’s music business, Jimmy said on behalf of Interscope Records. I thought Scotty sounded excellent on “Water Tower Town” and it’s really the perfect song for him, hitting all the Southern small-town keywords like “football,” “sweet tea,” and “girls.” What could be better? I’ll tell you: the awkward yet endearing moment when Scotty whiffed on a fist-bump with Randy and had to settle for a shoulder pat from behind!

It’s a bird…it’s a plane….it’s…Nicki Minaj’s boobs about to pop out of her Rainbow Brite dress! No, I’m kidding, it was a pink spaceship. Look, I’ll admit that “Starships” is an incredibly fun song on the radio, but watching this unbeweavable sparkalien pretend to “sing” live is always infuriating. Sure she used the mic for the speaking parts, but the rest of the vocals were so obviously lip-synced that she didn’t even bother pretending to aim it at her face. We were basically watching a weird workout video of teens in knee pads. I almost wish they’d upped the visual spectacle with more elaborate staging to make up for it.

Least convincing delivery of the night: “Let’s check out the screen for this week’s badge.” –Colton Dixon cueing up the Ford Music video, which as far as I could tell was about the Idols collecting big-box TVs to store ironically in a dungeon located three stories below their spanking-fresh new home theater.


So long, funny man.

Did the judges make the right call tonight? Were you surprised about Skylar in the bottom three? Is Steven Tyler allowed to say the word “ass” on TV? Discuss.

See you next week!

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American Idol

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.

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