This bears repeating: On Wednesday (April 6) night, we saw performances from the "American Idol" Top Nine. That means there were nine performances and three judges' critiques per performance. That's 27 individual evaluations over 90 minutes and not a single one of those 27 evaluations was what I would describe as "negative."
The performances on Wednesday were decent, but they weren't *that* good.
This is the second straight week in which all three judges were afraid to say anything resembling a discouraging word. And so, for the second straight week, it's a wide-open field with elimination approaching on Thursday. I predicted Stefano going home, with Haley and Jacob also making the Bottom Three.
Was I right?
Click through for a full recap
8:00 p.m. "How you like me now?" You wanna get me pumped for elimination? Nothing beats The Heavy.
8:01 p.m. Jennifer Lopez is wearing pants? How strange. I'm not sayin' she isn't still looking stylish, but come on...
8:02 p.m. "Welcome to what could be another shocking results show," Ryan Seacrest teases. Hmmm... That means Jacob, I suspect? Or at least Jacob in the Bottom Three?
8:03 p.m. Last week's strategy of splitting the Finalists into small groups and letting them do duets and trios worked so well that it's been cast aside in favor of the triumphant return of The Dreaded Group-Sing. They go through a medley of Classic Rock Favorites including "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," "Sweet Home Alabama," "The Letter" and more. It descends into atonal cacophony in the end, but I'm mostly alternating between watching baseball and watching Haley Reinhart. Jacob Lusk bouncing up and down with a big smile singing along to "Sweet Home Alabama" is making me hope that he's involved with the shock. What'd Neil Young ever to do you, Jacob?
8:10 p.m. Our Ford commercial this week has our Finalists breaking into... something... to steal... something.
8:11 p.m. Russell Brand has a movie coming out this week (and another dropping last week), so we're pretending that he was the "charisma coach" for the Top 9. "Casey, I'm very happy that you're here... And that you stopped shaking," Russell says to Casey Abrams, who he calls "an incredible hairball of wonder." Otherwise, this is mostly horrible. Unlike one of Brand's new movies, he isn't pooping jelly beans. He may, however, be drunk, as he seems to be throughout his other movie.
8:15 p.m. We begin with Lauren Alaina, Casey and Stefano coming to centerstage to face results. Ryan Seacrest asks Casey about a tweet from Kelly Clarkson saying she has a crush on him. Casey can't respond and, again, looks like he may go into another quivering fit on the stage. Then Ryan tries to get Randy to apologize for his most tepid praise of Wednesday's show, the part where he had the nerve to say that Stefano wasn't perfect at first. Given the chance to say, "You know what, Ryan? I watched again and Stefano was FAR worse than I originally thought," Randy just mutters something about standing by his opinion.
8:17 p.m. One of them is in the Bottom Three. Lauren is safe. That leaves Casey and Stefano. Last time they were put on the spot like this, Casey had a heart attack. In this case, Casey is safe. Stefano is the first person in the Bottom Three. Stefano heads over to the Stools of Shame, as his friends murmur their disapproval in the crowd.
8:22 p.m. Ladies and gentlemen... Tony nominee Constantine Maroulis. For some reason, the "Rock of Ages" star is singing "Unchained Melody." And yes, I'm sure there's a great reason for this. And you don't need to tell me. I can live in ignorance. Trust me. Constantine still makes his Constantine Eyes and he still makes his Constantine Lips. Vocally, Constantine rarely ever impressed me in his season, but it's clear that he's been improving over the years. He could not have done this performance in his season. That doesn't change the fact that he's barely a Poor Man's Long-Haired Adam Lambert.
8:26 p.m. Constantine is still doing "Rock of Ages" on the road. And he's a new father. Mazel Tov! Constantine plugs his show relentlessly. At least he has something to plug. Good for Constantine.
8:27 p.m. You know how awful the ladies all looked last night? You may have seen people making fun of Lauren's shorts and Pia's culottes? They were Gwen Stefani's fault. Now we're watching a whole montage of her fashion cluelessness. I like Gwen Stefani. She's talent. She has her own quirky sense of style that works for her. But I'd never let her dress me.
8:30 p.m. Paul McDonald, Pia Toscano and Scotty McCreery move into the spotlight. Either all three are safe, or else this will be a minor surprise here. Paul had fun last night. Pia's getting more confident every week. Scotty used to get in trouble for singing on the bus.
8:32 p.m. Scotty's safe. But between Paul and Pia, one of them is in the Bottom Three... And it's PIA. That actually is a wee bit of a stunner. That'll teach her not to do anything but sing ballads! And I'm not the only person surprised. Somebody with a microphone says something that has to be muted. Madness, y'all. You'd say, "This will shake Pia out of her complacency," but this was the week she actually tried. Lesson learned, I suspect. You asked for it, America. The PiaBot will return.
