A Funereal Elimination Night on Idol
Guest blogger Tamara Jones fills in this week for Washington Post television columnist Lisa de Moraes.
They're promising us "an epic night" on American Idol, but we've taken enough running kicks at that invisible football to know better by now, thank you very much. We won't get fooled again.
Oh, right. This week was a tribute to the Grand Ole Opry, not The Who. Big diff, it's all one big happy tuneless jumble as far as most of the 11 remaining Idolettes are concerned. "I had fun," and "I learned a lot" are the two most common refrains as the show's most uniformly forgettable finalists are picked off one by one.
You could send them home in groups of four, and we probably wouldn't notice.
And we're not the only ones in such a gloomy state. Rehearsal footage shows most of the Idolettes wearing surgical masks to avoid contamination from Megan Joy Corkrey, who brought Influenza B to set this week (but decided to leave her last name behind, apparently).
Judge Paula Abdul has dressed for the reaper, too, ironing her fake hair Morticia-straight and affixing twin black tulle roadkill ravens to either shoulder. Apparently, contestant Adam Lambert's signature Hot Topic style is as contagious as Megan Joy's flu.
The Idolettes perform a Kidz Bop version of Travis Tritt's "T-R-O-U-B-L-E," and the song title pretty much sums up the performance, too. If only the rest of the show were that expedient.
Host Ryan Seacrest makes presumably doomed oil-rigger Michael Sarver tearfully recount a conversation with his 3-year-old daughter, who asked, "Why don't you wanna be with me anymore?" This immediately relieves the collective conscience of the millions who likely voted to send Michael home. Ryan offers to let the distraught daddy send a special hello out to his baby, but the cameras that expertly zoomed in on Sarver's face when he was crying suddenly can't seem to find him at all, and Ryan has to direct the shot, which gives him a chance to use important-sounding TV jargon. Is this the epic part?
Turning to the huddled Idolettes, Ryan swiftly declares Danny "Dorkey" Gokey safe, along with an incredulous Lil Rounds and a vindicated Anoop Desai, who seems to have stopped by between rounds of a Junior PGA tournament. Safe, too, and therefore consigned to the Idol Top Ten tour, are the sort of interchangeable Kris Allen and Matt Giraud, token pretty-quirky-blonde-with-impressive-shoes Megan Joy, and always-benign Scott MacIntyre, who is forever being either patronized or insulted by Seacrest and the judges, who have never before encountered a real live person with a visual impairment.
Allison "Cherry Bomb" Iraheta, the teen with the cartoony red hair and half of Bonnie Raitt's voice, is not so lucky. She and Sarver face exile over in the Stemware of Shame section, where three martini-butt stools await the lowest vote-getters.
"Who do you think is in the Bottom Three?" Seacrest asks Paula.
"None of them, I can't believe this," sputters Paula, suddenly coherent enough for the first time in eight seasons to realize that not everyone wins!
"No matter who goes home, you're never going home," Paula and the twin ravens assure the Idolettes. "Home is a whole difference place for you now." A Fox dungeon would certainly explain why so many Idol finalists are never seen, or, mercifully, heard again.
Ryan dispatches Cherry Bomb to the Stemware of Shame. Sarver offers some paternal words of comfort in her ear before sitting back down in the safe seats.
Whoa, not so fast, big boy. Ryan orders him to stand back up and, in one of the coldest fake-outs ever, announces that Michael isn't safe, either. OK, that was epic (OK, maybe we're lowering our standards of epicocity here, but we plead Stockholm Syndrome).
Brad Paisley appears to sing "Then," and we're starting to see a pattern here with hidden messages in song titles.
Now it's down to Adam Lambert and Alexis Grace. Lambert's sitar-infused "Ring of Fire" made us want to jump in one to escape, while Grace's thin "Jolene" had all the edge and weight of a ping-pong ball. Grace gets kicked to the Stemware to join Cherry Bomb and oil-rig guy.
Former Idol winner Carrie Underwood comes onstage, and we can't help but notice there are stiff black flowers in her stiff blonde bouffant. Fox stylists have clearly been shopping the funeral aisle at Michael's. This week's country mentor, Randy Travis, joins Underwood for a duet of "I Told You So." Carrie's a bit shrill at times, but maybe that's just in juxtaposition to Travis's beautiful river-runs-through-it timbre. He reminds us that Idol is to country what Velveeta is to cheese.
As it turns out, the 'told you so' is directed at Alexis Grace, who got the least votes among over 31 million cast this week. She looks pretty miffed about it, too, standing there with her hands on her little hips. The judges dangle a carrot: Maybe they'll spend their new 'save' card on her. Alexis must sing "Jolene" again. She does so smack in their faces, planting herself in front of their table and holding her hands out in supplication as she sings, "My happiness depends on you, whatever you decide to do..."
Simon delivers the verdict in Paulaspeak: "It was kind of unanimous." Then, to clarify: "It was good, but not good enough."
Quoth the ravens, "Nevermore."
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