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Posted at 5:30 AM ET, 03/11/2011

'American Idol' 2011: ... and then there were 12

By Lisa de Moraes

The judges were kind to Ashthon Jones -- but what did the viewers decide? (Fox)

It's "American Idol" results night, in which 13 finalists will be turned into 12. In honor of the occasion, judge Steven Tyler is wearing a duster coat with fur print lining, and judge Jennifer Lopez is dressed as a jonquil. Judge Randy Jackson just got pulled out of the gym.

On tonight's show, P Puff Diddy Daddy Dirty Money is going to sell some tickets to his upcoming concert tour, and Adam Lambert is going to sing.

The Jennifer Hudson Memorial Judges Save is back, show host Ryan Seacrest announces. That's the gag that allows the judges to save themselves the embarrassment of letting America vote to boot someone really talented from this competition - like we did to Jennifer Hudson lo these many years ago. The Judges Save allows them to bring one person back into the competition, but it can only be used once per season, it has to be unanimous among the judges, and it has to be used before we get down to the Final Five.

Seabiscuit orders someone to open up the screen to "reveal your beloved 13."

Idolette Casey Abrams is back in the hospital. He was in the hospital a couple weeks ago, too. Seabiscuit tells us all to wave to Casey. "Feel better -- shout out to the nurses!" Seabiscuit says to Casey, who he assumes is watching on TV.

In pre-Casey-in-hospital times, the Idolettes taped their arrival at Chateau d'Idol, a house so ridiculously gigantic it has to be in foreclosure. The entryway alone is large enough to be an RV dealership. The Idolettes tear through the place like they've been released for recess. But there's a nasty surprise waiting for them upstairs -- where it's orphanage living. Yes, each Idolette gets one narrow bed in a wide open guy or chick dormitory. We think we saw a pail and scrub brush by each bed.

On the show, they insist Chateau d'Idol is in Beverly Hills -- on the other hand, they also said Pasadena is in Hollywood. But, enough about West L.A. real estate -- time to Group Lip-Sync! It's a Michael Jackson medley because he's not here to defend himself. Scotty McCreery is the only Idolette who does not get a solo bit during the number, though Paul McDonald barely gets one.

"There's a lot going on tonight," Seabiscuit says about 10 minutes in, with absolutely nothing having happened with regard to actual competition.

But, before Seabiscuit breaks the bad news to one unlucky Idolette, the Ford Music Video makes its comeback. We love the Ford Music Video, in which the Idolettes learn the hard life lesson about singing for one's supper. This week's Ford Music Video features the Idolettes pulling up in some abandoned urban landscape, hopping out, and defacing a brick wall via some kind of special effects. We think the car model was called The Tagger, but we can't be sure.

In return for the sweat of their brows, the Idolettes get to plug a movie and it looks as though the best "Idol" could do was "Red Riding Hood" -- because, we hear, "Jane Eyre" turned them down flat.

Flick star Amanda Seyfried is in the audience and Seabiscuit sits down next to her while she looks at him like he's the Big Bad Wolf.

"Did you enjoy it?" Seabiscuit wants her to tell him.

"It was the best experience of my life?" Amanda guesses.

This next part is a little painful, but we'll tell it anyway. The Idolettes are taken to stand on the red carpet for the premiere of "RRH," where they ooh and aah over the stars and pose for pictures with Shiloh Fernandez (Owen Camos in the 2009 season of "Gossip Girl"). And then, they were obviously NOT LET IN to the premiere, because we see them reacting to the movie while seated in what's obviously a small screening room. And, probably at midnight they all had to go back to the Chateau d'Idol to scrub the floors.

"The movie looks frightening but nothing is scarier than sitting up here, sweating it out," Seabiscuit says after the movie plug has wrapped.

Jacob Lusk, Karen Rodriguez, and Stefano Langone are brought down on stage and Seabiscuit sets the atmosphere of a show trial where everybody has to apologize for things they may or may not have done. Jacob, with the big voice, jumps out with "I definitely messed up," though his performance was okay, not bad.

Karen who really wasn't very good, attributes it to "a couple technical difficulties" and promises to "totally make it so much better next time." And Stefano says something along the lines of "humble, humble, humble, blessed."

Seabiscuit makes it seem like all three are safe then swings around and sends Karen to the Parrot Perch of Purgatory. She looks crushed. "Idol" for these singers must be like living in the court of the Red Queen, where one minute they're sitting down to tea and the next minute it's off with their heads.

