'American Idol': And Then There Were 16

Four more Idolettes have to go. Host Ryan Seacrest asks judge Randy Jackson what the purpose is of the "theme" weeks -- this week being '70s week, one week after '60s week.

Randy explains it's because every one of the contestants knows every song that's on the radio these days, so the past two weeks they've been going back to "yesterday," when the music was a little better, and the songwriting was a little better, and the Idolettes have to "work out songs from yesterday." Randy's bones start to creak and he stops talking to rub liniment on them.


Paula Abdul says goodbye to Jason Yeager. (Michael Becker - Fox)

Seacrest says his mother, Connie, noticed Simon Cowell has been doing what he calls "the Half Moose." Seacrest brought audiovisual aids -- pictures of Simon doing the Half Moose which involves taking one open hand, holding out the thumb, and putting thumb to temple. Simon says it's a code, then tells Paula to hold his hand. Paula would prefer to squeeze his head until it comes off and then hang his body from her rearview mirror, but getting hold of a hand is a start, so she agrees. Seacrest does the Half Moose and cuts to a commercial.

When they return, it's time for the traditional "American Idol" Happy Group Muzak Sing-Along Before Someone Gets Whacked. This week -- a medley of '70s tunes.

Ohmygod. They're turning Todd Rundgren's "I Saw the Light" into Happy Group Muzak. Not Todd Rundgren -- it's unbearable. I didn't sign on for the Happy Group Muzakification of Todd Rundgren. They promised me this show would slaughter the work of recording artists I could mock -- Barry Manilow, for instance. Mercifully they move on to more mockable tunes -- "The Things We Do for Love" and "I Feel the Earth Move," to name two.

First to go -- a guy. Seacrest winnows the 10 guys to just two, Danny Noriega and Jason Yeager. Jason is axed. Jason tells Seacrest he is not surprised. Neither is anyone else, given the unrelenting hate the judges have heaped on him since they decided he was talented enough to go through to the competition. Jason says he was surprised by their vitriol. Seacrest asks Simon to nick Jason one more time. Simon obliges, saying his undoing was his inability to stand out in a crowd, owing to his lack of charisma and personality.

"You're not a bad singer -- you just don't stand out," Simon says.

Let's recap: Tens of thousands of people auditioned for this year's round of "American Idol" and Jason Yeager was one of only 20 people to make it through to this week, but his problem is he doesn't stand out.

Next, Seacrest sets his sights on the chicks. He says they put on a great show the night before. Really? Where was I?

He shows clips from chicks night. They still sound. But here's something we didn't see on Chicks Night: a clip of the best snap in the history of "American Idol."

After the judges finish savaging Amanda Overmyer for her dreadful performance, she's seen offstage saying matter-of-factly, "If they don't like it, they don't like it -- I'm not asking them to buy an album."

During the chicks' clip job, we see Simon calling Alaina Whitaker the dark horse of the competition, and Randy saying Alexandrea Lushington has "mad vocal skills." We've seen enough seasons of "American Idol" to know this means the two of them are out. It's called "irony."

Also filed under "irony," when Alexandrea gets the heave-ho, Seacrest asks Randy if he's happy the chick he said had "mad vocal skills" has been ousted. Turns out, he's not.

Alexandrea's booting produces another of the best "Idol" lines ever. Seacrest decides to ratchet up the pathos and mentions Alexandrea's adorable great-grandmother, who accompanied her to her first audition in whichever town it was, and who was seen refusing to cry for joy on camera when Alexandrea got her golden ticket to Hollywood.

"You were supposed to bring her to California, freak!" Alexandrea cracks.

"I'm gonna visit her," Seacrest responds, lamely.

These chicks this season -- they've got spunk.

Next, Seacrest isolates Kady Malloy and Alaina. When Kady hears she's safe, she's stunned, which makes us like her more than we have recently. Everyone else on stage is also rocked at the notion that America has cut one of the "American Idol" Interchangeable Hot Blondes. "I can't sing! This is so embarrassing!" wails a distraught Alaina.

Seacrest steps in and calms her down, quietly telling her to look at what she's accomplished, making it past thousands of others who auditioned, to be on the "American Idol" stage, which "almost nobody get to do" -- except people who have no charisma and no personality and don't stand out in a crowd, like Jason Yeager, of course.

She smiles weakly, putting Seacrest back at the front of the running for the very first Primetime Emmy Award for Best Performance by a Reality Series Host.

