9:01 p.m. ET Set to "Hey Jude," the recap of Tuesday's Lennon & McCartney performance show does a fine job of making a so-so show look superlative.
9:02 p.m. "Prepare yourself for a surprise or two," Ryan Seacrest says, kicking off Wednesday's (April 7) show.
Prepare yourself, indeed, after the break...
9:02 p.m. The producers have promised Ryan "shocking results." Color me slightly intrigued. The judges would probably use the save on Crystal Bowersox, Lee Dewyze, Michael Lynche, Siobhan Magnus and Casey James, right? The other four would get sent home, right?
9:04 p.m. We're only two weeks away from "Idol Gives Back," but we're already auctioning off "American Idol" gewgaws including Ellen's shoes and voice lessons from Kara and Randy.
9:05 p.m. The comically lip-synched Group Sing is a Lennon & McCartney medley. The voices have been over-produced so that all six "Idol" men sound identical and the three women are also indistinguishable. Other than the nice black-and-white retro costuming, it's horrid. This is so poorly faked that the Finalists might as well not be on the stage at all.
9:11 p.m. Ford commercial time. It's set to "Going Round in Circles."
9:13 p.m. Casey is ready for whatever is coming. Tim Urban says that they just got to "sang" some of the best songs in history. Ryan assumes it's bad grammar. I assume he's referring to the fact that they actually probably sang the songs several days ago.
9:14 p.m. We're pulling the Bottom Three. Siobhan stands first and she's called to the middle of the stage. Crystal is next and she goes to join Siobhan. Katie Stevens, wearing an appropriate "Let It Be" shirt already admitted to being nervous. And she also goes to the center of the stage.
9:16 p.m. Ryan asks if one of the three girls could be going home and Randy says they definitely shouldn't be. The audience agrees. Crystal is safe. Ryan then says, "I can tell you that one of you is safe... and so is the other." All three ladies are safe. We're sending a dude home tonight, the first guy eliminated since the start of the Top 12. YAY!
9:22 p.m. Ryan announces that Adam Lambert is next week's mentor. Katie, who clearly doesn't follow Adam on Twitter, is shocked and giddy.
9:23 p.m. Jason Derulo hits the stage to perform. I only know that he's Jason Derulo, because he sings his name. He also has a personally tailored suit with spikes on one shoulder and one forearm. Methinks Jason has a history of unfortunate run-ins with pigeons and peregrine falcons.
9:25 p.m. I can't exactly see Kara DioGuardi's influence on Jason Derulo, but Michael Jackson's influence is subtly implied.
9:30 p.m. We still don't have a single member of the Bottom Three, but what we do have is the triumphant return of Presumptive American Idol Winner David Archuleta, or specifically his version of "Imagine."
9:32 p.m. With the possible exception of David Archuleta fans, everybody loves to make fun of David Archuleta, but the talent gap between Little Archie and a teen pretender like Aaron Kelly is massive. There's little doubt that Little Archie would be the toast of this season's "Idol" men as well.
9:34 p.m. David is doing writing and recording on his next album, which should be released "soon."
9:35 p.m. Back to those pesky results. We're going to form two groups at the center of the stage. I'm sick of hearing Lee talking about confidence every week. Lee's sent to the far side of the stage. Michael starts his own group. Casey goes to Lee's group. Aaron Kelly's next and Simon gives him a vote of confidence, telling him that he has talent, but he needs to sound relevant. Aaron joins Big Mike. Timothy Urban, smiling broadly, goes to join Lee and Casey. That means Andrew goes to join Aaron and Big Mike.
9:40 p.m. So surely the shock is that Big Mike is in the Bottom Three? Because if your Bottom Three includes Lee and Casey, that may be more shock than my little heart can stand.
9:41 p.m. Ryan puts Ellen on the spot. Ellen guesses the Big Mike group. The crowd boos, as if there was some circumstance in which *no* group was the Bottom Three and *no* contestant had to go home and Ellen was too cruel to find that solution.
9:41 p.m. Ellen is correct, but the director gets confused and screws up the reveal. Yes, America. Tim Urban isn't even in the Bottom Three.
9:42 p.m. Aaron Kelly is safe, meaning that either Big Mike or Andrew is going home. Andrew was my prediction to go home this week and obviously the judges wouldn't save him. Big Mike would cause the judges some trouble and I'd bet he gets saved.
9:47 p.m. Time for a performance from Rihanna singing about how she's a rock star. This is true, insofar as whatever she is, she isn't a singer. But nobody expects her to be. She's smoking hot, amusingly styled and plenty entertaining.
9:48 p.m. I'm guessing that I'm the only one amused by the possibility that Andrew Garcia, who sang a Chris Brown song last week, might be eliminated immediately after a performance by Rihanna.That would make me happy.
9:55 p.m. Time for some actual results. "Two fathers, both trying to make a better life for their families," Ryan teases.
9:56 p.m. Andrew is SAFE.
9:56 p.m. With his wife bawling in the audience, Big Mike returns to his version of "This Woman's Work." Will Kara's guaranteed tears be enough to sway the judges to whip out the Save. This was a great performance in the semifinals and it's a great performance now. If the judges don't use the Save, they're idiots. This is EXACTLY what the Save is for, not to be wasted on Matt Giraud.
9:59 p.m. Simon tells Big Mike that he's in the position he's in because of last night's performance and... HE'S SAVED!!!
10:00 p.m. WHEW. Large Michael's wife is particularly relieved. That means a double elimination next Wednesday and that next Tuesday's 88-minute performance episode before the return of "Glee" will feature 9 performances and thus wouldn't be abusively bloated.
10:01 p.m. Going on a bit on the use of the Judges' Save: If the Bottom Three had included Crystal or Lee or Siobhan this week, maybe you stand back and express caution and you don't use it on Big Mike. But if you look at the recent non-eliminated Bottom Three contestants, you're looking at Andrew, Tim, Aaron, Katie and if two of those four go home next week, the judges made the right choice. I have Big Mike as one of the season's Top 5, meaning that he went out four weeks early. That's exactly when you use the Save, rather than last year where we earned two additional awful weeks of a performer who probably should have been sent home a week or two sooner anyway. Obviously if Crystal and Siobhan go home next week, this looks bad. But that looks bad on the voters, not the judges.
Do you think the voters made the right call? Did the judges make the right call? Are you relieved?