Adam Lambert, our all time favorite "Idol" contestant, is back. Okay, we need to qualify that: He's our all-time favorite "Idol" contestant singing other people's music, because now he's performing a number he wrote. It's formless and shapeless and a bit of a tease for the audience, who keeps expecting him to break into one of his powerful high notes but he doesn't and then he does but it's not really the end of the song which drags on for a few more bars.

The number has a nice message of acceptance among humans, and Adam tells Seabiscuit after he's finished singing that money raised from sales of the tune go to the "It Gets Better" project. This project provides hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and other bullied teens by letting them know that "It Gets Better."

Our attention must have wandered because, next thing we know, Seabiscuit, Adam and JenLo are in a fervent conversation about a dance called the Dougie, even though Adam had performed the entire song sitting down. Well, you snooze you lose on "Idol."

Next, Lauren Alaina, Ashthon Jones, and Haley Reinhart are called to the Court of the Red Queen.

Lauren, who was a whole lot better Wednesday night than the judges let on, hesitates before bursting out with "it was bad and I'm sorry." Then she starts to cry, so Seabiscuit lets up with "unfortunately, darling, you are going to have to endure more stress on this show," and sends her to the Sofas of Safety.

Ashthon, who turned in Wednesday night's worst performance, has concluded "the thing that I should have done was pick a song everyone knows" when, in fact, you and I know the correct answer to Seabiscuit's "What do you think went wrong?" question was:

a) should have stayed in tune.

Then Seabiscuit and the judges go all Red Queen on Haley, who turned in a good performance Wednesday night and should not be in the Bottom Three. Randy trots out the old "Idol" chestnut "Who are you?" and advises her to "find your lane," which is not to be confused with that other, opposite, Idol chestnut of "You've got to be true to yourself."

Haley snaps back, "I like to switch it up a lot" which makes us like her even more. But Seabiscuit nonetheless sends Haley to join Ashthon and Karen on the Parrot Perches of Purgatory.

The rest of the Idolettes sitting on the sofas are told they are safe, because the show is quickly running out of time and they've still got one P Puff Diddy Daddy Dirty Money to go.

P Puff Diddy Daddy Dirty Money is a true media mogul, Seabiscuit tells us.

Puffy Money is also strangely animated tonight.

After his number, Seabiscuit drags Puffy Money over to the Sofas of Safety to give the surviving Idolettes what is known as The Talk about the facts of life as a pop singer.

"You get out of life what you put into it," Puffy Money says. Also:

"Keep on practicing, keep on rehearsing." That and keep god in your life, he adds. What did JLo ever see in this guy? Oh wait -- that's right, he's a media mogul!

Time to send two of the Bottom Three back to the Sofas of Safety.

"The person who may be headed home is -- Ashthon," Seabiscuit announces.

Now Ashthon, by the cruel tradition of "Idol," is supposed to sing, one last time, for The Judges Save, though you'd think they'd have some kind of second choice, like Howie Mandel would come out and tell her that the man in the booth had authorized her to go home with $5,000 and a Ford Tagger if she wants to leave now.

But, no such luck, and Ashthon elects to sing Diana Ross again so it's diva or die for Ashthon. This time, nerves make her actually worse than Wednesday night -- a thing we did not think could be done.

We see a cut-away to the judges table where Randy is going "Psst! Psst! Psst!" in Jen's ear, like they're seriously considering whether to save Ashthon -- or maybe they're comparing contract terms. Anyway, it falls to JLo to tell Ashthon it's over. She turns the knife, telling Ashthon it was unanimous, and they roll the Obituary Tape.

Got "Idol" questions? Join Lisa's TV chat at 1 p.m. Friday.

By Lisa de Moraes  | March 11, 2011; 5:30 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Lisa, luv'd Adam Lambert's It Gets Better message and luv'd the message of his acoustic Aftermath on last night's Idol.

You might like the remix version of Aftermath better. Get it at and you might just save the life of a teenager while you're at it.

Posted by: Fairfax27 | March 11, 2011 7:23 AM | Report abuse

It's one thing to be critical of a show and its participants ..

But the childish name calling is beneath even the level of intellect of WAPO and its readership... isn't it?

I wonder if the fact that WAPO owns TV stations in competition with FOX, has anything to do with publishing Lisa's inane critique?