Seacrest asks Paula to begin prattling on happily about how this is just the beginning of the "amazing career" Alaina's going to have, like all the other Idolettes who've been booted from the show over its many seasons during the very early rounds of viewer voting. While she prattles, Simon is seen rolling his eyes and Danny Noriega is seen weeping buckets.

Seacrest announces the "Idol Gives Back" charity fundraiser will air April 9 this year. Ruben Studdard, the second least successful "American Idol" winner ever (behind Taylor Hicks), will sing this year's "American Idol" You're Outta Here Tune, which will be used on evictions nights like this one, but not until they're down to the 12 finalists, starting March 11.

Seacrest also announces Brad Pitt will participate in this year's "Idol Gives Back." And Miley Cyrus. And Reese Witherspoon.

That's right, THE Reese Witherspoon.

And Mariah Carey, Snoop Dogg, former Idolette Chris Daughtry, and past "Idol" winner Carrie Underwood. We're sorry to report the biggest screams in the audience were for Miley Cyrus.

And, finally, one more guy gets whacked. Robbie Carrico.

Thankfully, he doesn't wig out.

Get it?

Wig out?

Hahahahaha.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  February 29, 2008; 7:55 AM ET "American Idol"
Previous: 'American Idol' Chicks: Goin' for the Sweeney | Next: "American Idol": Eight Guys' Most Embarrassing Moments

Comments

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First!

Posted by: First! | February 29, 2008 7:59 AM

Second!

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | February 29, 2008 8:40 AM

third

Posted by: brooklyn | February 29, 2008 8:45 AM

Will America PLEASE vote that nasty homosexual out. He's gross.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 29, 2008 8:50 AM

OK, 10cc is mockable, but not Carole King!

Amanda sounded even worse last night than she did the night before. Thank goodness is was just a snippet that she butchered.

And I'm embarrassed to admit that I was completely riveted to poor Alaina's meltdown. I felt like I was watching "The Moment of Truth."

Posted by: CaroleKingFan | February 29, 2008 8:58 AM

I like the homosexual. He's mildly entertaining.

I actually felt bad for Alaina last night. She was almost as shocked as Kady. My only problem with Simon is that he acts like it's no big deal. It's just a part of life, and to an extent he's right. But you can tell a lot of these people have really invested a lot in this show and they're not going to take losing well. But, it is still just American Idol.

Posted by: Justin | February 29, 2008 8:58 AM

Did you see the fright-filled expression on Danny Norigea's face when he was standing there w/Ryan and soon-to-be-axed Jason Yeager?

Priceless!

Sorry to see Amanda (skunk rocker) didn't go. Better luck next week.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | February 29, 2008 9:06 AM

Amanda is this year's Sanjaya. So bad she has no chance to win. Everyone who gets booted before her, like Alaina last nite, is obviously thinking, "How did I get whacked and that skunk-head is still standing?"

Posted by: Washington, DC | February 29, 2008 9:34 AM

I'm kind of rooting for Kady to stick around a little while. Not because I'm a big fan of her vocals but because I feel bad for her having to stand there & have the judges tell her how great she is when she's impersonating someone else and how much she sucks as herself.

Posted by: jmom | February 29, 2008 9:51 AM

I'm so sorry that Alexandrea was let go. She's far better than Amanda. Oh well.

Posted by: Idol Fan | February 29, 2008 9:55 AM

I think Simon had the right attitude and is not being nasty or rude.

Who ever is voting for Mr. Pouty Mouth? Please stop, he's a Hannah Montana look like who can't sing.

You can't be a rocker and wear a wig; it just doesn't work.

Posted by: marymount | February 29, 2008 10:00 AM

Has anyone but me noticed that Kady seldom smiles? She doesn't frown exactly; it's like it's a struggle for her to have a pleasant expression on her face.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | February 29, 2008 10:06 AM

Lisa....why do you watch the show if it brings you such misery. You must have something on Tivo you can wtach instead!

Posted by: Idolonfox | February 29, 2008 10:08 AM

The problem with Simon isn't that he's too nasty now. He and Randaula once again failed to pick a decent top 24. He must be cranky because the ones he thought were good enough before aren't looking so good now. I still think they would be better off with professional help picking songs.

Posted by: Rob | February 29, 2008 10:19 AM

Who's mildly entertaining - Danny or David H.?

Posted by: Rob Iola | February 29, 2008 10:20 AM

I'm so disappointed that Alexandrea and Alaina got sent home when Amanda and Kady were so much worse. I really hope those two get booted next week. I'm also sad to lose Jason Y. I know not many will agree with me, but I liked his performance this week, and I thought he was better than the boring dred locks guy or the word nerd rocker guy. So, do we think they'll continue going up decades and do 80's music next week?

