Stuck in the Middle With You

Who says "American Idol" producers don't have a sense of humor? After all these weeks listening to contestants blather on about how much they love each other and give each other "strength," and weeping crocodile tears when one of their number gets whacked, the producers compel them to open the results show with a group-sing of Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle with You."

About 37 million votes were cast this week to determine the 12 finalists. All 16 wannabe's are seated on one side of the stage. Show host Ryan Seacrest, dressed like a Savile Row tailor, makes LaKisha Jones and Blake Lewis stand up; he sends them to the 12 Chrome Tractor Seats of Glory on the other side of the stage.

Phew!

Next up, Chris Sligh's lush curls blushingly confess to Seacrest they're hopeful they'll be put through to the finals. They are. Lush curls bob happily over to their Tractor Seat of Glory.

Jordin Sparks also sails through, as does Phil Stacey, who is so shocked he weeps, for which we like him better because his performance this week really was not good.

And as shocked as Phil is, that's exactly how shocked Jared Cotter is NOT to be put through.

"You surprised?" Ryan asks.

"Very!" Jared says.

Ryan asks the judges for parting advice. Simon Cowell advises Jared to work on his singing. Paula Abdul tells him America loves him, which the voting does not seem to support. Randy Jackson recommends originality.

Ryan cleverly calls up the two backup singers simultaneously: Melinda Doolittle and Brandon Rogers. They're safe.

Ditto Gina Glocksen and Chris Richardson who are holding hands, which inspires Ryan to ask them how well they get along. Gina tells him to shut up because her boyfriend is in the audience. Gina is no fool.

OMG, it's American Idol Carrie Underwood! Could Carrie look more bored to be there? At least we now know where former Idolette Kellie Pickler got all that fat for those new "shoes" and bum she was showing off the other night on the show; it was obviously sucked out of Underwood, who looks rail thin. And wasted -- no wait, that's the name of the song.

Now, the big moment we've all been waiting for. Ryan calls up Antonella Barba and Stephanie Edwards. Ryan becomes very serious, so we know one of them is going home. It's Antonella, who assumes the But, I'm So Popular! look of shock.

Ryan wants to know what are Antonella's memories of being on "Idol."

"So many -- too many. I can't even think about it right now," she says. "So many great ones but..." she stops herself.

Ryan wisely does not ask the judges to give Antonella parting advice, instead telling Antonella "I know your fans would love to hear you sing one more time." Which is true, only in a T-shirt and undies, splashing in the World War II Memorial on the National Mall -- but you can't have everything.

Next, Ryan calls up Haley Scarnato and Sabrina Sloan. Sabrina is already crying. She has cause; Ryan tells her she's going home. Haley Scarnato is safe.

Haley Scarnato!

(That's my new favorite imprecation: "Haley Scarnato!")

The judges look surprised.

"Randy, should Sabrina be going home?" Ryan asks.

"Sabina should be in the top 12, dawg.... America got that one wrong," Randy complains.

Time for the Big Announcement Ryan has been promising us all week. It's called "Idol Gives Back" and during one week in April the producers hope to raise millions for poor children in Africa and the United States, by having Sacha Baron Cohen appear as Borat on results night that week (along with a mess of pop singers including Pink and Gwen Stefani) and by getting their sponsors to pony up money for every viewer vote cast on performance night that week.

We see footage of Ryan and Simon in Africa, looking like two colonial bureaucrats being greeted in the village where they'd come to collect taxes. The children are heartbreakingly adorable. Ryan is paid in bananas, which are loaded on his head.

Back to the business at hand.

Ryan calls up Sanjaya and Sundance Head. Who will get the final Chrome Tractor Seat of Glory? It'a a no brainer, of course, because this is a singing competition, not a hair-off. But Ryan announces Sanjaya is through to the finals -- Sundance is out.

The judges are shocked.

"I'm speechless," Paula says and then immediately begins to talk: "This is a singing competition," she says.

We know, we already said that, but you cannot say it too often on this show.

"Simon, what happened?" Ryan asks.
.
"The volume was turned down?" Simon says.

"Somebody give me a job - I need a job," Sundance tells about 30 million viewers.

Won't somebody, please, give Sundance a job?


By Lisa de Moraes  |  March 9, 2007; 2:25 AM ET "American Idol"
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Comments

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I'm glad I missed last nights show because if I had, my TV would probably have a big, vaguely foot-shaped hole in it.

Sanjaya!?! He's got such a creepy high school talent show vibe. I keep expecting him to break out in some Gershwin number.

Posted by: jw | March 9, 2007 8:35 AM

Switching between Survivor and Idol I couldn't figure out who the blond chick was singing her swan song, but was glad that whoever it was that she had been voted off. Until Ryan came on at the end and reminded me that it was Carrie Underwood, who will be back countless times I'm sure. Wonder what African village she'll be reporting/singing from in April...