Posted by: Hazmat77 | March 11, 2011 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Lisa, once again, you SLAY me. Fantastic We Watch So YOu Don't Have To!!! I didn't, and you came through, I feel like i was totally THERE without having to deal with JLo. I'll say it again, you are the best writer at the Post.

Posted by: tmeintermedia | March 11, 2011 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Personally I found your recap of IDOL was annoying. You included too many senseless opinionated descriptions. A couple would have been good, but this was definitely overkill. I found it difficult to read. If you were on idol, you would be definitely going home ….

Posted by: DCBornRaised | March 11, 2011 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Spot on, Lisa. I did want to add one thing: Ryan is more and more reminding me of Richard Dawson in "The Running Man".

Posted by: EnjoyEverySandwich | March 11, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm always tickled by newbies to the blog that are surprised by Lisa's snark and style.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | March 11, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the recap Lisa. We fast forwarded through most of it. A tossup between Puff whoever or idolette torture is not really the kind of choice I want to make.

Once again, my middle school aged son called it (which tells one the target audience of this show pretty accurately). When they gave Ashton a wild card spot last week for looking like a confident diva/queen, he said, "It won't matter - she's going home next week." I love that kid. It's so painfully obvious that the producers are trying to fill certain "niches" instead of just fielding the best singers they can find. Instead of saving Ashton they should have brought back that girl that came in third a couple of seasons back. She was a much better singer. Now Pia has to pull the diva sled alone.

What I really wonder is how long it will take JLo and ST to get used to giving the bad news. I will grant that the singing and performances were a lot better out of the box this season which I attribute to the involvement of real music industry oversight. A lot less "why on earth did s/he choose THAT song?" and much more polish. That being said, it still feels like JLo and ST in particular feel that because they chose these finalists, then the finalists MUST be great or they (the judges) are idiots. I find myself begging for Simon to materialize and bring everybody back to reality. "It was Okaaaayyy.... BUT..."

Posted by: buffybot | March 11, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

The girls just aren't strong this year, they might as well of eliminated all three last night to get it over with.

Posted by: ozpunk | March 11, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Lisa, as usual, you wr0te what I thought throughout. Although shockingly, I find myself with a tiny bit of a crush on Steven Tyler. Hopefully that will clear up soon.

Posted by: gracie11 | March 11, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

This is my first time reading this post. I'm an Idol fan, and I thought the post was hilarious. Lisa hits on all the funny, goofy, corny things that happened on the show this week. Thanks for my Friday morning laugh! Lisa, you forgot one thing...Seabiscuit was totally rude for ignoring the fabulous three ladies of Dirty Money (who shined as bright as Puffy Diddy Daddy).

Posted by: kabrinkle1 | March 11, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the many chuckles, Lisa! Ashthon, while a pretty girl, was most definitely the right one to go home. I have to say, Ryan was particularly not nice when discussing how Ashthon could be saved by the judges, what, he said something like that about five times! Keep it nice, Ryan! Karen also belonged in the bottom three. The girls are the weakest, right now at least. We'll see what happens next week!

Posted by: MILWI | March 11, 2011 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Ummmm, it's a BLOG, people. So, personal comments are allowed. And, we love the nicknames! As we love Lisa! She the Queen of AI Commentary! I can hardly wait to get to my laptop on the mornings after AI!

Posted by: peachieone | March 11, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe that P (can't call him what I want to call him) is an artist. Really? I guess if you have a lot of money you can do that. I remembered half way through his song that he and JLo used to be a couple. Ewwww.

Anyway, I wish they would stop making the loser sing. It's very cruel and is usually worse than the original performance that got them booted off in the first place. I turned the channel until she was finished.

Love you, Lisa. You never offend my sensibilities:-)

Posted by: cwarddc | March 11, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Dear divine Lisa:

Your posts are far more entertaining than watching the show ever is in the early rounds. Thanks to you, I don't have to bother to watch mostly bad singers come apart one by one over the too many long weeks the program now runs. It's like the endless NBA playoffs. The final game is all that matters, and the final minutes of the last game are all that really matter at that. All the rest is padding to hold commercials in place over the long haul.

I do watch the finale of American Idol. Otherwise, no point in bothering until the also rans are out of the way.

Cheers, and thanks again.

Posted by: ThoughtfulWoman | March 11, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

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