Posted by: Amanda | February 29, 2008 10:25 AM

I think Amanda and Kady should have gone before the two they axed last night - paraphrasing Randy, the voting public got it wrong. I can see why Jason Y. and Robbie didn't get the votes they needed. I'm enjoying this season so much more than the last two (even though I loved Jordin)!

Posted by: WI | February 29, 2008 10:30 AM

Great review.

But it was "yesterYEAR" Randy was babbling on about, which is so much cornier than yesterDAY. The yesteryear reference highlighted both how pitiful Randy's public speaking skills are, and also how tragic it is to ask these kids to sing songs they've never heard. You're right Lisa, "MR. Jones" loses all the context of the original song's scandalousness.

Even I am bored with the song choices, and I can (somewhat) remember the seventies.

Posted by: Sam | February 29, 2008 11:18 AM

The voting public got it wrong? In people opinion they always get it wrong when the boring half-competent people go, but Idol has never been about competence.

People have stayed on longer than their competence might warrant because they happened to be from a more Idol voting hometown, because they're pretty/hot (why is Luke still here), because of their occupation (how else do you explain some of the military people from the past seasons), because of their genre (country and rock are usually only represented by one or two contestants while bubble-gum pop and R & B have multiples that split votes from eachother), because the producers give them a disproportionate amount of airtime ect. ect.

Alexandrea was cut because her personality time was bland (despite trying to pull the 9/11 vote) & her songs didn't suit her leading to her not attracting a fan base.

Alaina was cut because of the 4 blondes she was the most boring and she chose a horrible song for 70's night (unless the producers forced it on her) making it hard for her to gain traction attracting a fan base.

Jason Yaeger was cut because again his personality time was boring, he always had an uphill battle after getting no audition time and the judges hate influencing an unknown number of sheeple making it hard for him to attract a fan base.

Robbie was cut because everyone knew he was fake and going for the rocker vote thats the one thing you can't have.

Just because some singer is 'decent and I don't mind listening to them as my bland 4th choice' and someone else is 'epicly comical trainwreck who is unique but pisses multiple people off' doesn't mean America got it wrong. Boring is the #1 sin of American Idol not sucking.

Posted by: bluemeanies | February 29, 2008 11:18 AM

it's not about who can sing best at this point - it's about who people like more, or who they "think is hot" - why else is Luke still there?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 29, 2008 11:44 AM

Hmmm...a couple of comments here.

First, pookie, I think you got it wrong. I think Ruben in the third least successful Idol behind Hicks and Sparks. By album sales, he is #3 behind Clarkson (9.5M) and Underwood (and 8.2M) with 2.5M record sales. Hicks sold 700K and Sparks 560K (numbers available on wikipedia.org). Also, despite being dropped from his record label, he is still making a heck of a lot more publicity, money and media buzz than either Hicks or Sparks.

I'm also not certain why people are fighting over who gets KO'ed in the round of 24/20/16. It doesn't matter that much. The next tier is who makes the top 12. Those are the finalists and they get to be on the AI Season album. Then it is the top 10. Those are the ones that get on the album and go on the AI tour. After top-10, it really comes down to the top-2 who get the most billing, publicity, buzz and assistance from the AI machine.

But there really is not much difference between 21-24 and 13-16 except if you don't want to hear someone sing again. For me, that one is Amanda. I loved her the first two times that she sang and then hoped I wouldn't have to hear her again. I lose.

Posted by: Dadwannabe | February 29, 2008 11:56 AM

1st off Alaina deserved to go for doing exactly the wrong thing on AI--boring us to death with a slow song.

The rules for getting to the later stages of AI are pretty evident this many years into the show.

1. Look Good
2. Move when you sing, no wooden puppets allowed (they are using the term "charisma" a lot this year...you'd better have it).
3. Do not bore us to death with a slow song. With few exceptions (That young kid's "Imagine" the other night) that never works (see crying ex-Idol wannabe Alaina again).
4. Do not sing your "favorite" song if nobody has ever heard it. We don't care what your favorite song is, we want to hear popular songs we all know and love, you dolts.

It's pretty simple.

One other comment...you could tell Alaina could not believe she was voted off. Ummm, Simon was right, it was like your grandmother picked that song and outfit. The ego on that girl. For that alone, she deserved to go.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 29, 2008 12:00 PM

Hmmm...a couple of comments here.

