"Idol," Put Us Out Of Our Misery!
Guest blogger Tamara Jones fills in this week for Washington Post television columnist Lisa de Moraes.
We have just two words for former American Idol winner Ruben Studdard: Head deodorant.
Seriously, hasn't anyone invented Ban for baldies yet? Because as Studdard so vividly demonstrates upon his return to the Idol stage, dome sweat is an affliction no one should have to endure, least of all those forced to watch it on live television.
Even the Velvet Teddy Bear's eyelids are drenched by the time he finishes his otherwise unremarkable single, prompting host Ryan Seacrest to reach way, way up on his tippy-toes to wipe at Ruben's dripping brow with his (ick) bare hand.
This bit of torture comes after the pre-recorded "live" group sing, which seems to have been arranged to showcase Lil Rounds, an early frontrunner and judges' darling who wobbled more than she warbled during Wednesday night's tribute to Motown.
We get the not-so-subliminal message that Lil is not going to be eliminated.
But before we get down to business, Ryan wonders aloud whether judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul have gotten down to business, given their slap-tickle-giggle display of Drama Club lust.
"Get a room," Ryan suggests.
"We did," murmurs Simon, and we admit we wonder for a nanosecond whether it might be true, because Simon has, in fact, actually changed his t-shirt.
That's as much speculation as we can muster for a results show destined to be a no-brainer.
But first, off we go to the Idolette's commercial for Ford, which shows us that a parked car has more charisma than this bunch. There's also something very suspicious about the vocals on "Pocketful of Sunshine," and only teen powerhouse Allison Iraheta sounds even remotely recognizable in the chorus.
Now Ryan approaches the 10 cowering finalists to start the weekly slice-dice Benihana routine. He immediately pronounces Adam Lambert safe. (Why do we feel Adam's likeability rising in perfect correlation to disposable judge Kara Dio Guardi's dislikability?)
Ryan sends Matt Giraud over to take one of the dreaded Stemware of Shame seats. Next, tweeny-bopper heartthrob Kris Allen feigns surprise that he's a keeper. Lil pulls off a much-better show of anxiety when she's told to stand up with oil roughneck Michael Sarver. Michael wears the same happy, hopeful expression no matter what you tell him. We love you, Ol' Yeller.
Sure enough, Michael is still grinning as he trots over to the loser stools. He gives miserable Matt an encouraging man-hug but stops short of licking him in the face.
When we hear that 21-year-old Joss Stone is going to perform a duet with Smokey Robinson, we're so excited that we break into a headsweat. We lurve Joss! We bow to Smokey! Though...together? We're skeptical but game. This pairing could be very avocado martini.
Joss appears right out of a Midsummer Night's Dream, in blond tendrils and blue nymph gown, singing Smokey's new song, "You're the One for Me." But when 69-year-old Smokey comes slinking up to her, with a Jack Nicholson grin and those glittery green jaguar eyes, we have to wonder what the personal space rules are for duets. Smokey may be singing his (pretty but too wordy) new tune, but he's telegraphing "Get ready, cause here I come..." and we're not surprised that Joss sings with her eyes mostly closed.
Back to the waiting Idolettes, Allison, Anoop Desai and Dorky Danny Gokey are spared, leaving Scott Muzak MacIntyre and Megan Joy MacWeirdweird to cling to each other like doomed Titanic lovers. Pretty trumps pity, and Megan is left alone on the life raft.
Ryan asks the judges which of the three lowest vote-getters doesn't deserve to be there, and Simon graduates to Who Wants To Be a Sixth- Grader by correctly answering: "Well, they're there because the public don't like them much."
Zing, oof, KA-POW, Batman.
Michael looks pleased. Scott looks oblivious. Matt looks nauseous, even though his performance of "Get Ready" makes him the most-obvious choice when Ryan says someone gets to go back to the life rafts.
Obvious, except the highly organized treacle industry clearly cast a good portion of last night's record 36 million votes, and it turns out that Scott is immunized. Ryan leads him back to the safety zone without cracking any blind jokes, which leads us to conclude not that Ryan has matured overnight, but that special guest star Stevie Wonder is ready to come on. We're ashamed to admit that we would very much like to see Stevie smack the sunshine right off Ryan's face.
Stevie Wonder takes over, and takes off, performing a Motown medley that makes us wish for the first time ever that the results show could be three hours long. Everybody is dancing away, and even the condemned Idolettes light up. Anoop's face registers the most emotion we've seen from him all season -- pure delight -- and it's fun to see a teenager like Allison absorbing what she clearly realizes will become one of the most memorable moments of her life.
We can only hope that egomaniacs Kara and Paula are mouthing the lyrics and not actually believing Stevie Wonder needs them for backup. Ryan dances from the chin up only, like a goose that accidentally flew into a mosh pit. Stevie gives a mid-"Overjoyed" shout-out to the president -- "I love you, Barack Obama!" -- followed a few seconds later by a dutiful, "I love you, American Idol!" Hey, so do we! What's not to love about a live mini-concert by Stevie Wonder?
Even when it's over, the good feeling lingers, and we're smiling right along with Michael Sarver when he learns he's the biggest loser tonight. He's given one last chance to earn the judges' sole "free" vote.
"I have to sing after Stevie, oh crap," Michael says in one of the all-time best understatements in Idol history.
He puts more muscle into "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" than he did on performance night, and the judges actually consider keeping him. Ryan reminds them that "there's another show coming up soon," and Simon invokes his autocratic authority to break an impasse and puts Ol' Yeller down.
"You're going home, sorry," he tells Michael.
Michael can't help but smile.
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