Posted by: Rob Iola | March 9, 2007 8:42 AM

last night was too annoying for words. first the fact that sabrina got voted off and sanjaya is voted through...then the whole "aren't we so awesome for helping african kids" schtick. the weepy background piano music was so manipulative i wanted to puke. plus, did anyone notice, in the footage of simon in africa, he's holding a cool bottle of spring water while milling around with desperately poor kids who are probably DYING for a nice cool bottle of spring water?? what a gimmick.

Posted by: Sophie's mom | March 9, 2007 8:45 AM

I pledge to vote for Sanjaya the rest of the way, for he saved me much agony by beating out Sundance. You can't butcher "Jeremy" like that without severe repercussions. The only downside was having to hear him shout it one last time.

Try to forget this...

Try to erase this...

Indeed!

Posted by: Alex | March 9, 2007 8:58 AM

At least now Antonella can accept that couple of hundred thousand bucks that you KNOW Playboy has been aching to offer her. Imagine...the first AI contestant to get a full pictoral. And if she doesn't take it, I'd be shocked. She looks like a young Eva Mendes.

Posted by: 23112 | March 9, 2007 9:00 AM

"Ryan is paid in bananas, which are loaded on his head."

Fantastic!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 9, 2007 9:06 AM

Haley Scarnato!

(That's my new favorite imprecation: "Haley Scarnato!")

Thanks, Lisa. I'm gonna need a new keyboard, and a new cup of coffee.

Posted by: Bethesda | March 9, 2007 9:21 AM

Lisa Demoraes has the compassion of a grape. Every week she finds ways to criticize the contestants, producers, hosts, etc. She lacks balance in her reporting, never finding anything good to say about anyone. I doubt that her looks could compare to Kelly or Carrie, yet she feels good pointing out their flaws.

Just review her comments on idol, they are always overwhelmingly negative, is she a reporter of a frustrated singer?

The biggest joke - she thinks her "Idol" opinions about the show really matter. Lisa, reality check - Washingtonians actually do like to support the dreams of others, maybe one day you will learn that bad news doesn't always sell.

Have you own opinion, enjoy the show and watch someone become a star.

Posted by: Jeff | March 9, 2007 9:44 AM

Whoa Jeff, calm down! I, a long time Washingtonian, look forward to Lisa's commentary after each episode and if you really read Lisa's columns, she does root for her favs (LaKeisha anyone?!) but says what we are ALL thinking about the people who need to be voted out.

Posted by: Betty | March 9, 2007 9:48 AM

Agreed Alex. I could never forgive Sundance for what he did to "Jeremy." I can't describe how terrible it was.

Posted by: Rick | March 9, 2007 9:49 AM

Reality check right back atcha: Lisa Demoraes is paid to make snarky comments about American Idol. Which are, BTW, funny as heck. And she's hardly the only one who throws darts at this very large target. I saw a TV show the other day in which three women sat around making comments which were equally funny.

Wikipedia sez: "Her columns are written in a distinctively irreverent tone; they usually strongly imply her opinions on the subject matter. Trademarks of her Post writings include her weekly rundown of ratings "Winners and Losers", her "We Watch So You Don't Have To" recaps (for example American Idol), and her tendency to address others (and for others to address her) as "Pookie" in her weekly live chats."

Oh, and she did 10 years for the Hollywood Reporter so I'd bet she's pretty easy on the eyes.

If you don't like it, don't read it.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | March 9, 2007 9:53 AM

Well well well. For people who are pissed at who got voted off and who didn't: This is the AMERICAN public who determines the outcomes at this point! Blame your peers who are not voting for people with talent but some guy with floppy hair!!!

Posted by: Kit | March 9, 2007 9:58 AM

jeff's comments about this blog are too funny. i mean haley scarnato! the whole point is to watch the show and then dish! right? RIGHT??!! if you want a 'serious' AI discussion, got to the AI website where all the true believers and scary people are.
i am shocked, saddened, disappointed and other words of dismay that ms. scarnato made it through to the twelve. and that little scary skinny kid too. while i agree that sundance's rendition of 'jeremy' was an abomination before God and man, the scary skinny kid has NO TALENT whatsoever.
fortunately, none of the people who were let go last night would have won, nevertheless..."it's a singing competition." Gosh.

Posted by: methinks | March 9, 2007 10:04 AM

I like how "Idol gives back" by making its sponsors and viewers donate all the money.

Posted by: Sarah | March 9, 2007 10:04 AM

Right on, Kit, with your bad self...it must've been a difficult choice for America to figure out which hair to put through: Fauxhawk or Pantene. I'm quite pleased to see that good conditioning really pays off in the end!