First, pookie, I think you got it wrong. I think Ruben in the third least successful Idol behind Hicks and Sparks. By album sales, he is #3 behind Clarkson (9.5M) and Underwood (and 8.2M) with 2.5M record sales. Hicks sold 700K and Sparks 560K (numbers available on wikipedia.org). Also, despite being dropped from his record label, he is still making a heck of a lot more publicity, money and media buzz than either Hicks or Sparks.

I'm also not certain why people are fighting over who gets KO'ed in the round of 24/20/16. It doesn't matter that much. The next tier is who makes the top 12. Those are the finalists and they get to be on the AI Season album. Then it is the top 10. Those are the ones that get on the album and go on the AI tour. After top-10, it really comes down to the top-2 who get the most billing, publicity, buzz and assistance from the AI machine.

But there really is not much difference between 21-24 and 13-16 except if you don't want to hear someone sing again. For me, that one is Amanda. I liked her the first two times that she sang and then hoped I wouldn't have to hear her again because I got tired of it and it sounded the same. Then she butchered one of my favorite Kansas songs--I lose.

Posted by: Dadwannabe | February 29, 2008 12:05 PM

Carole King is definitely not fit for mocking, so please take it back. Fortunately we have inimitably lovely Brooke to do Carole and Carly justice. Brooke is going to the Finale with David and may win it all. You read it here first.

This is going to be such great fun. We and Simon will have twelve more weeks to probe for Brooke's hidden Dark Side. Assuming as an act of faith that it exists. That by itself will make AI worth watching this year.

Posted by: Christin | February 29, 2008 12:06 PM

Kristy Lee Cook does have nice "shoes."

Posted by: Carla | February 29, 2008 12:42 PM

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that Amanjaya didn't get booted: I just can't figure out her fan base. Are there really THAT MANY viewers who want to see The Bride of Frankenstein doing a bad Janis Joplin impersonation? Who ARE you people?

Posted by: Earl Hofert | February 29, 2008 12:54 PM

Methinks one thing that got Alaina booted was that creepy bio in which she doesn't like food creeping into each other. America thought she'd be better off on a couch than onstage.

Posted by: JD | February 29, 2008 12:55 PM

Pookie - do not mock Carole King. Please. Like the poster above, 10cc - yes. Ms. King - no. Still love ya, but watch it. :-)

Posted by: jpstang | February 29, 2008 1:06 PM

Earl Hoffert-

Well, according to Dial Idol her home state of Georgia (and the south votes more than other regions) for one. Vote for the Worst for another. And various other people who find her interesting enough to put her in the top half of the Dial Idol busy signal formula which if it keeps up could put her onto the album and the tour. Even if she wasn't in the top half she didn't have to be, only get more than Alaina (who was voting for her?) and Alexandria (again, who?). If the producers are to be trusted on the third place votes (a debatable concept) she also got above Kady which if it repeats is halfway to the top six.

Posted by: bluemeanies | February 29, 2008 1:21 PM

John Castro the dreadlocks contestant looks like John Travolta and seems to have many of his mannerisms am I wrong? Watch him next time. I'm not so sure this is their best season ever. The people that I thought were strong aren't bringing it week to week and have already had their failed chances at success. It's too bad because some who could have really profitted from the attention and had as adequate talent and personality as the rest of them now standing didn't even get the chance to shine their light on the big stage (such as Josiah Leming)
At least there are still a few really trying up there. I give them my applause but unfortunately we all know how it goes on idol and they won't win anyway. Have a good season.

Posted by: Diane | February 29, 2008 1:31 PM

Ok, I rechecked and was wrong about Georgia. She did however, have the best DI score. All the girls, however were ranked as possibly falling into any position 1-10, none safe and none guaranteed booted. Of the boys the differences were slightly more pronounced but only Archuleta was firmly called as safe.

Posted by: bluemeanies | February 29, 2008 1:33 PM

Apologies to the crowd here - yesterday was my first time ever reading Lisa's column. I'm not so pro-Idol that I'm oblivious to Simon's snarkiness or Ryan's effeminate qualities attracting a crowd; however, the horrible truth is that America loves watching a trainwreck, and maybe that's why we all love watching people crash and burn on AI.

I have found AI to be great escapist TV during a time in this country that has been particularly vicious to a lot of people. Reading Ms. de Morae's sarcasm only spoiled my enjoyment of the show. Again, I was a first-time reader. I didn't like HER snarkiness. I don't demand sugar-coated reviews, just non-condescending ones.