8:37 p.m. The "Idol" Finalists got media training this week from TMZ. Somebody in the crowd boos.
8:38 p.m. This TMZ crap is the worst "American Idol" segment ever. I hate all of these people. Some fat slop who couldn't be bothered to shave is lecturing Scotty on making funny faces. MAKE IT STOP.
8:40 p.m. James Durbin, Haley and Jacob are the last three in the spotlight. I feel pretty confident that James is safe. Otherwise? Who knows?
8:41 p.m. James is, indeed, safe. Notice how we haven't heard last night's vote totals? Guess we didn't get to 55 million. The last person in the Bottom Three is... Jacob. The judges are incredulous. "If you're unsatisfied, remember you have to vote," Seacrest reminds us. And, if you've forgotten, Jacob being in the Bottom Three tonight means that you, America, were ashamed or afraid to look in the mirror. It definitely doesn't mean that he did Michael Jackson karaoke in the first position on a 90-minute show.
8:44 p.m. Pia's a surprise in the Bottom Three, but the other two really aren't. The judges, however, are astounded. This is largely because they're in denial that *anybody* has to go home on this show and that, therefore, it serves nobody for them to be complacently adulatory to every single contestant.
8:47 p.m. Wow. Iggy Pop's topless emaciated corpse is flopping around the "Idol" stage rocking out. He's thrusting around with the contestants and he gets bleeped at least twice. He's pretty remarkably energetic for a man born during the Taft Administration. And he's scaring the snot out of Jennifer Lopez, which is totally worth the price of admission.
8:50 p.m. "I think I've got to cut out carbs after seeing that," Ryan says. Oh, Ryan. We know you haven't eaten carbohydrates since 1997.
8:54 p.m. It's time for what Ryan calls "the toughest part of the week."
8:54 p.m. After reminding Jacob of his ass-tastic comments from the night before, Ryan tells him, "You will be leaving us. And going to safety on the couches." Then he reveals the result, PIA TOSCANO is going home.
8:56 p.m. The judges are pissed. The crowd in the studio is booing loudly. Pia is astounded.
8:56 p.m. "I have no idea what just happened here. I'm shocked. I'm angry. I don't even know what to say," Randy says. "You're one of the best singers in this," Randy says. "I'm never upset on this show and I'm never really mad, but I'm mad," Randy says. "They're wrong. I don't know what happened with this," Steve says.
8:59 p.m. "We're not going to go out on that note," Ryan says. "Sing whatever you like," Randy tells her. Pia goes with "I'll Stand By You." Pia is much too emotional to have been forced to do this. Her final solo is awful and she knows it. J-Lo is still bawling and the other contestants are still shell-shocked.
Bottom Line: Time for wild conspiracy theories! Whee! Some people will tell you that Pia had previously stuck to her comfort zone because that's where she was at her best and that she simply wasn't so great with the up-tempo performance last night. But what's the fun in that? First we can start talking about The Week After Elton John Week Curse. It claimed Jennifer Hudson and now it got Pia Toscano, which means she's going to win an Oscar some day. Lucky her! Nobody can claim racism, but it's hard to ignore that we started off the Top 13 with seven women and we've now eliminated five of them and not a single guy has gone home. And would anybody be even vaguely surprised to see Haley go home next week? I sure wouldn't. Back when Kara DioGuardi departed the show over the summer, I wrote about the "American Idol" Gender Problem and it's not an imaginary thing. The demographics and the voting procedure have basically guaranteed that we're heading for our fourth consecutive white male winner. "American Idol" is tough on women and it's even tougher on beautiful women and Pia Toscano is a beautiful woman. Yes, Carrie Underwood won the show, but she was a girl-next-door country singer who has been reshaped into a bombshell through subsequent years of styling. Plus, "Idol" was a different show back then, with texting holding less sway and Internet voting non-existent. No matter what anybody said in trying to prop Pia up as a favorite after the Top 24, she was never, ever going to win. This is just sooner than she should have gone out. Oh well. It's just "American Idol," kids. Silly s*** happens.
Bottom Line, Part II: The next thing we're going to hear is an uproar of "The Judges Wasted Their Save On Casey And Should Have Had It For Pia" articles, tweets, etc. That's ridiculous. And pointless. After the Top 24, Pia was a favorite. Casey was a favorite. Jacob was a favorite. Scotty was a favorite. James was a favorite. Lauren was a favorite. The Judges' Save was going to be used on the first person from that group to be eliminated. I honestly believe that. Casey just happened to be the first one to need the Save. But anybody from that group who'd gone out that week, the next week or this week would have gotten the Save. The Judges' did exactly the right thing and it's just a pity that voters decided to make two boneheaded choices in three weeks. But that's just how it goes. And, frankly, I'd rather have Casey around than Pia. But I'd rather have had both of them in the Top 5.
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