Posted by: Domokun | March 9, 2007 10:15 AM

Got to defend Lisa here -- Jeff, get off your high horse. If I might borrow a Mr. Tony comment here: if you don't like what your reading, click away and go to another site that agrees with you. Although God only knows where that would be. You SERIOUSLY think that nobody should have a critical reaction or use humor recapping a TALENT SHOW?!?

Actually, what am I saying? You dismiss Lisa's opinion on everything -- I'm going to dismiss yours. And you can dismiss mine. And we'll pretend that nobody exists and we all live in bubbles.

Posted by: Chris C | March 9, 2007 10:16 AM

Okay, but LaKeisha and Melinda seriously need to sing some songs from THIS century before one wins the crown.

Posted by: Shelle | March 9, 2007 10:23 AM

Haley Scarnato!

Posted by: h3 | March 9, 2007 10:34 AM

I keep telling you people, Antonella is NOT classy enough for Playboy! Look for her to be spread eagle in Penthouse or bent over at the waist for Hustler....
Lucky for us there is no market for that for Sundance. :)

I was surprised at Jared going rather than Sanjaya, and Sabrina rather than Hayley. But hey, more Haley means more of Hayley's HOT boyfriend. :)~~

I have to say it is refreshing to see Paula actually verge on criticizing performances. Is she sober?

Posted by: cmj | March 9, 2007 10:42 AM

Hey Jeff, If you think Lisa's comments are insignificant, what does that make your (anonymous) comments about her comments?

Posted by: American Idolater | March 9, 2007 10:56 AM

I am so happy that Antonella is history. She can't sing plus she has no class. Both Sanjaya and Haley should have joined her though.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 9, 2007 11:02 AM

A moment of silence for Antonella...

...your fifteen minutes are over. I hope you enjoyed them.

Oh and Jeff can Suck It! Lisa's the Best.

Posted by: Justin | March 9, 2007 11:15 AM

To Sophie's mom, who says: "the weepy background piano music was so manipulative i wanted to puke. plus, did anyone notice, in the footage of simon in africa, he's holding a cool bottle of spring water while milling around with desperately poor kids who are probably DYING for a nice cool bottle of spring water?? what a gimmick."

I know that we sophisticated readers of this column love to be snarky and cynical (see reaction to Jeff's comments). But I think you are being way too silly. What kind of background music would you prefer? Perhaps some ragtime or New Orleans jazz instead of weepy piano music???

And oh, the horrors of drinking bottled water in an undeveloped country!! (Maybe Simon just wanted to avoid traveler's diarrhea). Please get over it.

Why assume the worst about AI's intentions? Obviously they know this will be great for PR. Of course they will milk it with weepy piano music. But I don't doubt their sincerity any more than Bono's (who is helping with the effort).

AI uses its extraordinary platform to raise awareness about poverty. The less fortunate will benefit. Viewers can "make a difference". AI gets great PR. Everybody wins! What is there to complain about?

Posted by: Not a complete cynic | March 9, 2007 11:54 AM

i had to laugh at the earlier posting about those two chicks who are the best singers (like simon, i don't know their names either) performing songs from this century! i felt the same way..."i'm a woman" was peggy lee's signature song, for crying out loud.
time to turn those pipes onto something a little more current.

Posted by: methinks | March 9, 2007 12:03 PM

I hate the whole "schtick" they go through on the shows where someone is voted off. Do you really have to give us a blow by blow in the article? How refreshing would it be just to make a list...."who's IN" "who's OUT" and spare us the rest of it.

Posted by: Sarah | March 9, 2007 12:06 PM

Haley Scarnato, Batman!

Posted by: Ike | March 9, 2007 12:20 PM

I hate the whole "schtick" they go through on the shows where someone is voted off. Do you really have to give us a blow by blow in the article? How refreshing would it be just to make a list...."who's IN" "who's OUT" and spare us the rest of it.

Then what would be the point?

Posted by: dym | March 9, 2007 12:29 PM

Like her or not Lisa keeps you all reading, doesn't she? Mission accomplished!

Posted by: Meg in PA | March 9, 2007 12:48 PM

Isn't Antonella a Catholic U student/grad? Somehow I doubt the CU administration will use that WWII Memorial Splashfest photo on their recruiting materials. Or will they?

Posted by: tm | March 9, 2007 12:58 PM

Actually, I'd say that Sanjaya probably has the purest singing voice of all the men. And while he certainly appears to have all the stage presence of an insurance salesman, you certainly cant say he doesnt have singing talent.

Posted by: matt in DC | March 9, 2007 12:59 PM

Matt, you must be one of those folks that Simon said had the volume turned down.

Posted by: anti matt | March 9, 2007 1:22 PM

The worst part is I can see why Sanjaya is still in it, he has an entire community voting exclusively for him. It's not unreasonable to believe the entire Indian community in America is looking to see him through. (Remember last year's internet fiasco...funny, but almost mean to do to a guy who was way in over his head by the time he was voted off finally.) Don't get me wrong, he can sing his way out fo a wet paper bag. But he's 17, and his vocals reflect the inexperience. (Can someone give his eyebrows a little tweak, and make tell him to stop looking like his sister's sister just a tiny bit?)