I won't be coming back, probably to the relief of many...and I won't be reading her brand of humor any longer, either. I'm changing the channel, as it were.

Posted by: Caroline | February 29, 2008 1:52 PM

Caroline --

Why did you feel the need to share those comments? You sound so full of self-rightousness that I'm guessing you probably tip over when you try to stand up straight.

Posted by: Rooney | February 29, 2008 2:38 PM

Amanda is like a female Joe Cocker, as impersonated by John Belushi. For 70s week she should have sung "With A Little Help From My Friends"...

Posted by: Arly | February 29, 2008 3:12 PM

You know, Amanda O reminds me of Kim Carnes. If next week really is 80's week, then maybe she can use "Bette Davis Eyes" to springboard into contention like Carnes used it to open up her career in 1981.

Personally, I'm tired of her and unless she can come up with a new sound that is appealing, then I'd just as soon see her go. Different isn't necessarily better and having around because she's the only one that is different is a lame excuse. If they just wanted different, they should have picked the Princess Leia girl who cried and screamed that they didn't want anything different. She certainly had a better voice than Overmeyer if much less stage presence and style.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | February 29, 2008 3:17 PM

Concerning Alexandrea's (Great?)-Grandmother ;
"I'm gonna visit her," Seacrest responds, lamely.

But maybe he will. He and Alexandrea are both from Georgia. It would be something if, when he was there, actually did stop in on her family.

Posted by: Carl | February 29, 2008 4:11 PM

My wife thinks that Simon was pressing on the side of his head because of a bad headache. She does that herself when she has a migraine.

Posted by: Carl | February 29, 2008 4:12 PM

John Castro looks more like Carole King than John Travolta, no offense to Carole King.

Daniel Noriega is doing a bad imitation of Ugly Betty's nephew. Except the latter is only acting!

Posted by: Carl | February 29, 2008 4:16 PM

As for Randy's comments vis-a-vis "yesteryear" - all I can say is the panelists must have been comatose at the time to have missed Neil Young's version of "Imagine" in the post-9/11 national telethon - and pronounce young David Archuletta's the most moving in history. Whatever.

There were so many fabulous male and female singer/songwriters working in the 1970s that I would have expected greater breadth in the music chosen - copyright clearances notwithstanding.

And that's what makes these "theme" shows so boring.

I hold one hope: that on "country night" - since they can now play instruments - someone plucks the autoharp while singing the (June) Carter Family version of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken". Maybe that horse trader will try it.

Posted by: Jean | February 29, 2008 4:30 PM

Caroline: You are a liar. I KNOW you will be back (so do you). Here's a place for you to go and find a home.

http://www.upwithpeople.org/

And Danny Noriega is so obviously this year's Sanjaya that I can't help loving the hate. Ish.

Posted by: Doorknob | February 29, 2008 4:36 PM

Jason Castro looks nothing like John Travolta!He's adorable, and has the greatest attitude. He appears to be the most approachable person on the show, IMHO. I could watch him sing all day.

Posted by: Jason Castro Fan | February 29, 2008 4:46 PM

I don't watch Idol (I am saving my few remaining brain cells), but there is a picture of Amanda Overmyer on the front page of the Austin Statesman today. Good god, that girl looks one of the Thundercats. Seriously. Get her off this show before some evildoer (besides Simon) shows up.

Posted by: ep | February 29, 2008 6:24 PM

Yes, my wife says that she looks like she should be in a touring revival of CATS, the musical.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | March 1, 2008 12:25 PM

idolonfox and Caroline,
You evidently aren't capable of grasping the humor behind Lisa's writing, so save us and her the comments, and don't bother reading this column anymore if you suffer so much from it.
I love Lisa's column! Very entertaining!

Posted by: idol-ette | March 1, 2008 1:41 PM

oh well

Posted by: ??? | March 1, 2008 2:23 PM

These "contestants" that think AI is their life make me LOL. Any one of them that was SERIOUS about getting into the business would go on DOZENS of auditions each week...not just AI. Anyway, the real successful ones are NOT the AI "winners" which actually lock them into an AI contract. David A. would be great with Disney. Danny N. is the only one this year with any Personality. And his LOOKS - OMG should be on the cover of every Tween Magazine.

Posted by: Get Real Dawg | March 4, 2008 4:16 PM

(Dainy)*
You are the Best."nice Dress"
I am sure, that you are the winner of American Idol.
God Bless You.

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