''American Idol'': Where's the justice? The subpar Scott lingers on, while Simon -- oblivious to stellar showings by Anthony and Vonzell -- continues to dote on Carrie
Scott Savol, American Idol

”American Idol”: Where’s the justice, people?

Listening to Scott Savol butcher yet another song this week on American Idol, one question kept popping into my brain: Who on earth keeps voting for this guy?

Sure, Scott’s got the support of his mom, who declared in that strange pre-performance video that he’s ”the heart and soul of America.” But her son’s lethargic, off-key rendition of Luther Vandross’ sap-tastic ”Dance With My Father” once again proved he shouldn’t be called the voice of America — and it’s time for the viewing public to finally put an end to that possibility. Otherwise, the name Scott Savol is destined to wind up alongside Nikki McKibbin, Josh Gracin, and Jasmine Trias in the Idol history-book chapter about contestants who marched into the series’ final four despite a lack of vocal power, charisma, fashion sense, and rhythm.

Of course, maybe it’s me who’s missing something. After all, doesn’t picking up a phone and placing a vote for an Idol contestant indicate a desire to turn on the TV the following Tuesday and see said contestant perform again? Could Scott fans actually fit this description? Perhaps I need to reopen my ears to the excruciatingly strained falsetto Scott displayed on ”One Last Cry” several weeks back. Or maybe a second viewing of his futile attempts to get jiggy on ”I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” will reveal a magnetism that I’ve somehow missed over the last seven weeks.

Whether or not I ever gain a deeper appreciation of the Ohio native’s mysterious appeal, I must at least brace myself for the possibility that Scott could survive another week in this competition. Which raises a more chilling question: If Scott lives to trot out another untucked-shirt-under-sportscoat combo, which of the other five contestants will feel the swing of the ax? Conventional wisdom would say Anthony Fedorov, Vonzell Solomon, or Bo Bice, since all of them have landed in the bottom three at some point this season. But on the flip side, the two worst performances from last night’s ”2000 and later” theme (not counting Scott) came from perceived frontrunners Constantine Maroulis and Carrie Underwood.

Indeed, two weeks ago, coming off sizzling renditions of ”My Funny Valentine” and ”Bohemian Rhapsody,” The Artist Formerly Known as Sméagol was looking like the contestant to beat, but his hellacious rendition of Nickelback’s ”How You Remind Me” changed all that. While Paula made a good point — did I just start a sentence with that phrase? — that a performer like Constantine doesn’t have to hit all the right notes, it would’ve been nice if he’d hit at least, say, one in 10. Kicking at the camera, boogying down with his backup singers, and mugging for the viewers at home (though a tad less shamefully than usual), Constantine gave new meaning to the song’s lyrics: He reminded me of something, all right — what a silly poseur and terrible singer he can be at his worst. For no other reason, Constantine deserves a bottom-three scare to shake him out of his two-week stupor and create some genuine suspense about who’ll be the last two standing.

I’d say the same thing about Carrie, but can a fembot experience fear? Sure, she wasn’t nearly as ear-shredding as Constantine (maybe all the backing vocal support helped?), but Randy was correct in saying she sounded under the melody for almost the entire length of Martina McBride’s ”When God Fearin’ Women Get the Blues.” (I’d have added ”out of breath,” ”emotionless,” and ”oddly like she was holding a big burp in her throat,” too.) And as for her bulky black cowgirl top, it ought to go back in a locked closet with last week’s cotton-candy disco frock.

Considering Carrie gave the worst performance of her Idol run, it was infuriating that Simon refused to criticize her. Mind you, he didn’t actually compliment her, but if Vonzell had sung that poorly, you can bet Simon would’ve told her to pack her bags. Instead, he told Carrie that her core audience would love her rendition. Huh? It’s one thing to have a favorite, but Simon’s competition-long attempt to steer the malleable, marketable blonde into the final two — regardless of the quality of her singing — is an affront to the spirit of the show, not to mention a slap in the face to every Idol fan.

The situation is even more intolerable when you consider that for every instance Simon uses his kid gloves to handle Carrie, he trades them in for boxing gloves to pummel Anthony and Vonzell, no matter how sensational those two sound. I can sometimes imagine the crusty British judge channeling Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon: ”When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it!”

Granted, I winced when Ryan Seacrest announced Anthony was about to tackle a Celine Dion number (and when Heather Locklear acted mortified by her own child’s inability to read off a cue card, but I digress). But the boy from Eastern Europe (nattily attired in a pinstripe suit and baby-blue shirt) surprised me by choosing ”I Surrender,” one of Dion’s few ballads that doesn’t seem entirely played out. Yes, Anthony is Velveeta personified, but his performance was so unabashed, so passionate, and so on-key that it made a believer of me. With three consecutive stellar efforts, A-Fed may be earning the title of Comeback Kid, even if Simon refuses to acknowledge it.

Ditto for Vonzell, who is clearly the woman to beat in the competition, after out-singing (and out-dressing) Carrie on Broadway night, on disco night, and again on this week’s show. She may have wobbled early on in her version of Christina Aguilera’s ”I Turn to You,” but by the end, Baby V had done something she hasn’t all season: She made me forget the original version of the song, and added her own unique artistry and depth to the proceedings. In other words, Vonzell did exactly what she needed to do to turn herself into a serious contender for the crown — even if Simon somehow gave a better critique to his pet fembot.

Speaking of adding one’s own twist on a tune, I can’t help but wish Bo Bice had gone beyond offering a highly competent imitation of Gavin DeGraw’s super-catchy current hit ”I Don’t Want to Be,” but it almost didn’t matter: The silky-maned Alabamian is in a complete zone right now. The more confident he gets, the better his growly vocals sound, the more daring he gets with his clothing choices, and the more he transforms from laid-back dude-next-door into budding superstar. Bo may be the one contestant remaining who doesn’t need to win this thing to become a household name, and at its heart, isn’t that what American Idol is really all about?

Which finalists do you think will make up this week’s bottom three, and which one will be eliminated? Is Simon actually showing a bias toward Carrie? Do Vonzell and Anthony have a shot at the final two? And has the momentum shifted from Constantine and back to Bo? Post your thoughts here.

Episode Recaps

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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