Now...what is getting Haley Scarnato though? I have no ing clue. She sings like a pageant queen (bland, strict to her routine, etc..) Boring, and obnoxious.

Did anyone catch her smug look during "Jeremy" (or at least i think that was the song; it got butchered like a fresh lamb.) She had this "I don't give a dump about any of these people, I'm going on...mwhahahahaha!" look. Almost evil.

In short: if they allowed one week to vote someone off instead of on, guess who'd be gone.

Posted by: Austin Translation | March 9, 2007 1:23 PM

He doesn't have singing talent.

Huh, I guess I *can* say it, hee hee.

Posted by: jw | March 9, 2007 1:28 PM

Hurray! The skanky twit is gone. I, too, am sure she will end up in Hustler Magazine. Her parents must be so proud to see what the tuition at AU has bought them.

Posted by: Shelley | March 9, 2007 1:55 PM

Austin Translation: The Indian American community doesn't care about American Idol. He isn't even Indian. His mom is American. He gets votes from young girls, soccer moms, gay guys and people who like a train wreck

Posted by: Mr. Gandhi | March 9, 2007 2:13 PM

Is "American Idol" the only show on television? Why don't you just rename your column to "deMoraes on American Idol"? Or try branching-out a little, puh-leeze!

Posted by: Joe | March 9, 2007 2:30 PM

Remember America elected George W. Bush twice.
I say let's keep the momentum going and "elect" Sanjaya the next American Idol.

Posted by: David | March 9, 2007 2:55 PM

Love reading Lisa's column! Not saying that Sundance shouldn't be gone but Sanjaya needs to be gone too! Unless the guys step it up, I'm thinking there's going to be two of the ladies left at the end of this competition.

Posted by: Milwaukee | March 9, 2007 3:05 PM

Gay guys vot for Sanjaya? Really? Not any that I know. We all seem to universally think he's on a Painful Journey to Draq Queendom, and we just wish he'd get there already, and be done with it. He'd be happier, and we wouldn't have to watch the painful journey anymore.

Posted by: Hillman | March 9, 2007 3:10 PM

Sanjaya will not be in the last 4, hell he is lucky if he makes the top 8. And if he does that, it's just what Simon, Randy, Paula and the whole American Idol group gets. This season, they really put through more than enough people who were less than mediocre when it comes to singing and performing and Sanjay is proof to that. Sanjaya shouldn't have stayed in Hollywood after the group thing, but he did. So he is here. So maybe Simon, Randy and Paula will take there well rehearsed rejection speech they give at auditions "we are looking for the next American Idol" crap seriously next year when they hold auditions.

Posted by: Stacey | March 9, 2007 3:54 PM

There's a reason people are still singing songs from last century. Because they're great songs.

And there's a reason no one will remember a single song on the charts this week 15 years from now, except for you whiners when they're played by the ghastly cover band at your high school reunions, and that will be more because of you having gotten nailed in the backseat of your boyfriend's Nissan while that tune was playing on the radio.

Posted by: filmex | March 9, 2007 4:35 PM

Most modern songs are dull and awful. I always hope to hear more from the really good songwriters of the last hundred years, gershwin, cole porter, and good rhythm and blues. As for Sundance killing the pearl jam song, kids it is just another song. A good song, and certainly he didn't do as great a job as Eddy Vetter, but the fact is he exposed a pretty good song to a lot of people who never heard it before and he had his heart into it. But, hey, it's a holy thing isn't it? What do I know? I've only been around sixty years listening to pop music from before my time to even now, but my opinions probably do not mean anything to the young and fully able to see the "truth" folks who seem to post to this weird column.

Posted by: Tim | March 9, 2007 5:37 PM

I'm a little surprised at the sheltered life some of these commentators must be living. The Barba pictures are nothing surprising (at least the ones that are actually of her). You can get on thefacebook and see hundreds like them at any university. Coeds nowadays when they've had a few drinks don't have a lot of inhibitions. And Barba will simply go back to her architecture coursework and get her degree; she's apparently a competent student in a good program.

Posted by: March Hare | March 9, 2007 6:36 PM

Jeff, Lisa has a very loyal and established group of readers, of which I am one. While I am sure she welcomes new readers to her cadre, if you do not like the way she writes, kindly spend your time elsewhere on the Web. You sound a little frustrated, so it would probably be in your best interest--as well as in the best interest the rest of Lisa's audience--if you found a Internet venue you enjoy. Thanks.

Posted by: lolyla | March 9, 2007 7:07 PM

Posted by: Haluk Direskeneli | March 9, 2007 11:04 PM

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